Starz today announced it has given the green light to The Serpent Queen, the dark legend of Catherine de Medici from writer and executive producer Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road, Red Sparrow, The Lone Ranger).
Based on the book CATHERINE de MEDICI: Renaissance Queen of France by Leonie Frieda, the series will be executive produced by Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2) and Erwin Stoff (The Matrix, 13 Hours, Edge of Tomorrow).
Stacie Passon (Transparent, Dickinson, Billions) will direct multiple episodes including the premiere episode. The eight-episode series is produced for Starz by Lionsgate Television and 3 Arts Entertainment.
“‘The Serpent Queen’ may be the most cunning account of one of the most influential women ever to wear a crown that Starz has told,” said Christina Davis, President of Original Programming for Starz.
“We are thrilled to be working with such an incredibly talented team who will give this series a modern voice among a sensational historical backdrop.”
Considered an immigrant, common and plain, Catherine de Medici is married into the 16th century French court as an orphaned teenager expected to bring a fortune in dowry and produce many heirs, only to discover that her husband is in love with an older woman, her dowry is unpaid and she’s unable to concieve.
Yet, only with her intelligence and determination, she manages to keep her marriage alive and masters the bloodsport that is the monarchy better than anyone else, ruling France for 50 years.
Based on thousands of private letters, CATHERINE DE MEDICI: Renaissance Queen of France from author Leonie Frieda was a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic and was translated into eight languages.
“Writing Catherine and her story has been truly exciting as she is a very complex leading character who becomes a skilled ruler, battling extraordinary political and personal odds throughout her reign,” said Haythe. “She is a Queen who defies convention, as she relies upon her intellect, her unusual entourage and a ready supply of black magic inspiring, centuries later, the Evil Queen of fairy tales.”
From screenwriting to short stories and novels, Justin Haythe has penned remarkable works that have earned him praise and accolades in both cinema and literature. Movie buffs know him best for his BAFTA Award nominated screenplay of the romantic drama Revolutionary Road, while the literary world is well familiar with Haythe’s debut novel The Honeymoon, which was longlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize.
Other significant screenwriting credits include the crime drama Snitch, the western action film The Lone Ranger, the spy thriller Red Sparrow and the biographical drama Bohemian Rhapsody.
Stacie Passon is an American director, writer and producer who most recently executive produced and directed all episodes of the limited series Little Birds based on the short story by Anais Nin for ITV/SKY in the UK.
Her debut film, Concussion, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and subsequently won a Teddy Award Jury Prize as an outstanding film about LGBT themes at the Berlin International Film Festival. Passon also received a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Feature. Her sophomore feature, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, is an adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s acclaimed novel.
Senior Vice President of Original Programming Kathryn Tyus-Adair is the executive overseeing The Serpent Queen on behalf of Starz.
Courtney Mock is overseeing the series on behalf of Lionsgate.