NBC tapped the Downton Abbey creator to create and executive produce The Gilded Age — a sweeping fictional epic of the millionaire titans of New York City in the 1880s — in 2012. But with Downton, produced by NBCUniversal-owned Carnival Films, being a big global hit and Fellowes writing every episode of the intricate period drama, Gilded Age was put on the back burner, with NBC and Universal TV executive giving the Oscar and Emmy winner carte blanche to come work on the NBC series when he is ready/done with Downton. The series wrapped in 2015.
NBC brass had remained optimistic, with NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt saying in 2015, “I think he’s at a point now where he’s able to start developing and writing our new show.”
The series will be produced by Universal Television and executive produced by Fellowes and fellow Downton executive producer Gareth Neame.
“To write The Gilded Age’is the fulfillment of a personal dream,” Fellowes said. “I have been fascinated by this period of American history for many years and now NBC has given me the chance to bring it to a modern audience. I could not be more excited and thrilled. The truth is, America is a wonderful country with a rich and varied history, and nothing could give me more pleasure than be the person to bring that compelling history to the screen.”
The Gilded Age in 1880s New York City was a period of immense social upheaval, of huge fortunes made and lost, and of palaces that spanned the length of Fifth Avenue. In the series, Marian Brook is the wide-eyed young scion of a conservative family who will embark on infiltrating the wealthy neighboring family dominated by ruthless railroad tycoon George Russell, his rakish and available son Larry, and his ambitious wife Bertha, whose “new money” is a barrier to acceptance by the Astor and Vanderbilt set. Marian is about to experience a whole new world springing up right outside her front door.
“Julian Fellowes has the peerless ability to create complex characters and relationships set against a fantastic backdrop,” said Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment. “We’re thrilled that NBC and Universal Television will bring you his delicious new take on both the emerging rich and the working class who were intricately entwined in opulent New York in 1882. It’s an addictive new universe of fabulous people with the same signature style, wit and emotional resonance for which Julian is famous.”
Fellowes’ Downton Abbey ran for six seasons and has been seen in more than 250 territories worldwide, is recognized as one of the most acclaimed and popular British drama series of all time. The series won both the Emmy in 2011 for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie and the Golden Globe the following year for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television, and is the most nominated non-U.S. show in the history of the Emmys with 69 nominations and 15 wins.