Apple TV+’s “Palm Royale,” executive produced by Jayme Lemons and starring Josh Lucas, had its season finale at the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts. Hosted by Arkansas Cinema Society, both Lemons and Lucas were in attendance at a news conference before the screening and at a Q&A following the finale. 

Born in Fayetteville, Lucas was partially raised in Little Rock, where Lemons also has strong ties. Although Lucas left Arkansas at a fairly young age, his family is from Little Rock, with his grandparents owning a small roofing business and his dad being a former Catholic High state champion football player. 

With nothing but childlike, fond memories, Lucas said he jumps at any opportunity to visit Arkansas, as he used to visit his grandparents frequently when they were here. 



Jayme Lemons & Josh Lucas


“Obviously, coming from Arkansas and coming from a very working-class Arkansas reality, to what is a completely different life in Broadway and New York and Hollywood, and all of that, it has been the essence of the reason of why I am who I am, and why I relate to characters and projects the way that I do,” Lucas said. “It’s why I hold my grandparents so deeply in importance in my life, because their Arkansas essence is where I think I’m most comfortable.” 


Lemons currently resides in Arkansas, and when she isn’t working, she enjoys shopping at local places such as Domestic Domestic, eating at several Arkansas-based restaurants and sipping cocktails at Rock Town Distillery. 


“The day I met Josh, I think the first thing we talked about wasn’t the show, but it was the fact that we [Arkansas] claim him,” Lemons said. 




Lucas enjoys his trips back to Arkansas and is particularly fond of the artistic scenes such as the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, as well as the natural beauty that is free to explore throughout the state. 


“This museum is truly like a work of art itself. It’s so inviting, light, beautiful, and the collection is extraordinary,” Lucas said. “I think one of the things that Arkansas Cinema Society and this museum and people in this state are trying to say is that there’s a misconception of Arkansas and the Bible Belt as being a cultural desert, when in fact, it’s quite the opposite.” 


While Lemons and her producing partner, longtime actress Laura Dern (“Jurassic Park,” “Big Little Lies”) executive produced a very Hollywood glamor-style show, Lemons said she believes that both of them having southern roots has been a great impact in the ways the duo has been able to portray Hollywood. While Lemons is from Waldron, Dern has family in Alabama and Mississippi, modeling a similar upbringing. 




“It’s a bubble, and this show reflects that bubble. The reality is, if you come from the rest of the country, you can kind of see [Hollywood] much more clearly. I think that’s what you bring to your work with us. We feel there’s an authenticity and a genuineness that comes from people who come from places like the Bible Belt,” Lucas said to Lemons. 


Other southern influences in creating this show include the work of showrunner Abe Sylvia, who grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, and Tate Taylor, one of the directors on the show who is from Mississippi. 


Lemons and Dern first became interested in creating a show of this stature after reading “Mr. and Mrs. American Pie” by Juliet McDaniel, a novel which was given to her by a fellow producer on the show, Katie O’Connell. 


“We felt like there was a story of a larger world and a bigger story to be told that we could springboard from the book,” Lemons said. “The book was very interesting in that it set up this ensemble of very complicated, dynamic women with a set of problems and an outsider who really wanted to break in.” 




With talent such as Kristen Wiig, Ricky Martin, Allison Janney, Carol Burnett, Kaia Gerber, Julia Duffy and more, Lucas was ready to hit the ground running well before even looking at the script. Lucas said the show provided an unusually joyful and friendly atmosphere in which the cast supported each other greatly. 


“Even though these women are doing some truly terrible things to each other [on screen], the friendships of the group of people that were making it were very rare and very happy. There was so much love involved in the production,” Lucas said. 


The series is centered around Maxine Dellacorte-Simmons, played by Wiig, with Lucas portraying her love interest, Douglas Dellacorte-Simmons. As Douglas battles themes of love, mistakes, distrust, wealth and otherness, Maxine can be seen battling similar themes as she strives to climb the high-society social ladder. 


Maxine is an orphan from Tennessee, and a character who Lucas and Lemons both believe is relatable to the masses. At its core, Palm Royale aims to answer the following question: What does it take to get a seat at the table?




According to Lemons, it is not just about what it takes to become elite, but it is also about exploring the reason behind why people want to be inside these circles. 


“There’s a great moment in this show when people ask [Maxine], ‘Why do you want this?’ and she says, ‘Because I am an orphan who comes from nothing.’ And it’s a really profound question,” Lucas said. “Why do any of us want what we don’t have? It’s the human condition. The grass is always greener.” 


Lucas, who has been working in Hollywood for 30 years, still finds the business to be mystifying. As Maxine strives to break into a rarified world, Lucas sees Hollywood as one in the same.


“[The show is] really interesting, because most people in high society don’t feel like they belong there,” Lucas said.




Lemons also resonates with Maxine on a similar level, driving into work daily while developing the show. 


“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t drive into that lot and think, ‘I’m a kid from Waldron, Arkansas. What on absolute Earth am I even doing here?’ I still don’t get it. I love it, but I don’t 100% understand how it happened,” Lemons said. 


According to Lucas, the show contains wildly multifaceted people, including his own character, Douglas Dellacorte-Simmons. 


“They all have this crazy ambition to them. Each one of them has so many flaws and they’re all a mess. Douglas, in particular, is so terrific because he’s just not bright. He’s just not a smart guy and he has no idea about that,” Lucas said, explaining he thinks of his character like a Labrador puppy dog, running throughout the house destroying his stuff without any consciousness of a problem in sight. 




In portraying Douglas as the ultimate rich kid, Lucas said he truly believes his character to be truly in love with the woman he’s married to, despite his flaws. 


“He really does want good things. He’s not a bad guy; the bad things he does come from a sort of puppy dog reality. He just wants to do right by her, but yes, he’s got tons of problems,” Lucas said.


The show is set in 1969, a year that is similar in a lot of ways to 2024. As far as portraying these similar times, Lemons said the show mirrors the struggles Americans faced in the late ‘60s as well as today.  


“We address women’s rights. The characters are operating their lives while the rest of the world, certainly the rest of the country, is facing what’s happening in Vietnam. Women’s issues play out in a lot of different ways in our show that I think they still do today,” Lemons said. “It’s an interesting microcosm of a show that we dress up like a really pretty wedding cake, but it’s relevant in ways that we hopefully don’t hit you over the head with.”


The idea of being enamored by fame, wealth, glitz and glam is not a new concept, but one that has evolved over time, according to Lemons. In the spirit of history repeating itself, Lucas also finds similarities between the show and life today. 




“When you look at the year 1969, there were protests in the street, right? There are campus protests incredibly similar to what’s going on today. What’s remarkable is that history repeats itself, and yet, this show is truly a confection. It’s showing a group of people who are living their lives really without caring at all about what’s happening in the world outside of their very wealthy bubble,” Lucas said. 


According to Lucas, this idea is what has made “Palm Royale” both fascinating and fun to watch, as well as satirically aware.  


“The reality is that there is an undercurrent sizzling about and being talked about from the beginning. It reflects the things that are happening now and the fact that, frankly, we are talking about the Met Gala as opposed to the war in Gaza,” Lucas said. 


To stream “Palm Royale,” visit Apple TV+, and to learn more about Arkansas Cinema Society and its events, click here.


Photo Credit: Arkansas Cinema Society
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