The premium cable network has ordered 10 episodes of the project, a sweeping fictional epic of the millionaire titans of New York City in the 1880s from the Downton Abbey team of Fellowes, producer Gareth Neame and director Michael Engler.
This marks the latest turn in The Gilded Age’s road to the screen. NBC originally tapped Fellowes to create and executive produce The Gilded Age in 2012 through Universal Television. 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 until Downton wrapped in 2015. Fellowes then had pause his work on the show to write the upcoming Downton Abbey movie.
NBC greenlighted The Gilded Age to series in January 2018. When the scripts started come in, I hear the project started shaping up as an ambitious, big and expensive period drama that is hard to pull off on broadcast TV without compromising the creator’s vision.
Universal TV took the series out and HBO landed it in a competitive situation. It marks one of the first major programming buys for the premium cable network under WarnerMedia Entertainment Bob Greenblatt who was The Gilded Age‘s biggest champion at NBC for the past seven years.
“Given the opulent scope and scale of this richly textured character drama, HBO is the perfect home for ‘The Gilded Age,’” said Casey Bloys, president, HBO Programming. “We’re all huge fans of Julian and 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 his undeniable genius to our viewers.”
The Gilded Age, a co-production between HBO and Universal TV, is executive produced by creator/writer Fellowes, Neame and director Engler.
“As with all of our studio projects, our goal is to find them the home that is the best fit for the series. We love the ambition and scope of The Gilded Age, and after a highly competitive bidding process, ultimately came to the conclusion that HBO is the perfect network for this epic story,” said Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks, Co-Chairmen, NBC Entertainment. “We can’t wait to partner with them to bring Julian’s majestic drama to audiences all over the globe.”
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?
“I feel very privileged to be making “The Gilded Age” with HBO and Universal Television,” Fellowes said. “It has been a dream of mine for some time, as I am fascinated by this brutal and intensely glamorous period of America’s history. It will be about ambition, of course, and envy and hatred and, perhaps most of all, about love. I hope people will enjoy the series. I know I will enjoy making it.”
Added Neame, “I’m thrilled that HBO and Universal Television will be bringing “The Gilded Age” to life. This is a compelling part of the American story and has remarkable parallels with the world we live in as these people set many of the wheels in motion that drive us today.”
Fellowes and Neame executive produced the hugely popular Downton Abbey series, which aired for six season, with Engler directing multiple episodes, including the series finale.
The trio also reunited for the upcoming Downton Abbey film, which Fellowes wrote, he and Naeme produced and Engler directed.
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