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Mark Harmon and The CW Developing TV Series About Young William Shakespeare

By Jon Sobel j.sobel@classicalite.com on Oct 27, 2014 02:16 PM EDT

NCIS star Mark Harmon is working with the youth-oriented CW television network to create a TV series called Shakespeare's Sisters, about William Shakespeare on the rise in the 1590s. The Hollywood Reporter describes the show as "a tale of black magic, romance and revenge," with young Will "caught in a deadly conflict among three witches and the most powerful woman in the world, Queen Elizabeth." (That's Elizabeth I, for you history neophytes).

Although theatrical audiences remain relatively small in our era of YouTube, TV, DVRs and always-on digital connectivity, the mystique of history's greatest playwright maintains its appeal for generation after generation. Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann directed Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in a Romeo and Juliet film in 1996. Shakespeare in Love was a big hit for Hollywood back in 1998, even coming full circle back to the stage in a popular new London adaptation.

Michael Almereyda's modern-day film adaptation of Macbeth starring Ethan Hawke, Kyle McLachlan and Julia Stiles came out in 2000. The same director even premiered a film version of Shakespeare's much less often-seen Cymbeline starring Hawke and Ed Harris at the Venice Film Festival in September. Another new screen Macbeth is due next year starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.

Screen stars love to try their hands at Shakespeare's most enduringly popular characters both on film and on stage. Hawke went on to essay the title role of Macbeth on Broadway in 2013 after narrating and starring in a PBS "Shakespeare Uncovered" documentary about researching the role. Last year too, Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad appeared in Romeo and Juliet at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. And Jude Law famously played Hamlet on Broadway in 2009.

Mark Harmon isn't that kind of screen actor. But the former St. Elsewhere star has been branching out into producing, backing The CW's time-travel TV-movie Joey Dakota and the new NCIS: New Orleans. Eric and Kim Tannenbaum's Harmon Tannenbaum Co. and Harmon will co-produce Shakespeare's Sisters, which is described as "having the grit of…Game of Thrones with the wit and heart of Shakespeare in Love. Scott Sullivan (NCIS: Los Angeles) will write the script and Brad Silberling (Jane the Virgin) will direct and co-produce.

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TagsMark Harmon, The CW, Shakespeare, Shakespeare's Sisters, Ethan Hawke, NCIS

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