‘Downton Abbey’ is reopening – but not just yet


TV Pipeline

Hugh Bonneville

Q: I’m excited to be seeing ads for the “Downton Abbey” movie. When is that coming out? – Patricia Holland, Buffalo, N.Y.

A: The film isn’t set to open until September, so it was a calculated move to get fans of the globally popular series (seen in America on PBS, of course) intrigued and excited by releasing a composite of brief glimpses almost a year earlier.

The first trailer makes it clear that the movie brings back most of the original cast members, and one of them – Hugh Bonneville, alias Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham – told us recently that the actors had “a lot of fun” in reuniting. The picture was written by “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes, so one can expect it to hold true to characters and situations already well-known to the “Abbey” faithful.

Sarah Lancaster in “‘Tis the Season for Love”

Q: I enjoyed watching Sarah Lancaster in “Christmas on Holly Lane.” Didn’t she do another Christmas movie? – Deb Green, via e-mail

A: A few of them, in fact. After playing roles on “Chuck” and “Everwood,” Lancaster is one of the top “go-to” actresses for basic-cable networks, so several holiday seasons of recent years have featured her in a new yuletide film on one network or another.

In 2015, there were two such movies: “‘Tis the Season for Love” on Hallmark Channel and “Christmas in the Smokies” on UPtv (the latter of which also ran “Christmas on Holly Lane”). And 2013 saw Lancaster also star for Hallmark in “Fir Crazy”… she sold Christmas trees in that one, so she truly was “fir crazy.” Her Hallmark holiday titles repeated quite a bit during the past couple of months.


Q: In the car commercials with the mother who dances both in and out of the driver’s seat, is the mom played by Kathryn Hahn? It sure looks like her. – Jim Spencer, Columbus, Ohio

A: Yes, it’s her. The ads started running early in 2018 and continued throughout the year, with a holiday update at the appropriate time. To a degree, those spots are plays on Hahn’s role in the two “Bad Moms” comedy movies.

In a statement released at the time she started the job, she said, “This campaign spoke to me as both a mom who spends a lot of time with my kids while driving and as someone who still likes to turn up the volume after I’ve dropped them off at school.” It’s also a benefit to all concerned that Hahn already had established the necessary image through her film and television work, which she’s continued lately in the movie “Private Life” and in the streaming series “The Romanoffs.”


Q: I’ve been enjoying watching repeats of “Friday Night Lights” on cable. When was the show originally on? – Tom Lawrence, via e-mail

A: The small-town-football drama started its run on NBC in 2006, and it spent its first two seasons exclusively on that network. It might have been canceled after that, but its passionate fan base inspired NBC to make a deal with DirecTV by which the satellite system would get to show original episodes first, then NBC would run them afterward – and that ended up giving the show an additional three seasons.

That might not seem so innovative now, when broadcast networks regularly make agreements with other program delivery services to give their shows additional runs, but it was quite a big deal at the time. And the continuing audience that “Friday Night Lights” has through its current exposure on the Starz Encore Classic channel is a testament to its quality and timelessness.


Q: I heard that “Happy Together” has been canceled. Is that true? – Brad Simon, Stroudsburg, Pa.

A: CBS isn’t using that term for the show at this point, but let’s put it this way: No more episodes have been ordered beyond the original 13, and when that happens at this point of the television season, it usually means the program is done. The official word will come when the 2019-20 schedule is released in May, but it would be very unusual for the series to get a Season 2 order from the network under the circumstances.


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Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

jbobbin has 1722 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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