Diane Haithman is an AwardsLine contributor.
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes on what he’s learned in the business:
On giving advice
In a way, I always think advice is rather impertinent really, because I’m not aware of knowing anything that anyone else doesn’t. I suppose the only thing I would say to young writers is if you want to do these courses and read these books, just remember that the element that gets you started is the one thing that everyone else has not got. In a way, they are teaching you to do it like everyone else did. I didn’t do any of that. READ MORE »
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Downton Abbey has become famous for killing off its characters whose actors have come to the end of their three-year deals – most traumatically Matthew Crawley (played by Dan Stevens) at the end of season three, devastating viewers on both sides of the Atlantic. But there is really only one Downton-ite whose demise would be utterly catastrophic: co-creator and sole writer Julian Fellowes. The unthinkable was pondered tonight during a jam-packed event at the TV Academy designed to drum up some Emmy enthusiasm for the Masterpiece costume drama/soap. It had been revealed in February that Fellowes had signed on to write and produce the NBC period drama The Gilded Age. The question tonight was whether Fellowes could work on both shows simultaneously if it came to that. Answer: No.
Related: Will Julian Fellowes Leave ‘Downton Abbey’ If NBC’s ‘Gilded Age’ Is A Go?
So then, asked moderator Pete Hammond of Deadline, when might Downton be ending? “Well,” replied Fellowes, “we’re always reading in the papers when it’s ending, but we don’t know when it’s ending ourselves so how can some journalist know? I think it’s still got some legs to it.” While that’s somewhat of a coy answer, Fellowes admitted earlier this year that it’s possible he might need to devote himself full time to Gilded Age while leaving the Downton writing duties to others. Read More »
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes penned the script for this newest adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic Romeo And Juliet which stars Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth as the doomed teenage lovers. Cast also includes Ed Westwick, Paul Giamatti, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgard, Damian Lewis and Lesley Manville. Carlo … Read More »
SPOILER ALERT (if you have yet to watch Sunday’s Downton Abbey finale)…
Sunday’s conclusion of the third season of Downton Abbey capped off what’s been a tough year for the Crawley family. Story-wise, that is. The hit period drama killed off some key characters this season — one midway through and one in the last seconds of the last episode — and kept the audience hooked for record ratings. But what if co-creator Julian Fellowes, the man who writes every episode, were to leave? The idea was floated by Fellowes himself in an interview with The New York Times this week.
Fellowes recently signed on to write and produce NBC period drama The Gilded Age. The project, which has a script commitment with significant penalty attached, is a sweeping epic set in 1880s New York. Fellowes told the paper that if NBC picks up the show, he’ll be writing it when Downton “finishes.” He noted, “There are many hurdles that have to be cleared… But if (Gilded Age) goes, and if I’m doing a series at NBC, I would not be able to write all of Downton and all of that series at the same time.” Should Downton carry on, he said, “it would be with other writers. Perhaps with me supervising, but with other writers.” When I asked Gareth Neame about Fellowes’ comments, the exec producer and head of Carnival Films, which makes Downton, said, “We are currently filming Season 4 of Downton Abbey which is written entirely by Julian Fellowes. The show is in rude health and neither Julian nor I have plans to end it anytime soon.” (Neame is also exec producing the upcoming NBC/Sky Living drama series Dracula.) Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Coming off a killer Sundance where it acquired The Way, Way Back and unveiled its film Stoker, Searchlight has acquired worldwide rights to Laura Moriarty’s best-selling novel The Chaperone. My Week With Marilyn helmer Simon Curtis will direct a a script written by Downton Abbey‘s Julian Fellowes. The film reunites Fellowes with his Downton Abbey star Elizabeth McGovern. Eli Selden and Adam Shulman of Anonymous Content are producing with Curtis and McGovern.
