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TCA press tour: Can CW period drama 'Reign' rule with young viewers?

The network that has given us "Gossip Girl" and "The Vampire Diaries" is taking teenage angst to another level -- or rather, century. The 16th century.

The CW's forthcoming drama "Reign" follows the early years of Mary, Queen of Scots as a teenager embarking on her arranged marriage to a heartthrob Prince Francis to forge an alliance between her native Scotland and his native France -- except, Mary also has a thing for Francis' hot illegitimate stepbrother Bash. 

But does the network's traditionally young-skewing viewers even know about the historical figure? Or, for that matter, will they even care?

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Laurie McCarthy, the period drama's executive producer, is hoping her portraiture of the time can draw them in so that Mary can become the Serena van der Woodsen or Elena Gilbert of 1557.

"I think in each episode we’ll educate people on what element of history helps our story," she said Tuesday during the show's panel at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills. "We've  taken a certain amount of latitude in dramatizing events."

Like the fact that Francis, unlike in the show, was actually 14 and didn't have stepbrother named Bash? Or the idea of a hunky Nostradamus?

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"There are many things that happened that never made it into history. ... My job is to tell compelling stories convincingly." 

That's not to say it's all fluff, McCarthy said, underscoring that the extraordinary and dramatic real facts surrounding Mary's life provided a sturdy framework. Still, it's a TV show, star Adelaide Kane pointed out, posing the question:  "How many teenage girls do you know that are obsessed with history? ... It's entertainment. It's not the History Channel."

To aid in the young viewer-appeal mission, the show will make use of contemporary music -- some with a Celtic feel.  Popular folk-rock band The Lumineers wrote a song for the pilot, and there are plans to continue the collaboration, McCarthy said. 

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yvonne.villarreal@latimes.com

 

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