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‘The Gilded Age’: Julian Fellowes’ 19th Century Drama Jumps to HBO from NBC

The "Downton Abbey" creator's latest drama will still be a 10-episode season, but now on a different network.

Lord Julian Fellowes launches his new app BelgraviaLondon Book Fair, Olympia, Britain - 12 Apr 2016

Julian Fellowes

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Julian Fellowes’ latest television foray is still happening, but it has found a new home. HBO announced that it has given a 10-episode production commitment to “The Gilded Age,” the latest writing effort from the creator of “Downton Abbey.” The series, set in the late 19th century, was originally planned as a prestige entry in the NBC lineup with a spring 2019 release.

Naturally, as no casting for the series has been revealed, and with the network switch, that target date is long gone. But Thursday’s announcement does come with a lengthy synopsis of where this season of television might be heading:

“The American Gilded Age in 1885 was a period of immense economic change, of huge fortunes made and lost, and the rise of disparity between old money and new money, which is being reflected again today.  Against this backdrop comes young Marian Brook, the orphaned daughter of a Southern general, who moves into the home of her rigidly conventional aunts in New York City.  Accompanied by the mysterious Peggy Scott, an African-American woman masquerading as her maid, Marian gets caught up in the dazzling lives of her stupendously rich neighbors, led by a ruthless railroad tycoon and his ambitious wife struggling for acceptance by the Astor and Vanderbilt set.  Will Marian follow the established rules of society, or forge her own path in this exciting new world that is on the brink of transformation into the modern age?”

The move from NBC to HBO is not only notable for the venue change, but the people involved. As HBO programming head Casey Bloys noted in the announcement, “I know I speak for Bob Greenblatt — who was involved in the development of this series while at Universal Television — when I say we’re thrilled to bring [Fellowes’] undeniable genius to our viewers.”

Greenblatt, who previously served as Chairman of NBC Entertainment, now occupies the same role at recently formed WarnerMedia Entertainment. The mammoth company, which has such holdings as Warner Bros. and the Turner family of networks, is also the HBO parent company.

Fellowes, writing the script for the ten episodes will reteam with executive producer Gareth Neame and director Michael Engler. Fellowes, Neame, and Engler will all serve in the same roles for the “Downton Abbey” movie, which is slated to hit theaters in both the U.K. and the U.S. this September.

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