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PBS exec: 'Downton Abbey' will continue to air with delay in America; but will 'Sherlock'?

PBS president Paula Kerger today defended the often bemoaned American broadcast delay of Downton Abbey, which in past seasons has completed its run in the U.K. before premiering in the U.S, saying the network is hesitant to change a method that has worked well for them so far.

“I think as we have looked at this whole issue of spoilers and thought about how best to steward the property and also think about the viewership, we considered a number of factors in the scheduling of Downton,” she said during a panel at the Television Critics Association press tour, which concludes this week in Los Angeles. Those include, she said, attempting to avoid clashing with the slew of network premieres in the fall and harnessing the opportunities for word-of-mouth promotion. “The fact that word-of-mouth travels after it airs in the U.K. has actually benefited us … we kind of don’t want to mess with that if it’s working so well.”

That said, she admitted, “I will say to you … I think that as we look at scheduling programs that we are acquiring, particularly dramas, what I just described to you is not a hard and fast rule. … We’ll continue to look at each program as it comes up and then try to figure out if it makes sense to try to bring it very close to the broadcast window where it is seen everywhere else or does it make sense to schedule it at a different point and time.”
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'Grimm,' 'Criminal Minds,' 'Teen Wolf,' 'Downton Abbey': Find out what's next in the Spoiler Room

Happy early Fourth of July, friends.

It’s that time of the week again! But before you dive in, a reminder to keep sending in those questions. (Spoilerroom@ew.com) Also, watch my Twitter for some fun announcements about a few Comic-Con panels I’ll be moderating this year and for more on EW’s overall plans for the four-day festival of frantic fun.  READ FULL STORY

'Downton Abbey:' Paul Giamatti joins season 4 as American playboy

Downton Abbey is getting another American visitor.

Sideways‘ star Paul Giamatti will appear as Cora’s playboy brother, Harold, in the season four finale, a rep for MASTERPIECE on PBS confirms.

He’ll be joined by returning guest-star Shirley MacLaine, who crossed the pond to play Cora’s brazen mother, Martha Levinson, in season three. READ FULL STORY

Season 4 of 'Downton Abbey' will premiere on...

Downton Abbey has an official return date: Season 4 of the period drama will premiere on Jan. 5, 2014. The series will then run for eight straight weeks, until Feb. 23.

Season 3 broke ratings records for PBS, becoming its highest-rated drama in history. Next season will air in Britain in the fall before coming to America, and will include the return of Shirley MacLaine as the moneyed and less-mannered Martha Levinson, as well as several new faces such as Tom Cullen, Joanna David, and Gary Carr (playing the show’s first black character), among others.

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'Downton Abbey' casts first black cast member

Downton Abbey has just announced its newest resident.

British actor Gary Carr is joining the series in season four as jazz singer Jack Ross, a rep for MASTERPIECE on PBS confirms to EW. Carr, whose character is described as “charming and charismatic,” will be the series’ first black cast member. READ FULL STORY

'Downton Abbey' star Michelle Dockery to guest on 'Family Guy' -- EXCLUSIVE

Every time that Peter Griffin has burped, farted, or otherwise acted boorishly on Family Guy is about to be evened out with one classy casting move: Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery will lend her voice to the animated Fox comedy. READ FULL STORY

Martha Stewart on new PBS series, her binge-watch picks, and returning to reality TV

Somewhere between tweeting, blogging, and bringing her instructional series Martha Bakes and Martha’s Cooking School to PBS (check local listings), Martha Stewart has managed to squeeze in a few more passions. Namely, marathon viewings of Homeland and Ryan Gosling.

But what elevates the domestic goddess’s binge-watching from that of your everyday entertainment junkie is her method: “I have a big TV in my kitchen, so I can do canning or make jam. That takes hours and hours, and I can watch Homeland, all 13 episodes [at once].” READ FULL STORY

'Downton Abbey' breaks ratings records

Downton Abbey just broke another record.

The third season of the series ranked as PBS’ highest-rated drama ever, with an average of 11.5 million viewers tuning in over the course of seven episodes. For those keeping count, that’s up more than 60 percent from season 2.

To top it off, the third season finale, which aired on Feb. 17, attracted about 12.3 million viewers, beating all broadcast and cable competition airings in the time-slot, and, we presume, breaking just as many hearts along the way.

Read More:
‘Downton Abbey’ exec producer on why [Spoiler!] had to die
‘Downton Abbey’ premiere nearly doubles ratings
‘Downton Abbey’: Dan Stevens’ fate confirmed

'Downton Abbey:' British actor Tom Cullen to court [Spoiler!]

Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) may be in mourning when Downton Abbey returns (see the first official photo from the fourth season above), but she won’t be lonely for long.

