Making Masterpiece and Turning Downton Down
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.
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.