Gérard Depardieu Embraces Russia Citizenship Offer
Actor Gérard Depardieu has hailed Russia’s decision to grant him citizenship following a tax spat with the government of his native France. In an open letter broadcast on Russian TV Depardieu said, “I filed a passport application and I am pleased that it was accepted. I love your country, Russia — its people, its history, its writers. I love your culture, your intelligence.” The actor said he had spoken to French President Francois Hollande and told him Russia was “a great democracy, and not a country where the prime minister calls one of its citizens shabby” — referring to how French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault described Depardieu’s decision to leave the country. Depardieu’s tax feud began last year after Hollande moved to raise taxes to 75% for those earning more than €1M ($1.6M). The actor accused the new socialist government of punishing “success, creation and talent” and announced in early December he would move to Belgium. Wonder how he feels about Wild Bunch film sales exec Vincent Maraval’s remarks accusing French actors of abusing the nation’s generous film subsidy system and getting “rich from public funds”.

Larrikin Entertainment Boards Australian Thriller ‘The Reckoning’
Greg Coote’s LA-based Larrikin Entertainment has boarded its first Australian film, The Reckoning. Callan McAuliffe, who plays the young Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, is set to star. Writer-director John V. Soto’s thriller focuses on a detective racing to find two teenage runaways who have video of a murderer. Filmscope Entertainment’s Deidre Kitcher tells Deadline pre-production will start in Perth in February, and with the rest of the cast to be announced later this month. Lightning Entertainment has worldwide sales rights excluding Australia. Coote and Larrikin partner David Calvert-Jones and exec Robert Lundberg will serve as exec producers. Kitcher raised funds from Screen West, private investors, the 40% producer offset and Lightning. Soto’s most recent pic Needle was released in the U.S. by Lionsgate. – Don Groves

Former Fox Exec To Chair Australia’s Nine Entertainment
The recapitalized Nine Entertainment Co. has tapped David Haslingden as chairman. News Corp announced Haslingden would step down as president and COO of Fox Networks Group at the end of 2012 and return to his native Australia. In October Nine’s board and management led by CEO David Gyngell engineered a $A3.4 billion ($3.57 billion) debt-for-equity swap that saw U.S. hedge funds Apollo Global Management and Oaktree Capital emerge as controlling shareholders, replacing CVC Asia Pacific. Creditors are expected to approve the deal January 21. - Don Groves

‘Doctor Who’ Gets 50th Anniversary Hat Tip From The Royal Mail
A new set of 11 stamps depicting each of the actors to have played Doctor Who is being issued by Britain’s Royal Mail to mark the 50th anniversary of the series. In its current incarnation, Doctor Who stars Matt Smith; the original series’ first episode was broadcast on November 23, 1963 and starred William Hartnell. Other actors to have played the Time Lord and who will be featured on the stamps include Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant. Along with the stamps featuring the Doctors, there will also be stamps of the TARDIS time travel machine and the sci-fi series’ villains including a Dalek, a Cyberman, an Ood and a Weeping Angel. The stamps will be available online March 26 and can be pre-odered at www.royalmail.com/doctorwho.

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