BBC Programming Heads Down Under With Foxtel
Australia’s Foxtel is getting a burst of BBC programming beginning in August. The BBC First channel will be the new home of premium British drama and comedy in Oz, grouping a bevy of shows together in one place for the first time. Launch titles include recent British hits The Musketeers and Peaky Blinders, along with The Politician’s Husband, single drama Burton And Taylor and the new Alan Partridge mockumentaries. Returning series including Call The Midwife will start airing in 2015. BBC First will be the first window in Australia, with programs debuting there before potentially moving to terrestrial television at least 12 months later. Oz is the first territory to launch BBC First, one of three new global brands announced by BBC Worldwide in October 2013. Banished, written by Jimmy McGovern, will be the first local production for BBC First. Co-commissioned with BBC Two in the UK and produced by RSJ Films/See-Saw Films, the epic seven-part series is loosely inspired by events in 1788 when Britain established a penal colony in Australia. BBC First joins existing BBC channels – UKTV, BBC Knowledge, CBeebies and BBC World News – on the Foxtel platform
Read More »
FremantleMedia Sending ‘Wentworth’ To Holland
FremantleMedia said Tuesday that Holland will be the second territory to produce a local version of the Australian prison drama Wentworth. Produced by FremantleMedia’s FourOne.Media, the Dutch-language remake, titled Celblok-H, will reproduce all 10 original scripts transported into a Dutch setting. SBS 6 has commissioned the gritty story of survival, rivalry, power struggles and unlikely allegiances within a female prison, which will premiere in March. The drama, which airs on Foxtel Australia, is in production for its second season in Melbourne. A third season of the show was announced in January, before season two had aired.
Two Senior Execs Made Partners At Breakthrough Entertainment
Breakthrough Entertainment President of Distribution Nat Abraham and CFO Michael McGuigan have been named partners in the Canadian entertainment studio, joining founders Ira Levy and Peter Williamson. Abraham joined the company — which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year — in 2006, while McGuigan began his tenure in 1999. “Since Breakthrough Entertainment’s early beginnings, our company has grown tremendously and over the years Nat and Michael have contributed meaningfully to that growth. As our new Partners, this Management team will ensure the trend continues into the future,” said Levy. The company’s recent credits include the series Rocket Monkeys, Mother Up and Less Than Kind and the feature Cas & Dylan.
Netflix Execs Headed Back To France For More Expansion Talks
Last week, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the company was eyeing “substantial” European expansion in 2014. His comments came a little more than a month after execs from the streaming service met with staff of French President François Hollande to discuss an entry into France. According to local media reports, Netflix execs now are due to return to France to meet with industry folk within the next week. Pascal Rogard, head of authors’ rights group the SACD, told Le Figaro that the situation is coming into focus with a possible launch later this year. Netflix is available in 41 countries including France’s neighbors to the north such as the UK, the Netherlands and the Nordic region. A French launch has been rumored over the years, but moving into the fiercely protected territory is ornery in part due to a complex film-windows chronology that prohibits movies from appearing on monthly SVOD services until three years after a theatrical release. There is no such protection for TV series, but Netflix’s House Of Cards already airs on local pay-TV leader Canal Plus, which would see the service’s arrival as competition. In a conversation with analysts, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos was asked last week whether the service would be out of certain markets with its key originals because it had already sold them to local providers. “It depends,” he said. “There’s multiple windows, and we’ll continue to have those negotiations as we get closer to those launches.” It’s expected that should Netflix enter France, it would have to adhere to obligations to invest in local content. Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti told Le Journal du Dimanche this weekend, “Netflix should be an additional player, not a stowaway.” It’s also believed that Netflix is eyeing a move into Germany. With regard to expansion, MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson said last week that “it remains difficult to figure out the ultimate size and value of Netflix’s international opportunity” due to the company’s “undisclosed new market entries, minimal transparency and continual reinvestment.” Read More »
Jo Nesbo To Rewrite ‘Macbeth’ For Hogarth Shakespeare Project
Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo has been tapped to rewrite Shakespeare’s Macbeth for a 21st century audience. The author of the Harry Hole detective series will take on the Bard’s murderous “Scottish Play” for 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the BBC reported. Nesbo, whose books have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, is the latest writer tapped by Hogarth Shakespeare to update the Bard’s works; also set for modern adaptations are Margaret Atwood (The Tempest), Howard Jacobson (The Merchant of Venice), Anne Tyler (The Taming Of The Shrew) and Jeanette Winterson (A Winter’s Tale). The Hogarth Shakespeare program is an international publishing initiative from the Penguin Random House imprint. The novels will be released simultaneously in 2016.
