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FIRST LOOK: Downton Abbey creator’s new project The Gilded Age begins filming on streets of New York

FIRST LOOK: Downton Abbey creator’s new project The Gilded Age begins filming on the streets of New York with rising stars Denee Benton and Sheryl Lee Ralph

They’re going back in time for a new HBO series from Julian Fellowes.

Denee Benton and Sheryl Lee Ralph were spotted for the first time in character on The Gilded Age set in New York on Tuesday morning.

The rising stars will join Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon in a new show from the Downton Abbey creator which explores the lives of aristocrats in the 1880s.

Action! Denee Benton was spotted for the first time in character on The Gilded Age set in New York on Tuesday morning

Denee was dressed to the nines in a royal purple ensemble with scarlet accents as she prepared to film scenes.

Benton portrays a young ambitious writer named Peggy Scott who returns home after finishing her education.

Sheryl sported a mossy green Victorian dress with intricate embroidery across the collar and down the bodice of her gown. 

Lovely: Sheryl sported a mossy green Victorian dress with intricate embroidery across the collar and down the bodice of her gown

Lovely: Sheryl sported a mossy green Victorian dress with intricate embroidery across the collar and down the bodice of her gown 

Denee was dressed to the nines in a royal purple ensemble with scarlet accents as she prepared to film scenes.

Denee was dressed to the nines in a royal purple ensemble with scarlet accents as she prepared to film scenes.

Baranski and Nixon portray aristocratic siblings who take in their orphaned niece, played by Louisa Jacobson, youngest daughter of Meryl Streep and her husband Don Gummer. 

The Gilded Age

The Gilded Age is a term used to describe the prosperous years in American history post Civil War.

Unprecedented growth in technology and industrial activity gave way to greed and corruption.

Wealthy tycoons, bankers and politicians created extraordinary wealth at the expense of the working class. 

The elite grew rich through the monopolies they created in the steel, petroleum, and transportation industries, according to Britannica.

Notable tycoons included John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Leland Stanford and J.P.Morgan. 

Fellowes’ new show is described as ‘a sweeping fictional epic of the millionaire titans of New York City,’ according to Deadline.  

Jacobson plays heroine Marion Brook who, in 1882, moves from Pennsylvania to be with her aunts in New York after her father, a Civil War general in the Union army, dies. 

‘Following the tradition of Downton and Belgravia, the new series explores the lives of the fabulously privileged, and those less so, at a time, during the late 19th century, when America became more prosperous and saw unprecedented growth, thanks to the rise of transcontinental railways and huge advances in industrial technology,’ Baz Bamigboye wrote for DailyMail.com

The Gilded Age also stars Harry Richardson as the Harvard-educated son of wealthy neighbors, portrayed by Morgan Spector and Carrie Coon, and is described as ‘a sweeping fictional epic of the millionaire titans of New York City,’ according to Deadline.

Julian Fellowes’ latest endeavor is years in the making after he began working on a Downton Abbey spin-off in September 2012. 

Fellowes told RadioTimes.com in January 2016 the he was ‘hopefully shooting at the end of the year’ despite not having written the script just yet.  

When asked about the status of the show in June 2016, Fellowes admitted he was ‘up to my neck in research’ creating the characters.

‘These people were extraordinary. You can see why they frightened the old guard, because they saw no boundaries,’ he told The Los Angeles Times. ‘They wanted to build a palace, they built a palace. They wanted to buy a yacht, they bought a yacht. And the old guard in New York weren’t like that at all, and suddenly this whirlwind of couture descended on their heads. 

Hard at work: Julian Fellowes latest endeavor is years in the making after he began working on a Downton Abbey spin-off in September 2012; seen in February 2020

Hard at work: Julian Fellowes latest endeavor is years in the making after he began working on a Downton Abbey spin-off in September 2012; seen in February 2020

Drama: Downton is set in the early 20th century and stars Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and Maggie Smith

Drama: Downton is set in the early 20th century and stars Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and Maggie Smith

‘They redesigned being rich. They created a rich culture that we still have—people who are rich are rich in a way that was established in America in the 1880s, ’90s, 1900s. It was different from Europe.’  

Fellowes noted that The Gilded Age was ‘the fulfillment of a personal dream’ after final confirmation the show would be on NBC in January 2018.

HBO acquired the series more than one year later and ordered a straight to series with production announced in September 2019. 

The pandemic set back filming by a year, with cameras finally rolling in February 2021. 

Belgravia, another period piece from Fellowes, is based on his novel of the same name and was directed by John Alexander, and produced by Colin Wratten

Belgravia, another period piece from Fellowes, is based on his novel of the same name and was directed by John Alexander, and produced by Colin Wratten

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