photo: Masterpiece Theater - PBS
It's hard enough for most American converts to Masterpiece Theater's Downtown super-soap not to take a peek online at what glamorous and scandalous goings on have already been on the screen over the pond, seeings as we're a few months behind on airing of Season 4, but when one's family and friends in the UK are already in the know, it's a trust-fest for everyone not to drop a spoiler or two!
The fact that there is a Christmas special airing on British TV on the 25th is another reason to wonder why we don't get our television broadcasts more in alignment with something this big.
Oh well, I can't wait for January 5th. Especially after Vanity Fair magazine's January issue appeared in my mailbox with its double page exclusive photo spread "One Grump Or Two?" featuring photographer Charlie Gray's splendid pic of 70-year-olds (both) Dame Maggie Smith and Shirley MacLaine as Dowager Countess of Grantham and Cora's American mother Martha Levinson. The photo was shot in the Octagon Room at Basildon Park, West Berkshire on what was a brutally hot day, in July. Decked out in velvets and tiaras, Vanity Fair described this iconic pair as: "very jovial, without an ounce of one-upmanship."
Carnival Films and ITV and MASTERPIECE on PBS/WGBH have announced that Emmy®, Golden Globe® and SAG® award-winner Paul Giamatti (John Adams, Sideways, Barney’s Version) joins the Downton Abbey series in the Season 4 finale. Giamatti plays Lady Cora’s maverick, playboy brother Harold, starring alongside the iconic Shirley MacLaine as he and Cora's mother, Martha Levinson and the regular cast members for a dramatic climax to the season.
Giamatti joins new cast members, including:
Tom Cullen as Lord Gillingham, an old family friend of the Crawleys who visits the family as a guest for a house party
Nigel Harman as Green, a valet
Dame Harriet Walter as Lady Shackleton, an old friend of the Dowager
Joanna David in a guest role as the Duchess of Yeovil
Julian Ovenden as aristocrat Charles Blake
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as a guest who sings in the house
Gary Carr as a jazz singer named Jack Ross