DMG’s Chris Fenton Joins US-Asia Institute Board
DMG Entertainment Motion Picture Group President Chris Fenton has joined the board of trustees of the US-Asia Institute. As the sole member from the entertainment industry, he will help the Washington, D.C.-based group increase its understanding of the role showbiz can play in diplomacy with China. Fenton will join senior banking execs and Beltway stalwarts including his longtime friend Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., who recommended him for the post. Fenton travels to Washington regularly to discuss Chinese entertainment- and media-focused matters in both one-on-one and group sessions with Congressional members and senior staff. Read More »
‘Sherlock’ Season Finale Ratings Tops Weekend In UK
A roundly lauded finale for Season Three of Sherlock was the weekend’s most-watched TV program in the UK. The modern detective series’ third installment, entitled “His Last Vow,” drew 8.77M viewers for a 32.1% share, according to the overnights. While it was possibly the best-reviewed episode of the current season, it also was the lowest-rated. Last week’s 90-minute turn, “The Sign Of Three,” had brought in 8.84M viewers and the January 1st opener, “The Empty Hearse,” was the show’s most-watched episode ever at 9.2M on BBC One. In March last year, star Benedict Cumberbatch said there would be a fourth series of a three more episodes. At a BAFTA screening and panel discussion last week, Sherlock co-creator Steven Moffat said the next season will be made “as quickly” as possible. Season 3 kicks off in the U.S. on PBS on January 19.
UK’s BBFC Changes Its Movie Ratings Criteria
After a spending nearly a year polling more than 10,000 members of the British public, the UK ratings board is tweaking its guidelines. Beginning February 24, the BBFC will give greater weight to the theme and tone of a film, especially around the 12A and 15 certificate levels (12A is similar to PG-13 in the U.S. and 15 means suitable only for 15 and overs). The board will also pay particular attention “to the psychological impact of horror” and strong visual details like gore. The BBFC has previously shown itself to be squeamish: In 2012, Lionsgate UK shaved seven seconds off The Hunger Games when it appeared the board was going to stamp it with a 15 certificate. Fixes were made in four scenes of violence and one showing details of injuries. It secured the 12A with a warning that it had “occasional gory moments.” While the BBFC will be stricter with language at the U level (equivalent to an MPAA G), it will also be more flexible about allowing very strong language at the 15 rating. “Context, not just frequency, is the most important factor in how language in films is perceived by the public,” the BBFC said today. Further, the group’s findings show that the public is notably concerned about the sexualization of girls in mainstream films and about risks to vulnerable adolescents, including what some described as the onscreen ‘normalization’ of behaviors which parents consider inappropriate. According to findings of the poll, 95% of parents with children under 15 say they check the BBFC rating before watching a film and 89% of moviegoers ratings important. The most complained-about film over the past four years was 2012′s The Woman In Black starring Daniel Radcliffe. Eleven percent of moviegoers polled thought it had received too low a rating at 12A and should have been given a 15. Read More »
As TV execs continue to hunt for the next big reality hit, NBCUniversal International Television Production is supercharging its unscripted business. The group has launched a dedicated unscripted development unit to be overseen by SVP of factual and entertainment, David Mortimer. The focus will be on creating big entertainment formats for the global market. The division will be made up of two complimentary teams, one focused on so-called “shiny floor entertainment shows,” and the other on returnable high-end factual entertainment formats. The in-house unit will exist alongside unscripted production companies Monkey Kingdom and Chocolate Media in the UK, Matchbox Pictures in Australia and Lark Productions in Canada. Mortimer, a former BBC exec who joined NBCUniversal in May, has a track record that includes Dragons’ Den, Great Britons, The Weakest Link and The Office. Read More »
The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts has set nominations for its 3rd AACTA Awards. The feature prizes, considered the local equivalent of the Oscars, aren’t as young as they seem: they’re a continuum of the Australian Film Institute Awards which were established in 1958. Baz Luhrmann’s Oz-filmed The Great Gatsby scooped 14 nods followed by Kim Mourdant’s foreign language Oscar entry The Rocket with 12. The AACTAs also honor TV and gave 10 nominations to Jane Campion’s New Zealand-set BBC mini Top Of The Lake. Along with Gatsby and The Rocket, the nominees for Best Feature include Tony Krawitz’s drama Dead Europe; Ivan Sen’s thriller Mystery Road; family pic Satellite Boy by Catriona McKenzie; and omnibus The Turning, with directorial efforts by the likes of Mia Wasikowska and Justin Kurzel. Rose Byrne is nominated for lead actress in that pic, along with Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby; Tasma Walton in Mystery Road; and Naomi Watts in Adoration. Leonardo DiCaprio is nominated as Best Actor for Gatsby; Tribeca winner Sitthiphon Disamoe has a nod for The Rocket; Ewen Leslie is nominated for Dead Europe; and Hugo Weaving picked up a mention for The Turning. That film’s ensemble of helmers has a Best Director nomination along with Luhrmann, Mourdant and Sen. The AACTAs will be handed out over two events on January 28th and 30th. Following is a full list of nominees: Read More »
Shows and talent from 19 countries make up the roster of nominees for this year’s International Emmy Awards, the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said today at Mipcom. The 41st annual event takes place on November 25th in New York where J.J. Abrams will receive the 2013 Founders Award and RTL’s Anke Schäferkordt will receive the 2013 Directorate Award. Among the nominees are Sean Bean as Best Actor for the BBC’s Accused; Sheridan Smith as Best Actress for ITV’s Mrs Biggs; last year’s Oscar nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras; and France’s drama series Les Revenants which is getting a U.S. redo courtesy of A+E Studios and FremantleMedia North America. For a full list of nominees, turn the page: Read More »
UPDATED: HBO‘s president and COO Eric Kessler is leaving the company after 27 years. HBO CEO Richard Plepler just made the announcement in a company memo (read it below), highlighting Kessler’s accomplishments that include launching the network’s signature “It’s Not TV. It’s HBO” marketing campaign. The COO position will not be filled as part of executive streamlining. For the time being, Kessler’s reports Rob Roth, Otto Berkes, Shelley Brindle, Pam Levine and Simon Sutton will report to Plepler, with Kessler staying on to help with the transition. The departure leaves Plepler as the sole executive atop HBO with Michael Lombardo as his top lieutenant, capping a six-year transitional period after the 2007 departure of chairman/CEO Chris Albrecht. The initial HBO management structure featured a quintet of top executives: Bill Nelson succeeding Albrecht as HBO chairman/CEO, with Harold Akselrad, Kessler and Plepler as co-presidents, and Lombardo as West Coast president. Akselrad left in 2008 after 25 years at HBO, while Nelson retired last year after a 30-year career at the network. Additionally, Lombardo’s top development executive, Sue Naegle, stepped down as entertainment president last week to segue to a producing deal with HBO. Read More »
After a nine-week streak, Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises has slipped from the No. 1 spot at the Japanese box office. Ataru: The First Love & The Last Kill, an adaptation of a popular TV series, overtook the animation master’s final feature at the weekend, making over $3.5M. FilmBizAsia reports that it is only the second live-action TV adaptation to open at No. 1 this year. The Wind Rises fell to the No. 2 spot and now has a cume of $106.5M. Meanwhile, The Wolverine opened at No. 3 with $1.85M and Warner Japan’s remake of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven was No. 4 with $1.45M.
Peter Jackson was given New Zealand’s highest honor on Tuesday, becoming an Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand for services to the country. He also received the order’s insignia, the first time a film industry player has been given the badge. According to Stuff, only 20 members of the order can hold the badge and it must be returned by the recipient’s estate upon their death. “Obviously, it’s something I’m going to have to look after and I’m going to have to make sure my children know where to find it, but I do hope to hold on to it for quite a long time,” Jackson said. Read More »
True Detective, HBO‘s upcoming eight-episode drama series starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, will debut in January, the network said today. The project centers on detectives Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Harrelson), whose lives collide and entwine during a 17-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana. The investigation of a bizarre murder in 1995 is framed and interlaced with testimony from the detectives in 2012, when the case was reopened. The first trailer for the series will air this Sunday before the season premiere of Boardwalk Empire.
Vodaphone Ups Ante In Fight For Germany’s Kabel Deutschland
It looks like a battle is brewing for Germany’s largest cable group, Kabel Deutschland. Vodafone has raised its preliminary offer to about €7.5B ($10.1B), Bloomberg sources said. That’s €85 a share compared to the €80-€82 offer that was initially rejected by Kabel. But it’s equal to a preliminary offer made by John Malone’s Liberty Global. Financial Times, meanwhile, reports that Liberty is structuring its bid to offer assets as opposed to cash. Sources told the paper that Liberty, which recently acquired the UK’s Virgin Media for $23.3B, has proposed injecting its existing German cable assets and keeping Kabel’s public listing. This would help circumvent regulatory concerns about combining Germany’s two biggest cable companies. Liberty owns the No. 2 cable outfit, Unitymedia. However, an all-cash offer could have better chances of being approved, a source told Bloomberg.
Spain Box Office Has Worst Weekend Ever, Down 25% Year-Over-Year
Spanish box office has suffered acutely in the first half of the year. Last weekend was the worst in the nation’s history with only 347,000 tickets sold for €3.7M. That’s 25% off the same weekend last year, according to reports. According to El Pais, Pedro Perez, head of the Spanish producers union FAPAE, said the industry is in “a panic.” Read More »
Spanish-language U.S. network MundoFox will announce 20 new original programs as part of its summer and fall schedules today during Fox Hispanic Media’s upfont presentation in NY. Among the highlights are the Spanish-language version of The X Factor, El Factor X, which will launch in the summer; Café Con Aroma De Mujer, a remake of the Colombian hit from Ugly Betty‘s original Betty La Fea creator Fernando Gaitán; FX’s series The Bridge starring Demian Bichir, part of the network’s weekend schedule; and the boxing docu-drama The Golden Boys from executive producers Mario Lopez and Oscar de la Hoya. Here’s the network’s full list of shows and specials: Read More »
Diane Haithman is a Deadline contributor.
