EXCLUSIVE: Turn co-star Angus Macfadyen is set for one of the lead roles in The Pinkertons, Canadian companies Rosetta Media and Buffalo Gal Pictures’ upcoming 22-episode action-adventure detective series that is set to premiere in first-run syndication in the U.S. this fall. It has been cleared in more than 85% of the country by Rohrs Media Group on station groups including Tribune, Weigel, Hearst, LIN, Meredith, Cox and the CW PLUS.
Drawing on the real cases of Pinkerton Detective Agency, The Pinkertons follows founder Allan Pinkerton (Macfadyen), his son, William, and America’s first female detective, Kate Warne, as they solve crimes throughout the “Wild West” of the 1860s (Pinkerton is known for revolutionizing detective work by developing use of surveillance, undercover work and the mug shot). In part because of his commitment to AMC drama Turn, on which he is a regular, Macfadyen is will be a recurring guest star on The Pinkertons, not appearing in all episodes. Turn was renewed in June for a 10-episode second season to air in the spring. Read More »
BBC America said today that it has greenlighted Tatau, a drama from the producers of Being Human. The series is set in the Cook Islands, a paradise in the middle of the Pacific. The eight-episode season is written by Richard Zajdlic and co-produced by Touchpaper TV (Being Human) and South Pacific Pictures for BBC Three in association with BBC America. Filming starts in September, and casting will be announced.
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The drama follows Kyle Connor and Pete “Budgie” Griffiths, twentysomething friends from London who set off to travel the world. They’ve worked hard, saved even harder and they’re now eager to soak up as many different cultures and experiences as possible. Ahead of the journey, Kyle gets a Maori-style tattoo to celebrate their eventual destination: the Cook Islands. But upon his arrival in the South Pacific, he is unsettled by the local people’s reaction to his tattoo – it clearly has a significance that he is entirely unaware of. Later, while snorkeling in a lagoon, Kyle discovers the dead body of a local girl, Aumea, tied up underwater. When he returns with the police, the corpse has disappeared. Budgie questions if his friend is going mad, but Kyle begins to believe that he instead has seen into the future. Kyle and Budgie find themselves sucked into a desperate race to prevent Aumea’s murder, as Kyle learns that his gifts don’t stop at prophecy — and the full meaning of the tattoo soon is revealed. Tatau is an ambitious drama that explores the questions of identity, love and destiny. Read More »
Lionsgate has entered a new and expanded multi-year output deal with longstanding partner Nordisk Film in Scandinavia. The agreement covers upcoming Lionsgate and Summit titles including the next two Hunger Games franchise installments; the next three films in the recently-launched Divergent franchise; sequel Now You See Me 2; crime thriller Child 44 and Alex Proyas’ Gods Of Egypt. “Lionsgate and Summit have enjoyed a tremendous relationship with Nordisk over the years, partnering on nearly 200 films, including the launch of the Twilight, Hunger Games and Divergent franchises,” say Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairs Patrick Wachsberger and Rob Friedman. “We’re delighted to celebrate the renewal of our output deal with our strongest and most diverse slate ever, and we look forward to expanding our partnership with Nordisk on the production front as well.”
Picturehouse Entertainment will stream the BBC Radio 2 D-Day concert at The Royal Albert Hall live to UK cinemas on June 6. The concert is part of BBC Radio 2′s D-Day activity which culminates in the D-Day 70 Years On special at the Royal Albert. The live cinema broadcast is a means for elderly veterans and others who are unable to travel to London or France to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. Hosts Jeremy Vine, Dermot O’Leary and Louise Minchin will re-tell the story of key moments of D-Day alongside a cast of actors led by Patrick Stewart as Winston Churchill. The show will go out through Cineworld, Picturehouse, Vue and independent cinemas across the UK and proceeds will be donated to charities including The Royal British Legion. Stewart says, “I am delighted and proud to be part of this anniversary commemoration. Churchill wrote English to be spoken and I have always loved quoting his remark that ‘The greatest virtue is courage, because it makes all the other virtues possible’.” Read More »
UK omnibus 50 Kisses is entering the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest roster of co-writers on a feature film. The 51 scribes will gather today at BAFTA headquarters in London for a special screening of the film that beat the previous record holder, 1943’s Forever And A Day. That film had 21 writers including an uncredited Alfred Hitchcock. The British 50 Kisses was produced by the London Screenwriters’ Festival. Two years ago, it invited writers to submit two-page scripts featuring at least one kiss and set on Valentine’s Day. The 50 best scripts were released online with an open invitation for filmmakers to produce them. Ultimately, 127 shorts were made and those were edited down to produce 50 Kisses. The finished product was released on February 13 this year, earning a per-screen average of nearly £9,500. The end credits run for 17 minutes. Read More »
David Michel, co-founder of and general manager of French’s leading animation production company Marathon Media is stepping down, effective March 31. 2014. Michel co-founded Marathon Media in 2001 with Vincent Chalvon, who also recently left. The two sold the company to Zodiak media in 2008. Michel had been Marathon general manager since 2007 and added a role as SVP Group Marketing for Zodiak Media in 2011. During his time with Marathon, Michel served as co-creator and co-producer of 13 international series in the children & family space, including Totally Spies, which was #1 on Cartoon Network, as well as Get Blake, produced for Nickelodeon in the U.S. I hear Michel is in conversation with media companies in both US and Europe about co-production and other opportunities. Read More »
Colombia Paging ‘ER’ With 60-Episode Order
ER is going Latino. Warner Bros International Television Production today announced the first Latin American format deal for the seminal medical series. RCN, Fox International Channels and TC have commissioned a local-language version for Colombia with a 60-episode order. Colombia’s Resonant is producing for air this spring. Originally produced in the U.S. by Constant c Productions and Amblin Television in association with Warner Bros Television, the series premiered on NBC in 1994 and ran for 15 seasons. It is the most Emmy-nominated series in history with 124 and notably helped kickstart the careers of George Clooney and Julianna Margulies. “Even though ER is a fundamental American series, its characters and situations are so strong, moving and universal that will surely find a place in the hearts of Latin American audiences,” said Fernando Gaitan, RCN’s VP Content and Production. “We are eager to have it on our screen.”
‘Tbilisi, I Love You’ Opening Next Month In Georgia
Tbilisi, I Love You, part of Emmanuel Benbihy’s Cities Of Love franchise that started with Paris Je T’Aime and New York, I Love You, has set a February 20 release date in Georgia. The movie is a series of 10 short films that are written and directed by natives of Georgia and take on a personal narrative about the republic’s capital city. Malcolm McDowell and Ron Perlman both feature. McDowell’s vignette centers on an actor who reluctantly agrees to a one-month shoot in Tbilisi and develops a love affair with the city. Perlman’s short sees him as a nameless American motorcyclist who rides through Tbilisi’s remote areas with a woman named Freedom. Tbilisi, I Love You is produced by Storyman Pictures David and Nika Agiashvili. Credo Cinema’s Jason Speer, Ever So Close’s Benbihy, as well as Paata Trapaidze are exec producers. A festival schedule is being determined. In the meantime, here’s a trailer:
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Former BBC Worldwide president and managing director Steve Macallister has been appointed CEO Zodiak Rights, the international sales and distribution arm of Zodiak Media. The exec is replacing Matthew Frank who is stepping down after 20 years. Frank originally joined the group when it was fledgling indie RDF which was founded by his brother David Frank. RDF was acquired in 2010 by Zodiak and became Zodiak Rights. David Frank left the role of CEO of Zodiak Media in October 2013 and was replaced by Marc-Antoine d’Halluin. Commenting on the departing Matthew Frank, d’Halluin said, “The scale of what Matthew has achieved over the last 20 years is remarkable, and I know he will be missed on both a professional and personal level and I wish him all the best. He leaves behind an incredibly successful and reputable business and I have every confidence that Steve will now take the company to its next phase.” Macallister joined BBC Worldwide in 2007 and prior to that managed the distribution business for Disney ABC International Television in Asia Pacific. He left the BBC in March 2013 as the commercial arm was shifting the management of sales and distribution to the regional level. Zodiak Media’s properties include Millennium, Wife Swap, The Inbetweeners, Totally Spies and The Returned.
Sun News Network Pulls Plug On Toronto Mayor Reality Show
Controversial Toronto mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, will not be returning to Sun News Network with their newly launched reality show. The hourlong Ford Nation aired one episode on Monday night before getting the axe, despite notching a record 155K views in its first airing and 45k in repeats across Western Canada. The network blamed the move on the show’s demanding production schedule and use of resources. “What we will do is invite the Fords on other programming on the network where they’ll have an opportunity to be interviewed by other hosts,” Sun News VP Kory Teneycke said.
Monty Python To Reunite
Surviving Monty Python members Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones are set to reunite in a stage show, UK media reports. The show, expected to be announced at a Thursday press conference, would be the comedy troupe’s first in over three decades.
