Glenn Close and Patrick Stewart to Star in Showtime and Hallmark Entertainment's New Version of 'The Lion in Winter' on May 23rd

Sophisticated and Scathing Drama From the Oscar(R)-Winning Screenplay by

James Goldman

Andrew Howard, John Light, Rafe Spall, Clive Wood

Julia Vysotsky and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers Co-star

Apr 21, 2004, 01:00 ET from Showtime Networks Inc.

    NEW YORK, April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Glenn Close and Patrick Stewart will
 star as a legendary royal couple, the scheming Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and
 the ruthless King Henry Plantagenet II of England, in the upcoming SHOWTIME
 Original Picture THE LION IN WINTER from Hallmark Entertainment.  Filmed using
 the Academy Award(R)-winning screenplay by James Goldman, THE LION IN WINTER
 co-stars Andrew Howard, John Light, Rafe Spall, Clive Wood, Julia Vysotsky and
 Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.  Shot on location in Hungary and at Spissky Castle in
 Slovakia, the lavish and witty film about the bitter battle to choose King
 Henry II's successor will air on SHOWTIME on Sunday, May 23rd at 7:30 PM
     THE LION IN WINTER is directed by Emmy(R)-winner Andrei Konchalovsky ("The
 Odyssey," "House of Fools").  A presentation of Showtime in association with
 Hallmark Entertainment, the film is a MAT IV production.  Robert Halmi, Sr.
 ("Dreamkeeper," "Dinotopia"), Robert Halmi, Jr., Martin Poll, who produced the
 original film version of "The Lion In Winter," Patrick Stewart and Wendy
 Neuss-Stewart ("King of Texas," "A Christmas Carol") serve as executive
 producers.  The film is produced by Dyson Lovell.  Paul Lowin serves as
 co-producer and Vicki Letizia is the associate producer.
     Hallmark Entertainment is one of the largest producers of movies and
 miniseries for television. It is a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, Inc.
     Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Viacom
 Inc., owns the premium television networks SHOWTIME(R), THE MOVIE CHANNEL(TM)
 and FLIX(R), as well as the multiplex channels SHOWTIME(R) TOO(TM),
 MOVIE CHANNEL ON DEMAND(TM). SNI operates and manages the premium television
 network SUNDANCE CHANNEL(R), which is owned by SNI, Robert Redford and
 Universal Studios.  All SNI feeds provide enhanced sound using Dolby Digital
 5.1. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for
 exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME(R) PPV.
 Additionally, the advertiser-supported television network SHOWTIME EXTREME(R)
 is available in Spain through a joint venture with Media Park and the
 advertiser-supported television network SHOWTIME is available in Turkey
 through a joint venture with UK-based Zone Vision.
      -- Rating      TV14
      -- Run Time:   2:36:25
      -- Playdates:  Friday, 5/28/04 at 8:00 PM
     You are cordially invited to attend this season's most ruthless reunion,
 as a fearsome father, a scheming mother and three disloyal sons plot for
 power.  His kingdom encompassed all of Britain and half of France, but the one
 thing that King Henry II could never control was his family.
     The year is 1183 -- an era known more for its barbarism than the sanctity
 of familial bonds and matrimonial loyalty.  King Henry II (PATRICK STEWART)
 finds himself surrounded by cunning and ambitious relatives, all bent on
 seeking personal gain and political rewards at his expense. He is a formidable
 monarch who has ruled England for many years, but he has begun to question his
 own mortality in the waning years of his life.  With the arrival of the
 Christmas holiday, Henry wants to use the occasion to announce his chosen heir
 to the throne.
     He invites his estranged wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (GLENN CLOSE),
 to attend the celebrations that are to take place at Chinon Castle in France.
 Eleanor is a royal pariah and has been imprisoned by Henry for conspiring
 against him during a political coup over a decade ago.  Still, their love and
 admiration for each other boils just below the surface of their bickering.
 Eleanor remains shrewd and calculating, and craves the power that she feels
 Henry has denied her.  Using her beguiling charms, she is determined to
 prevent Henry's plans from coming to fruition.  To complicate matters, Henry's
 mistress Alais (JULIA VYSOTSKY) and her conniving brother, King Philip II of
 France (JONATHAN RHYS-MEYERS), are also attending the festivities.
     Beleaguered Henry must choose his successor from among his three plotting
 sons: the fearless and prodigal Richard the Lionhearted (ANDREW HOWARD), the
 shallow and opportunistic Geoffrey (JOHN LIGHT) or the luckless and bumbling
 John (RAFE SPALL). When Eleanor discovers that Henry wants John to become the
 heir, she schemes to attain the honor for her chosen son, Richard, and even
 promises to yield her own territory of Aquitaine in a desperate attempt to
 sway the King.  This leaves Geoffrey plotting against both his brothers as he
 tries to secure his own uncertain future.
     As the three siblings each engage in their own brand of deception, this
 unique celebration gets under way, and degenerates into an emotional gauntlet
 for everyone in attendance.  King Philip begins to plot against Henry by
 pursuing his own agenda and conspiring with the brothers against their father.
 As Geoffrey and John contemplate the prospect of going to war against Richard,
 they are unaware that Philip is secretly blackmailing Richard to prevent him
 from ascending to the throne.  Trapped in the middle of the confrontations is
 the concubine Alais, who desperately seeks to keep Henry's affections while
 trying to avoid the vengeful wrath of Eleanor.
     As the backstabbing and betrayals heighten, Henry comes to the realization
 that his children will stop at nothing to undermine his wishes, and yearns for
 a future with Alais so she can bear him sons who are deserving of his kingdom.
 Before the holiday is over, not only will a marriage, a love affair, a family
 and an empire be in jeopardy, but lives as well.

SOURCE Showtime Networks Inc.