Cannes: 'Downton Abbey's' Julian Fellowes, Elizabeth McGovern Reteam for 'The Chaperone'

Julian Fellowes Elizabeth McGovern Split - H 2017
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The first film to be produced by PBS' 'Masterpiece,' it is being financed and sold internationally by Arclight Films.

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes; Elizabeth McGovern, who played that series' elegant Lady Grantham; and Michael Engler, who directed four episodes of the show, are reuniting for a new feature, The Chaperone, which will be released theatrically and then air on PBS as part of its Masterpiece series.

Based on the novel of the same name by Laura Moriarty, which Fellowes is adapting for the screen, the project is set in the early 1920s as a woman, played by McGovern, undertakes chaperoning a beautiful 15-year-old dancer and eventual star named Louise Brooks, to be played by The Affair’s Julia Goldani Telles, to New York.

The Chaperone will be a co-production of Masterpiece and Rose Pictures, in association with Anonymous Content. Producers are McGovern, Rose Ganguzza, Kelly Carmichael, Victoria Hill and Arclight’s Gary Hamilton, with Rebecca Eaton, Simon Curtis, Eli Selden and Adam Shulman serving as executive producers.

Arclight Films is financing and handling international sales at Cannes for The Chaperone, which will be the first feature produced by Masterpiece. PBS Distribution will distribute the film theatrically and to home entertainment markets in the U.S. UTA Independent Film Group handled North America rights. The financing for The Chaperone is provided by Altus Media, of which Paul Brett and John Fields are directors and for which Peter Nichols acts as a consultant.

An earlier version of the project had at one time been set up at Fox Searchlight.

Speaking at the PBS annual meeting in San Diego, Masterpiece executive producer Eaton said, "It feels so right to reunite Julian Fellowes, Elizabeth McGovern, and director Michael Engler for our first feature film. Like Downton Abbey, The Chaperone is a beautifully told period drama set in a changing world, but now the setting is New York City."

"We're honored to be working with the legendary Julian Fellowes, Masterpiece, and the entire team behind The Chaperone," said Hamilton, managing director of Arclight Films.

Fellowes and Curtis are represented by UTA. McGovern is repped by UTA and Anonymous Content. Engler is represented by WME, Anonymous Content, and Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal Laviolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman.