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Palm Royale

Kristen Wiig stars as a Palm Beach social climber in this star-studded ’60s dramedy

Set in sunny, colourful late-1960s Palm Beach, Palm Royale is an underdog story about social climber Maxine Simmons, played by Kristen Wiig, trying to break into Palm Beach high society by joining the posh Palm Royale country club. And what a society this is! In Abe Sylvia’s sumptuous period dramedy, the cast is as lush as the jewel-toned environment in which the show is set.

Palm Royale on Apple TV+. Pictured: Allison Janney is Evelyn Rollins, the pampered queen bee of Palm Beach high society.
Apple TV+

Joining Wiig on screen is the show’s exec producer Laura Dern, Oscar-winner Allison Janney, Grammy-winner Ricky Martin and 90-year-old television legend Carol Burnett. “All I had to do is hear who was going to be in it: Kristen, Laura, Ricky — it’s just an incredible cast,” says Burnett, who portrays ailing millionaire Norma Dellacorte. “I didn’t even have to read the script. I just wanted to work with these people and get to know them, go out to dinner and have some fun. Of course, in the first few episodes, I’m in a coma — and I still got paid. It was a slam dunk.”

Palm Royale on Apple TV+. Pictured: Kaia Gerber as local manicurist Mitzi.
Apple TV+

For Martin, who portrays country club employee Robert Diaz, Palm Royale marks his first multi-episode series since The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story in 2018. “It all started at one Oscar party. I was dancing next to Abe, and three days later, I had the script,” recalls Martin. “I was fascinated by, first of all, the opportunity to work with such incredible legends. And, of course, the story. I think this will change you. It will change the way you think about life in general. It’s comedy, it’s a tearjerker, it’s thought-provoking. It’s a very powerful show.”

Indeed, despite coming off as a campy romp — which it absolutely is — the show also carries a more serious element. “Kristen is a once-in-a-generation talent who is able to thread the loop between comedy and silliness, and then break your heart in the next moment,” Sylvia muses. “There’s real pathos to what she does and it’s a unique talent. I think that’s the seed, and we all grow from that.”

Palm Royale on Apple TV+. Pictured: Ricky Martin plays Robert, who knows how to keep a secret — especially his own.
Apple TV+

Martin, whose character is one of the many who are actively trying to keep Maxine out of the country club, concurs that watching Wiig beg, borrow and steal to rise in the ranks of high society touched him in surprising ways. “Seeing the struggles that her character goes through to get where she wants, it’s very intense,” he says. “First, I hated her, because it was like, ‘How dare you? You cannot do this.’ But then I understood where she was coming from and I felt nothing but sad. I just wanted to hold her and guide her through life.”

Palm Royale on Apple TV+. Pictured: Carol Burnett portrays Norma Dellacorte, the grande dame of the Palm Beach social scene.
Apple TV+

The series also features a more, well, beige environment, where social activist Linda Shaw (Dern) is trying to fuel the women’s liberation movement. “It was such a gift that Abe found this other world for us to explore,” says Dern. “And to acknowledge the [real] world around this miniscule world called ‘the club,’ where people can often be so blinded by their longing to be part of this club that they forget what’s happening around them.”

Palm Royale on Apple TV+. Pictured: Laura Dern does double duty as executive producer and actor, playing feminist activist Linda Shaw.
Apple TV+

Of course, any show with Wiig at the helm will be full of laughter, and for Sylvia and the cast, having fun was the real assignment. “We developed it all together from really a joyful place,” he says. “We wanted to make something that audiences could escape into. We developed this during COVID when none of us could leave our houses. To be able to build a world that people would want to visit and luxuriate in, that was the guiding principle.” The opportunity to mine moments for laughter was also what appealed to Burnett. “To know that I could have fun, and they’d let me do what I do, was just heaven,” she says. “Everybody has these wonderful moments, and it was just a joy to go to work. At my age, it’s a joy to be anywhere, but this was really something for me, and I loved it.”

Being able to dig deep into female-led stories, like this one based on the novel Mr. and Mrs. American Pie, is a luxury that has come with being a producer, says Dern. That privilege has also been a long time coming. “None of us exist, particularly as women trying to get stories told, without heroes like my mom [Diane Ladd] and Jane Fonda, who were trying to produce stories for themselves,” she explains. “Now, we have the privilege of building stories together, which never happened [before]. And it’s not just the joy of doing it. It’s the luxury as an actor of being inside the storytelling from an early stage and watching how we build character and developed the opportunity to create an amazing cast. As someone who, at 11, on my first movie, did not see a female on set, there’s been a lot of change in front of and behind the camera, but there’s still a lot of work to do. I’m excited to be part of that.”

Palm Royale premieres Wednesday, March 27 on Apple TV+

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