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On The Tudors, It’s Good To Be the King!

Henry VIII has suffered decades of being best-known for his many wives, big church battles and kingly appetite. But in Showtime’s The Tudors, the series that counts among its executive producers hitmaker Ben Silverman, Henry spends less time making hay than rolling in it.

Given all the nookie in the pilot, the series (premiering April 1) seems better-suited for Cinemax. Tudors stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers (a Golden Globe winner for playing that other king, Elvis) as a very young (and able) king. Five minutes into the premiere, Henry declares war on France—and marks the occasion by playing a little "divide and conquer" with a leggy blonde. Before long, finding the Queen absent, the rakish ruler invites her buxom servant into his

Contrary to the typical depictions of Henry VIII, Rhys Meyers cuts a virile figure. Silverman, who has a history degree from Tufts, admits to the edgy, contemporary feel of the period piece but insists writer Michael Hirst pored over reference books— "first-personal archival material"—to offer up the hard facts.

But won’t this cloud our view of the megalomaniacal monarch? Silverman explains he was looking to spice up the stodgy costume-drama genre. "A little skin goes a long way," he says, adding, "Henry was a very passionate kind of guy." And how.