EXCLUSIVE: Julian Fellowes’ The Gilded Age may take a little longer to make it to screen.
Deadline understands that production on the long-gestating drama has been shut down due to COVID-19.
It’s understood that two crew members on the show, which is a co-production between HBO and Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, tested positive for COVID-19 despite being asymptomatic. The tests came as part of the production’s rigorous testing implemented by the network for all production employees. As part of its health and safety protocols, the crew members are in isolation and the production will undergo deep cleaning data tracking and retesting of all production members before it is able to resume filming.
The Gilded Age becomes the latest high-profile project to face a pause as a result of the global pandemic. On the television side, CBS’ Young Sheldon was forced to pause for a day last week after a production team member tested positive, while Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla also paused filming in Ireland due to a number of false positive test results. On the film side, Jurassic Park: Dominion has paused for two weeks after positive tests.
The period drama landed at HBO after NBC initially ordered it to series. Coming from the Downton Abbey team of Fellowes, producer Gareth Neame and director Michael Engler, the show is an epic drama that follows the millionaire titans of New York City in the 1880s.
NBC originally tapped Fellowes to create and executive produce The Gilded Age in 2012 through Universal Television. But with Downton, produced by NBCUniversal-owned Carnival Films, being a big global hit and Fellowes writing every episode of the intricate period drama, Gilded Age was put on the back burner until Downton wrapped in 2015. Fellowes then had pause his work on the show to write the upcoming Downton Abbey movie.
NBC gave the greenlight to series The Gilded Age to series in January 2018 but in early 2019 it was taken out to market where HBO came on board.
The story begins in 1882 — introducing young Marian Brook, the orphaned daughter of a Union general, who moves into the New York City home of her thoroughly old-money aunts Agnes van Rhijn and Ada Brook. Accompanied by Peggy Scott, an accomplished African-American woman, Marian inadvertently becomes enmeshed in a social war between one of her aunts, a scion of the old-money set, and her stupendously rich neighbors, a ruthless railroad tycoon and his ambitious wife, George and Bertha Russell. In this exciting new world that is on the brink of the modern age, will Marian follow the established rules of society or forge her own path?
The show stars Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon, Morgan Spector, Denée Benton, Louisa Jacobson, Taissa Farmiga, Blake Ritson, Simon Jones, Harry Richardson, Thomas Cocquerel and Jack Gilpin.
Carrie Coon came on board earlier this year, replacing Amanda Peet, who was originally cast but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts brought on by the initial COVID-19 production shutdown.
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