Sunday, April 17, 2011

William & Kate Get the Lifetime Sudser Treatment

The royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is an occasion tailor-made for the Lifetime movie treatment. Temporarily shelving their current obsession with serial killers and crazed women out for revenge, the network returns to its romantic, sudsy roots with “William & Kate” starring two relatively unknown doppelgangers as the British lovebirds.

New Zealander Nico Evers-Swindell, a dead-ringer for Prince William, “knew very little about him” so to prepare, he read whatever he could about the couple including Christopher Anderson’s gossipy book, “William and Kate,” and watched the footage of the interview William and Prince Harry gave to Matt Lauer to promote the Concert for Diana. While Evers-Swindell found the prince “incredibly likable with a good sense of humor” he was more interested in how William has been affected by his “highly dysfunctional” family. “He definitely took his time in proposing to Kate,” he says. “I think that’s a reflection of what he saw go on between Charles and Diana.”

British-born Luddington, who grew up a few miles away from Kate’s hometown of Buckleberry, had a slight advantage over her costar in preparing for her role as the commoner who won the heart of a prince. With just one week to prepare before shooting, she drew on own “casual observations of the royals” as well as her own family’s impressions of the Middletons. “My uncle knows them and they’re very down to earth,” she says. “No one has a bad word to say about them.”

The truth is, there’s been very little said by anyone that truly knows both William and Kate which makes telling their story accurately a bit of a challenge. The movie opens by telling the viewers the film is “inspired by true events” leaving the door open for the necessary creative license. “We’re not making a documentary,” says executive producer Frank Konigsberg, “And we tried not to make it overly sentimental.”

After the couple announced their engagement in November of last year, Konigsberg tried to license the footage of the couple meeting the press at St. James’ palace for the film but “the royals shot it down.” Without access to palace insiders, Konigsberg went about recreating the worlds of William and Kate “with affection” relying on a dialect coach that once worked with the royal family, 72 costume changes for Luddington and a pedigreed supporting cast which includes Ben Cross as Prince Charles and Richard Reid, the son of the real-life Keeper of the Privy Purse, to play William’s club crawling pal, Guy Pelly.

Ironically, the film’s emotional high point comes courtesy of the late Princess Diana when, a la the Oscar-winning bio pic “The Queen,” Evers-Swindell’s William is watching a television report that shows news footage of the night Diana died while concluding the formal inquest into her death ruled it an accident. In the scene, William explodes at Prince Charles telling him he did nothing to help his mother adjust to royal life and that he “won’t make the same mistake” by marrying for anything other than love. Konigsberg uses the exchange to effectively underscore how different William’s life is from Charles’ was because William is free to choose woman he loves rather than the ‘most suitable’ candidate.

When William whisks Kate off to Africa (which was shot in Los Angeles) to finally propose, Konigsberg says, “We take a liberty that William got down on bended knee” to ask for Kate’s hand in marriage. No matter. For those faithful royal watchers who will undoubtedly be reaching for the Kleenex by then, it’s the ultimate fairy tale ending.

William & Kate Monday, April 18 at 9:00 PM on Lifetime

This story first appeared in The New York Post this morning.


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