Approaching a Post-‘Downton’ PBS

paula-kergerPaula Kerger’s return to Pasadena Monday was a little less grand than her first time there this month.

On New Year’s Day, Kerger, the PBS CEO, rode alongside Elizabeth McGovern on a big “Downtown Abbey” float in the Rose Bowl Parade.

Monday, she merely took questions from reporters.

It was the day after the premiere of the original drama “Mercy Street.” And without announcing a second season for the show, she said she was very pleased with overnight ratings that “above even the ‘Sherlock’ premiere of the third season, which followed ‘Downton Abbey.’”

She seemed just as pleased that on Twitter, “both ‘Downton’ and “Mercy” trended all night.”

Of the move of “Sesame Street” days earlier from PBS to HBO, Kerger would only say she was happy that “‘Sesame Street,” a longtime PBS mainstay, would continue on public broadcasting — the episodes will be made available to it months after they premiere on HBO — and that HBO deal will help fund the Sesame Workshop that is produced by Sesame Workshop.

And while she spent past executive sessions talking up the network of Big Bird, now she only added that “as we look at everything that we’re doing for kids, ‘Sesame Street’  is just one piece.”

A few bits of interesting news came out of the session:

  • A fourth season of “Sherlock” is coming, but not likely for a year in part because of the demand for its star. Benedict Cumberbatch, Kerger said, “has become somewhat popular.”
  • “Hamilton” itself is not quite coming to “Great Performances,” but a behind the scenes film about its making is.
  • Coming to “Masterpiece” in place of “Downton Abbey” is an eight-part series “Victoria” about the queen, starring Jenna Coleman of “Doctor Who.”


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