Thomas Bezucha Directing English-Language Remake Of ‘Priceless’
The Family Stone and Monte Carlo director Thomas Bezucha will helm the English-language remake of French romantic comedy Priceless for European film group uMedia. The original movie starred Audrey Tautou and Gad Emaleh and sold 2.15M tickets in France in 2006. Umedia’s remake has been greenlighted for production in early summer on the French Riviera. The story follows Alec, a shy and hardworking waiter at a grand hotel who is mistaken for a millionaire and seduced by a captivating American girl with expensive tastes. When Lauren discovers his true identity and limited resources, she takes off, but Alec pursues her along the Cote-d’Azur. When he ends up stranded and broke, he is saved by a wealthy woman-of-a-certain-age and finds himself kept in the same manner as Lauren, who coaches him on how the play the game as her feelings for him deepen. Pierre Salvadori directed the original which was sold internationally by Wild Bunch.
BBC Adds Howard Stringer Amid Corporate Changes
The BBC has announced a series of changes to transform how the corporation is run. At the same time, it has added former Sony chairman Howard Stringer as a non-executive director for a term of three years beginning January 1. The moves come a year after myriad crises began to plague the broadcaster including the Jimmy Savile child sex abuse scandal and the editorial missteps at flagship news program Newsnight. Among the changes are a 60% reduction in the number of pan-corporation management boards “so that senior managers will be able to make faster decisions and concentrate on running their teams and departments.” Decision making by multiple committees will shift to much greater personal responsibility, ensuring “there are no blurred lines,” the broadcaster said. “As a creative organization, individuals need to be able to take creative risks without fear, managers will not be penalized for brave, well-made decisions that were taken for the right reasons.” Speaking about the changes, director general, Tony Hall, said, “This is an important first step in making the BBC simpler and better run.” Read More »
BBC Two Preps Musical Telefilm, British Airways Docu
BBC Two has a pair of new projects on deck: a musical TV movie and an inside look at national carrier British Airways. Drama Tubby And Enid will star Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton and Olivier Award winner Michael Ball and is an adaptation of Victoria Wood’s stage play, That Day We Sang. Hilary Bevan Jones’ Endor is producing with shooting to start January 6. The story’s roots are found in the recording of Henry Purcell’s Nymphs And Shepherds as sung by the Manchester Children’s Choir in 1929. Jumping ahead 40 years, it focuses on a reunion of the same choir being filmed for a documentary. Wood writes and will direct. Meanwhile, BBC Two has greenlighted an observational documentary series about British Airways. The three-part series will feature unprecedented access to the airline and promises to be the “most in-depth analysis of British Airways in 25 years.” Lion Television is making the doc for BBC Two.
British And French TV Networks Celebrate Nelson Mandela
British and French networks are turning over time to tributes to Nelson Mandela this weekend. BBC One aired the special Nelson Mandela: The Fight For Freedom on Friday night and also will extend its news coverage. Sky1 aired the special Nelson Mandela: The Struggle Is My Life, while the news division will have presenter Jeremy Thompson live in South Africa from Saturday. I’m also told the funeral service for Mandela, who died Thursday, will be aired live. Channel 4 ran Nelson Mandela Superstar, a celebration of his life and legacy on Friday night local, and at the same time, ITV also aired a special program. In France, pubcaster France Télévisions’ France O and Franco-German channel Arte aired specials and documentaries. National network France 2 has scheduled Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman in an Oscar-nominated turn as Mandela, to air on Saturday night. Eastwood shot part of that movie in France.
Related: Nelson Mandela’s Death: Hollywood Reacts
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Victorian-era drama Ripper Street will not return for a 3rd season after failing to pull sufficient numbers for BBC One. A spokesperson tells Deadline, “We are very proud of Ripper Street which has enjoyed two highly ambitious series on BBC One. However, the second series didn’t bring the audience we hoped and in order to make room for creative renewal and new ideas it won’t be returning.” The eight-part crime series that’s a co-production with BBC America, stars Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothenberg. It’s set in 1889 London in the aftermath of the Jack The Ripper murders. The action centers on the H Division group of detectives who investigated the murders and tried to keep the peace in a panicked section of east London. Season 1 debuted in the UK in late 2012 and on BBC America in early 2013. Its first BBC One season started out strong and ended up averaging about 5M over the initial run. Season 2 kicked off in the UK in October, but last Monday’s episode was down to 3.26M for a 13% share. This season, it’s had to contend with airing up against ITV’s hit reality show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, which last week hit a low of 8.21M. Word of Ripper Street‘s cancellation was met with upset in the UK, where twitter was vocal about the decision. Actor Flynn told BBC radio, … Read More »
Jeff Pope, who shared the Venice Film Festival best screenplay prize with his Philomena co-writer Steve Coogan, is prepping a biopic about legendary comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. The 90-minute TV movie Stan And Ollie will reteam Pope with Philomena distributor The Weinstein Co. It’s also a reteam for TWC with the BBC and UK production outfit Lookout Point (Ripper Street). The trio are collaborating on Stan And Ollie, and are already partnered on a six-part adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s War And Peace which signaled TWC’s serious push into the European TV arena when it was announced in October.
Stan And Ollie will center on Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s 1953 UK tour. At the time, the superstars, who had made 106 films together, were facing declining popularity and a series of personal issues. The UK tour was a redeeming success until Hardy was sidelined by a heart attack. When Laurel was offered the chance to go it alone, he refused and Hardy eventually roused himself for a few last, triumphant performances. He died shortly thereafter. Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy commissioning, calls Pope’s take a “love letter to two pioneers and enduring giants of screen comedy.” Cast and timetable are yet to come on the BBC In-House Comedy/BBC Worldwide/Lookout Point co-production for BBC One. The BBC’s Saurabh Kakkar, Lookout’s Simon Vaughan and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein are exec producers.
In a sly publicity stunt in London this morning, the BBC confirmed the UK airdate for the return of hit detective drama Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman will be back as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson on January 1, 2014 on BBC One; they return to PBS in the States a couple of weeks later on January 19th. The first episode in the new three-part series is titled The Empty Hearse, and this morning just such a vehicle made the rounds of some Sherlock shooting locations in the British capital, sending Twitter wild – and bringing confirmation of the news from the show’s producers. The hearse wasn’t entirely empty, though, since it contained a funereal floral arrangement spelling out the New Year’s return date which sees the series pick up two years after Holmes was last seen plummeting from St Bart’s Hospital in Season 2 finale, The Reichenbach Fall. Here’s a pic courtesy of the BBC:
BBC America has picked up the second season of British fantasy-adventure series Atlantis. The BBC, which originally commissioned the show inspired by Greek mythology, has already renewed it for a second season. For BBC America, which came aboard as co-producer on Atlantis in July, the pickup comes on the heels of the show’s November 23 premiere, which delivered the network’s highest-rated series premiere ever for Supernatural Saturday with 838,000 total viewers. Atlantis is an Urban Myth Films production for BBC Cymru Wales. The series follows the adventures of Jason (Jack Donnelly), Hercules (Mark Addy) and Pythagoras (Robert Emms) who battle against some of the most famous names of Greek legend, often in unexpected guises.
The BBC has outlined its holiday programming with yet more clues about Matt Smith’s last outing as Doctor Who. The series’ Christmas episode has been titled The Time Of The Doctor, following the Season 7 finale, The Name Of The Doctor, and last weekend’s The Day Of The Doctor (along with online mini-ep, The Night Of The Doctor). The episode will air December 25th and mark Smith’s departure as it introduces Peter Capaldi as the 12th Time Lord. It will also feature Fringe‘s Orla Brady in a new role. The BBC synopsis goes like this: “Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe’s deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars… Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe.” The Day Of The Doctor smashed records on Saturday for BBC America which traditionally airs the Christmas special in step with the UK.
Showrunner Steven Moffat’s other series, Sherlock, also returns to the BBC over the holidays. (It starts on PBS on January 19th). The first episode of the new three-part series, titled “The Empty Hearse”, will pick up two years after the titular high-functioning sociopath jumped from a building in “The Reichenbach Fall”. With London under the threat of a huge terrorist attack, Holmes will make his return from the dead.
Related: Hot TV Teaser: ‘Sherlock’ Season 3 Read More »
Martin Sheen will star in The Whale, a two-hour film from BBC Factual Productions and Animal Planet that’s set to premiere in December on BBC 1 and in summer 2014 on Animal Planet. Based on true events, Sheen portrays Old Thomas Nickerson, who served as cabin boy on the ill-fated voyage of the whaling ship the Essex. The two-hour drama is inspired by real-life accounts of the ship’s sinking; those accounts are said to have inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The Whale is written by Terry Cafolla (Holy Cross, Messiah). Filming took place on location in Malta this past spring and wrapped up outside of London last summer.
Sheen, repped by ICM Partners, leads the cast as the elder Nickerson with Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood, The Street) as First Mate Owen Chase; Adam Rayner (The Hunted) as Captain Pollard; Paul Kaye (Game Of Thrones, Stella) as Joy; David Gyasi (Cloud Atlas, War Horse) as Peterson; and Jolyon Coy (The Hollow Crown) as Lawrence. It also stars Jassa Ahluwalisa, John Boyega and Ferdinand Kingsley, and Charles Furness as the young Nickerson. The Whale is executive produced by Eamon Hardy and Ruth Caleb with Mike Dormer as producer; for Animal Planet, Mick Kaczorowski is EP.
EXCLUSIVE: Choderlos de Laclos’ classic 18th Century novel
Now Hampton has teamed with producers Tony Krantz and Colin Callender for a drama series adaptation, which is in development at the BBC. Once Hampton finishes the script, the project is expected to be taken out to U.S. networks. For the series, Hampton will be going back to the original literary source and won’t incorporate any elements of his stage or movie adaptations. In fact, the series will be based not only on characters from The pulp fiction genre, which came to an end with the French Revolution, chronicled the antics of the country’s rich aristocracy.
A tale of seduction, betrayal and revenge, … Read More »
Endemol-owned UK production company Initial‘s credits include hit reality shows Big Brother UK and Your Face Sounds Familiar. After promoting Nick Samwell-Smith to managing director in September, the outfit has now hired Mirella Breda as creative director. Breda will join Initial in February after a long stint at the BBC where she has been executive editor of BBC Entertainment commissioning since 2007. Her tenure has included developing and exec producing Masterchef, Dragons Den, Comic Relief and Initial’s Total Wipeout. At Initial, she will look to expand entertainment output with new formats for the UK and international markets.
The Weinstein Company has acquired US TV and VOD from the Endemol British drama series Peaky Blinders. The deal covers the first three seasons with an option for others. The Steven Knight-created drama stars Cillian Murphy and Sam Neill.
“We have always been big fans of Steven Knight’s work and are extremely excited to bring this show stateside, where it’s sure to thrill audiences just as much as it did in the UK,” said Harvey Weinstein. The series premiered on BBC Two in September and they are working on a second season. Series is set in Birmingham, England in 1919 where the Shelby family lead the Peaky Blinders – a feared gang named for their practice of sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps. Led by Thomas Shelby (Murphy), they decide to move up from bookmaking to guns when weapons go missing. Rival gangs, Communist revolutionaries and IRA Fenians descend on the city in pursuit of the weapons, as Winston Churchill dispatches a ruthless police chief from Belfast to impose order on an increasingly lawless city and recover the guns.
BBC One/BBC America co-production Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell starts shooting next week with Ray Donovan‘s Eddie Marsan and Olivier award-winning Bertie Carvel (Matilda) starring in the lead roles. Based on the bestselling novel by Susanna Clarke, the seven-part series has been adapted by Wallander‘s Peter Harness. It’s an alternate history of England set during the Napoleonic Wars when reclusive Mr Norrell (Marsan) is persuaded to help the government with his magical prowess. At the same time, the charming and wealthy Strange (Carvel) learns he too is destined to be a great magician. The story centers on the relationship between the two men. New Line optioned the movie rights back in 2005 with Christopher Hampton adapting, but the film was never made.
Also joining the drama’s cast are Alice Englert (Ginger & Rosa), Marc Warren (The Good Wife), Samuel West (Mr Selfridge), Charlotte Riley (Wuthering Heights), Enzo Cilenti (Prisoners Wives) and Paul Kaye (Game Of Thrones). Toby Haynes, whose credits include Doctor Who and Sherlock, is directing. Producer is Nick Hirschkorn. There’s currently no airdate, but the series will feature as part of BBC America’s Supernatural Saturday. Endemol Worldwide has international distribution. Marsan is repped by the UK’s Markham, Froggatt and Irwin and by Paradigm; Carvel is repped by Hamilton Hodell in the UK and by ICM Partners.
BBC One’s ‘Gangsta Granny’ Rounds Out Cast
Julia McKenzie, Joanna Lumley, Rob Brydon and Miranda Hart will star in Gangsta Granny, BBC One’s 60-minute adaptation of David Walliams’ best-selling children’s novel. The comedy-drama tells the story of young Ben (Reece Buttery), who is bored while staying with his dull grandma (McKenzie). Then one day, Grandma tells Ben a story that she was once an international jewel thief, and together they go on a wild adventure. Directed by Matt Lipsey, Gangsta Granny will be produced by Jo Sargent and executive produced by Mark Freeland. It begins filming Sunday for broadcast at Christmastime Read More »
Earlier this month, I wrote about gymnastics as a possible new frontier for celebrity competition shows, and about buzz that the BBC was readying such a project. The broadcaster has now made it official, commissioning Let’s Get Ready To Tumble. The show will air live in Saturday primetime and feature British celebs teamed with international gymnasts to tackle what are being described as “never-before-seen, new-to-TV disciplines.” The announcement could mean there will soon be two celebrity gymnastics formats in the international arena. I recently reported that CORE Media is developing Celebrity Champions in the U.S., an original format that sees former Olympians coach celebrities and has Mary Lou Retton attached as anchor judge. CORE is currently talking to U.S. networks. Read More »
CEO Tim Davie Reveals Vision For Future Of BBC Worldwide
In an address to employees, BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie today unveiled a new vision to build the BBC’s brands, audiences and commercial returns around the globe. It includes a £200M investment in premium content, the launch of three new core consumer brands propositions – spanning the genres of premium factual, factual entertainment and drama — and a greater focus on digital innovation to extend the company’s reach and routes to market. “BBC Worldwide has a good track record of taking British content to the world, benefiting international audiences, license fee payers and the wider industry alike,” he said. “But the time has come for a step-change, reflecting the rapid development in our markets.”