Dubai Fest Announces Films For Its Arabian Nights Program
The Dubai International Film Festival has solidified the lineup for the second installment of its Arabian Nights program, which focuses on innovative, boundary-pushing films originating from and focused on the Arab region. Titles include Nasreddine Ben Maati’s post-Arab Spring documentary A Doomed Generation; Mahmoud Kaabour’s Chamo Of The Camp, which follows a massive Bollywood singing and trivia competition across more than 70 camps; and prolific Syrian filmmaker Mano Khalil’s The Beekeeper, about a man who lost his wife, children, country and over 500 bee colonies in the Turkish-Kurdish conflict. “The films are a kaleidoscope of viewpoints, techniques and stories,” DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said. “The unifying thread throughout all films is a fresh, distinct take on the pressing issues facing the Arab world today.” The full lineup is here. The 10th annual Dubai fest runs December 6-14. Read More »
Zodiak Rights, the international distribution arm of Zodiak Media, has named Caroline Torrance as its new Head of International Scripted. Torrance will run the scripted sales team in Paris and work with in-house and external producers on developing drama and comedy co-productions. She joins from BBC Worldwide where her title was Director of Scripted, Content and Production. Zodiak’s scripted production companies include Wallander producer Yellow Bird, The Inbetweeners producer Bwark and Paris-based Marathon which produces the long-running serial St. Tropez.
Pierre Lescure Named Honorary President of Dijon Film Meetings
Former Canal Plus president Pierre Lescure has been named the honorary president of the annual Rencontres Cinématographiques de Dijon, set to take place next month in the French town. The executive, who was co-director general of Vivendi Universal following the French giant’s ill-fated acquisition of the studio in 2000, recently completed a government-commissioned study on anti-piracy laws and France’s fiercely protected Cultural Exception in the digital era. The film meetings in Dijon are organized by writers, directors and producers association ARP. The annual three-day confab includes several panels on issues facing the French and European film industry and regularly attracts heavy-hitters from the media and film sector as well as the Motion Picture Association and some of the U.S. guilds. Michel Hazanavicius is president of the org, but will be absent this year due to a scheduling conflict. VP Costa-Gavras will run the show in his stead. The event is set for October 24-26. Read More »
Millennium Trilogy producer Yellow Bird is embarking on a 10-part original series based on an idea by bestselling Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbø. International drama Occupied is a political thriller set in a not so distant future where Russia has staged a “silk-glove” invasion of Norway to officially secure the oil import for the rest of the world. The series looks at what happens to a nation under such an invasion.
Developed by Yellow Bird and Nesbø, Occupied will be co-produced with Zodiak Media’s French drama outfit GTV for Norway’s NRK and French/German channel Arte. Erik Skoldbjaerg, writer/director of the original Insomnia and director of Prozac Nation, will helm the first two episodes. Norwegian writer Harald Rosenloew Eeg is also on the the English-, Norwegian- and Russian-language project. Read More »
In yet another type of cross-border series – this one a sitcom – Family Guy and Will & Grace exec producer Gary Janetti’s Vicious premiered for buyers at Mip-TV last night. The six-part comedy stars veteran British thesps Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi in quite a departure from the likes of X-Men and Shakespeare. The pair plays a constantly bickering, but ultimately loving couple who’ve lived together in a small London flat for nearly 50 years. Their young upstairs neighbor is played by Misfits‘ Iwan Rheon and their best friend by Frances de la Tour of the Harry Potter films. Shine Group’s Brown Eyed Boy produced the show in association with Kudos Film and TV and Nickelby Inc. for the UK’s ITV. In keeping with current hit UK sitcoms like Mrs. Brown’s Boys, it’s shot in front of a live studio audience. There’s no U.S. outlet yet, but a deal was just concluded with Australia’s Seven Network. In a big push, Brown Eyed Boy’s Gary Reich, who’s co-producing with Janetti, says ITV will start trailering the series in British moviehouses and in video ads in the London Underground before the primetime debut later this year. Read More »
BBC America announced today debut dates for the final season of Being Human and the new zombie mini-series In The Flesh later this year. Both shows will be part of the channel’s Supernatural Saturday block. Still full of vampires, ghosts and werewolves, Season 5 of Being Human will start on June 8 at 10 PM. A Doctor Who and Torchwood alumnus, Toby Whitehouse is the head writer of Being Human with Polly Buckle producing the show’s final season. Being Human is produced by Touchpaper Wales, a Zodiak Media Company, for BBC Cymru Wales and BBC America. As one Beeb show ends, another begins, at least for the short term. The three-part In The Flesh premieres on August 3 at 10 PM. The mini-series drama deals with zombies being reintegrated into their living families and communities. Now called PDS (Partially Deceased Syndrome) sufferers, zombie teenager Kieren Walker is dealing with the same problems fitting in as his living peers, plus a whole lot more scarier issues. In The Flesh is a co-production between BBC Drama Production North and BBC America. Jonny Campbell directs with Ann Harrison-Baxter producing and Hilary Martin as executive producer
In what’s become an increasingly grim couple of weeks for reality television, a doctor working on TF1‘s Koh-Lanta, France’s version of Survivor, has committed suicide. Dr. Thierry Costa’s death comes a little over a week after contestant Gérald Babin died from a heart attack during filming of the first episode of the show’s 16th season in Cambodia. Production had already been shut down on Koh-Lanta and resulted in the cancellation of the entire 16th season. In a suicide note he asked be made public, Costa said he was confident he had treated Babin “as a patient and not a contestant” but said he was distraught by “false accusations and assumptions” in the media, according to local reports. Last Friday, Koh-Lanta producer Adventure Line Productions, a subsidiary of Zodiak media, said it would sue for defamation after information from an anonymous source, which called into question the on-site response of the production team and the doctor, was published by French media. A manslaughter inquiry has been opened into Babin’s death. Koh-Lanta started airing in 2001 and is one of leading network TF1′s flagship series, drawing an average of 7.4M viewers.
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The death of a participant on TF1 reality series Koh-Lanta, the French version of Survivor, has resulted in the cancellation of the show’s 16th season. Gérald Babin suffered a heart attack and died on Friday during the first day of shooting in Cambodia following a “shipwreck” challenge. He was 25. Production ceased immediately and the other contestants were being flown back to Paris today. Over the weekend, a spokesperson for France’s leading commercial broadcaster TF1 said, “The show will not take place in 2013.” Koh-Lanta, produced by Zodiak Media subsidiary Adventure Line Productions, started airing in 2001 and has consistently won its timeslot, drawing an average of 7.4M viewers. The 16th season was expected to air next fall. TF1 and ALP said in a joint statement: “The teams from ALP, TF1 and (host) Denis Brogniart are devastated and join in the profound sadness of Gérald’s family. All of their thoughts are with his parents, his sister, his girlfriend and all those close to him.”
Zodiak Rights, the international distribution and rights exploitation arm of Zodiak Media, has hired Janet Robinson as VP Sales & Acquisitions, North America, where she will focus on selling Zodiak Media’s unscripted programs to the U.S. and Canada. She will be based in Zodiak’s LA office and report to Glen Hansen, SVP Sales, Acquisitions & Co-Productions, North America. Previously, Robinson was Sales Manager at ITV Global Entertainment, where she managed sales and programming revenues across North America and the company’s distribution partnership with Animal Planet/Discovery Enterprises. Read More »
Natalka Znak will leave Zodiak USA at the end of her contract next month. Znak moved to Los Angeles from her native Britain in early 2010 to become EVP of then-RDF USA and was named Chief Creative Officer in March of that year, shortly after Grant Mansfield joined the company as CEO. Last June, Znak was upped to CEO, replacing Mansfield who returned to the UK. Then in July, Zodiak Media consolidated its production businesses in North, Central and South America, including Zodiak USA, into Zodiak Americas and tapped Jonny Slow as Zodiak Americas CEO. “Natalka has been a fantastic producer and leader for us over the past three years,” Slow said. “We’re sorry to see her go, and wish her the best in her future endeavors.” At Zodiak USA, Znak sold around 20 shows, and will continue to work on several projects until her exit. She won’t be replaced. Prior to joining Zodiak, Znak served as Controller of Factual Entertainment for ITV Studios in London. Zodiak USA’s slate include Hardcore Pawn, Wife Swap, Being Human and Killer Karaoke.
Mike Gamson has been upped to Chief Creative Officer of Zodiak Americas and Sheila Cabano to Chief Operating Officer, Zodiak New York. They will oversee the NY office of the reality TV producer, the outfit behind such series as truTV’s Hardcore Pawn and Lizard Lick Towing. The plan is to expand Zodiak’s development and production teams to double profits at the Americas division by the end of 2014, the company said. Gamson had been SVP and executive producer and has been a longtime EP on the company’s Wife Swap for ABC; Cabano was SVP Production.
Related: Zodiak Media Unit Sets U.S. Division Headed By Stefanie Gélinas