Downton Abbey USA - Julian Fellowes writing American period drama

The Gilded Age commissioned by NBC will be set in 19th century New York and follow the "princes of the American Renaissance" - but will it be a Downton prequel?

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Downton Abbey USA - Julian Fellowes writing American period drama
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Susanna Lazarus

He has conquered the British period drama and now his sights are set on America. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has signed up to write and executive produce a new American period drama following the lives of wealthy New York society in the 19th century. 

The Gilded Age - a new commission by US network NBC - is described as, "an epic tale of the princes of the American Renaissance and the vast fortunes made - and spent - in late 19th century New York". 

So far, so Edith Wharton... "This was a vivid time with dizzying, brilliant ascents and calamitous falls," added Fellowes. "Of record-breaking ostentation and savage rivalry; a time when money was king."

NBC said: "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."

The Downton Abbey showrunner has made no secret of his interest in the wealthy American upper classes of the time - introducing American millionairess Martha Levinson, played by Shirley MacLaine, as the mother of Lady Cora at the start of his ITV drama's third series. 

Due to be set within Martha and Cora's lifetimes, it remains to be seen whether Fellowes' new show will act as a form of prequel to Downton Abbey, which has enjoyed enormous success worldwide, including America where it is shown on PBS.

Fellowes' new period venture follows his television series Titanic, broadcast on ITV earlier this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1912 disaster. But despite huge anticipation from both fans and media, the four-part series disappointed critics who met it with mixed reviews.

Fellowes is certainly going to be busy in 2013 as it was announced last week that ITV had commissioned a fourth series of Downton Abbey. Details of this year's Christmas special - due to be broadcast on 25 December - were also revealed. 

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