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.“We are very aware of the concern about the distance between the British broadcast and our broadcast [of Sherlock],” Eaton said by way of titillating TV critics. “All of us are working very hard to figure out the best way that will do the best by fans and the best by the show.” The critics were disappointed — they’d been expecting Eaton to announce a date.
Eaton called it an “unbelievable season” for Masterpiece, which not so long ago couldn’t find a corporate sponsor after ExxonMobile bailed. “Our ratings, September to July, are up 33%,” Eaton gloated, noting that sponsors Viking River Cruises and Ralph Lauren are returning for the coming season.
Speaking of Ralph Lauren, Eaton announced yet another department-store show for Masterpiece — this one an eight-hour BBC miniseries to debut Oct. 6 called The Paradise, based on the Emile Zola novel The Ladies’ Paradise, about a young girl who gets a job in a department store in late-19th century Paris. Masterpiece already has the Jeremy Piven department-store-set drama Mr Selfridge in its lineup.