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'Abbey' hits the road

Also in Tattle: More on Zayn Malik and Harry Styles’ sheep thrills

"DOWNTON ABBEY" is saying ta-ta.

Producers of the popular British

period drama yesterday confirmed that it will end after its sixth season, scheduled to air here in early 2016. In the U.K. the series will have its finale on Christmas Day, 2015.

"Our feeling is that it's good to quit while you're ahead," exec producer Gareth Neame said via a conference call. "We feel the show is in incredibly strong shape, the scripts that we're working on for the upcoming season are fantastic and the show is so popular globally. But the danger with this sort of thing is to let it go on forever."

He said the decision to wrap was made by him and Julian Fellowes (who created the series and has written every episode) in conjunction with the cast.

Neame added that there are no plans for a "Downton Abbey" feature film or a series spinoff.

What about if Violet (Maggie Smith) joins three elderly girlfriends in a 1920s retirement community?

Sitcom gold.

The acclaimed drama has tracked the fates of the aristocratic Crawley clan and their servants amid the social upheavals of pre-World War I Britain into the 1920s, as the characters cope with their rapidly changing world.

Of course, part of the charm of the series is that compared to today's rapidly changing world, the 1920s were a leisurely walk around the grounds of an estate.

Change in 'Direction'? reports that the departure of Zayn Malik from One Direction wasn't as simple as a mate leaving his band so he could live the life of a normal boy. Radar says Zayn was pushed as much as he jumped.

Multiple unnamed insiders told Radar that band management gave Zayn an ultimatum to sober up and he refused.

"Zayn's alcohol and drug use became a huge problem," said an anonymous associate.

As for what Zayn's departure/ouster will mean for the band, E! News spoke with a number of celebrities:

Jennifer Lopez: "I get it. Everybody's different and that's what you have to understand. I know a lot of people from the outside are looking and going, 'Why leave right now?' But we don't know what it is to walk in his shoes. Things come to an end sometimes. From what I hear they're going to keep on getting the great music and we'll see how it goes."


Keith Urban: "That's an unusual world to grow up in, I would think. But at the end of the day, if you've got the goods, like Justin Timberlake, you can go the distance."

Huh? Zayn didn't leave to go solo. He left to go home.

Kevin Hart at the "Get Hard" premiere: "What?! . . . It's hard for me to do a premiere with that type of news . . . Message to Zayn: Why?!"

Now there's a celebrity who understands the gravity of the news.

Will Ferrell: "I just heard. That's hot off the presses. If they're looking for, like, a 47-year-old addition - change it up - I'm ready."

Is this a good idea?

In Allahyar, Iran, an Iranian film company is attempting to offer the world a literal glimpse of the Prophet Muhammad despite traditional taboos against it.

The 190-minute movie, "Muhammad, Messenger of God," already recalls the grandeur - and expense - of a Cecil B. DeMille film (if it's as good as "The Ten Commandments" it will be one of the best movies ever), with a replica Kaaba shrine built in the remote village. But by even showing the back of the Prophet Muhammad as a child before he was called upon by Allah, the most expensive Iranian film in history already has been criticized before its release.

"How should we introduce our prophet?" asked Majid Majidi, the film's director. "Many relay their messages to the world through cinema and pictures."

Whatever you do, don't draw a cartoon.

Interestingly (because every day Tattle wants to teach), it's primarily the Sunni branch of Islam that rejects depictions of Prophet Muhammad, his close relatives or companions. Shiite Islam, the dominant branch in Iran, isn't so strict.

By making a high-quality film, Majidi said it will give the world the right impression about the Prophet Muhammad. He blamed Islamic extremists and the West for sullying the prophet's image.

Producers plan to ultimately release the film in Arabic, Persian and English, with showings across Iran and abroad in the summer.

Without even seeing it, the Daily News gives it an "A."


* In other One Direction news, Life & Style magazine says that the secret to Harry Styles' glowing, beautiful skin is that he gets $800 sheep placenta facials.


- Daily News wire services

contributed to this report.