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'Palm Royale' creators explain why the show is so different from the book

This isn't the "Mr. and Mrs. American Pie" that readers are familiar with — and it's no Palm Springs.
/ Source: TODAY

Warning: This post contains spoilers for "Palm Royale"

Welcome to Palm Beach, home of your favorite new socialites.

“Palm Royale” debuted its first three episodes on March 20 on Apple TV+. The 10-episode comedy follows former beauty pageant queen Maxine Simmons (Kristen Wiig) as she attempts to break into Palm Beach high society in the glitzy Florida town.

The show is based on the 2018 novel “Mr. & Mrs. American Pie” by Juliet McDaniel — but it couldn’t be more different.

“We found the book ... very inspiring,” showrunner, executive producer and director Abe Sylvia tells TODAY.com. After executive producer Katie O’Connell Marsh discovered the book and shared it with executive producers, including Laura Dern, who stars in the show, he says, “We fell in love with this irreverent, iconoclastic woman (Maxine). That was really the jumping-off point.”

Kristen Wiig in "Palm Royale."
Kristen Wiig in "Palm Royale."Apple TV+

Sylvia had been interested in writing about the “world of Slim Aarons,” the photographer known for his luxurious photos of celebrities, socialites, and high society in Palm Beach.

“And so (I thought), what if I take this wonderful, iconoclastic character and pop her in a different setting and see what bubbles up?” he says, calling it a “work of imagination.”

O’Connell Marsh adds that when she read “Mr. & Mrs. American Pie” the “seedlings were there” and they just expanded Maxine's universe.

“It was so fun. It was a group of women, it was whimsical, funny, but also had real pathos to it,” she explains. “It really came to life. I think the seedlings were interesting, but Abe brought to it (by) fully realizing the world and actually putting it into a television series, which is quite different from a novel.”

Executive producer Tate Taylor also tells TODAY.com, “It’s important to note that the books’ author (McDaniel) came to set and loved it and had a blast.”

What are the major differences between the 'Palm Royale' show and the 'Mr. and Mrs. American Pie' book?

The book and the show are vastly different from each other. The biggest similarity is main character Maxine Simmons who, in both, is quite a hoot. An outsider, she's a former beauty queen who is unapologetic, confident and doesn't take no for an answer. In both, she is married to Douglas Simmons but their storylines are not the same. The character of Robert also appears in both pieces of work, however, his storyline is also changed.

Setting

“Mr.and Mrs. American Pie” takes place in 1969 Palm Springs with Mrs. Maxine Hortence Simmons living her best life in her mansion with her husband of almost 17 years, Douglas Simmons. Things are too good to be true until Douglas tells Maxine he is leaving her and moving to Los Angeles with his secretary, Jennifer.

During their Thanksgiving dinner, Maxine snaps and makes a big drunken scene, throwing dishes and food before jumping into the pool, and making a fool of herself. Douglas, who files for divorce, bans Maxine from Palm Springs and sends her to live at his old condo in Scottsdale, Arizona. There, she meets bar and restaurant owner Robert Hogarth. At her condo, she befriends pre-teen Charles “Chuck” Bronski and his 2-year-old sister Dawn Bronski, who, along with Robert, help her compete in the Mr. and Mrs. American Pie contest.

Kristen Wiig and Josh Lucas in "Palm Royale."
Kristen Wiig and Josh Lucas in "Palm Royale."Apple TV+

In “Palm Royale” viewers are introduced to Maxine as she sneaks into the Palm Royale Country Club, only to be discovered by bartender Robert Diaz.

In the show, Maxine lives in a motel while her husband Douglas, a pilot, jet-sets around the world for work. She devises a plan to integrate herself with the leading ladies of society, only to be not met with open arms. Meanwhile, Douglas' wealthy "Queen of the Season" aunt, Norma, is in a coma and Maxine occasionally visits her to "borrow" clothes and jewelry to impress the country club ladies. Maxine then decides to take over as host of the event of the season, the Beach Ball, while Norma is incapacitated.

Maxine does find a friend in Linda, a feminist group leader who has ties to the Palm Beach Country Club ladies. But Linda's partner and fellow feminist Virginia is less-than-thrilled about Maxine.

Ricky Martin in "Palm Royale."
Ricky Martin in "Palm Royale."Apple TV+

Characters

The book centers around only a handful of characters, as opposed to the show's ensemble cast.

