Maggie Smith in “Downton Abbey”

Maggie Smith wasn’t sure she wanted to play the dowager countess, yet again, in “Downton Abbey 2,” but by the time she read the script, which has been called “a lot of fun,” she agreed to visit Downton at least one more time. Filming began in April, and by July 16 Elizabeth McGovern had completed filming her role. In addition to the original colorful characters returning, they’ve added Dominic West (upcoming in “The Crown” as Prince Charles, 2022-23), Laura Haddock (last in “Transformers: The Last Knight”), Hugh Dancy (last in “The Good Fight”) and Natalie Baye (last in the French film “Garcon Chiffon”). But the Christmas opening has been scuttled in favor of March 18, 2022.

Hugh Bonneville completed work on “Downton” in time to prepare for his Netflix film “I Came By,” with “1917” star George MacKay. MacKay also toplines the BBC series “The Trick” and Netflix’s “Munich,” with Jeremy Irons. Not bad for a kid who played Peter Pan 18 years ago. Bonneville still has a date with “Paddington 3” (the first two films earned a combined $500 million). Ironically, Bonneville was born in Paddington, London.

Here’s another irony: After a disappointing appearance in Netflix’s “The Prom,” Meryl Streep is currently filming “Disappointment Blvd.,” starring Oscar-winner Joaquin Phoenix, Patti LuPone, Nathan Lane and Parker Posey. All we know is that it’s supposed to be an intimate, decades-spanning portrait of one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time (who could that be? Florenz Ziegfeld, P.T. Barnum, Billy Rose?). Shooting began June 28 in Montreal and is expected to end in October. Meryl has “Let Them All Talk,” with Candice Bergen, Lucas Hedges and Dianne Wiest, directed by Steven Soderbergh, available on HBO Max, and Netflix’s “Don’t Look Up,” with Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett and Leonardo DiCaprio.

When NBC canceled “Manifest” after three seasons, they left us hanging with a lot of questions. Those who’ve invested a lot of time in this complicated series feel cheated. When Netflix began running seasons one and two, they found a large viewership and put in a bid to Warners TV to pick up the series for the fourth season. Here’s where the fun begins ... after seeing the numbers on Netflix, NBC thought it acted too quickly in canceling the show and are again in talks with Warners for a fourth season.

Either way, it’ll be a mess, since all the actors were released from their contracts. However, the cast has participated in a #SaveManifest campaign and have expressed a willingness to come back. NBC didn’t care that they left us hanging, just that Netflix was getting big ratings. Someone’s gonna be manifested with a middle finger! 

(c) 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.


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