Maggie Smith On Playing Older Women And Making Movies For “Grown-Ups”
Downton Abbey keeps commanding strong ratings during its third season run on the UK’s ITV with Sunday night’s intense episode pulling in an audience of about 9.46M and overtaking lead-in The X Factor. Meanwhile, the Dowager Countess herself, Dame Maggie Smith, looked far spryer in person Monday morning at a London press conference for Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet. Asked how she felt about the fact that she’s often cast in roles of much older women, she demurred, “I’m just glad to get any role, the fact that they’re all 90…” She said she suspects it started with 1991’s Hook in which she played Granny Wendy. “I think it was Peggy Ashcroft who couldn’t do it and I was suggested. They asked how old I was and somebody said 92.” She was in her mid-50s at the time. Also on the subject of age, Smith said she was happy to see more films about “grown-ups” as with her last feature The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. “It seems to me there’s a sort of change in what audiences want to see. I can only hope that’s correct because there are a lot of people my age around.” She cited Cocoon and Driving Miss Daisy and said films for and about older people “always seem to be fairly successful. It’s a bit baffling as to why everybody has to be treated as if they were five years old.” Told there exists a sandwich named after her at a Venice, Italy restaurant, she asked, “Is it ham?”

Bayona’s ‘The Impossible’ Breaks Records In Spain
Juan Antonio Bayona has broken a series of records in his home country including the biggest opening weekend in Spanish history with tsunami drama The Impossible. The three-day weekend tally was 8.985M euros ($11.64M) and the four-day take was 10.285M euros ($13.32M), according to distributor Warner Bros. The film also had the biggest Friday in history and the tied for the biggest Thursday with The Simpsons Movie at 1.3M euros ($1.68M). The Impossible stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami that devastated Thailand. It debuted in Toronto to strong notices and recently ran in San Sebastian and Sitges. It was produced by Apaches Entertainment with Telecinco Cinema and Summit Entertainment. Lionsgate releases the film in the U.S. on Dec. 21.

Beauty And The Beast On UK’s Watch
UK channel Watch has acquired exclusive broadcast rights to CBS Studios International’s Beauty And The Beast. The multi-season deal starts in early 2013. The drama debuted this year on the CW and stars Kristin Kreuk as a smart, no-nonsense homicide detective who years ago witnessed the murder of her mother at the hands of two gunmen and only escaped death when someone – or something – saved her. While investigating a murder, she discovers the man who saved her and who’s been in hiding for ten years. Watch’s other U.S. series include Grimm and Alcatraz. Beauty And The Beast is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Take 5 Productions/Whizbang Films.

BBC Director To Be Questioned Over Jimmy Savile ‘Newsnight’ segment
BBC director general George Entwistle will face questioning from an independent inquiry into the network’s shelving of its Newsnight segment on TV host Jimmy Savile. Savile is alleged to have sexually abused young women while working at the corporation. Entwistle backed Newsnight editor Peter Rippon’s decision to spike the report last year, but said Friday that he was only aware of Newsnight‘s investigation, not that it related to allegations of child abuse. The murkier the case gets, the more pressure there is on senior BBC staff to explain how Savile was able to escape scrutiny, despite what have been characterized as open rumors about his alleged predilection for young girls. Derek Chinnery, the controller of BBC Radio 1 between 1978 and 1985, on which Savile had a show, said he questioned the presenter about these rumors 20 years ago. It was good enough for him when Savile told him it was “all nonsense… He was the sort of man that attracted rumors,” Chinnery told BBC Radio 4. – Joe Utichi