RESPECT. THAT WAS THE OPERATIVE word on the set of Fergie & Andy: Behind the Palace Doors, this week’s NBC movie (Sept. 28, 9 P.M. ET), which traces the courtship and connubial collapse of the Duke and Duchess of York. For starters, producer David Rosemont decided to shoot entirely on location in England to “give the movie the authenticity it needed to keep up the respect and dignity of the royal family,” he says. Next, he hired three Windsor insiders, including Princess Diana biographer Andrew Morton, to insure “absolute accuracy.” Rosemont even sent Fergie an invitation to watch the filming, which began in July, but the Duchess sent back word that she “respectfully” declined.
Then, three weeks after production wrapped, photos of Fergie trysting topless with Texas businessman John Bryan were splattered across the London tabloids. Production resumed with a hastily added scene in which a Palace adviser comments on the Duchess’ latest escapades. There is no footage of Fergie frolicking however. That would have been disrespectful.
And there’s no dissing intended when the actors, chosen in part for their passing resemblance to the principals, describe how they prepared for their roles. Leading lady Pippa Hinchley, 26, sought to emulate the Duchess’ duck waddle. “I’m afraid I did go for ‘the walk,’ ” sighs Hinchley, most recently seen in the movie London Kills Me. “She walks like she’s just gotten of! her horse.” British TV actor Sam Miller, 29, says that he had his teeth “very well cleaned, whitened and bleached” for his depiction of Prince Andrew. “Andrew has got an incredible beam,” he says, “and the royals are always smiling in public.”
It’s the private moments that this movie hopes to capture. But the British public may not be seeing them any time soon, since Behind the Palace Doors has yet to be sold to British TV. “We’re prudish about these things,” says Hinchley. “It took 40 years before we had a series on Edward and Mrs. Simpson. It might be another 40 before we’re ready for this.”