Carol Burnett: The Beacon of Inspiration for ‘Palm Royale’ Cast Members Allison Janney and Leslie Bibb

The legendary Carol Burnett has long been viewed as a paradigm of excellence during her impressive tenure in Hollywood, now nearing an impressive seven decades. Her enduring legacy didn’t just captivate audiences the world over, but it was also the crowning allure for Allison Janney and Leslie Bibb, drawing them towards the AppleTV+ series, Palm Royale.

Palm Royale transports viewers back to the year 1969, to the sun-soaked shores of Palm Beach, Florida. Loosely adapted from the novel “Mr. & Mrs. American Pie,” the series intricately weaves the narratives of an elite group of country club socialites, who not only embrace but epitomize the idyllic lifestyle of the era. The storyline follows Maxine, portrayed by Kristen Wiig, as she aspires to infiltrate the affluent community, confronting the economic and social barricades that guard the sanctuary of the Palm Royale Country Club. Alongside Maxine’s endeavors are characters Evelyn Rollins, brought to life by Allison Janney, and Dinah Douglas, interpreted by Leslie Bibb, both of whom are established fixtures in this exclusive enclave.

Joining Janney and Bibb is a star-studded cadre comprising the likes of Laura Dern and Ricky Martin. Yet, beyond the illustrious cast, the compelling narrative and the opportunity to work with the showrunner Abe Sylvia were instrumental in their decision to embark on this project. “He was so fun and had a great sense of what he was going to do,” Janney reminisces about her initial conversations with Sylvia.

Janney wasn’t the only one who recognized something special in the making of Palm Royale. Bibb recalls her audition vividly, likening the script to a “golden ticket,” signaling a pivotal moment in her career. But for Janney, her true “golden ticket” moment culminated in the experience of sharing the screen with Carol Burnett. She remembers being seated beside Burnett during an early read-through and being absolutely thrilled. “She is just so gracious and professional,” Janney reflects on Burnett’s impactful presence.

This professionalism was not lost on Bibb either, who observed Burnett at the read-through, engaged and ready to absorb despite having no lines to deliver. It was a profound moment that underlined the timeless dedication of a true professional.

The aesthetic DNA of Palm Royale owes much to famed lifestyle photographer Slim Aarons and his portrayal of “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places” across the 1950s to ’70s. Drawing from this visual lexicon, Janney and Bibb also tapped into their personal muses to flesh out their characters. Bibb channeled the spirit of Lee Radziwill, sister of Jacqueline Kennedy, to elevate the intrigue around her character Dinah. Janney, meanwhile, found inspiration for Evelyn from her grandmother, a woman who lived a seemingly perfect life, though Evelyn, in contrast, clings to a changing past and a social prominence under threat.

Janney describes the series as “delicious cotton candy,” not just for its visual appeal but also due to its provocative narratives. Responding to the galvanizing changes enveloping the outer world—civil rights movements, the lunar landing, the Vietnam War—the story centers on women resistant to this whirlwind of transformation.

Furthermore, Bibb notes the timely resonance of the series’ historical backdrop with current societal issues, particularly on women’s reproductive rights, emphasizing an ongoing dialogue between past and present.

Set to enchant and provoke discussions, the first two episodes of Palm Royale will make their debut on Apple TV on Thursday, March 20, 2024, promising viewers a sumptuous voyage into a bygone era and a reflection on themes that continue to echo through time.

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