Warner Bros International Television Production has acquired format rights to distribute BBC One’s new quiz show, The Link. BBC One has commissioned 25 episodes for a daytime slot. The show is produced by STV Productions in association with LTV. Not to be confused with the BBC’s The Weakest Link, the game show pits teams against each other as they race to find the link between questions. Guess the connections, break the links, win money. “We know that great game shows are back at the top of broadcasters’ wish lists. The Link is that rare thing — an original new quiz show with a strong identity in terms of both its game play and visual elements, commissioned in a key market. Our excitement is shared by Mike Darnell and his team at the Warner Bros Television Group, who will be bringing it to market in the U.S.,” says WBITP’s Andrew Zein. The UK version of the show will be hosted by actor Mark Williams, best known as Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter movies. Gary Chippington is executive producer for STV Productions, Jo Street is executive producer for the BBC and Paul Johnson is executive producer for LTV and Tuvalu Entertainment Ltd.
Mip-TV: Warner Takes Format Rights To BBC’s ‘The Link’; FremantleMedia Intl To Sell ‘Lindsay’; Keshet’s Avi Nir To Keynote; The Company, Dori Media Partner
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘The End’ Gets German Remake; Turkish Censors Ban ‘Nymphomaniac’; Berlin Fest Dates; BBC3 Moving To Web?; Oz’s Animal Logic; More
Eccho Rights has sold popular Turkish drama The End into further markets. It’s already being remade in the U.S. by Sander/Moses Prods at Fox, and now Germany’s UFA will develop a local version for broadcaster SAT1 while Shine France has also taken an option on the series. Further, Netflix has signed a non-exclusive agreement for the original in Sweden and the UK. The story is about a woman navigating a web of lies and intrigue as she searches for her husband whom she presumed dead following a plane crash. But it turns out he never boarded the plane. