NEW YORK (AP) — The timing couldn't be better for the International Emmys to honor "Downton Abbey" writer and creator Julian Fellowes as the acclaimed British period drama wraps up its sixth and last season with a Christmas Day finale on Britain's ITV.
Elizabeth McGovern, who stars as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, and the show's executive producer Gareth Neame will present the honorary International Emmy Founders Award to Fellowes Monday night at the Hilton New York.
"Downton Abbey" was never nominated for an International Emmy honoring excellence in TV productions outside the U.S. because its producers opted to compete in the Primetime Emmys, winning 12 awards and earning the most nominations ever for an international TV series. The show's final season begins airing on PBS in the U.S. on Jan. 3.
"Downton Abbey," portraying the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants amid the backdrop of such historical events as the sinking of the Titanic and World War I, has become one of the most popular TV shows in the world, airing in at least 150 countries.
"We give the Founders Award to somebody whose work crosses cultural boundaries to touch our common humanity," said Bruce L. Paisner, president and CEO of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. "It's amazing with 'Downton' — almost any place you go in the world people watch it, like it and refer to the characters."
"In the guise of early 20th century aristocrats and the people who work for them, Julian has recreated everybody so people can see themselves and their situations and their life in these characters."
The presentation to Fellowes will highlight the International Emmy Awards ceremony in which 40 nominees from 19 countries will be competing in 10 categories. The ceremony will be hosted by Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef, dubbed "the Jon Stewart of the Arab world."
Britain garnered a leading seven International Emmy nominations, led by Sheridan Smith, who received a best actress nod for her role in "Cilla" about the rise to stardom of pop singer and TV personality Cilla Black. Rafe Spall was nominated for best actor for his role opposite Jon Hamm in the techno-thriller "White Christmas," the holiday special of the anthology series "Black Mirror."
Brazil's five nominees include two shows that received double nominations. "Doce de Mae" ("Sweet Mother"), about a matriarch who confronts issues of aging while dispensing wisdom to her family, was nominated for best comedy and actress (Fernanda Montenegro). The series "Psi" ("Psy"), depicting the adventures of an unconventional psychotherapist, received nods for best drama and actor (Emilio de Mello).
Also competing for best drama series are Britain's "My Mad Fat Diary," France's "Engrenages" ("Spiral") and Japan's "MOZU Season 1 - Night Cry of the MOZU." The other comedy series nominees include France's "Fais Pas Ci, Fais Pas Ca" ("Don't Do This, Don't Do That"), Colombia's "Familia en Venta," South Africa's "Puppet Nation ZA," and Canada's "Sensitive Skin."
Michael Douglas, who won a Primetime Emmy for his portrayal of flamboyant pianist Liberace in the HBO film "Behind the Candelabra," will present the honorary International Emmy Directorate Award to Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO of HBO.