It looks like the drama will return to the Grantham family in the upcoming season of the fan-favorite PBS show Downton Abbey. At this year's Television Critics Association, the family took a minute off from filming--and being nominated for beaucoup Emmy Awards--to talk about the show's newest twists and turns. And it looks like show's notorious drama is only going to be amplified in the wake of the war.
And what can we expect for the illustrious family? Well for that, PBS screened some brand-new footage Saturday night in Los Angeles. And the sparks, they flew--most notable between Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess and Shirley MacLaine’s Martha Levinson, aka Lady Cora's American mother. (Dreams do come true, you guys!) But as it turns out, this won't be the first time our lady matriarchs competed in a bit of a sass-off. MacLaine revealed Smith first chided her many years ago, backstage at the Oscars. MacLaine had been nominated and lost and Smith said pointedly, "You know what you did, dear? You tucked right into that chocolate cake and said, 'F**k it, I don't care if I'm ever thin again.'" Rawr, ladies! Them sounds like fightin' words. Play nice!
That wasn't all that was revealed, and we've got some of the hottest tidbits below:
- Uh oh! In one scene, Hugh Bonneville (aka's Lord Grantham/Robert Crawley), is shown tearily confessing to his wife Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) about an investment gone wrong, resulting in the family's money (including Cora's own personal wealth, which is what was keeping the family afloat) being lost. "Has some of my fortune been lost?" she asks. "Almost all," he replies, tearfully. Oh snap: TWIST!
- Could there be a romantic history between MacLaine and Smith? "We were lovers in another life," explained MacLaine, whose belief in reincarnation is no secret. No word on Smith's thoughts on the matter.
- Mr. Bates is still in jail (oh no!) and Anna's determined to free him, but it doesn't sound like an easy road ahead for the couple. However, showrunner/creator Julian Fellowes explained that the storyline will be resolved this season (thank goodness). Look out for a bevvy of "Free Bates!" t-shirts in The Internet's future. Though it has to be asked: is there a chance that Bates isn't telling the truth here?
- Edith may be on the fast-track to wedded bliss! Looks like Sir Anthony Strallan relented to Edith's sad and desperate advances after all! (Poor Edith. Poor, bitchy, insecure Edith.)
- Sybil and Branson (and baby makes three!) will be invited to Downton and of course Branson's mouthy political opinions make quite a splash with the family. Carson will no doubt need some smelling salts on hand.
- Looks like the exhausting "will they or won't they" that we thought ended with Mary and Matthew's engagement will be back. UGH, GUYS. Just stop and get married already! Bickering will ensue because, of course it will.
- Handsome fellow alert! New love interest for O'Brien? On snap, y'all! Apparently the new help is named Alfred, and it sounds like O'Brien gets a little bit googly-eyed over the new fellow, and her friendship with Thomas may suffer because of it. I, for one, can't wait for the friends to become conniving enemies out to destroy each other.
- The BEST thing about all of this is that our dear older dames will have a seemingly endless supply of sassing in store for us lovers of all things Dowager. When discussing Martha with Matthew, the Dowager does not mince words (but has she ever?): "When I'm with her, I'm reminded of the virtues of the English," the Dowager extols. "But isn't she American?" asks Matthew. "Exactly," Violet retorts. BOOM, ROASTED.
- Other zingers between the two women also include the previously-seen exchange: "Oh dear, I’m afraid the war has made older women of us both," quips Ms. Levinson. "I wouldn’t say that, but I keep out of the sun." Dowager for the win, yet again.
So it looks as though there is tons in store for all us fans. We can only imagine the future of amazing one-liner zingers we're in store for. In our minds, the situation is rife with possibility. And keeping the foibles ahead in mind, we've crafted a few lines we imagine the Dowager speaking in the near future.
- "Apparently class is something that didn't fit into the luggage carousel on the Mayflower."
- "Americans confuse brutish audacity for charm."
- "It's about decorum; and this is certainly not the forum. What's next? Shall we be dining in the stables with the horses and the hounds?"
We've dreamed a dream, now make it real, Fellowes! Downton Abbey returns to PBS and the American shores in January 2013. Are you excited about the upcoming season? Let us know in the comments below!
[Image Credit: PBS]
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Downton Abbey Season Three
On the surface Kevin Smith has crafted a clever concept a ragtag group attempts to make a porno film in order to get some quick cash. The underlying story is the platonic relationship between roommates Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) whose friendship goes to a whole new level once they find themselves out of cash and decide to cast themselves in their own triple XXX film. After meeting a gay adult film actor at a party Zack comes up with the get-rich quick idea to make a porn movie enlisting Miri’s help and convincing her that it will not affect their friendship. They set about casting the rest of the film with a disparate group of participants including the very self confident sex maniac Lester (Jason Mewes) superstud Barry (Ricky Mabe) gorgeous blonde bombshell Stacey (adult film icon Katie Morgan) and daring kinky Bubbles (legendary Traci Lords). What seemed like a simple proposition turns complicated when Zack and Miri in the heat of simulated lovemaking and in front of the whole crew discover they may be more than just friends. Even considering his great work in Knocked Up Zack is Rogen’s most accomplished character to date a lovable loser who uses last-ditch initiative to turn his life around and in the process discovers more than he ever bargained for. Chemistry is a tricky thing but Rogen certainly has it in spades with co-star Banks who takes what could have been a broadly sketched role and turns Miri into a three-dimensional woman who doesn’t even realize her true soul mate may be right under her nose --literally. You root for these two all the way. The wonderful supporting cast is unique to say the least including adult film star Katie Morgan making her mainstream debut as the ditzy Stacey. After some 200 “real” XXX films she graduates to the big leagues in style and shows she may have a future outside of her niche. Lords who made that leap some time ago niftily sends up her own former image and shows fine comic chops and a willingness to dress deliciously inappropriately. As for the guys Mabe is very funny but Jason Mewes (Jay of Jay and Silent Bob) lets loose with a hilarious and totally uninhibited portrayal of a sex addicted tattooed dude willing and able to do anything on camera. Also nearly stealing the show is The Office’s Craig Robinson a married crew member who is excited to help out buddy Zack because he wants to see “titties.” And in extended cameos Justin Long as a gay porn star and Superman Brandon Routh have a great time sending up their straight movie images playing bickering boyfriends. Kevin Smith has always gone for the jugular challenging the ratings boards and pushing the envelope in his films ever since the classic “dirty movie” Clerks made him famous. But not since his early films such as Chasing Amy has he showed such style and maturity as a filmmaker as he does in Zack and Miri his most outrageously hilarious and accomplished movie to date. Yes he does continue going for shock value (there’s a laugh-out-loud moment involving a certain bodily function natch) but his story is grounded in reality recognizably human and engaging. He milks this genius comic premise for all its worth but gives it an extra dimension that makes it different unexpected and finally memorable. Mostly though it’s just plain fun.
Drab prim and more than a little prudish Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) isn't a very good governess--her rigid personal beliefs keep getting in the way of her ability to hold a job. Homeless and hungry on the streets of 1939 London she's on the verge of despair when fate sends her to Delysia Lafosse's door. Flighty enthusiastic and impulsive Delysia (Amy Adams) is a club singer with aspirations of becoming a serious actress; to achieve her goals she'll literally charm the pants off of any man who can help her--even at the risk of losing her one true love forever. Equally shocked and fascinated by Delysia's sophisticated fast-paced colorful lifestyle Miss Pettigrew uses her brief time as the young woman's faux social secretary to try to save her from herself. At the same time she begins to let go of old fears and finds the way to her own happiness. Miss Pettigrew benefits immensely from the strengths of its two stars. McDormand is both funny and affecting as the title character; she plays a recurring gag in which Miss Pettigrew almost gets to eat with just the right notes of humor and pathos. The twinkle in her eye as she takes the measure of Delysia's world is convincingly conspiratorial and her scenes with co-star Ciaran Hinds who plays courtly lingerie mogul Joe are both sweet and realistic. Adams meanwhile is just as captivating as she was in Enchanted. Delysia's perky effervescence hides both determination and vulnerability and Adams mixes all three elements expertly. The ladies get strong support from their fellas particularly Hinds and Pushing Daisies' Lee Pace who plays Delysia's poor-but-ardent suitor Michael. And Shirley Henderson is perfectly poisonous as socialite/salon owner Edythe. Parts of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day have a distinctly screwball feel -- particularly the early scenes in which Miss P. arrives at Delysia's and must immediately juggle four or five different crises for her new client. The brink-of-World War II setting with its cocktail parties jazz clubs and dames in bright red lipstick encourages that association. But director Bharat Nalluri's movie is also a touching romance with scenes of true poignancy that centers on a complex mature heroine who knows life isn't all roses. His ability to balance the two yields a genuinely funny accessible comedy that has some real depth to back up its lighthearted romping. Even if like Delysia Miss Pettigrew is only a passing presence in your life you'll likely remember her quite fondly.