UK Culture Secretary Spends The Week Meeting With U.S. Showbiz Execs
During a visit to the U.S. this week, UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller met with senior executives at Disney, Warner Bros and other showbiz companies to discuss collaboration and hear suggestions on how UK filming conditions could be made more attractive to American productions. She also sought reaction to the UK’s recent extension of tax credits and talked with HBO about its Game of Thrones production model and with Lucasfilm about its plan to shoot the new Star Wars film in the UK and whether there could be other ways to help support the local film industry. Read More »
BBC America has greenlit Intruders, an eight-episode original series based on Michael Marshall Smith’s 2007 novel The Intruders. Glen Morgan (The X-Files, Those Who Kill) is the writer and executive producer on the series that’s about a secret society devoted to chasing immortality by seeking refuge in the bodies of others. BBC Worldwide Prods is producing, with production to begin in early spring 2014. Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner are exec producing, and BBC Worldwide is handling global distribution. The Intruders joins BBC America’s breakout original drama Orphan Black. Meanwhile, the network rankled fans when it cancelled its first original scripted series, Copper, last month.
The BBC has commissioned more than 2,500 hours of programming that will span four years to mark the centenary of World War I. As part of the ambitious undertaking Rupert Murdoch will be interviewed about his father’s role as the whistle-blower who told the world the truth about the botched Gallipoli campaign in Turkey. The season kicks off in early 2014 and will run through 2018 on BBC TV, Radio and Online and across international, national and local services. At MipTV in April, BBC controller Ben Stephenson foreshadowed some of the plans when he announced five-part half-hour series The Great War from Life On Mars’ Tony Jordan. The series is now titled The Passing-Bells and will be stripped over one week. Other highlights include drama The Ark from Sarah Phelps (Great Expectations) and starring Oona Chaplin, Hermione Norris and Kerry Fox as a dedicated team of medics; factual drama 37 Days about the lead up to war with Ian McDiarmid and Tim Pigott-Smith; four-part documentary Britain’s Great War; and My Great War, a film based on the unseen archive of hundreds of hours of interviews with veterans that the BBC shot in 1964. Read More »
BBC Two and Masterpiece are hooking up for a “major” adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize winning historical fiction novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. Tony and Olivier Award-winner Mark Rylance is now confirmed to play Thomas Cromwell in the six-part serial that follows Cromwell’s rise from the lowly son of a blacksmith to becoming King Henry VIII’s closest advisor in the Tudor court. BAFTA-winning helmer Peter Kosminsky is directing from a script by Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’s Peter Straughan. Wolf Hall is a co-production from Company Pictures, Colin Callender’s Playground Entertainment, and Masterpiece for BBC Two in association with BBC Worldwide.
The project was first tipped in 2011 as a four-part adaptation of just 2009’s Wolf Hall, but in 2012, Mantel’s second book in the Cromwell trilogy, Bring Up The Bodies, won her a second Booker prize and the miniseries will combine the two under the Wolf Hall title. Both have been best-sellers and gave Mantel the rare distinction of winning two Bookers, the UK’s highest literary honor. Shooting starts in spring 2014 for an as-yet determined airdate on BBC Two in the UK and Masterpiece in the U.S. in 2015. Read More »
The BBC has confirmed the recovery of nine Doctor Who episodes which had long been thought missing. Reports of the trove first surfaced earlier this week, to the delight of the Tardis faithful, and BBC Worldwide has now made the re-mastered episodes available for download via iTunes. Back in the fold are five installments of 1967 story The Enemy Of The World, and four installments of 1968’s The Web Of Fear which sees the Time Lord battle a robot yeti in the London Underground. All of the episodes feature Patrick Troughton as the 2nd Doctor. Many of the original transmission tapes were destroyed by the BBC, so it’s often copies made for foreign broadcast that turn up to fill in the gaps. According to the BBC, there are still 27 Doctor Who stories that are missing or have incomplete episodes. Here’s a video for the re-mastered Web Of Fear: