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.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Colombia Orders 60 Episodes Of ‘ER’; ‘Tbilisi, I Love You’ Hits Georgia Theaters In February; 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:
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.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s Reality Show Axed; Monty Python To Reunite; Dubai Film Fest Unveils Arabian Nights Program; Eyeworks Group Names Nordic Head; Marathon Media CEO Exits
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.
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.
Zodiak Media (“Zodiak”) has announced that David Frank is to stand down as group CEO in mid-October and that Marc-Antoine d’Halluin will succeed him.
Frank was appointed Zodiak CEO in July 2010 when RDF Media Group (“RDF”) was acquired by Zodiak. Prior to that he was CEO of RDF, a company he founded in 1993.
Marc-Antoine d’Halluin has been appointed as the new CEO and will take up his responsibilities on 15th October 2013. A French national, since 2011 he has been a partner of Rubis Media Partners, a media investment and advisory practice. Prior to this he was CEO and President of pan-Arabic broadcasters Showtime (2006-2009) and Orbit Showtime Network (2009-2010). He was CEO of pay TV Scandinavian Platform Canal+ Nordic (C More Entertainment) between 2003 and 2005. He began his TV career with Sony Pictures in London in 1995 before moving to Fox Kids Europe (1997-2003) as Group MD, Channels.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Pierre Lescure Honorary Chief Of Dijon Event; Sky Atlantic HD Sets ‘Hello Ladies’, ‘Veep’ Bows; More
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.
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.
MIPTV Briefs: Gary Janetti’s ‘Vicious’ Debuts; ‘Cybergeddon’ Does TV; Nordics, Latin America Hot On Formats
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.
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.
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.
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.
Zodiak Americas has set up an US outpost for Zodiak Media’s Creativity & Innovation Unit. Stefanie Gélinas has been named SVP C&I Unit, Zodiak Americas. Based at Zodiak’s Santa Monica office, Gélinas will report to US-based Jonny Slow, CEO, Zodiak Americas, and London-based Cathy Rogers, Director, C&I Unit.
The C&I Unit connects Zodiak Media’s producers from the company’s 45 production companies in 20 countries. It is designed to identify projects with global potential and get resources, including money, behind developing them before introducing them to individual territories. Gélinas, who will be working in tandem with Zodiak USA CEO Natalka Znak and her development team, will oversee an LA-based creative Think Tank. Gélinas is planning to recruit a VP of Development to join her team in 2013.
Wallander, Millennium Triology and Fort Boyard producer and distributor Zodiak Media today said it would reorganize its London- and Paris-based international sales operation, Zodiak Rights. As a result of the restructure, managing director of Zodiak Rights London, Jane Millichip, will exit the company at the end of January. The newly-created role of COO will be filled by former director of broadcast at NBCUniversal’s KidsCo TV, Sara Wookey.
From Januray 1, rather than be territoriy-based, Zodiak Rights’ new structure will be genre-based and include five divisions: non-scripted, scripted, kids, digital & publishing and clips. All non-scripted programming will be sold out of London while scripted will trade out of Paris. All other divisions will be based out of London. Zodiak Rights CEO, Matthew Frank, said the shift would “provide absolute clarity for buyers on where they should be going.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: MTG Studios Names COO, C More Partners With Miramax, Cohen Media Picks Up ‘You Will Be My Son’ & More
Jens Eriksson Joins MTG Studios
Sweden-based MTG Studios has appointed former Zodiak Media Group Nordic exec Jens Eriksson as president and COO. He will take up his post on January 8, 2013. MTG Studios, which formerly went by the moniker Modern Studios, is the holding company for the production and distribution arm of Modern Times Group, which makes and distributes content for television, print media and the Internet. MTG Studios owns reality format producer Strix (The Farm), Central and Eastern European production group Paprika (Wife Swap In Romania) and communications company Redaktörerna.
Zodiak Media is consolidating its production businesses in North, Central and South America to mirror its structure at its 45 other production outfits in 20 territories worldwide. The newly formed Zodiak Americas, announced today, is is part of a longer-term plan to increase the production company’s focus and investments in the region and will be spearheaded by Zodiak Media COO Jonny Slow, who will relocate from London to LA to become Zodiak Americas CEO. He will work closely with new Zodiak USA CEO Natalka Znak, who was promoted to the post last month and oversees a U.S. programming slate that includes ABC series Secret Millionaire and Celebrity Wife Swap and truTV’s two highest-rated series, Hardcore Pawn and Lizard Lick Towing. He also will work alongside Zodiak Latino CEO Harris Whitbeck and Zodiak Brazil CEO Carla Affonso. “This move is a demonstration of the importance of these geographic markets to us and the pace with which we want to both broaden our activities in TV production and develop our international distribution and online media activities here,” Zodiak Media CEO David Frank said.