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Shirley MacLaine Returning To 'Downton Abbey,' Kiri Te Kanawa Also Joining Cast

[bold]Shirley MacLaine Returning To 'Downton Abbey,' Kiri Te Kanawa Also Joining Cast[/bold]

By Frazier Moore (03.02.2013)

NEW YORK — Shirley MacLaine will be returning to "Downton Abbey" next season, and opera star Kiri Te Kanawa is joining the cast.

MacLaine will reprise her role as Martha Levinson, Lord Robert Crawley's freewheeling American mother-in-law, Carnival Films and "Masterpiece" on PBS said Saturday. MacLaine appeared in episodes early last season.

New Zealand-born soprano Te Kanawa will play a house guest. She will sing during her visit.

Other new cast members and characters include:

_ Tom Cullen as Lord Gillingham, described as an old family friend of the Crawleys who visits the family as a guest for a house party (and who might be the one to mend Lady Mary Crawley's broken heart).

_ Nigel Harman will play a valet named Green.

_ Harriet Walter plays Lady Shackleton, an old friend of the Dowager Countess.

_ Joanna David will play a guest role as the Duchess of Yeovil.

_ Julian Ovenden is cast as aristocrat Charles Blake.

"The addition of these characters can only mean more delicious drama, which is what `Downton Abbey' is all about," said "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton.

Meanwhile, the producers have confirmed that villainous housemaid Sarah O'Brien won't be back. Siobhan Finneran, who played her, is leaving the show.

These announcements come shortly after the third season's airing in the United States. It concluded with the heartbreaking death of popular Matthew Crawley in a car crash, leaving behind his newborn child and loving wife, Lady Mary Crawley.

Matthew's untimely demise was the result of the departure from the series by actor Dan Stevens, who had starred in that role.

The third season also saw the shocking death of Lady Sybil Branson, who died during childbirth. She was played by the departing Jessica Brown Findlay.

Last season the wildly popular melodrama, set in early 20th century Britain, was the most-watched series on PBS since Ken Burns' epic "The Civil War," which first aired in 1990. The Nielsen Co. said 8.2 million viewers saw the "Downton" season conclusion.

"Downton Abbey," which airs on the "Masterpiece" anthology, won three Emmy awards last fall, including a best supporting actress trophy for Maggie Smith (the Dowager Countess), who also won a Golden Globe in January.

In all, the series has won nine Emmys, two Golden Globes and a Screen Actors Guild Award for the ensemble cast, which is the first time the cast of a British television show has won this award.

Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter and Brendan Coyle are among its other returning stars.

by Anonymousreply 3608/13/2013

Nigel Harmon. - Yum !!!!!!!!!!!!

by Anonymousreply 103/03/2013

I hope the catering company knows how to make Creme Brûlée or there will be hell to pay.

by Anonymousreply 203/03/2013

I love Joanna David. She played the second Mrs. de Winter is the late 70s BBC miniseries remake of REBECCA with Jeremy Brett as Maxim and Anna Massey as Mrs. Danvers.

by Anonymousreply 303/03/2013

Nigel Harman's long been rumored to be one of us gays.

by Anonymousreply 403/03/2013

That's DAME Harriet Walter to you common plebs.

by Anonymousreply 503/03/2013

And what about the first BLACK character to appear on Downton? Has that role been cast yet?

I hear Adrian Lester is available....

by Anonymousreply 603/03/2013

They should hire Judd Hirsch or F. Murray Abraham to play MacLaine's character's brother, Uncle Meyer Levinson the rich Jew.

by Anonymousreply 703/03/2013

Adrian Lester is too old for the role, R6. The character is between 25-30 years old. And he's apparently supposed to be hot. And Lester was never hot.

by Anonymousreply 803/03/2013

So, Tom Ellis joining the show turned out to be a hoax?

by Anonymousreply 903/03/2013

Tom Cullen, the Welsh hunk who played the gay lifeguard in Weekend...

by Anonymousreply 1003/03/2013

Shirley MacLaine's appearances were a waste.

by Anonymousreply 1103/03/2013

R7, you ninny, Levinson is Martha's married name. Her brother wouldn't be a Levinson, he would be whatever her maiden name is.

by Anonymousreply 1203/03/2013

O'Brien us gone??? IMDB.."In the wake of Siobhan Finneran not returning for Season 4 and the first photo of Lady Mary and baby George, some casting has been announced by PBS."

by Anonymousreply 1303/03/2013

Maybe Julian Ovenden's character will have the chance to burst into song.