Amid the backdrop of the tumultuous times of the early 1920s, the life of a Kansas woman (McGovern) is forever changed when she chaperones a beautiful and talented 15 year-old dancer named Louise Brooks to New York for the summer. One of them is eager to fulfill her destiny of silent film stardom; the other hopes to unearth the mysteries of her past. Read More »
Last-Minute Angling Ahead Of UK Media Ethics Report
Lord Justice Brian Leveson‘s report into UK media ethics will be published Thursday. Today, key cross-party figures from the House of Commons and the House of Lords voiced their opposition to statutory control of the newspaper business. In a joint letter to The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph, more than 80 signatories including Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, London Olympics chairman Sebastian Coe and former home secretary David Blunkett, wrote the solution to abuses of the press “is not new laws but a profound restructuring of the self-regulatory system.” But The Guardian also reports that prime minister David Cameron, who had a 24-hour advance look at the report, is likely to reject proposals of a re-jiggered form of self-regulation. The question of whether any form of regulation will be legislated by law remains hotly contentious. Leveson’s recommendations are likely to be strong, though not to the point of insisting on state control over the press. The judge has made clear he does not intend for his report to become another footnote in the history of “failed regulatory systems.” – Joe Utichi
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Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has signed on to write and produce another period drama, this time for NBC. Fellowes’ The Gilded Age, which has a script commitment with significant penalty attached, is described as a sweeping epic in the style of Downton Abbey. It depicts the world of the millionaire titans of 1880s New York, chronicling the lives of the princes of the American Renaissance and the vast fortunes they made — and spent. “This was a vivid time with dizzying, brilliant ascents and calamitous falls, of record-breaking ostentation and savage rivalry; a time when money was king,” Fellowes said. Read More »
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes recently said he’d be surprised if the show didn’t have a fourth season. But network ITV has been tight-lipped on the subject until today when it announced it has commissioned another … Read More »
With Season 3 of Downton Abbey about to wrap up in the UK, creator Julian Fellowes will be spending time at some of England’s other great estates. NBCUniversal International Television’s Chocolate Media will produce Julian Fellowes’ … Read More »
Call it The Courtship Of Mary’s Mother And Father. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes told an industry audience at a BAFTA Screenwriters’ Lecture this week that he’s mulling a prequel to the hit period drama. Talking about a possible book, he said it would focus on how the Earl and Countess of Grantham first met. “I do actually have an idea of doing a prequel of the courtship of Robert and Cora, when all those American heiresses were arriving in London… They had a slightly troubled courtship, because she was in love with him before they married, as we know, and he married her entirely for her money.” He added, “I sort of feel there’s something quite nice in there because he’s a decent cove, and so he feels rather guilty about this.” A person close to Downton tells Deadline this is the first they’ve heard of such a project and that Fellowes does not currently have a publishing deal for a prequel book. The characters, currently portrayed by Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern, would be played by younger actors in any potential show. However, Fellowes noted that “Any other books or plays or films should follow after the end of the current television show.” In Cannes earlier this year, Fellowes told me he envisioned the show going on to at least a fourth season. Read More »
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage
It’s been 100 years since the Titanic sank but less than a year since a TV event that kicked off with that very disaster, Downton Abbey, took the Emmy Awards by storm last September. Relatively unheralded and on unsexy PBS, Downton Abbey managed to launch its own British invasion in claiming six trophies (including top movie/miniseries as well as the supporting work of Dame Maggie Smith.) The show about the lives of English aristocrats and servants in the early part of the 20th century seemingly became a pop culture phenomenon the instant it arrived on our shores, demonstrating again that the Brits do period drama better than anyone else.
But in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately? world of the primetime Emmys, Downton (a co-production of NBCUniversal’s Carnival Films in the UK and PBS affiliate WGBH/Boston) is about to find out how the other half really lives. Because it’s no longer a miniseries but a plain old drama series in its second season, it won’t be competing for Emmys this time with longform projects like HBO’s Mildred Pierce, Too Big to Fail and Cinema Verité as it did in 2011, but instead against American TV’s real aristocracy, which will include some combination of AMC’s Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Killing, Showtime’s Homeland and HBO’s Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. That’s assuming, of course, that Downton earns second invitation to the party as it’s expected to. Read More »
Romeo And Juliet
Swarovski Entertainment, the film production arm of the 117-year-old jewelry company that gave sparkle to Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, is in Cannes talking up its debut feature. Romeo And Juliet, from a script by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, stars Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Ed Westwick, Paul Giamatti, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgard, Damian Lewis and Lesley Manville. Shooting recently wrapped on the Carlo Carlei-directed film for which Camela Galano’s Speranza 13 Media is selling foreign rights and UTA and ICM are co-repping domestic. Ileen Maisel and Lawrence Elman of Amber Entertainment are producers. The film is a classic adaptation and Fellowes assures Deadline he was not attempting to one-up the Bard by writing a transfer. “It wasn’t improving, it was clarifying and creating links for the audience,” he says. Read More »
The MIPTV market kicks off in Cannes today and runs through April 4. Today’s big event will be the gala screening of episode 1 of Julian Fellowes’ Titanic miniseries which premiered on ITV in the UK last Sunday. Below is a selection of various announcements from today.
ITV Studios Global Entertainment Sells More ‘Titanic’
Last week’s premiere episode scored the highest rating for a drama on ITV1 this year with 7.4 million viewers and a 28.5% audience share. ITV Studios Global Entertainment, which is selling the mini, has announced new deals in China (Shanghai Joy Network), Latin America (Nat Geo), Mexico (TV Azteca), the Netherlands (SBS’ Veronica), Belgium (VRT), Africa (BBC Entertainment), Singapore (Mediacorp’s okto) and Iran (Marjan TV Network). The co-production from ITV Studios with Shaw Media, Deep Indigo Productions and Lookout Point in the UK, Sienna Films in Canada and Mid Atlantic Films in Hungary, is now sold in 95 territories.
Shine International Deals In ‘Real Humans’
The sales and distribution arm of Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group has sold Swedish drama Real Humans to Australian pubcaster SBS. The 10-part series debuted on Sweden’s SVT1 in January to exceed the network’s 9pm slot average by 27%. Set in a parallel present day where technology has enabled robots to become so human it’s nearly impossible to tell them apart from people, the series is produced by Matador Films. SBS has also struck deals with Shine International for the Australian premiere of the US versions of maternity ward reality show One Born Every Minute and forensic series History Cold Case as well as Channel 4’s Read More »
On Wednesday night, the Obamas, the Camerons and UK Treasury chief George Osborne broke bread at the White House with Downton Abbey’s Lord and Lady Grantham themselves, Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern. Today, it looks like they might have discussed more than just Mary and Matthew’s wedding plans. When the British government unveils its new budget next week, Osborne is expected to announce a consultation on a tax break for producers of so-called “high-end” TV shows like Downton Abbey, reports say. The move is an effort to stem runaway production and is also eyed as a way to encourage foreign shows to come to the UK. Britain’s “cinematic” TV industry is a £2.2 billion business with Downton Abbey among the rare exceptions of shows produced at home. (The upcoming Titanic miniseries, written by Downton creator Julian Fellowes, was produced in Canada and Hungary.) The shows eligible for the break would be productions that cost £1 million an hour or more to produce. In order to qualify, they would need to pass a cultural test to prove their Britishness with at least 25% of spend occurring in the UK. Alternatively, projects could be eligible under an agreed co-production treaty.
A tax credit for films already exists in the UK and offers as much as a 25% break on pictures shot locally. The scheme has helped boost production with more than 200 films supported in 2010 alone, including Warner Bros’ final Harry Potter installment. A recent report by consulting firm RSM Tenon and media law specialist Wiggin LLP estimates that a tax incentive for big budget shows “would transform the world TV economy” and would make the UK the location of choice for local and international producers. The groups estimate an additional £350 million of production spend would be generated each year. Read More »
Last March, Deadline refuted a litany of web reports that Barbra Streisand’s dream to play the stage mother in Gypsy had died because Arthur Laurents no longer wanted the movie to get made. Deadline reported that Universal was making the deal and that producer Joel Silver was boarding the … Read More »
A panel of industry experts led by former culture secretary Lord Chris Smith published its highly anticipated recommendations on revamping UK government film policy today. The panel, which included Sony’s Michael Lynton, Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and Optimum Releasing founder Will Clarke, made suggestions with the intent of increasing audience choice and growing the demand for British films both at home and abroad. With calls for regulated film investment from broadcasters like BSkyB and ITV, the review also seems to be taking a cue from its neighbors across the Channel on certain points. Within the 56 recommendations that aim to boost the British film brand are a handful of proposals that, if heeded, would make the UK business more closely resemble the French model.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron made headlines last week when he called for British filmmakers to make more “commercially successful pictures.” The remarks left the local industry in a bit of a huff, with director Ken Loach telling the BBC: “If you knew what was going to be successful before you made it then we’d all be millionaires.” (It’s worth noting that Loach’s last several films have been made with French backing). Despite Loach’s initial take on Cameron’s comments and as some industry folks I spoke to late last week suggested, the review that’s been released today is not quite so incendiary as the prime minister’s statements led people to believe. After Cameron’s quips, Fellowes last week said, “At the moment it’s being presented as if there’s a sort of polarity, you either support mainstream films or minority pictures. That isn’t what this is about at all. It’s about broadening the base, so that money goes into all kinds of films.” Supporting Fellowes’ comments, the report’s first recommendation is that major organizations must recognize that a key goal is to connect the widest possible audiences with the broadest and richest range of British films. In comments today, Lord Smith noted that between inward investment that’s helping to boost the local economy (think lavish Hollywood pics shooting in Britain) and a run of strong local films at the box offrice (The King’s Speech, The Inbetweeners Movie), British film is in a strong place. But, “we need to sustain that.” The report notes that although the average Briton watches over 80 films a year on big and small screens, UK indies made up only 5.5% of box office from 2001-2010. Read More »
