Wild Bunch’s Jean-Philippe Tirel To Hang Acquisitions Shingle
After eight years running Wild Bunch Distribution, Jean-Philippe Tirel is setting out on his own. The exec, who worked at Studiocanal before joining Wild Bunch, helped to launch the company’s successful French distribution arm. He’ll now launch his own acquisitions boutique, Selective Films, backed by private investors and looking to acquire three to four non-French films per year for the French market. Selective will also soon announce a non-exclusive first-look deal with a major French distributor. Tirel’s strong track record includes getting an early jump on and shepherding such local hits as Paranormal Activity, The King’s Speech and Piranha. He also led Wild Bunch Distribution in its release of Little Nicolas which was 2009’s top-grossing French film. Tirel says he’ll acquire a majority of American films and start the buying in Cannes.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Jean-Philippe Tirel’s Selective Films, Berlin Film Festival Honors, Nine Entertainment Recapitalization
Wild Bunch’s Jean-Philippe Tirel To Hang Acquisitions Shingle
Australia’s Nine Entertainment Seeks $700 Million U.S. Debt Facility
Nine Entertainment Co. CEO David Gyngell and advisers UBS are approaching U.S. lenders this week to set up a $700 million debt facility as part of the company’s recapitalization. Standard & Poor’s has given the proposed raising a preliminary BB credit rating with a stable outlook. According to local media, the ratings agency has given Nine the same rating for a separate $700 million senior secured term loan it aims to arrange in Australia. Existing creditors are due to meet on January 21 to approve a $3.4 billion debt-for-equity swap that will result in U.S. hedge funds Apollo Global Management and Oaktree Capital emerge as the controlling shareholders, replacing previous owner CVC Asia Pacific. Nine posted a $972 million loss in 2011-12, mostly due to asset write-downs, but the network saw a ratings resurgence last year, finishing No. 1 in prime-time in the key demos 25-54, 18-49 and 16-39 in the five capital cities, driven by The Voice, The Block and Big Brother. The new owners reportedly are planning an IPO within 18 months, which S&P said could lead to an improvement in its rating. –Don Groves
Goldman Sachs Preps Debt-To-Equity Scheme For Nine Entertainment
Goldman Sachs is putting together a deal for a group of U.S. hedge funds to take control of Australia’s debt-laden Nine Entertainment Co., according to the Australian Financial Review. The plan involves the hedge funds converting part of the media company’s $A3.8 billion ($3.9 billion) debt into equity. Goldman manages mezzanine debt funds owed around $1 billion by Nine. Private equity firm CVC Asia Pacific bought Nine Entertainment, which includes the Nine Network, Australian News Channel, Ticketek, the Allphones Arena and a 50% stake in NineMSN, from James Packer for $5.5 billion in 2007. Last week the firm sold its publishing division ACP Magazines to Germany’s Bauer Media Group for a reported $500 million. Under Goldman’s plan Nine would retain $1.25 billion in debt through a new five-year facility. The paper said Goldman was due to put its proposal to Nine Entertainment’s lenders including hedge funds Oaktree Capital and Apollo Global Management. -Don Groves
Australian Exhibitor Hoyts Enters VOD Biz
Launching in the first quarter of 2013, Hoyts will be the first major Australian exhibitor to offer a VOD service offering new releases day-and-date with DVD, plus classic movies and TV content. Monikered Hoyts Stream, the service aims to tap into Hoyts’ customer base which includes 547,000 members of its loyalty programs and 200,000 people who regularly use its DVD rental kiosk business Oovie. The initiative will put Hoyts Stream in direct VOD competition with Foxtel on Demand, Quickflix, iTunes, Big Pond Movies, Fetch TV, Google Play and Xbox. Nearly every Hollywood film and most indie titles are now available simultaneously on VOD and DVD in Australia. Neither of Hoyts’ major exhib rivals, Village Roadshow and Event Cinemas, has indicated any intention of entering the VOD business. Crispin Tristram, Hoyts chief marketing officer, who will run Hoyts Stream, said the firm is in advanced negotiations with U.S. majors and leading independents to acquire VOD rights. He declined to reveal pricing but said fees would be competitive. A subscription service for library film and TV content is to be introduced later in 2013. Hoyts chairman David Kirk said the company recognizes a need “to provide our customers choice for how they consume filmed entertainment from Hoyts, be it on the big screen, small screen or now any screen.”
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
The debt-ridden private equity owners of the Nine Entertainment Co. are poised to sell the ACP Magazines division after meeting with potential buyers including Germany’s Bauer Media Group, the Sydney Daily Telegraph reports. That suggests the rumored $A3 billion ($3.1 billion) offer for Nine Entertainment from former Hollywood MGM mogul Harry Sloan and U.S. private equity group TPG hasn’t developed. A source close to Nine Entertainment tells Deadline that Sloan-TPG were “tirekickers” who were never going to make a serious bid.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
The hedge fund which bought Australia’s Nine Network and magazine group from James Packer for $A5.5 billion in 2007 and has since struggled to pay down the debt may have find a lifeline- although it may be forced to take a sizable haircut. Hollywood mogul Harry Sloan is teaming with private equity group TPG to launch a $3 billion bid for Nine Entertainment Co., according to The Australian Financial Review. Nine’s owner, CVC Asia Pacific, is under pressure to do a deal as it is obliged to repay $2.8 billion in senior debt in February 2013. It also owes about $1 billion to mezzanine or second-tier lenders led by a Europe-based Goldman Sachs fund. The paper said TPG managing partner Ben Gray met with Nine chief executive David Gyngell and other senior management in Sydney this week. Nine comprises east coast free-to-air TV stations, ACP Magazines, the Ticketek agency, the Allphones Arena in Sydney and a 50 per cent share in NineMSN. In May the Fin Review reported Sloan had met with CVC Australia boss Adrian McKenzie to discuss a proposal whereby Sloan’s Global Eagle Acquisition Corp. would raise the capital to pay back Nine’s senior lenders and take a controlling stake in a refinanced Nine listed on the Nasdaq.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Rupert Murdoch Ally Severs Ties With Forbes Rich List; Oz Media Shake-Up; ‘Dyatlov Pass’ In Russia
Rupert Murdoch Ally At Odds With Forbes’ Billionaires List
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, an ally of Rupert Murdoch whose Kingdom Holding Company shares business interests with News Corp., is in dispute with Forbes over his placement on its annual billionaires list. The magazine placed him at number 26 on its list with an estimated worth of $20B. But the prince’s office thinks that’s several billion too low. According to The Financial Times, the prince severed ties on Monday with the list, citing a “flawed” valuation method. Forbes responded that it “has been investigating the prince’s finances for several years, and will detail its findings in a feature story in the magazine” that will appear online. Kingdom Holding will continue to collaborate with the Bloomberg Billionaires index, however, which measures the prince’s wealth at $28B, which he considers more accurate. Among his holdings, the Saudi investor owns about 7% of News Corp. which in turn owns 9.09% of the Rotana media group. He’s also got a stake in Twitter and owns Paris’ George V hotel.
BBC Three Orders Reeva Steenkamp Special
Fast-turnaround specialiast Mentorn Media is at it again. The producer has been commissioned by BBC Three for a quickie doc about the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. Steenkamp’s shooting death has been making headlines since she was killed on Valentine’s Day with star athlete Oscar Pistorius accused of murder. He has pleaded not guilty. Nick London is producing and directing for BBC Three. Rick Edwards, who presented Paralympics coverage for Channel 4, will host. Mentorn’s credits include Ricky Gervais’ An Idiot Abroad for Sky and HBO documentary For Neda. It also recently made fast-turnaround docs about Hurricane Sandy and the Aurora, Colorado massacre. Mentorn’s sister company Passion Distribution is handling sales.
