The Washington Post

‘Downton Abbey’ creator will produce American renaissance drama for NBC

Julian Fellowes, creator of “Downton Abbey,” will create a project for NBC. (Lee Everett/AP)

Tough luck for PBS — Julian Fellowes, the creator of the network’s hit ”Downton Abbey,” has decided his next project will go to...NBC.

NBC and Universal Television announced Tuesday that they have signed a deal with Fellowes to create and produce his next drama series. Titled “The Gilded Age,” the show takes place in late 19th-century New York, and is an “epic tale of the princes of the American Renaissance.”

The deal with NBC makes sense, given that “Downton” is co-produced by Carnival/Masterpiece, in association with NBCUniversal.

“Downton Abbey” has been a big ratings-getter for PBS, as the second season finale averaged 5.4 million viewers in February. That’s about how many people some NBC dramas tend to attract, right around the same numbers for audiences watching “Parenthood” and “Grimm,” and slightly lower than the current season average of “Law & Order: SVU.”

“We at the network are all so thrilled to be working with the immensely talented Julian Fellowes, who is universally admired for his critically and commercially appealing productions,” said NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke in the announcement. “Having him on our team represents a major creative coup and everyone is looking forward to his first NBC project in ‘The Gilded Age.’”

Last week, “Downton Abbey” was renewed for a fourth season; NBC noted that Fellowes will continue to work on both shows.

Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for the Post. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyYahr.

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