'Downton Abbey' Creator Developing American Spinoff With NBC

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By Eric Brown | November 29, 2012 8:46 AM EST

American fans of the hit British period drama “Downton Abbey” have new cause to celebrate  Wednesday. Not only is the third season beginning on American television in January, but series creator Julian Fellowes is developing a spinoff exclusively for American audiences with NBC.

The American “Downton Abbey” spinoff will be called “The Gilded Age” and set in late 19th century New York City. The show will follow the lives of several wealthy New Yorkers in the late 1880s, so think more along the lines of Andrew Carnegie than Matthew Crawley. 

Official word from NBC describes “The Gilded Age” as “an epic tale of the princes of the American Renaissance and the vast fortunes made -- and spent -- in late 19th century New York.”

A pilot episode for “The Gilded Age” is in production with Fellowes as head writer. If NBC picks up the series for a full season — which is likely given the press “The Gilded Age” is receiving — he will work as an executive producer for the series while also writing and producing the fourth series of “Downton Abbey.”

While “The Gilded Age” will be set a few decades before the World War I-era “Downton Abbey,”  Fellowes believes the period will be equally dramatic and compelling.

“This was a vivid time with dizzying, brilliant ascents and calamitous falls; of record-breaking ostentation and savage rivalry; a time when money was king,” Fellowes told the Telegraph.

Fellowes also has some newfound experience writing American characters. “Downton Abbey” introduced American millionaire Martha Levinson in the show’s third series. 

While there is no official word about a connection between Levinson and “The Gilded Age,” it is possible that the spinoff will at least make mention of Levinson and her husband, who amassed a large fortune in the Midwest.

NBC seems to be equally excited at the prospect of a “Downton Abbey” spinoff, telling the Telegraph, “We at the network are all so thrilled to be working with the immensely talented Julian Fellowes, who is universally admired for his critically and commercially appealing productions.”

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