Luketic, Former MGM Exec Sutherland Team On Oz Thriller
Los Angeles-based Australian director Alan White is set to direct Reclaim, a psychological thriller about an American couple who come to Australia to adopt a child after their unborn child dies in a car accident. Due to shoot in Oz later this year, the film is the first from a co-venture between U.S.-based Australian director Robert Luketic and Ian Sutherland’s Origin Productions, who will serve as producers with Brian and Josh Etting of L.A.–based Garlin Pictures. Sutherland, a former EVP of international theatrical distribution for MGM, and Luketic have been developing projects for several years. It will be the first Aussie film for White since 2000’s Risk. The screenplay is by Luke Davies (Candy) and Carmine Gaeta. Casting is underway. Arclight Films, which is selling worldwide rights, pitched the project to buyers at the Berlin festival’s European Film Market.- Don Groves
Laurence Olivier’s ‘Macbeth’ Screenplays Unearthed
A British professor has stumbled across Laurence Olivier’s screenplays for a 1950s movie version of Macbeth which were thought to have been lost. The University of Exeter’s Jennifer Barnes was researching Olivier’s film version of Richard III at the British Library’s Laurence Olivier Archive when she came across references to Macbeth scripts. Olivier had tried to mount the filmed version of Shakespeare’s play, but it was shelved due to financing problems. He would and wife Vivien Leigh would have played not only Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, but also two of the three witches, the screenplays reveal. Olivier also planned to cut out the “Is this a dagger I see before me?” line, The Guardian reports. While he was still alive, Olivier contended there were no surviving copies of his screenplay, but Barnes said “I was going through the catalog” of papers acquired by the library from Olivier’s family in 2000, “and I pulled up a script and found it was Macbeth. I didn’t believe it because I knew it wasn’t supposed to exist… I guess the people who cataloged them didn’t know how important they were”. The screenplay ends with a spectacular fight between Macbeth and Macduff. Per The Guardian, Olivier wrote: “Every conceivable trick of fighting that isn’t going to get a laugh must be employed.”
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
Foxtel Adds Roadshow to New Unified Movies Service
Roadshow Films, Australia’s largest distributor, has licensed its films to paybox Foxtel’s unified movies service which launches January 1. Roadshow, Disney, Warner Bros and MGM are losing their home on Foxtel on December 31 when their jointly-owned service The Movie Network goes dark. Foxtel refused to renew TMN’s deal as it moves forward with its own service of seven channels after buying the other major movies provider, Showtime, from partners Fox, Paramount, Sony, NBCUniversal and Liberty Media in October. Foxtel said it’s in advanced negotiations with other distributors. A WB deal appears to be imminent.
The Amazing Race Sprints North To Canada
CBS’ The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan announced tonight that viewers north of the border can look forward to their own The Amazing Race Canada that will air on Canada’s CTV, which has licensed format rights from Disney-ABC Domestic Television. The Amazing Race Canada will launch in Summer 2013. Competition will take place within Canada, which features a variety of rugged, challenging terrain. Insight Productions will produce with the support of Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri’s Profiles Television. Casting, host, and other information about the show will be announced during the coming months.
Global Showbiz Briefs: The BBC’s Jimmy Savile Investigations, Oz’s Nine In Debt Restructure, European Discovery Nominees
BBC Appoints Independent Reviewers In Jimmy Savile Case
The BBC is pressing on with its investigations in the Jimmy Savile scandal that involves serious allegations of child sexual abuse against the late TV host. The corporation named former Court of Appeal judge Dame Janet Smith to lead the independent review into the allegations as they relate to the culture and practices of the BBC during the time Savile worked there and whether today’s policies are up to date. The group also appointed former head of Sky News Nick Pollard to oversee a review into Newsnight, the BBC current affairs program which shelved a segment investigating Savile last December. The Pollard Review will also look at the BBC’s handling of material that might have been of interest to the police or relevant authorities. BBC executive board member Dame Fiona Reynolds said, “These reviews will demonstrate the BBC’s determination to open itself fully to scrutiny from independent experts, emphasising our belief that the basis of the public’s trust is full openness and accountability.”
Australia’s Nine Staves Off Administration With Debt Restructure
Nine Entertainment‘s creditors reached a deal Wednesday to restructure $3.3B in debt. The senior lenders, led by U.S. hedge funds Oaktree Capital and Apollo Global Management, were owed $2.3B. They will now emerge with a 95.5% stake in the company. The mezzanine lenders led by Goldman Sachs, which were owed $1B, will receive a 4.5% stake valued at around $100M. CVC Asia Pacific, which bought Nine from James Packer for $5.5B in debt and equity in 2007, exits with nothing. Nine’s board was desperate to avoid going into receivership, which would have imperilled its $100M a year programming deal with Warner Bros. and contracts to televise National Rugby League matches and Australian Test cricket. “We have a fully capitalized business,” Nine’s chief executive David Gyngell told reporters. – Don Groves
Global Showbiz Briefs: Rome Fest Lineup, News Corp Bid For Consolidated Clears Hurdle, Cecchi Gori In Deal With Daro
Rome Film Festival Announces 2012 Lineup
The 2012 International Rome Film Festival lineup includes 59 world premieres and 5 international premieres. There also are two surprise films yet to be announced. Roman Coppola’s A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of Charles Swan III starring Charlie Sheen, Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman is competing for the event’s top prize, as is Gabriel and Alan Polsky’s The Motel Life, starring Stephen Dorff, Emile Hirsch, Dakota Fanning and Kris Kristofferson. Also on the competition list are Japanese director Takashi Miike’s thriller Aku No Kyoten, Jacques Dollion’s Un Enfant De Toi, and Enrique Rivero’s Mai Morire. The festival will be held November 9-17 at the Auditorium Parco della Musica. You can read the entire line-up on the festival’s website.
