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Shirley MacLaine Joins Third Season of Masterpiece Theatre Hit 'Downton Abbey'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 30, 2012 at 3:50PM

This should be fun. Shirley MacLaine ("Terms of Endearment") is joining the third season of Masterpiece Theatre's 'Downton Abbey,' which starts filming next month. She'll be playing the American mother of Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern).
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Shirley MacLaine
Shirley MacLaine

This should be fun. Shirley MacLaine ("Terms of Endearment") is joining the third season of Masterpiece Theatre's 'Downton Abbey,' which starts filming next month. She'll be playing the American mother of Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern).

According to Carnival Films’ Managing Director, Gareth Neame, whose late grandfather directed MacLaine in 1966 comedy "Gambit," writer-creator Julian Fellowes "has written another brilliant character in Martha Levinson, who will be a wonderful combatant for Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess.” Smith won the 2011 Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie.

MacLaine is no slouch: the bestselling writer has won the best actress Oscar for "Terms of Endearment" after six nominations, has six Emmy Awards nominations and seven Golden Globe® wins, including the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. 

The first 'Downton Abbey' series won six Primetime Emmys, including Outstanding Miniseries Or Movie 2011, the Golden Globe for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, and a Producers Guild Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television. The second series increased its audience by 20% in the U.K. and so far 30% stateside. Carnival Films is part of NBCUniversal International Television Production.

This article is related to: Television, TV


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.