  • Maxine Simmons, a former Miss San Bernardino who is married to Douglas Simmons.
  • Douglas Simmons, a wealthy Western Airlines executive who splits his work time between Palm Springs and Los Angeles.
  • Robert Hogarth, a closeted gay man who owns La Dulcinea Family Tavern and befriends Maxine when she moves to Scottsdale.
  • Charles “Chuck” Bronski, a pre-teen who wants to be a spy and lives in the same condo complex as Maxine in Scottsdale.
  • Dawn Bronski, Chuck's 2-year-old baby sister.

The show, on the other hand, dives deep into Maxine and the people surrounding her. "Palm Royale" consists of a dynamic and impressive ensemble cast that bring the charm, charisma and backstabbing.

  • Kristen Wiig as Maxine Simmons, a former beauty pageant contestant from Tennessee, who attempts to become part of the town's group of high society women.
  • Ricky Martin as Robert Diaz, the bartender at the Palm Royale Country Club. He was also Norma's caretaker and lives in her pool house.
  • Josh Lucas as Douglas, Maxine's pilot husband and nephew of wealthy Palm Beach official Queen Bee Norma Dellacorte.
Carol Burnett in "Palm Royale."
Carol Burnett in "Palm Royale."Apple TV+
  • Carol Burnett as Norma Dellacorte, ruler of Palm Beach and known to throw her season-ending event, The Beach Ball. Viewers find her in a living facility home after suffering an embolism.
  • Allison Janney as Evelyn Rollins, the “self-appointed Queen Bee and stalwart adversary in the fight against pediatric cancer” and volunteer of the year, as she’s described in the show.
Allison Janney in "Palm Royale."
Allison Janney in "Palm Royale."Apple TV+
  • Leslie Bibb as Dinah Donahue, the ambassador's wife and "poised to dethrone" Evelyn. She's also having an affair with country club tennis instructor, Eddie.
Leslie Bibb in "Palm Royale."
Leslie Bibb in "Palm Royale."Apple TV+
  • Laura Dern as Linda Shaw, Evelyn’s stepdaughter who leaves high society behind and is now “dedicated to raising the collective consciousness of the global sisterhood.” 
Laura Dern in "Palm Royale."
Laura Dern in "Palm Royale."Apple TV+
  • Amber Chardae Robinson as Virginia, a feminist and Linda’s partner who created a bookstore to offer fellow feminists a safe place to gather.
Kristen Wiig and Amber Chardae Robinson in "Palm Royale."
Kristen Wiig and Amber Chardae Robinson in "Palm Royale."Apple TV+
  • Kaia Gerber as Mitzi, Maxine's manicurist who dreams of becoming a model.

Maxine's origin story

In the book, Maxine hails from California, where she was a former Miss San Bernardino. She and airline executive Douglas have been married for almost 17 years. Maxine appears to already be included in Palm Springs country club high society.

In the show, Maxine is from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Douglas served as a judge at the pageant she was competing in. And while she did not win the Miss Chattanooga title, she and Douglas fell in love and got married.

“Maxine never tells a lie. She just may not tell you everything. So in many ways, she’s a politician,” Taylor tells TODAY.com about the main character. “She’s in all of us, all of us striving to better themselves and to get to a better place.”

Additionally, executive producer John Norris adds that Maxine “wants so deeply. She wants so richly, she wants so powerfully, and part of her journey is questioning the authenticity of what she wants and why she wants it.”

One thing that does bring both Maxines together, however, is their need to be a part of something bigger and fabulous.

“She’s always been an orphan. She’s always been an outsider. She’s always been alone in the world,” actor Josh Lucas, who portrays Douglas, tells TODAY.com. “So some things always had to be the thing that filled the gap for her, filled that void. I think for years it was obviously Douglas to an extent and then when this world appears that she can break into and take advantage of it.”

Notable book-to-series similarities

While only three episodes of “Palm Royale” have aired, the screenwriters appear to have included a few nods to the book.

For instance, in the book, Maxine steals Douglas' Jaguar E-Type. The show also happens to include the luxury car, though it's not owned by Douglas.

In the book, Chuck notes that Maxine has a trunk of “unmentionables” and thinks it’s funny that while they are unmentionables, she mentions them quite a lot.

In Episode Three of "Palm Royale," Maxine tells Robert that she is moving into the Dellacorte mansion and to place her "unmentionables" in the best room.

There's likely to be more nods to the original source as the series continues.

New episodes of "Palm Royale" are released on Wednesdays on Apple TV+.