Thursday, 15 July 2021

Meghan to Create and Produce Animated Series 'Pearl'

The Duchess of Sussex is creating and producing Archewell Productions first animated series as part of the Sussexes' deal with streaming giant Netflix. Pearl will center on the adventures of a 12-year-old girl, who is inspired by influential women throughout history. In a statement, Meghan shared her excitement about the project: "Like many girls her age, our heroine Pearl is on a journey of self-discovery as she tries to overcome life’s daily challenges. I’m thrilled that Archewell Productions, partnered with the powerhouse platform of Netflix, and these incredible producers, will together bring you this new animated series, which celebrates extraordinary women throughout history. David Furnish and I have been eager to bring this special series to light, and I am delighted we are able to announce it today."

As noted above, David Furnish will serve as an executive producer. Furnish is married to Sir Elton John and the couple have been incredibly supportive of the Sussexes over the past several years. I remember when Harry and Meghan attended the premiere of The Lion King when Archie was just two months old, Elton pulled Meghan in to share words of encouragement. Shortly after, he loaned them his private jet and defended the couple from a torrent of backlash: "After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquillity of our home. To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight." David served as producer on Rocketman and Gnomeo and Juliet said "Meghan and I are deeply passionate about bringing the inspirational and positive stories of extraordinary women from around the world to a global audience of all ages."

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Amanda Rynda (The Loud House, DC Super Hero Girls) will serve as showrunner and producer. More from the Hollywood Reporter:

'Showrunner Rynda previously served in the same role for Warner Bros. DC Super Hero Girls and was creative director for Nickelodeon’s Emmy-winning kids series The Loud House. “I’m so energized to be helping execute Meghan’s creative vision in showcasing an empowerment story that entertains and inspires,” she said. “The character journey would have delighted me as a child, and I’m overjoyed to be on the creative team bringing forward themes I’m passionate about as an adult.”

Pearl arrives as Netflix continues to ramp up its kids programming. The streamer already has multiple series in the works from former Disney hit-maker Chris Nee — including two projects that count the Obamas as EPs, We the People and Ada Twist, Scientist.'

Other producers include Dan Cogan (Icarus), Carolyn Soper (Tangled) and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Liz Garbus. Garbus recently created a superb docuseries bringing the late Michelle McNamara's monumental book I'll Be Gone in the Dark to the screen for HBO. McNamara relentlessly investigates the crimes of the Golden State Killer. Garbus captured the sensitivity and humanity McNamara gave the victims and families of the crimes whilst paying tribute to a multi-talented writer and investigator. Garbus will be a terrific addition to a fantastic team.

Deadline reports:

'Netflix revealed in April that it teamed with Archewell for Heart of Invictus, a docuseries produced in partnership with the Invictus Game Foundation that highlights the resilience and hope from competitors participating in the titular event’s The Hague 2020.

“An exciting tale that weaves together fantasy and history, Pearl focuses on a young girl who learns to step into her own power when she embarks on a heroic adventure and meets important women from history along the way,” added Megan Casey, Netflix’s Director of Original Animation. “We’re excited to develop this animated series with our partners at Archewell Productions and Story Syndicate.”

I was interested to see several eagle-eyed tweeters noted the name 'Meghan' is of Greek derivation and means 'Pearl'.

I'm very excited to hear more about Pearl in the coming months!

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Harry & William Celebrate Their Mother's Qualities "That Made Her a Force for Good" at Statue Unveiling

Prince Harry joined Prince William at Kensington Palace this afternoon for the unveiling of a much anticipated statue of their late mother, Diana, on what would have been the Princess' 60th birthday. Harry returned to the UK last Friday and quarantined at Frogmore Cottage before attending the WellChild Awards yesterday.

In a joint statement, William and Harry said: "Today, on what would have been our Mother’s 60th birthday, we remember her love, strength and character – qualities that made her a force for good around the world, changing countless lives for the better. Every day, we wish she were still with us, and our hope is that this statue will be seen forever as a symbol of her life and her legacy. Thank you to Ian Rank-Broadley, Pip Morrison and their teams for their outstanding work, to the friends and donors who helped make this happen, and to all those around the world who keep our mother’s memory alive."

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The statue was commissioned in 2017, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of Diana's death. At the time, the princes released a statement reading: "It has been 20 years since our mother's death and the time is right to recognise her positive impact in the UK and around the world with a permanent statue. Our mother touched so many lives. We hope the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on her life and her legacy." They added "the time was right" to recognise the positive impact their mother had made on so many people all over the world.

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A six-strong committee, with members including Diana's sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale and the princes' mentor Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, chose sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley for the prestigious commission.

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The renowned British sculptor has produced much-admired works, including designs of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Queen Mother for British coinage. In 2012, he was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Vicenza Numismatica.

The small gathering saw committee members invited alongside Diana's siblings, Charles Spencer, Lady Jane Fellows and the aforementioned Sarah.

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It has been described as "a very personal moment for the family".

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Prince Harry greets Julia Samuel -- one of Diana's closest friends.

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A video from the arrival.