During a Bates Motel panel discussion Friday, Carlton Cuse was blunt about borrowing from a classic. No, not Hitchcock’s Psycho; TV’s Twin Peaks. “We pretty much ripped off Twin Peaks,” joked Cuse, executive producer of the A&E series with Kerry Ehrin, in response to a question about the similarities from panel moderator Shawn Ryan. “If you wanted to get that confession, the answer is yes,” he continued, tongue in cheek. “I loved that show. They only did 30 episodes. Kerry and I thought we’d do the 70 that are missing.” Cuse appeared on the Paley Center panel “Inside Bates Motel: Reimagining A Cinema Icon” with Ehrin, Vera Farmiga (who portrays Norma Bates), Freddie Highmore (Norman), Max Thieriot (Norman’s half-brother Dylan), Nicola Peltz (popular teen Bradley Martin) and Nestor Carbonell (Sheriff Alex Romero). English actress Olivia Cooke, who plays Norman’s friend Emma Decody, who battles cystic fibrosis, was a no-show because of “visa snafus,” Ryan said. Once it was acknowledged that both TV shows are plenty creepy and set in the foggy Northwest, Cuse, Ehrin and the cast spent more time during the freewheeling discussion citing the similarities and differences of Bates Motel from Hitchcock’s iconic 1960 film.
Read More »
Coogan, Brydon & Winterbottom To Take Another ‘Trip’
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are reteaming with Michael Winterbottom for a second series of The Trip. The BBC Two comedy, released theatrically in the U.S. by IFC, set Coogan and Brydon off on a road trip to tour the UK Lake District’s best restaurants. Memorable for the duo’s attempts to best one another at celebrity impressions, the first season was highly improvised. The second season will be set in Italy on a road trip that retraces the footsteps of the Romantics, Coogan told Empire Magazine.
UK Touts Tax Incentive For High-End TV Productions
The British film industry celebrated the UK’s new Creative Sector Tax Reliefs this morning in London. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey were on hand to outline the importance of the new incentives which will see qualifying high-end TV and animation productions receive up to 25% in tax relief. The scheme came into effect on April 1. Vaizey said “The UK’s creative industries are a real success story, worth more than £36 billion a year. We know that the television and animation sectors make a real difference to the UK economy and these new tax reliefs will be instrumental in expanding our potential.” Iain Smith, producer and chair of the British Film Commission, encouraged the industry to “continue to fight rigorously to maintain our position as a leading center of production.” There was also a case study of HBO’s Game Of Thrones, which is shooting its fourth season in Northern Ireland. HBO SVP Jay Roewe noted the new measures “will make filming in the UK an even more viable proposition.” The BFC recently hosted events in Los Angeles and New York to educate studios, broadcasters, producers and agents on the incentives. Read More »
Former Walt Disney Television International and Nickelodeon exec Nicky Douglas will oversee Universal Networks International’s Universal Channel, Syfy, E! Entertainment Television, The Style Network and Movies 24 in the UK. The group of channels has been ramping up its business in the territory with a series of significant deals. Universal Channel just acquired A&E Network’s Bates Motel for two seasons and launched TNT’s Major Crimes as part of an exclusive pact. Syfy premiered drama series Defiance yesterday, 24 hours after its U.S. bow. Douglas most recently had her own consulting firm and will start her new job immediately.
In a significant first-run deal, Universal Channel has acquired A&E Network‘s Bates Motel for the UK. Handled overseas by NBCUniversal International Television Distribution, the series is a contemporary prequel to the Alfred Hitchcock feature Psycho and stars Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Olivia Cooke, Nicola Peltz and Nestor Carbonel. It debuted in the U.S. on March 18 and was renewed for a second run last week. Universal Channel acquired both seasons. Bates Motel is produced by Universal Television for A&E. Carlton Cruse, and Kerry Ehrin are exec producers. Read More »
FremantleMedia is launching a new slate of scripted titles at Mip-TV which kicks off next week in Cannes, France. Among them are Wentworth, the reimagining of Prisoner Cell Block H, and The Making Of A Lady, from Runaway Fridge. Wentworth is a 10-part FremantleMedia Australia production that will premiere on Oz’s Foxtel in May. Event thriller Lady stars Linus Roache, Joanna Lumley and Lydia Wilson and is based on The Making Of A Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Read More »