Tudors in Tinseltown.
In Wolper’s ambitious mash-up, Anne Boleyn time-travels to Hollywood 2012, where she loses everything but her head to Henry Tudor, entertainment magnate and Internet kingpin. The usual suspects among the original King Henry’s entourage are here: chief henchwoman Theresa (Thomas) Cromwell; crooked financial advisor Carl (Cardinal) Wolsey, discarded older wife Catherine Aragon and her daughter Maren (Princess Mary). When Henry becomes entangled with Anne, a wannabe writer, the liaison is just what her ambitious father Thomas Boleyn is angling for, especially after Anne’s older sister Mary (re-imagined as a pot-smoking hippie) had failed to snare Henry. Captivating the “King” of Hollywood, Anne hopes, will also mean better roles for her actor brother George. Anne and George are close—perhaps a little too close? Theresa’s Webmaster and lackey Cliff acts as both catalyst and cynical observer as the drama unfolds. Catherine’s death (of an overdose caused by sheer absent-mindedness) enables Henry’s second marriage, no Reformation required. The euphoria surrounding Anne’s conquest of Henry and the birth of daughter Elizabeth quickly dissipates when Theresa sees the quirky new “queen” as a liability to Henry’s bid for the governorship of California. True to her alter ego, Theresa spins a web of lies about Anne’s youthful amatory escapades and current relationships with George and with a young singer-songwriter, (Sir Thomas) Wyatt. After Anne miscarries a son, Theresa invites her to lunch, plies her with pinot and engineers her arrest for DUI. Thanks to Cliff and his new hire, gossip-tweeting sociopath Lionel, Anne’s cyber-persona is quickly trashed. When Theresa introduces her friend, San Francisco debutante and dilettante jewelry designer Jane Seymour, whose political connections can revitalize Henry’s campaign, it’s all over for Anne.
Although the conceit is fun, the excitement palls as quickly as the royal romance. Henry’s Hollywood hegemony is never believable: Tudor travails simply do not translate well to a time and place where power, however heady, is less than absolute. Still, a worthy and at times witty effort.