Contact: Karen Evans, Karen Evans Management (Plummer, Biederman)
Jessica Regel, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency (Anderson)
NEW YORK, N.Y., Oct. 30, 2008 -- Imagine if an Elizabethan Hamlet had actually written Hamlet, or if a love-scarred veteran of Montague/Capulet street wars in London had in fact written Romeo and Juliet. A recent book, newly optioned for television, tells this very story.
Shakespeare's celebrated plays are, according to the 2005 book "Shakespeare" By Another Name (Gotham Books), remarkably autobiographical. And, say screenwriters John Christian Plummer and James Biederman, this astonishing (and controversial) new perspective also holds tremendous promise for some ground-breaking television.
Plummer (recent subject of a PBS documentary about his critically acclaimed production of Twelfth Night for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival) and Biederman (veteran executive producer for television series such as The Kids in the Hall and The Whitest Kids U Know) are currently developing several projects for television and collaborating on an unrelated feature screenplay for Academy Award winning producer Wendy Finerman.
Their new television series option of "Shakespeare" By Another Name, says Plummer, "is the sort of thing Shakespeare -- de Vere -- would be proud of. We're using a mass medium to tell an incredibly elevated but at the same time tremendously entertaining story. And at the same time, we're taking on one of the world's biggest sacred cows."
"Shakespeare" By Another Name tells the epic life story of the courtly poet and playwright, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, both in Queen Elizabeth I's inner circle in England as well as across Europe, visiting many of the Italian and French cities and locations that would later be immortalized under the byline "Shakespeare." A growing number of scholars have suspected de Vere was in fact the author of the Bard's plays and poems.
"Shakespeare" By Another Name author Mark Anderson says that in book-signings and lectures across the U.S. and around the world over the past three years, he has often heard audience members say they wish de Vere's adventurous life could be brought to the screen. "I keep hearing that the Shakespearean mini-dramas, comedies and tragedies found within Edward de Vere's biography seem practically ready-made for movies or television," he says. "Well, to that we can now reply, 'The game's afoot.'"
Praise for "Shakespeare" By Another Name:
"Deserves serious attention" (The New York Times)
"Makes a compelling case... Especially impressive" (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
"Quite a compelling argument" (The Chicago Sun-Times)
"One of the most fascinating theatre-related books I have ever read. An absolutely first-rate piece of sleuthing and an absolutely first-rate read." (Don Rubin, editor-in-chief of The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre)
"Makes a convincing argument that the brilliant, rather tormented Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford -- not Shakespeare -- was the dramatist ... draws powerful connections between Shakespeare's plays and the life of de Vere." (USA Today)
On the web: