Your RDA of Irony

The Young and The Restless

First, my tantrum

I thought that I was a satirist.  It turns out that I was a prophet.  Here is my recent musing on the new opportunities in historical fiction:  histortions. 

Since ”Spartacus” has proved a success, it no doubt will inspire other historical prequels.  I am going to suggest a series on Napoleon, but focused on his sophomore year at the Brienne military academy.  Of course, the dorm chambermaid will be a nymphomaniac, as well as his geometry teacher, music teacher, fencing coach, career counselor and the headmistress.  If HBO produces this series, we can arrange for Napoleon to have an affair with Abigail Adams, too.

“Fast Times at Brienne High” has yet to be picked up–although I imagine some Hollywood producers are discussing it now over lox burritos.  However, get ready for “Teen Caesar”:

Could Zac Efron be set to play Caesar?

No word yet if Zac Efron is set to star, but 17 Again director Burr Steers has been hired to direct a new historical teen drama entitled Emperor: Young Caesar.

The director will helm the adaptation of the first two novels in Conn Iggulden’s historical (and fictional) book series. The series follows the rise of Roman emperor Gaius Julius Caesar.

William Jarhead Broyles and Stephen Cleopatra Harrigan have scribbled the script, which apparently centres on Julius and Brutus as they join the Roman military. 

Says Steers:

“I’ve always had an interest in Julius Caesar and his formative years and am thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of this project.

“There has never been a film that focuses on Caesar as a young man, and Conn Iggulden, Bill Broyles and Stephen Harrigan have a completely fresh, timely, and exciting take on one of the greatest historical figures of all time.”

Yes, the world has been waiting for a teen buddy movie about Caesar and Brutus.  Imagine the boys surfing down the Tiber. (It would be a lovely nostalgic gesture to have Frankie Avalon play Cicero.)  But there is a slight discrepancy in the age of the two kids.  When Caesar was 14 years old, Brutus was minus 1.  However, there is no reason not to portray Brutus as a wisecracking ovum.  Remember the success of “Look Who’s Talking”.  Fallopian sounds Latin to me, and the tubes might have good acoustics.

But now we resume our regularly scheduled pedantics:

May 27, 1541:  Beheading Behavior

In Tudor England beheading was considered a privilege. It was performed before a select audience in a upper class setting. In return, the victims were expected to behave with stoic dignity. Most did.  Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, definitely was the exception. The frail 67 year-old woman did not want to be executed and would not cooperate. She had to be dragged to the scaffold and would not passively place her head on the block. The executioner required assistance to hold down the struggling lady. She writhed and wiggled so effectively that the axeman missed her neck, slashing instead her shoulder. In the confusion, the Countess tried to make a run for it. She only managed to dodge around the scaffold and she was just one wounded old lady against an armed killer and his staff. The outcome was inevitable but she gave an unprecedented resistance.

Born in 1473, the poor woman had a miserable sense of timing from the start.  By the time she was four, she had been declared a traitor by her uncle King Edward IV–who executed his own brother and stripped the ensuing orphans of their property.  Her nicer uncle was Richard III, who restored young Margaret’s and her brother’s legitimacy and estates.   Margaret’s luck lasted two years–the same length as Richard’s reign.  Being a Yorkist heiress and a legitimate Plantagenet did not improve her prospects with the new king  Henry VII–who was not a legitimate anything.  Her brother Edward would spend the rest of his short life in prison; although mentally-retarded, that was a minor handicap for royalty and his pedigree made him a threat to the Tudors.  Edward was executed in 1499 at the age of 24.  Margaret was kept under a more comfortable confinement until Henry decided her fate–specifically which of his lackeys deserved a rich, young wife. 

The lucky–and unctuously loyal–groom was Henry’s cousin Richard Pole.  Pole married Margaret in 1494, and apparently he did not mind at all.  There were five children within ten years, and I would like to tell you that the Pole family lived happily ever after.  Well, Richard did; he had the prudence to die in 1505.  But Margaret and her children did not.  They  lived on into the reign of Henry VIII.

He was Margaret’s first cousin, once removed, and he took the removal quite seriously.  The Poles were staunch Catholics, and they would be providing executioners with steady work for the next two generations.  Margaret was never implicated in any plots, but her decapitation on May 27, 1541 was Henry’s way of congratulating her son Reginald for becoming a Cardinal. 

The Church beatified her in 1886.  Given her surprising dexterity, you’d think that a Catholic school would have named a gym for her.

  1. Joan Stewart Smith says:

    If I may go back to the happy section (the part without executioners) – Zac would make a great singing Julius Caeser! We must lobby the casting director to audition The Pussycat Dolls – or at least its lead singer, DWTS winner Nicole Scherzinger.

    • Eugene Finerman says:

      George Frederick Handel must have had Zac Efron in mind when he composed the opera “Giulio Cesare”. True, the role of Caesar originally was written for castrato but Efron might be willing to accommodate for the part–or lack thereof.

      What does it say about me that I am familiar with Margaret of Salisbury and Handel, I have seen Zac Efron (thanks, “Hairspray’) but I had no idea who Nicole Scherzinger is?


      • Joan Stewart Smith says:

        I have glimpsed a tiny chink in your armor, Eugene — and it is certain aspects of pop culture. You really must discipline yourself to sit down and pay attention to your subscription to People magazine.

        But after thinking about it, “Dont cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me …” would probably turn “Young Caeser” into a Monty Python movie. Eric Idle dressed up like Nicole Scherzinger? (I’m sure you’ve googled her name by now, and you would never miss a Jeopardy question in reference to her. She is the lead singer of The Pussy Cat Dolls and this season’s winner of of that disco ball award in Dancing with the Stars.)

  2. Michele says:

    Eugene, the guild of speechwriters has needed a prophet for some time. All hail!

  3. Peg Pruitt says:

    The disparity in ages of Julius and Brutus need not be a problem. Brutus could be J’s invisible friend. The FX department would have a field day creating a spectral buddy. Think of all the comic potential (remember Topper?) There’s also probably some way a clever scripwriter could work in a vampire plot – they’re all the rage right now. There could be sanguinary senators and toothsome toga parties. Unlimited possibilities!

  4. Michael Gury says:

    Surely, John Waters should direct one of these concoctions. We lost Divine who was an actor/actress, but Waters hasn’t produced a decent movie send-up for a while. So maybe this Caesar idea isn’t too far-fetched.
    Mel Brooks is still spry and as warped as ever, so you might end up with a kick line of Roman gladiators in skirts (Springtime for Caesar and Rome (Romeo?)). But anyway there are a lot of options. For a price I can come up with the whole shopping list.

    • Rothgar says:

      LOL!! “Springtime for Julius and Rome” – love the song. The rest of the plot is a bit murky. I see a bit part for some christians as lion food.

      • Eugene Finerman says:

        We can get the Christians into the plot if we delay Julius’ death by about 70 years. That little historical liberty would allow us a great opportunity for product placement for a geriatric alert service. “Help, I’ve been stabbed 30 times in the Roman Senate and I can’t get up.


    • Eugene Finerman says:

      I can start working on one of the musical numbers now: “I’m Just Wild About Herod!”


  1. There are no trackbacks for this post yet.

Leave a Reply