Global Showbiz Briefs: News Intl Fights Pricey Doc Disclosures, Nine Financial Woes, Honor For ‘Rise Of The Guardians’
News International Fights Expensive Document Disclosures In Phone-Hacking Case
News International has argued against pricey document disclosures relating to civil damages in the ongoing phone hacking case, warning that the cost to the company might reach $12.1M. The branch of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has already spent $1.6M on disclosure searches of documents and emails pertaining to litigation, with consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers spending a further $5.6M. News International counsel Dinah Rose QC argued at a high court civil case management hearing that the disclosures served the interest of prosecuting legal teams and not their clients. They are claiming for compensation related to News International’s four-year denial of phone hacking, when no claimant has pleaded this. “That’s the source of this problem,” Rose said. “We have here a superstructure created not because of the claims of a particular claimant, but [because of] the interests of a legal team.” Meanwhile, the Metropolitan police investigation into phone hacking continues, with a senior counter-terrorism detective charged Monday with breaching the Official Secrets Act. Detective chief inspector April Casburn is charged with feeding information pertaining to the Met’s inquiry into phone hacking to staff at the News Of The World. Police have also made two more arrests in the computer hacking investigation. One is believed to be a former News Of The World journalist and the other a private investigator. – Joe Utichi
Global Showbiz Briefs: More Sun Arrests, BBC News Changes, Nine Debt Crisis, Turkish ‘Private Practice’
Two Sun Journalists Arrested
Fifty people have now been arrested in Scotland Yard’s ongoing investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments to public officials. Two journalists from News Corp. tabloid The Sun were detained this morning as was a police officer. The arrests were the result of information provided by News Corp.’s Management Standards Committee, the Metropolitan Police said. They relate to suspected payments to a public official and suspected disclosure of confidential information by a police officer.
New BBC Chief To Boost News Women, Keep Lid On Salaries
George Entwistle is making headlines in the UK during his first week as the BBC’s new director general. He said he would install more female news presenters in an interview with Radio 4. Male TV hosts have nothing to fear, he said, as he wouldn’t “remedy one inequity by indulging in another, turfing out a whole load of blokes who might be doing their job brilliantly with a view to getting women in.” Regardless, nobody should be looking for a star salary. The BBC has been in a period of austerity since its revenues were cut sharply through 2016 due to a freeze on the TV license fees that help support it. Entwistle told Radio Times the network will not “bankrupt” itself to hold onto to big names.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Time Warner Cable Shedding Clearwire, Lachlan Murdoch Settles, Nine Financial Woes, ‘A Long Way Down’
Time Warner Cable To Sell Its Stake In Clearwire
Time Warner Cable plans to sell its 46.4 million shares of Clearwire to build a nationwide high-speed wireless Internet network, Bloomberg reports. The second-largest U.S. cable company alerted other Clearwire investors of its intention to sell the holdings in a filing last week. Time Warner Cable and Comcast agreed late last year to market and sell Verizon Wireless, allowing the cable companies to combine wireless service with their television, land-line phone and broadband Internet services. The U.S. Justice Department approved the Verizon deal last month. Clearwire fell 4.9 percent to $1.54 at the close in New York.
