‘Bridgerton’ universe expands with Queen Charlotte prequel


Netflix has crowned the star of its latest “Bridgerton” project.

The streaming giant announced Friday that the “Bridgerton” universe is expanding with a prequel series centering on Queen Charlotte, Lady Violet Bridgerton and Lady Danbury, played by Golda Rosheuvel, Ruth Gemmell and Adjoa Andoh, respectively, in executive producer Shonda Rhimes’ hit period drama.

The limited series will focus primarily on young Queen Charlotte’s rise to prominence, while also touching on the early lives of Lady Bridgerton and Lady Danbury, all of whom occupied key secondary roles in the first season of “Bridgerton,” starring Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor.

Additionally, the streamer revealed that longtime Rhimes collaborator Jess Brownell will replace “Bridgerton” creator Chris Van Dusen as showrunner of the third and fourth seasons of the romantic saga. Brownell has previously worked on other successful Rhimes projects, including “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“It’s been incredibly rewarding working alongside Shonda, Betsy [Beers], and Chris Van Dusen on the first two seasons of Bridgerton,” Brownell said in a statement. “And now, as these beloved characters are entrusted to me, I cannot wait to lend my unique vision to the next two seasons.”

“We’ve worked with Jess Brownell for over a decade and have long wanted to find the right project to place in her hands,” Rhimes added. “When it came time to pass the baton, I knew this unique voice was vital to the future of the show.”

Before passing the baton to Brownell, Van Dusen will continue helming the series’ sophomore season, currently in production with Season 1 breakout Jonathan Bailey as the rakish Anthony Bridgerton. Joining Bailey as the female lead of Season 2 is Simone Ashley, who is also among the ensemble cast of Netflix’s quirky teen comedy “Sex Education.”

News of Van Dusen’s departure comes about a month after Netflix dealt “Bridgerton” fans a crushing blow by confirming that Season 1 heartthrob Page would not be reprising his role as the charming Duke of Hastings in the next chapter.

In an early farewell statement, Van Dusen thanked the author of the “Bridgerton” novels, Julia Quinn, “and her passionate fans — for embracing my vision” for the small-screen adaptation of the beloved stories set in Regency England.

“With Bridgerton, I set out to make the period show I always wanted to see,” Van Dusen said in a statement. “I never could’ve anticipated how much the rest of the world also wanted to see it. I’m deeply proud of this remarkable cast and incredible crew, and I’m so grateful for the enduring support of Shonda, who I’ve worked alongside for 17 years.

“Shondaland is where I learned how to make TV, craft incredibly complex characters and how to tell stories. And while it’s been an incredible journey, I have my sights set on a few new stories to tell. … [I] look forward to seeing Jess continue the magic in seasons three and four.

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