Making Masterpiece and Turning Downton Down

November 20, 2013 at 10:49 am

Emmy award-winning producer, Rebecca Eaton, talks to Rafael Pi Roman about her new memoir, “Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on PBS.”

Elaborate costumes and high production values have become synonymous with Masterpiece Theatre. Yet behind the beautiful frocks and detailed sets, PBS’ long-running primetime drama series underwent a major overhaul in recent years to adapt its look and scheduling for modern viewers.

Such details are the subject of a new memoir by Masterpiece’s award-winning producer Rebecca Eaton, entitled “Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on PBS.”

Eaton took over what was then the PBS series Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! in 1985 and then oversaw the re-branding of the series as Masterpiece in 2008.

“If I had known how tricky it is to rebrand an icon, I never would’ve done it,” Eaton confessed to MetroFocus host, Rafael Pi Roman.

Web Extra: Emmy award-winning producer, Rebecca Eaton, talks to Rafael Pi Roman about  several Masterpiece hosts, including Alistair Cooke and Diana Rigg, and their importance to the show.

In her memoir, Eaton also shares some of the secrets behind Masterpiece’s most popular programs.  Of the series’ latest smash hit, Downton Abbey, Eaton confessed that it was not love at first screening.  She turned down the initial pitch in 2009.  Fortunately, the series was turned down by other American networks before Eaton changed her mind in 2010.

“Making Masterpiece” was originally intended as Eaton’s swan song, but she admits that the interviews she conducted for the book helped her remember her love of the show and her job.

“Oh wait a minute, I have the best job in television.  Why would I retire?  So I’m completely back in the saddle, as a result,” Eaton told Pi Roman.

 

Season 4 of Downton Abbey premieres on January 5, 2014.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, the Anderson Family Fund, Judy and Josh Weston, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Rosalind P. Walter, The Dorothy Schiff Endowment for News and Public Affairs Programming, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Jody and John Arnhold, the Tiger Baron Foundation, the Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation, the Metropolitan Media Fund, Laura and Jim Ross, the Dorothy Pacella Fund, in memory of Vincent Pacella and Shailaja and Umesh Nagarkatte.

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