Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A modernizing of Masterpiece Theater?

Even PBS wants to step up their game,it seems,by announcing not only that one of their viewing cornerstones of viewing,Masterpiece Theater,is now dividing itself into three specialized genre showcases,they're getting new hosts as well. The most famous of the three(I presume,since the other two have not yet been named) will be Gillian Anderson,who will be the mistress of ceremonies of Masterpiece Classic,which will begin it's run in January 2008.

Anderson dazzled TV audiences(including me)as Lady Dedlock in the recent BBC/PBS miniseries Bleak House,but I first was impressed by her acting chops in the feature film version of House of Mirth back in 2000,where she was the perfect Lily Bart. I was never an X Files fan(just not my cup of weird tea)and I'm sure that I'm not the only one to recognize that pigeonholing an actor because of one big role that they played is not a smart move:



This also means that Anderson will be hosting the eagerly anticipated "Complete Jane Austen" series,starting on January 13,2008. The Jane Austen tribute includes new versions of Mansfield Park,Northanger Abbey and Persuasion,along with the much loved Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle Pride & Prejudice pairing and a fresh biopic of the authoress herself. Other MP Classic offerings to follow are a three part miniseries of George Eliot's Cranford with Judi Dench and a remake of Room With A View written by the brilliantly witty Andrew Davies. All of this sounds great but I'm more than prepared to dive into the Austen goodness:

MP Classic will be followed up by Masterpiece Mystery during the summer and in the fall,Masterpiece Contemporary will featured more current day fare. It's a good idea to do this,since Masterpiece Theater's offerings have become quite a mixed bag over the years and like many cable channels before them(such as HBO and Showtime),they're seeing the wisdom of cantering to the interests and needs of their loyal viewers while making themselves available to folks who think that MPT is only Brit mystery stories or Required Reading viewing. Smart move,PBS,smart move.

I don't know if Becoming Jane will be out on video before the MP Classic biopic of Miss Austen Regrets will be on the air but it would be interesting to compare and contrast Anne Hathaway's take on Jane to Olivia William's. Since part of the Complete Jane Austen series will be showing the version of Emma which has Williams in the pivotal role of Jane Fairfax,that will have to do. This should be a true treat for all Austenites:

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