Bad news, Downton Abbey fans. PBS declined to discuss the future of the period drama beyond next January’s Season 6, at Winter TV Press Tour 2015. On Friday, NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt announced Julian Fellowes’ long-awaited NBC period drama The Gilded Age had been put on the front burner – disturbing news for Downton fans, given that Fellowes writes every episode of the PBS hit.
“I think he’s at a point now where he’s able to start developing and writing our new show,” Greenblatt said during NBC’s portion of the tour. “Hopefully this show will be coming to life sometime in the next season.”
Greenblatt first had announced Gilded Age more than two years ago, lining up Downton’s creator to create and EP a fictional saga about New York millionaires in the late 19th century. (Downton is produced by Carnival Films, which NBCU subsequently bought.) Gilded Age was put on hold with Downton’s success.
This morning at the tour, PBS chief Paula Kerger got asked if Gilded Age would “affect” Fellowes’ work on Downton. “Nope. We’re planning on Season 6” she said, adding that PBS will debut it in January of ’16, “After the holiday when everyone is depressed and it’s cold and dark…we are happy to bring the Crawley family back to the American public. Thanks so much,” she concluded, ending her Q&A session.
Asked after her Q&A session if PBS had any discussions as to how NBC’s project would impact the viability of a Downton Season 7 or 8, Kerger declined to discuss, said she was focused exclusively on Season 6. “We are not yet going beyond that,” she said. PBS has always dealt with Downton one year at a time, she said, without acknowledging that NBC’s moving forward on Gilded Age might have thrown a wrench into that machinery. She added, ominously, that Downton initially had been envisioned as a three-season only project.