Tag Archives: Linda Yellen

Jane Alexander Not Intimidated by Queenly Role in ‘William & Catherine: A Royal Romance’

Jane Alexander, Mark Penfold as Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip Hallmark Channel photo

Jane Alexander returns to TV Saturday (8/27) in the Hallmark Channel original movie “William & Catherine: A Royal Romance” — adding the role of Queen Elizabeth II to a brilliant roster of real-life characters ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt to Calamity Jane, Hedda Hopper and Georgia O’Keeffe.  The esteemed actress says she wasn’t intimidated by the idea that Her Majesty might see her work in the film.

“No, not really, because she is a public figure, so I’m sure she is used to these kinds of things.  God knows Helen Mirren did a brilliant job in ‘The Queen’ — that started it off.  Who knows if she and Phillip would ever look at movies about the royal family.  Maybe they would out of curiosity, but my hunch is, maybe not.  They know the real Kate.  They know the real William,” she points out.

For Alexander, “A Royal Romance” marked a reunion with filmmaker Linda Yellen, with whom she made the Peabody Award-winning 1980 concentration camp drama “Playing for Time.”  (Alexander’s Supporting Actress Emmy was one of a collection earned by the production, including Outstanding Made for Television Movie.)   She was delighted when Yellen contacted her about the Hallmark Channel film, which tells the William and Kate love story in a unique and fanciful sort of way;  the late Princess Diana is a key character.  As for the Queen, she is seen as a properly grandmotherly figure who has a strong competitive streak and likes an occasional game of Wii tennis.  Such lively details came right out of Yellen’s research, notes Alexander.

“I know so well what the Queen’s face looks like.  I’ve been a fan of hers for so many years.  There is a slight resemblance.  I don’t look the same, but what can one do?  We had a very good makeup artist, and the hair comes close.”

She adds impishly, “Playing the Queen, I found myself very comfortable when people genuflected.  I liked it. I said, ‘Oh yeah, this is good.'”

Production headquartered in Bucharest, Romania, where filming was done in Cotroceni Palace, home of President Traian Basescu.  During the shoot, Prince Charles — the real one — came to call.  “The irony,” says Alexander.  “He was right across the courtyard from us and didn’t even come over to say ‘Hello’ to his good old Mum.”  She laughs.

Victor Garber portrays the prince in the movie, with Jean Smart as Camilla, and Dan Amboyer and newcomer Alice St. Clair as William and Kate.  (Preview clip.)

These days, the former head of the National Endowment for the Arts splits her time between New York and a home in Nova Scotia.  She’s a conservationist, among her many causes, and does surveying work, keeping track of bird species for Canadian Fish and Wildlife.  She also works with the Panthera organization devoted to saving the world’s big cats.

We have to believe Her Majesty would be most pleased with the casting choice.


‘Royal Romance’ Filmmaker Linda Yellen Weighs in on Newsweek Princess Diana Photo Controversy

Linda Yellen

Many media types and consumers have been finding a lot not to like about Newsweek’s controversial, computer-generated depiction of Princess Diana as she might look at 50 had she not perished in that Parisian automobile accident 14 years ago.  But producer Linda Yellen asks, “Why shouldn’t people be allowed to play out their fantasies?  It’s sort of bold and makes you think.”

Yellen is deep into editing of her Aug. 27-debuting Hallmark Channel Original Movie “William & Catherine:  A Royal Romance,” which she has described as a tribute of sorts to the woman known as The People’s Princess, as well as to the royal newlyweds.  Having created the highly successful “The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana” in  1982 and met Diana several times, Yellen is amongst the unofficial keepers of the flame of her memory.  She tells us she was intrigued by Tina Brown’s essay on what Diana would be doing today, and agrees she might well have moved to The States.  “She had no excess baggage here.”

As far as THAT picture, Yellen laughs and says, “We all have our own projections of what she would be like.  She was her own iconic person.  I don’t think she would have worn the hat. ..She was striving so hard to simplify her life.”  And the computer image doesn’t “capture her luminosity, her inner glow” in Yellen’s view.

Of her “Royal Romance” (starring Jane Alexander as Queen Elizabeth, Victor Garber and Jean Smart as Charles and Camilla, and newcomers Dan Amboyer and Alice St. Clair as Prince William and Kate Middleton), Yellen says she feels fortunate that it will debut months after “all the craziness of the wedding…now that people have had some time to reflect…Diana’s presence loomed large at that wedding, thanks to her son.  Perhaps even larger than Prince Charles’.”

Bisset Hoping Money Can Be Found to Complete Hopper’s Final Film

Jacqueline Bisset Hallmark Channel photo

Jacqueline Bisset is awaiting word on the fate of  “The Last Film Festival” — Linda Yellen’s big-screen comedy in which she stars with Chris Kattan and the late Dennis Hopper, which, she reveals, “We still haven’t quite finished.  We still need more money to finish it.  It’s a pity.  They’re just struggling with the end of it, hoping someone comes forward.  It’s Dennis Hopper’s last film, and it’s fun — really pretty funny.”

Bisset, who has the Hallmark Channel Original Movie, “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” coming up Dec. 11, tells us that the cancer that took Hopper’s life in May was not apparent when they worked together.  She adds, “I was actually an admirer of Dennis for years as a painter and photographer” — in addition to his work as an actor and filmmaker.

“He was such a fascinating character, a gentlemanly person to work with, a sensitive personality.  I hope we find some angel who’ll find the money to get the film finished.  With the recession, everyone is suffering,” she notes.

Bisset inhabits a world of wealth and 19th century elegance in her persona as the imposing Isabella Crawford, in “An Old-Fashioned Christmas.”

Continuing the character she first played in The Hallmark Channel’s hugely successful 2008 “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving” — drawn from Louisa May Alcott’s short story — Bisset and on-screen granddaughter Catherine Steadman this time find themselves in Ireland for a tale of money, manners and romance.

“I think my character has more aspects in this film than the first one,” comments the British actress, who was often hailed as the thinking man’s sex symbol back when she graced such films as “Bullitt” and “The Deep.”  “In the first film I was pretty uptight.  I get to sort of explain myself a little bit now.  I still get to be a little bossy, but I mean well and I’m trying very hard to to have everything messed up.  My rapport with the character of Tilly, the granddaughter, has grown, as she’s definitely thinking for herself and not following politely.  She’s taken on some quite ballsy atittudes, in fact.  She’s fallen in love with two men at the same time.  One of them, she doesn’t quite

Avon photo

know his motives — but I do,” adds Bisset with a laugh.

The still-lovely Bisset, who is busy these days with her Avon Anew Platinum product line for women 60-plus, has a love interest (Ian McIlhenny) in “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” as well.