The Palace said the design was chosen to "reflect the warmth, elegance and energy of Diana, Princess of Wales", adding, "The figure of Diana, Princess of Wales is surrounded by three children who represent the universality and generational impact of the Princess’ work. The portrait and style of dress was based on the final period of her life as she gained confidence in her role as an ambassador for humanitarian causes and aims to convey her character and compassion."

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A plinth beneath the statue is engraved with Diana's name and today's date. In front, a paving stone is engraved with an extract from the poem 'The Measure of a Man', which featured in the programme for the 2007 memorial service for Diana:

“These are the units to measure the worth

Of this woman as a woman regardless of birth.

Not what was her station?

But had she a heart?

How did she play her God-given part?”

Ian Rank-Broadley revealed the bronze statue is "1.25x life size. It was cast by Castle Fine Arts Foundry in the traditional 'lost-wax' process with a patina of a bluish green over black. The cast is hollow and is supported by a stainless-steel armature." He spoke about the commission and how he hoped to capture the Princess. "Diana, Princess of Wales was an icon who touched the lives of people right around the world, so it has been a privilege to work alongside Prince William and Prince Harry on this statue which commemorates her life. We wanted to capture her warmth and humanity while showcasing the impact she had across generations. I hope that people will enjoy visiting the statue and the Sunken Garden, and taking a moment to remember The Princess."

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To coincide with the unveiling of the statue, photos of the beautifully redesigned Sunken Garden were revealed.

The garden was one of Diana's favourite spots and palace gardeners fondly remember her frequent visits. Pip Morrison led the project working closely with the Historic Royal Palaces team led by Deputy Head of Gardens and Estates, Graham Dillamore.

In a statement, the Palace revealed, "The new design for the garden by Pip Morrison retains the historic structures within a simplified layout of deeper flower borders and a more generous lawn around the pool to create a calmer and more reflective setting for the statue. The planting design features a number of the Princess’s favourite flowers, including forget-me-nots, as well as many other spring and summer blooms in a variety of pastel shades. Work on the garden began in October 2019, and since then five gardeners have spent a total of 1,000 hours working on planting."

Pip Morrison said, "This has been a very special project to work on, as the Sunken Garden was a favourite place of Diana, Princess of Wales. We have worked carefully to ensure that the new layout and planting scheme compliments the statue, providing a calming place for people who visit Kensington Palace to remember the Princess."

Graham Dillamore added, “While she was in residence at Kensington Palace, Diana, Princess of Wales regularly admired the changing floral displays in the Sunken Garden and would always stop to talk with me and the other gardeners who cared for it. Over three decades later, I’m honoured to have been part of the team preparing the garden for the installation of this statue. We’ve incorporated a number of the Princess’s favourite flowers into the design, and I hope that visitors to the palace and gardens will enjoy its peaceful setting, and take a moment to reflect on the life and legacy of the Princess."

More than 4.000 individual flowers have been planted, including 500 lavender plants, 100 dahlias, 50 sweet peas, 200 roses of five varieties including Ballerina and Blush Noisette, 300 tulips and forget-me-nots.

Forget-me-nots are particularly synonymous with Diana. We've seen the flowers chosen to honour her time and time again by her sons and daughters-in-law. In 2006, Harry joined Prince Seesio of Lesotho in creating Sentebale, a charity dedicated to honouring their mothers' legacies in supporting those affected by HIV and AIDS. The name, of course, means 'Forget Me Not'. On the day before their wedding, Prince Harry handpicked forget-me-nots from Kensington Palace for Meghan's bridal bouquet in memory of his mother. Last September, Harry and Meghan marked Diana's anniversary by planting them at Assistance League Preschool Learning Centre.

To mark Meghan's first Mother's Day, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared a very sweet photo of the new mother with Archie in the gardens of Frogmore Cottage against the backdrop of forget-me-nots.

The Duchess of Cambridge chose the little blue flowers to feature as part of her 'Back to Nature' garden at RHS Chelsea. Below, Kate planting ahead of the unveiling of the garden. It was reported Kate wanted the garden to reflect "memories".

For the launch of the garden, attended by the Queen, Kate's Erdem 'Shebah' dress was adorned with forget-me-nots.

Below, William, Kate and Harry viewing the Sunken Garden in 2017, when it was transformed and temporarily renamed 'the White Garden' in memory of Diana.

Today's event follows a message Harry shared for Diana Award recipients just days ago. The Prince said, "Our mum believed that young people have the power to change the world. She believed in your strength because she saw it day in and day out and in the faces of young people exactly like you, she witnessed a boundless enthusiasm and passion. Meg and I fundamentally believe that our world is at the cusp of change, real change for the good of all."

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As always, crowds gathered outside KP to mark Diana's birthday.

Floral tributes and portraits adorned the gates.

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Another video from the memorable occasion.

"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you." - Diana, Princess of Wales.

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And on that fitting note, I'm reminded of another quote of Diana:

"Family is the most important thing in the world."

Today is about honouring Diana and what she meant to her sons and the family she never had the opportunity to meet: Kate, Meghan, George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. I'm very much hoping for today we can keep the focus on Diana herself and the legacy of a woman who meant so much to so many.

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The garden and statue will be enjoyed by many for generations to come.

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