Arclight Films is financing and introducing the movie to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival, which launches on Wednesday.
“The Chaperone,” based on Laura Moriarty’s best-selling novel, will be scripted by Fellowes, directed by Michael Engler, and star McGovern. It will air on PBS stations nationwide after its initial theatrical run.
McGovern will play a Kansas woman whose life is forever changed in the early 1920s when she chaperones Louise Brooks, a beautiful and talented 15-year-old dancer (played by Julia Goldani Telles), to New York for the summer. Brooks, an icon of the 1920s for popularizing the bob haircut, would go on to star in 25 films, including “Pandora’s Box,” “Diary of a Lost Girl,” and “Miss Europe” before retiring in 1938.
Fellowes said: “I am absolutely delighted to be working with Masterpiece and Elizabeth McGovern on ‘The Chaperone,’ based on Laura Moriarty’s novel, which is captivating and beguiling and resonant in so many ways.”
“It is a thrill and an honor to be working with Masterpiece and Julian again on his beautiful adaptation of ‘The Chaperone,’ and to be in the expert hands of director Michael Engler,” McGovern said in a statement.
PBS Distribution will distribute the film theatrically and to home entertainment markets in the U.S. UTA Independent Film Group handled North America rights.
Financing is provided by Altus Media of which Paul Brett and John Fields are directors, and for which Peter Nichols acts as a consultant. “The Chaperone” is a co-production of Masterpiece and Rose Pictures, in association with Anonymous Content.
McGovern played Lady Grantham in the six seasons of “Downton Abbey,” and was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe. The series aired on PBS in the U.S.