LOS ANGELES -- The new CW drama "Reign" uses a familiar blueprint for the network: It features a cast of young, good-looking people who deal with personal problems while facing a much larger dilemma. This battle comes with plenty of love, lust and loins.
The series, which bows tonight at 9, the last new launch on the network for the fall season, follows the young people as they deal with the emotional and sexual whirlwinds during the 16th century. "Reign" looks at the early days of Mary, Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane), before she got involved in all that beheading mess.
The CW is known for stories about vampires, Beverly Hills brats, top models and other present-day forums for drama. "Reign" executive producer Laurie McCarthy stresses that Mary Stuart might have lived in the 1500s, but her tale is as dramatic -- and lustful -- as any modern day program on the network.
"The real facts of Mary, Queen of Scots' life are so extraordinary and so dramatic and we're coming in on the story of her life at an early stage and so she has just returned to French court and she has a ways to go before the wedding actually takes place. They'll have a ways to go as a married couple," McCarthy says. "I think in each episode we'll educate people on what element of history helps our story. And I think that there is a certain amount of latitude in terms of dramatizing events."
Designed for entertainment
In other words, this is a show better suited for the CW Network than the History Channel.
The job of bringing all of the latitudes to the screen falls to Kane, the Aussie actress best known for her work in the cable series "Teen Wolf." She says "Reign" is designed to be entertaining. That means trying to make a show that people will enjoy watching, will connect with and will find fun. The history part of the story is being played down.
"How many teenage girls do you know who are obsessed with history? I know I wasn't at that age," Kane says.
The actress had enough interest in Mary Stuart to get her attention when the show was originally being put together. That interest comes from Kane being half Scottish; the tartan on her mother's side is Royal Stuart. She wasn't a history buff, but Kane had enough passion for Mary Stuart's story that the idea of turning her story into a TV series was intriguing.
Her interest in the project ran so deep that Kane asked to see the script, asked for an audition and even picked the scene she wanted to use instead of leaving that to the production team. Her efforts worked.
Hired without audition
Kane didn't learn until later that she had the role long before she started her push. McCarthy was in Europe looking for castles to use for the filming when she got a call from the network saying that Kane was interested in playing Mary.
"I heard the phrase ‘the tartan on my mother's side,' and I was like I got to see her," McCarthy says. "And I saw it was Adelaide Kane and we cast her. So we didn't audition a single person. I didn't look at anyone else."