by Anonymousreply 1403/03/2013

Siobhan Finneran quit, r13, but they aren't killing her off and "the door is open for her return"

I think she just got tired of playing someone with no redeeming qualities.

by Anonymousreply 1503/03/2013

Is it me or is the Dr. a big know nothing afraid to actually be a doctor?

by Anonymousreply 1603/03/2013

Can't wait wait for season 4!

by Anonymousreply 1703/03/2013

Who's going to take Mrs. O'Brien place as Coras ladies maid? Maybe the ladies maid from the cousin in Scotland from last season. She was a sour puss too.

by Anonymousreply 1803/03/2013

[quote]New Zealand-born soprano Te Kanawa will play a house guest. She will sing during her visit.

Please tell us that Shirley will not be singing.

by Anonymousreply 1903/03/2013

Tom Ellis was just a rumor. He did read for the role but ended up taking a role on an ABC pilot.

by Anonymousreply 2003/03/2013

Hah!

by Anonymousreply 2103/03/2013

According to what Dame Kiri told a concert audience in Brisbane, she'll be playing Nellie Melba on the show.

by Anonymousreply 2203/10/2013

[bold] Downton Abbey: a guide to the new cast [/bold]

by Anonymousreply 2306/26/2013

With all of these guest star appearances, DA is turning into "The Love Boat."

by Anonymousreply 2406/26/2013

I thought Paul Giamatti was joining as Shirley MacLaine's brother. He has become to just annoy me as an actor.

However handsome Julian Ovenden is he does not look aristocratic at all.

Joanna David is a good stock character actress. As the typical English actor she has been in everything.

by Anonymousreply 2506/26/2013

Kiri? Gosh, she was a horrendous actress in her day, can't wait to see this shit fest

by Anonymousreply 2606/26/2013

[quote] Kiri? Gosh, she was a horrendous actress in her day, can't wait to see this shit fest

She's only in one episode..and she's playing Nellie Melba so it's not much of a stretch.

by Anonymousreply 2706/26/2013

Ben Franklin is playing Shirley's son and Cora's brother, Harold.

I think it would be hilarious if he takes up with Thomas and Thomas winds up living the life of Riley as Cora's ersatz brother in law.

by Anonymousreply 2806/26/2013

[quote]Ben Franklin is playing Shirley's son and Cora's brother, Harold.

I think you mean John Adams

by Anonymousreply 2906/26/2013

[quote] MacLaine will reprise her role as Martha Levinson

Noooooo!

Waste of time.

by Anonymousreply 3006/26/2013

Either O'Brien or Thomas had to go. Their petty warfare between the two was escalating with no end in sight. There was nowhere to go with the two characters interacting this way, so one had to leave.

They've been redeeming the Thomas character for quite a few episodes.

by Anonymousreply 3106/26/2013

I did, R29.... the funny looking history guy.

by Anonymousreply 3206/26/2013

Harriet Walter was a great Harriet Vane in the Dorothy Sayers mystery series on PBS.

by Anonymousreply 3306/26/2013

[bold] Dame Kiri to play real opera singer in Downton Abbey [/bold]

Opera legend Dame Kiri te Kanawa revealed that she is playing real-life Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba in Downton Abbey.

Dame Kiri is the first person to play a real person in the hit ITV series.

At the launch of the fourth series of Downton Abbey in London today, Dame Kiri said: "I was trying to stay true to the character because, as Julian [Fellowes, Downton creator] says, she's the one true living character to have appeared in the series."

Dame Kiri, 69, revealed she extensively researched Dame Nellia, who died in 1931. "I was very interested in her anyway. I reseearched how much she earned in a year. Her wage in one year was about £3million in today's money."

Dame Kiri caused a surprise at the Downton launch when she performed the two arias she sings in the series.

by Anonymousreply 3408/13/2013

Tom Cullen is terrific.

I could happily do without that rancid old bag of bones Shirley MacLaine, however. In her "peak" years, she was a crap actress, but she's been even more insufferable for half a century or so. Ruins everything she touches.

by Anonymousreply 3508/13/2013

I wish they would have gone with an Indian domestic as opposed to a black jazz singer. It would have been more realistic. American audiences would have a hard time comprehending that, though,and the whole thing is actually an American show.

Tom Cullen is fantastic and I'm excited to see his performance. Too bad he won't be doing the gay thing with Thomas...

Dame Kiri is the ultimate in stunt casting. I'm sure it will be delightfully execrable.

by Anonymousreply 3608/13/2013
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