News Nuggets: ‘Downton Abbey’ is helping PBS compete with HBO

Jessica Chastain getting set to join Kathryn Bigelow‘s Bin Laden film: “I’m told that Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong and Edgar Ramirez are circling to join the previously discussed ensemble cast of Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton and Chris Pratt. The drama portrays Navy SEAL Team 6′s long hunt for the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Osama Bin Laden was finally killed in a covert mission last year. Reports today assert that the Pentagon will investigate charges made by Rep Peter King that Oscar-winning ‘The Hurt Locker’ tandem Bigelow and [screenwriter Mark] Boal somehow got inside information about the mission from the Obama Administration in preparing the script.” DEADLINE

Golden Globe nominee Hugh Bonneville discusses what makes “Downton Abbey” so appealing: “I think partly it’s that people enjoy watching period drama. There’s a sense of escape to a world that seems to be a better world, a fairer world, that we would like to live in. But I think what’s different about this is it’s not an adaptation of a Jane Austen or a Dickens or a George Elliott. Because no one knows what happens next, because it’s actually been written freshly. So it has the best elements of soap, and if you get bored of one character there’s always another one coming along in a minute.” VULTURE

Downton Abbey” is helping PBS battle premium networks: “Emboldened by the success of the British period drama ‘Downton Abbey,’ one of the most critically acclaimed shows on television, PBS now faces the challenge of translating the buzz and enthusiasm for the show into donations to local stations and public financing … The goal is to attract new viewers to PBS and make audiences think of public television more like the top-tier programming of HBO, Showtime and other channels they are willing to pay for. ‘Think of PBS and the local stations as premium television on the honors system,’ said John Wilson, senior vice president and chief television programming executive at PBS.” NEW YORK TIMES

Looking back at the controversy nine years that gagged Academy members: “Nine awards seasons ago, two op-eds — both involving the Miramax film ‘Gangs of New York’ (2002) — motivated the Academy to begin cracking down on ‘distasteful’ Oscar campaigning, an effort that continues to this day … At the time that the op-eds were published, the Academy had ‘rather arbitrary rules against lobbying, campaigning, or otherwise cajoling,’ as a BusinessWeek writer put it. Still, most members understood that the organization frowned upon members publicly revealing their voting intentions and/or endorsing an Oscar-contending film or individual, to say nothing of studios using such endorsements in promotional materials.” HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Anne Thompsons interviews “Hugo” writer John Logan: “John Logan is smiling today, as he just earned a Writer’s Guild Nomination for adapting the novel  ‘Hugo Cabret’ for Martin Scorsese. If his other scripts had been eligible, he could just as well have sewn up three spots this year, for adapting Shakespeare’s ‘Coriolanus‘ for Ralph Fiennes, or for his screenplay for Gore Verbinski‘s ‘Rango,’ the current front runner for the animation Oscar … Of his three 2011 films, the script Logan can’t talk about enoough is ‘Coriolanus,’ perhaps because modernizing Shakespeare brought the highest degree of difficulty. ‘It’s a muscular adaptation,’ he admits. ‘The play has been around for 400 years. Shakespeare is a foreign language for most people.'” INDIEWIRE

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