British actor Tom Cullen has been cast to play Lord Gillingham, an old family friend of the Crawleys who has known Lady Mary since childhood. Per TV Line, the character is being brought on as a suitor for Mary. (See what exec producer Gareth Neame told EW about what’s ahead for Mary here).

He won’t be the only fresh face at Downton next season though. As previously reported, in addition to Shirley MacLaine, who will be returning to reprise her role as Cora’s American mom, a number of new characters are joining the series. Considering the number of recent exits, they certainly won’t have trouble finding rooms to fill.

Are you excited to see Gillingham romance Lady Mary? How do you feel about the slew of new characters joining Downton?

Follow @NuzhatNaoreen on Twitter.

Related:
Shirley MacLaine to return to ‘Downton Abbey’ next season, new characters announced
‘Downton Abbey:’ Another actor to exit the series
Julian Fellowes may leave ‘Downton’ if his NBC drama gets picked up

Shirley MacLaine to return to 'Downton Abbey' next season, new characters announced

More casting news from the House of Grantham: Shirley MacLaine will be returning to Downton Abbey next season to reprise her role as American matriarch Martha Levinson, Lady Cora’s mother.

MacLaine’s return is one of many recent announcements coming out of the Julian Fellowes series. Yesterday we reported that actress Siobahn Finneran, who plays O’Brien from downstairs, will be exiting the show. And, of course, viewers are well aware by now that Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Stevens — Sybil and Matthew, respectively — have already made their exits as well.

However, there will also be some new faces at Downton: The AP reports that Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Harriet Walter, Joanna David, Nigel Harman, and Kiri Te Kanawa will all be appearing in the British drama’s upcoming fourth season. The show will feature Cullen as Lord Gillingham, an old pal of the Crawley family; Ovenden will play aristocrat Charles Blake; Walter will portray Lady Shackleton, a friend to the Dowager Countess; David will guest as the Duchess of Yeovil; and Harman will take on the role of a valet named Green. As for opera singer Te Kanawa, she’ll be playing a singing houseguest, though further character details are limited for now.

Read more:
‘Downton Abbey:’ Another actor to exit the series
Julian Fellowes may leave ‘Downton’ if his NBC drama gets picked up
‘Downton Abbey’ season 3 finale watched by 8.2 million

'Downton Abbey:' Another actor to exit the series

Another actor is moving out of Downton Abbey.

Siobhan Finneran, who played conniving—but sometimes likeable—maid Sarah O’Brien, will not be returning for season four, a rep for MASTERPIECE on PBS confirms to EW. According to the rep, O’Brien will leave to do something else and the door will remain open for the character.

Finneran’s departure follows the exits of Jessica Brown Findlay (Sybil) and Dan Stevens (Matthew), who both opted not to renew their contracts with the series.

“I’m not doing any more. O’Brien is a thoroughly despicable human being – that was great to play,” Finneran told the Mirror.

According to TV Line, the actresses departure will take place off-screen during the six-month time jump between seasons.

Guess it’s time for Cora to find a new lady’s maid. Who would you recommend for the gig?

Follow @NuzhatNaoreen on Twitter.

Read More:
‘Downton Abbey:’ Actor Tom Ellis to court [Spoiler!]?
‘Downton Abbey’ season finale recap: The Long And Winding Road
‘Downton Abbey’ exec producer on why [Spoiler!] had to die

Julian Fellowes may leave 'Downton' if his NBC drama gets picked up

Still reeling over Downton Abbey‘s heartbreaking third season finale? If so, you may take comfort in knowing that the man who — spoiler alert! — killed Matthew Crawley may exit Downton‘s grounds after season 4 if NBC picks up his nascent period drama Gilded Age.

The key word there is “may.” Nothing is certain yet, not least because Gilded Age is still little more than a twinkle in the Downton creator’s eye. “You have to write the pilot, they have to decide they’re going to make it, they have to decide whether they want to pick it up. So it’s a line of ditches that lies between me and the series,” he explained to the New York Times in an interview this week. READ FULL STORY

'Downton Abbey' season 3 finale watched by 8.2 million

Downton Abbey might be down one heir, but they are up a few million audience members.

The season 3 finale drew 8.2. million viewers, which bests the season 2 finale ratings of 5.4 million, and is slightly larger than the 7.9 million who tuned into the season 3 premiere.

According to PBS, season 3 beat the average season 2 ratings by 66 percent, and regularly quadrupled the network’s average primetime viewership.

Related:
‘Downton Abbey:’ Actor Tom Ellis to court [Spoiler!]?
‘Downton Abbey’ exec producer on why [Spoiler!] had to die
‘Downton Abbey’ season finale recap: The Long And Winding Road

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