10:30am PT by Rick Porter
Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon to Star in HBO's 'The Gilded Age'
HBO drama The Gilded Age, from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, has locked in some A-list names with its first round of casting.
Emmy winners Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon are set to star in the series, set in 1880s New York, along with Amanda Peet and Morgan Spector.
The HBO and Universal TV co-production, originally set at NBC way back in 2012, has a 10-episode commitment from the premium cable outlet. A premiere date hasn't been set.
NBC ordered the show to series in 2018, but it then moved to HBO in May. Bob Greenblatt, who gave the green light to The Gilded Age in 2012, is now chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment, which includes HBO. The show's move is reminiscent of that of Smash, which was initially developed at Showtime when Greenblatt was in charge there and then followed the executive to NBC.
The Gilded Age begins in 1882 and introduces Marian Brook, the orphaned daughter of a Southern general, who moves into the home of her rigidly conventional aunts (Baranski and Nixon) in New York City. Accompanied by the mysterious Peggy Scott, an African-American woman masquerading as her maid, Marian gets caught up in the dazzling lives of her stupendously rich neighbors, led by a ruthless railroad tycoon and his ambitious wife, who are struggling for acceptance in the Astor and Vanderbilt set.
The Good Fight star Baranski will play Agnes van Rhijn, a proud and stubborn aristocrat who will never accept that the world has changed and old values are being replaced by new ones. She found herself penniless as her parents plantation was foundering even before the Civil War but managed to catch a husband just in time. She worships her son, Oscar, but the ardor isn't mutual. Baranski is repped by UTA and Viking Entertainment.
Former Sex and the City star Nixon plays Ada Brook. She's another victim of the old South, but unlike sister Agnes, she didn't find a way out until it was too late and was forced back on her sister's charity. Not naturally confrontational, she's nonetheless capable of standing up for what she believes. Nixon also stars in Ryan Murphy's upcoming Netflix series Ratched. She is repped by UTA and Brookside Artist Management.
Peet returns to HBO after starring on Togetherness. The Brockmire actress, who also will star in season two of the anthology Dirty John on USA, plays Bertha Russell. Bertha comes from a middle-class background and backed her instincts when she set out to marry George, the son of a merchant family who has turned out to be a financial genius. She's determined to use her money and position to break into a society that resists change at every turn. Peet is repped by Gersh, Management 360 and attorney Gretchen Rush.
Spector (Homeland, Pearson, HBO's upcoming The Plot Against America) plays George Russell, a classic robber baron of his time. Pleasant enough in company and fond of his wife and children, he's utterly ruthless in business. George has acquired millions already, with billions to follow. He must win every challenge. Spector is repped by Innovative Artists and Untitled Entertainment.
Fellowes is executive producing with Downton Abbey veterans Gareth Neame of Carnival Films and director Michael Engler.
The Gilded Age is part of an HBO slate that includes the dramas Euphoria, Succession, Watchmen, His Dark Materials, The Deuce (currently airing its final season), The New Pope, Westworld, My Brilliant Friend, Gentleman Jack, Perry Mason, The Nevers, The Time Traveler's Wife, Lovecraft Country and J.J. Abrams' Contraband, among others.