Lachlan Murdoch Sues Fairfax Media For Defamation
Lachlan Murdoch is suing Australia’s Fairfax Media, alleging he was defamed in a September 6 article in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age which claimed he spent $304,000 of time travelling in News Corp’s corporate jet in the past year. Murdoch is a director of News as well as non-executive chairman of the struggling Network Ten. The article said, “Lachlan has…been flying high, in direct contradistinction to the ratings of the Ten Network.” The suit filed this week in the NSW Supreme Court said the article was based on News’ annual report which referred only to his brother James’ use of the jet. “The error is not such that a journalist, no matter how incompetent, could have made,” reads the claim. “Thus, it will be inferred that the defendant chose deliberately to state that it was Lachlan Murdoch, rather than his brother, knowing that statement was false or reckless.” The News-owned Australian reported Lachlan had not used the jet for seven years. The Fairfax papers tried to limit the damage by publishing a correction and apologizing for suggesting Lachlan used his position for personal benefit. Lachlan is seeking a full apology and $A50,000 ($52,280) to be paid to charity. The Australian said both sides were in negotiations. – Don Groves
Restored ‘Scarecrow’ Opens Lumière Fest
The Lumière Festival was launched four years ago by Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Frémaux who is also head of the Lumière Institute in Lyon. The open-to-the-public festival largely shows retrospectives and restorations but draws a substantial crowd of global filmmaking talent. Clint Eastwood, Milos Forman, Gérard Depardieu and Stanley Donen have stopped by in the past. Jerry Schatzberg’s 1973 Palme d’Or winner Scarecrow will open the proceedings this year on October 15 (last year it was The Artist). A new, restored copy of the film will be screened with the director on hand, accompanied by Frémaux and his co-hort at the festival Bertrand Tavernier. Schatzberg’s filmography includes Puzzle Of A Downfall Child and The Panic In Needle Park. Increasingly crossover director and actor Guillaume Canet, who worked with Schatzberg on The Day the Ponies Come Back, will present
Global Showbiz Briefs: Keanu Reeves Doc, 007 Tour, Seven’s Bid For Consolidated, Nine’s Financial Woes
Keanu Reeves Goes ‘Side By Side’ In Poland
Plus Cameraimage, the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography that takes place in Poland, has added Keanu Reeves’ documentary Side By Side as its opening film. The film’s director, Chris Kenneally along with cinematographer Chris Cassidy, producer Justin Szlasa and producer/host Keanu Reeves will attend the screening in Bydgoszcz and talk about the film. Side By Side includes interviews with filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, George Lucas and martin Scorsese who discuss pros and cons of 35mm vs. digital. It was previously announced that David Lynch will receive the fest’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Directing. Fest runs Nov. 24 to Dec. 1.
007 Bond Tour Kicks Off Monday In The UK
James Bond is set to travel the UK to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the franchise. Beginning Monday, Roger Moore and other Bond film stars will appear at locations around the country that have been used in the 007 movies including Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, Penbryn Beach in Wales and Stoke Park in England. Former Bond girls Eunice Grayson, Britt Ekland and Shirley Eaton as well as Richard Kiel will join the 007 Days of Bond tour which ends in London on Sept. 24. The 23rd Bond picture Skyfall opens in the UK next month.
UK Phone-Hacking Could Haunt Murdochs For Three More Years
Rupert Murdoch could be 84 years old before the British police complete multiple investigations into The News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers, who’s in charge of three overlapping probes into alleged criminal wrongdoing by journalists, said the task may continue through 2015, according to the Guardian. Akers, who is retiring in October, told a Commons home affairs select committee that “resources have been factored in for the next three years.” She said the force had identified more than 4,700 potential phone-hacking victims and found 1,069 were likely to have had their voicemail messages intercepted. So far 79 people have been arrested including former News International legal adviser Tom Crone, former chief executive Rebekah Brooks, her husband Charlie and Prime Minister David Cameron’s former spin doctor Andy Coulson. Akers said the Metropolitan Police and Crown Prosecution Service would consider the likelihood of further criminal prosecutions, adding, “We are now prioritising getting cases through court.” Scotland Yard still has 185 officers working on the investigations.
Network Ten Shares Slide To Record Low
Australia’s Network Ten board members Lachlan Murdoch (chairman), Gina Rinehart and Jack Cowin seem powerless to stop a steep slide in the company’s fortunes. The share price hit a record low of 37.5 cents today, down from 80 cents in March, and broker Commonwealth Bank Global Markets Research forecasts it will sink as as low as 30 cents. Ten’sratings have taken a hit from the failures of three Australian shows launched after the London Olympics, Everybody Dance Now, I Will Survive and Don’t Tell the Bride, which resulted in the exit of chief programmer David Mott. The only new show that has any traction is Puberty Blues, a drama inspired by Bruce Beresford’s 1981 feature. The ratings of Ten’s main channel have declined by 5% this year while Nine is up by 5.3% and Seven is off by 0.3%. The broker said Ten is “working hard to reposition itself and build out a new programming lineup, however we see continued ratings/revenue share risk given the large number of hours that need to be replaced and expect the TV ad market to remain challenging.” - Don Groves