Danner Goes Back in Time for ‘Lilys’

Blythe Danner. ©Pacific Rim Photo Press. (Click on photo for hi-res version).


Front Row Features

HOLLYWOOD—Blythe Danner, a.k.a. Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom, has wrapped production on the pilot for “Gilded Lilys,” a “Downton Abbey”-type period series about Manhattan’s elite circa 1895 for ABC Television.

The veteran actress, who is promoting her latest film, “The Lucky One,” a weepy Nicholas Sparks romantic drama set to open April 20, said she recently wrapped shooting of the drama series in Boston. Set against the backdrop of the Big Apple’s first luxury hotel, “Gilded Lilys” interweaves romance, family rivalries and the intermingling of the classes during the Gilded Age. Danner, 69, plays a character based on 20th century socialite Caroline Astor, mother of doomed real estate magnate John Jacob Astor IV (who died aboard the Titanic).

“She’s a witty, surly lady,” she says of her character, Caroline Lily. “She’s a real force of society in the 1890s in New York. The production is very elaborate and we have beautiful costumes.”

The hour-long drama is produced by Shonda Rhimes, the Emmy-nominated producer and creator of “Grey’s Anatomy” and written by “Gossip Girl’s” K.J. Steinberg.

Danner welcomes the challenge of doing a weekly series again, having last appeared on  Showtime dramedy “Huff,” which aired 2004-2006. She also was a three-time Emmy nominee for her recurring role on “Will & Grace.”

“I haven’t done one in a long time,” she said. “But it also allows me the time to do plays like the one I’m doing in Williamstown (NY) Theatre Festival this summer.”

The “Gilded Lilys” pilot is set to premiere sometime in the 2012-2013 season, though no airdate has been announced. The drama also stars Matt Long, Maury Sterling, Brigid Brannagh, Madeline Zima, Sarah Bolger and Bryan F. O’Byrne.