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).
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.