Tag Archives: Downton Abbey

Remakes, Breakups and Bad Blood Highlight News Out of Summer Press Tour 2015

The broadcast and cable networks and Internet streaming outlets have wrapped up the 17-day promote-athon known as the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour. Many shows were touted by many creators and stars in many panels and parties — so many, it was easy to get lost in the swirl of it all. So here’s a blitz recap of 10 of this year’s top news bites.

Lee Daniels says it’s inevitable, “without question,” that his massive hit “Empire” yields a spinoff. That spinoff will be a prequel that delves into the life of everybody’s favorite flamboyant Cookie, Taraji P. Henson’s one-of-a-kind matriarch character. No word on when the new series will come along, but “Empire” returns Sept. 23.

Jimmy Fallon has signed on to keep doing “The Tonight Show” into September of 2021.

Donald Trump has definitely been fired from hosting “Celebrity Apprentice.” NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt told critics the show will be back in 2016 with a new host, someone who must be big and make a lot of noise.

Maybe there will be a “Downton Abbey” movie. Executive Producer Gareth Neame says there’s been talk of a film and it just might happen, though there is no script or projected start date. Putting money on this one doesn’t seem like a good idea. Nevertheless, it takes a teensy bit of the sting out of the forthcoming farewell at the end of season six (which begins airing on PBS Jan. 3).

THE MUPPETS - The Muppets are back in prime time like you've never seen them before. Romance! Breakups! Success! Failure! Muppets are opening the doors to their homes and offices in this fresh documentary style series that explores these beloved characters as they live their lives in Hollywood. This real-world Muppet series will have something for kids of all ages. (ABC/Andrea McCallin ) DENISE, MISS PIGGY, JANICE

Denise, Miss Piggy, Janice “The Muppets” (ABC/Andrea McCallin )

Kermit and Miss Piggy broke up and he’s purportedly dating a pig named Denise in the ABC marketing department. Well, we all know how celebrities gin up their feuds to create interest in their new movies and shows. Would anyone be surprised if the showbiz savvy Piggy was behind this tactic to bring attention to their new “The Muppets” coming up on ABC Sept. 22. Co-created by Bill Prady (protege of Jim Henson who went on to create shows including “The Big Bang Theory) and Bob Kushell, the new “Muppets” looks like a good prospect for another TV hit.

Louis K.C. is going to take an extended hiatus after season five of his award-winning FX show. He wants to focus on other things and there is no telling when he’ll resume.

FX Chieftain John Landgraf believes that with all the outlets scrambling to put on more and more — and more — shows, we’ve reached a point of “Simply Too Much Television,” so expect a dropoff. But Showtime President David Nevins contends “There may be too much good TV. There’s never enough great TV. We’re trying really hard to make great TV.” So there.

There’s certainly a lot of retread TV. For example, Showtime has a “Twin Peaks” revival going into production next month for a 2016 debut. In addition to “The Muppets,” there’s “Heroes: Reborn” launching Sept. 24. Come midseason, we’ll see the return of Craig T. Nelson as “Coach.” “Prison Break” will return to Fox next year. Everyone involved wants to do a “Law & Order” revival, if the timing can be worked out, according to super producer Dick Wolf. And NBC’s Greenblatt raised the frightening prospect of a new “Alf.”

Wolf also disclosed plans for crossovers between his series, including a “jumbo” four-way crossover, with a story shared by “Chicago P.D.,” “Chicago Fire,” the new “Chicago Med” and “Law & Order: SVU.” That will be in February. In time for sweeps, of course.

Britney Spears will be on the CW’s “Jane the Virgin.” “The Muppets” guests will include Imagine Dragons and Nathan Fillion. But no show is a match for “Empire” when it comes to featuring famous names. This coming season, the show’s Who’s Who includes Pitbull, Chris Rock, Alicia Keys, Al Sharpton and Lenny Kravitz.


shirley maclaineInteresting, Shirley MacLaine’s response to daughter Sachi Parker’s scathing tell-all book. The septuagenarian actress released a statement that she was heartbroken over the tome, blasting thatLucky Me: My Life With – and Without – My Mom, Shirley MacLaine as “virtually all fiction. I’m sorry to see such a dishonest, opportunistic effort from my daughter.”

Well, this column can substantiate some of Parker’s claims from someone who clearly would know: Shirley MacLaine herself, in a number of jaw-dropping interviews of the past with Marilyn Beck. For instance, in 1983 she volunteered that she had let Sachi make all her own decisions, including where she wanted to live, from the time she was two years old. Marilyn, astonished, asked her “How can a two-year-old say ‘This is right for me?’”

