Julian Fellowes to write an American Downton Abbey

Christina Hendricks could star in new series called 'The Gilded Age' set in turn-of-century New York

(Image credit: Getty Images)

JULIAN FELLOWES, the creator of ITV's Downton Abbey, is hoping to parlay the American success of the upstairs-downstairs drama into a lavish new series set in New York in the 1880s.

Downton has been a smash hit in the US and the aristocratic British actor-turned-writer will hope The Gilded Age - an NBC drama about the boom and bust world of American millionaires in turn-of-the-century New York - will repeat that success.

The Times says the new drama is billed as "an epic tale of the princes of the American Renaissance, and the vast fortunes they made – and spent." The cast has not been announced, but Mad Men star Christina Hendricks is just one of the US actors who says she wants to work with the British peer.

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Lord Fellowes told Variety the drama would depict a "vivid time, with dizzying, brilliant ascents and calamitous falls", a time when "money was king".

He will continue to work on Downton Abbey which has been renewed for a fourth season while writing and executive producing The Gilded Age.

The new series will cover a period "before the days of a federal tax" when aristocratic American families such as the Astors, Rockerfellers and Carnegies held sway," says historian Greg King in The Independent. The decadent period is chronicled by Edith Wharton in novels such as The House of Mirth.

The Daily Telegraph points out that Fellowes did not enjoy much success when he first went to the US as a struggling actor in the 1980s. He thought he'd made a breakthrough when he was considered to replace Herve Villechaize as the butler in Fantasy Island, but was pipped to the post by another actor and promptly caught a plane home to England .

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