British Prime Minister David Cameron will visit Pinewood studios today where he is expected to urge filmmakers to ramp up efforts to rival Hollywood by making more “commercially successful pictures.” Cameron’s visit comes just ahead of next week’s release of the findings of a government film policy review overseen by former culture secretary Chris Smith with input from such folk as Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. According to Cameron’s official website, the review is expected to suggest the UK’s Lottery funding scheme be rebalanced to support more mainstream films with commercial potential as well as culturally rewarding films. The news is likely to upset the independent film community, with director Ken Loach already appearing on the BBC today to say: “If you knew what was going to be successful before you made it then we’d all be millionaires. It doesn’t work like that. Public money should go to fund a wide variety of projects and people.” The review is further expected to propose that the British Film Institute reinvest returns into film companies with the most box office success. Read More »
Emmys Live-Blog; Emmys By The Numbers; Emmy Analysis: Broadcast TV’s Big Awards Comeback; Red Carpet Executive Arrivals
Deadline’s Diane Haithman and Ray Richmond were backstage at the Primetime Emmy Awards tonight to hear what the winners had to say.
Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell came backstage together after winning the awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. The Modern Family stars were asked first about being part of a show that is breaking ground for gays. Burrell said, “I don’t know, in terms of America, it feels very, very good to be on a show that seems like it’s slowly changing a lot of minds. Eric [Stonestreet] and Jesse [Tyler Ferguson] deserve all of the credit for that, and our amazing showrunners. It’s a great thing to just peripherally go to events and just basically start to talk about those characters like any other characters, relating to their life — it’s pretty cool.” Bowen joked, “As a straight woman, and part of a straight couple on the show, I feel marginalized.” On a more serious note, she added: “It’s absurd that it’s even an issue, but where it’s an issue, I’m glad that we are part of helping change minds.” Using the word “straight” in a different context, Burrell praised Bowen: “It’s even greater credit to what Julie does that the straight-person wins an Emmy, I don’t think that happens very often. In a couple there’s usually a straight-man and a wilder character. It’s due to her resourcefulness as an actor.” On going back to the set with an Emmy when other cast members were also nominated, Burrell said: “Eric won last year, and Ed [O'Neill] actually just said something really sweet right before the award, ‘whoever wins deserves it.’ I feel like we’re trying to enjoy this moment more than anything — we know this doesn’t last forever; we’re having a lot of fun.” Bowen said about her surprise win, “I kinda thought it was a lock on Betty White. If I didn’t have a dog in this fight, and I had two, I would have voted for Betty White. Claire is not necessarily fall-down funny every time.” She credits the writers for having found ways to make her character have many dimensions and “not just be the mom.” …
Later, Steve Levitan and Jeffrey Richman, winners for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, were asked how it feels for Modern Family to be sweeping the awards so far, with wins in every category they’ve been eligible for. Levitan: “We’re beyond thrilled with the way things have gone, obviously. It’s an embarrassment of riches, and from the bottom of our hearts we feel that Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen deserved to win. (Outstanding Director in a Comedy Series winner) Michael Alan Spiller, not so much. To tell you the truth, it’s a little surreal.” They were then asked what they did to ramp up the stories and quality of Modern Family in Season 2. Levitan: “We feel like we know the characters a little bit better this year. There was such dedication this year to keeping the quality up. We all live in fear of the quality dipping so we work extra hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. … I’ll also tell you that our kids are the unsung heroes of the show. What they do on this show is amazing. We ask them to do such complicated turns and they nail it constantly. They’re playing at the same level as the adults and that’s a rare thing.” … Read More »