Yes it’s true. Although it reaped deserved accolades and an Oscar win for its star Philip Seymour Hoffman Capote keeps you somewhat at arm’s length as you watch Truman Capote go through his agonizing journey to writing his one and only masterpiece In Cold Blood. Infamous however wears its heart on its sleeve drawing you in immediately. When we first meet Capote (Toby Jones) it’s in New York. As the toast of the town and confidante to some of Manhattan’s elite grand dames including Babe Paley (Sigourney Weaver) and Slim Keith (Hope Davis) Capote’s mood is light and airy his antics hilarious. Then once Capote travels to Kansas to cover the grisly Cutter murders with his dear friend Nell Harper Lee (Sandra Bullock) the frivolity is peeled away layer by layer. When he finally becomes so tortuously—and yes even romantically (it goes there)—entangled with killer Perry Smith (Daniel Craig) and the writing of his book hits its crescendo Capote emerges as a beaten-down and bitter man who ultimately can’t even be lifted by his high society friends. Infamous is infinitely more heartbreaking. It’s really hard to top Hoffman’s Oscar-winning performance as Truman Capote. He embodies the character with such exquisite and subtle suffering you don’t mind the fact he doesn’t look anything like the diminutive author. Toby Jones (Finding Neverland) however does look like Capote. A LOT like him and is just as capable at wringing out all of Capote’s brilliance and faults. But rather than dominate Jones’ eerie look-a-like characterization blends in more with Infamous’ scenery allowing some of the other colorful characters to step up to the plate. Weaver and Davis are effusive and catty as Capote’s Manhattan buddies who give hints on what’s to become of Capote later in his life when he finally goes too far and crosses these fine society ladies. Craig is also particularly effecting as Smith full of pathos and rage. But the real stand out is Bullock as Harper Lee. Her unassuming but quietly fierce take on the To Kill a Mockingbird author far outshines Catherine Keener’s Oscar-nominated performance in Capote. Bullock brings such an essence to the role that when watching Lee tell stories of when she and Truman were children you see the little girl Scout from Mockingbird so very clearly. Kudos all around. Director/writer Douglas McGrath has to got to be kicking himself. Seriously. Of course he’s going to say “Given the riveting contradictions in Capote’s character the rich range of people who made up his circle and the comic and dramatic turns that marked the period the real wonder is that there were only two scripts.” But the fact of the matter is Capote came first and furious getting all kinds of good strokes. Releasing another movie about the very same subject on its heels...well that movie is going to have a harder time. Period. And that’s a real shame. McGrath does some truly marvelous things with Infamous. He shows how a flamboyant gay writer spoiled chic who plays court jester to the very cream of New York society is set down in the wastelands of Kansas to write about a horrible crime. Capote’s antics at first are hilarious such as trying to wear cowboy boots and a cowboy hat just to fit in. But then the shift into the dark side as Capote delves deeper and deeper into the psyche of the killers keeps you riveted. It might be the same but Infamous is just as worthy.
Although it's modern day there's a distinct Raymond Chandler-esque feel to this story about a petty thief named Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) who lucks into a movie audition and finds himself heading to Hollywood. Harry is replacing Colin Farrell as a detective in a film and to get the realism of the part he's shown the detecting ropes by Det. Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer) also known as Gay Perry--because he's gay. Then Harry runs into his old high school sweetie Harmony (Michelle Monaghan) at a Hollywood party. She believes Harry is a real detective and begs him to help her. That's when the bodies begin coming out of the woodwork. Greed torture and mayhem ensue. If there's any way to prove that Downey is back in true form this is it. He's glib charming deep and truly becomes a modern-day Chaplin in this very trampy role. Kilmer avoids some of the stereotypes of playing gay but as he points out "we're not good cop bad cop we're fag and New Yorker." Both deserve awards. Monaghan holds her own as a feisty red-head. Even Downey's real-life son Indio--who plays his character in the early flashback scenes--shows incredible promise as an actor. This is the Shane Black’s directorial debut the same guy who wrote Lethal Weapon and Long Kiss Goodnight. He knows violence that’s for sure but he also has a keen sense of humor. In Kiss Kiss he mixes them well. Black sets the mood with Downey--giving his best Bogie-like voiceover-- narrating the action along the way. This is better than Get Shorty as far as a dark look into the entertainment industry and far more entertaining. And as Harry's character promises "I've seen Lord of the Rings and we're not going to end this 17 times."