Jack Davenport was given the thankless job in NBC’s canceled Smash of portraying a hotshot choreographer-director who thought Katharine McPhee was the perfect Marilyn Monroe for his Broadway production. Now he will get a much happier role playing an OBGYN in London in the 1960s-set Breathless for PBS. Masterpiece exec producer Rebecca Eaton confirmed his casting tonight at Summer TV Press Tour 2013. ITV Studios is co-producing. Eaton also confirmed Deadline’s May report that Matthew Rhys will play Mr. Darcy in PBS’s 3-part adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley, based on the novel by P.D. James that imagines Jane Austen’s Darcy and Elizabeth six years after they marry and a body turns up at Pemberley as they’re preparing for their annual ball. Anna Maxwell Martin plays Elizabeth in the drama, timed to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Origin Pictures is producing for BBC One with filming in Yorkshire. The series is expected to run during the end-of-year holidays.
PBS has purchased a second season of Mr. Selfridge, starring Jeremy Piven as the American entrepreneur who founded UK’s Selfridge department store. The second season will air on PBS’s Masterpiece Classic franchise in ’14. PBS says the first season was sampled by 15 million viewers over its eight episodes; each episode averaged about 4 million viewers. In today’s announcement, Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton said, “It is clear from our audience’s reaction that they want more of Harry Selfridge, his family and department store shopping!” Not so much the TV Academy, which last week gave Mr. S just one Emmy nom for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series. One year earlier, the academy gave the Masterpiece Classic adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations five noms. And, of course, the academy showered Downton Abbey with 13 noms this year, though that’s far fewer than the noms with which it had feted the first season of Downton, when it competed as a miniseries. Maybe Mr. Selfridge entered the wrong Emmy race?
But Mr. Selfridge counts among its corporate sponsors the Ralph Lauren Corporation, which became a Masterpiece sponsor last year. A series about fashion is right in its wheelhouse. Did you know Ralph Lauren clothing is available at Selfridges? Currently filming in the UK, the second season of Mr Selfridge picks up the story in 1914, as the store celebrates its fifth anniversary in …
Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton positively beamed at critics this afternoon during a lunchtime panel promoting the PBS series of British productions. Ratings for the series were up by nearly a third in 2011, Eaton reported. The numbers for women aged 25-64 were “double what they usually are,” she added. “And we generated critical praise that you just can’t buy.” Also key was the record 25 Emmy nominations racked up by the series last year and, at the same time, the reception accorded the Masterpiece miniseries Downton Abbey that returns for its second season beginning this Sunday. (A third season of 10 hours has also been announced, to air on PBS stations in 2013; it begins shooting in February.) Downton in September not only won four Emmys — recognized as top movie/mini as well as for writing, directing and the supporting acting of Maggie Smith — but also brought the pubcaster a burst of critical recognition during a time in Washington when government funding of public broadcasting was suddenly in peril. One could even go so far as to say that Downton Abbey helped to save PBS, though Eaton wouldn’t go quite that far this afternoon.
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.” …
PBS has picked up Endeavour, a prequel of the long-running series Inspector Morse, to air on Masterpiece Mystery next year, which marks the 25th anniversary of the series’ 1987 premiere. The prequel — the title, Endeavour, is a reference to Morse’s first name — stars British actor Shaun Evans (Ashes to Ashes), who will step into John Thaw’s shoes to play the younger version of Colin Dexter’s iconic character. Set in 1965, the story follows the hunt for a missing schoolgirl, which draws Endeavour Morse back to the place that will ultimately shape and define his destiny: Oxford. “Inspector Morse was one of my favorite detectives,” Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton said. “Shaun Evans has a similar depth and quiet charm. I can’t wait to see his Endeavour.” Another Inspector Morse offshoot, the series Inspector Lewis starring Kevin Whately in the role he originated in Inspector Morse, also airs on Mastepiece, with four new episodes slated to begin Sept. 4. Written by Russell Lewis, Endeavour is a co-production of ITV Studios Prods and Masterpiece.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA
At an afternoon TCA panel promoting the new season of PBS’ Masterpiece series, exec producer Rebecca Eaton was asked to explain a story in Britain’s Daily Mail that charged the acclaimed period drama Downton Abbey (recently nominated for 11 Primetime Emmys) lost two hours of content in its journey from the UK to America. Sounding unusually contentious, the typically unflappable Eaton explained, “I’m glad you brought this up. This was a story in the Daily Mail. Do I have to say anything more? And they got it wrong and they made a big deal out of it, that we’d taken two hours out. It wasn’t true. Our version was overall 20 or 25 minutes shorter and had to do with (advertising) and the need for different formatting. We didn’t chop it up to make it more palatable to the dummies in the American audience — as it was implied.” Eaton was quick to add, “By the way, that reporter’s name was Christopher Hastings.”
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s Emmy coverage.
I’ve just learned that the TV Academy has 6 names on its list of ineligible producers for Emmy-nominated programs. (Not 7: one producer was bumped from two shows.) See my previous, EMMYS: Waiting For That Producer List… and EMMYS: Producer Credits Still Controversial.
Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall was disqualified from participation for a 2nd consecutive year for his Showtime hourlong’s Outstanding Drama Series nomination, but naturally his nomination for lead actor in a drama is unaffected. By contrast, CSI star William Petersen was included as part of the CBS series production team in 2002, 2003, and 2004 when the mothership hourlong was nominated for top drama. But Hall hasn’t been able to pull a similar trick.
Only one other producer in a non-executive position was ruled ineligible: Michael Novick, who brought the original script for Fox’s Glee to the attention of showrunner Ryan Murphy. Novick’s contributions to the show’s ongoing production were viewed as insufficient to qualify him as part of the show’s production team.
The other four are: Ian Jones and Alison Rayson for the PBS Masterpiece Contemporary entry Endgame; Susan Werbe for the History Channel project Moonshot; and Rebecca Eaton, named for both Endgame and the Masterpiece Classic two-parter Return to Cranford.
Some 223 producers passed muster.
After the controversy that erupted in past years, not a single writer-producer is on the bumped list this time, …