“But you see,” answered MacLaine, “she knows that she’s not just a two-year-old. She knows that she’s a very old soul who also chose me for a mother and I chose her for adaughter and because we come together on the spiritual issues, she is very mature and taken responsibility for everything.” MacLaine said she and Sachi were mother and daughter in another life, too, except that then, Sachi was the mother.

Thus, it was Sachi’s fault – er, choice that she spent most of her childhood away from MacLaine, living with her father, producer Steve Parker, in Japan or in European boarding schools. At least, it was according to MacLaine.

Well known for her belief in reincarnation and a wide range of what were once called “New Age” views, MacLaine herself began her “journey of self exploration” when “I was two and commenced what I refer to as reflective therapy – wandering away by myself to think my private thoughts, to wonder who I was,” she said.

“Who says a wife is better, or a mother more loving and valuable, just because she’s under foot all the time?” asked the actress in a 1967 chat, justifying her very long-distance relationship from her daughter and then-husband.

In 1971, the star explained to Marilyn that a parents’job was to bring a child into the world, and then life was up to them. In essence, her obligation to Sachi was overonce she had given birth.

“I wish she had been a bit more of a mommie,” Sachi told People magazine, acknowledging that her mother wasn’t one. She also expressed her view that MacLaine wasprobably too young to be a mother and that the “very seductive” life of a majorHollywood star had much to do with her failings as a parent.

Actually, it’s not hard to make the case that Parker goes light on her mother’s complete self-centeredness and self-absorption.

In 1977, after finishing filming on “The Turning Point,”MacLaine talked about her degree of self love: “I think my level of self esteem borders on arrogance – not that I don’t lack self-confidence in some areas.”

Like what?

“Like feeling inferior because I don’t speak five languages. Shit like that.”

There is irony is MacLaine’s upset over Lucky Me – since her own tell-all books of the past have produced dismay in others. Brother Warren Beatty let it be known that such was the case after MacLaine’s hugely popular Out on a Limbwas published. And, in a scathing Esquire interview, her “Terms of Endearment” on screen daughter, Debra Winger, characterized MacLaine as a self-absorbed egotist who gave herself repeated birthday parties and who couldn’t be quiet about her love affairs.

“I don’t really want to get into that…reaction to that. Because so much of it is her problem,” she told Marilyn at the time. “I also have to say that Debra Winger or whoever else talks about me or does whatever they do in my life, in my play as a separate reality, has to deal with the karmic reaction to what they cause. You see, what she puts out, she will get back. And what I put out, I’ll get back.”


Lesley Nicol Values ‘Downton’ Fans’ Passion, but Reminds: ‘It’s a Show’

“Downton Abbey’s” Lesley Nicol tells us she missed out on the big public clamor over the Season 3 finale in the U.K..  She was here in the States when she learned from her agent about fans being so upset over a character’s being killed off the show, there were complaints on the internet that the Christmas Day episode had ruined people’s holiday.

“This is a sticky one.  I value their passion but a part of me can’t help saying, ‘It’s a show.  It’s an actor,’” admits Nicol, known world-wide as blustery cook Mrs. Patmore.  “And an actor has to be allowed to move on if he wants to.’”

Nicol has no such desire, we’re glad to report.  “It’s lovely to work on this show.  It’s a privilege to be on it.  It’s a very good cast, a wonderful crew…We just want to make it better and better if we can.”  She was, however, here taking meetings with Hollywood executives about work outside of “Downton Abbey” — and tooling around town in a borrowed gold Jaguar.

“I was a nervous wreck because it’s a lovely car and the roads are quite scary in L.A., but I got used to it,” she says.

One result of her time here is that Nicol will be heading to Vancouver shortly to film an episode of ABC’s “Once Upon a Time.” After that, she flies to Chicago for a concert appearance.  And after that, it’s back to the U.K. to begin filming the fourth season of “Downton.”

Season 3 begins airing here Sunday (1/6) and there is much to relish, including the fun of Dame Maggie Smith crossing verbal swords with Shirley MacLaine, who has come aboard as the mother of American Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern).  For Nicol, Season 3 opens up even more aspects of Mrs. Patmore’s personality.  She will be seen at the side of rival Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan), the head housekeeper, as Mrs. Hughes faces cancer.  And later in the season, it appears a bit of romance will be entering Mrs. Patmore’s life.

Nicol credits show creator Julian Fellowes for giving “everybody a proper journey.  He never leaves characters in one kind of groove.  He shows their different sides, just as we all have different sides to our characters.  To begin with, I was just this red-faced, angry bully.  But no one is just that.  The reason she behaved like that was, at that time, in that house, there would be no room for mistakes.  You couldn’t have people saying dinner at Downton Abbey wasn’t very good; it had to be the best show in town.”