Shirley MacLaine Dishes About Joining 'Downton Abbey'

Shirley MacLaine is adding a bit of American aristocracy to the third season of Downtown Abbey, and the legendary actress is already sending dispatches about her experience via Twitter.

The 77-year-old Academy Award winner is set to play Martha Levinson, the New York socialite mother of Cora aka Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern) who visits Downton for hitherto unknown reasons, but it probably has to do with a certain granddaughter's wedding (or perhaps another's baby).

Whatever the reason for Grandmother Levinson's visit, fans here and across the pond are anxious to find out anything from the tight-lipped cast and crew. MacLaine managed to send a quick message about her experience on the set via Twitter:

"Everything is going well. We shot outside in wind and rain. Love the cast and crew," MacLaine said Wednesday, before adding on Thursday: "Amazing day on Downton Abbey set. I love the British humor and temperament and functionality. Maggie [Smith, who plays the Dowager Countess] is so subtle and so much fun!"

The season 2 finale of Downton Abbey was such a success on PBS Masterpiece (5.4 million viewers) it was the public-television network's highest audience since Ken Burns' 2009 documentary The National Parks.

As for whether the upcoming season, which airs in the UK this fall and on PBS next year, is the period drama's final installment, series creator Julian Fellowes told the New York Times: "Sufficient unto the day." And then added after a laugh, "I feel that one can't really think much beyond that. Although I agree, I do not think it should just go on and on forever."

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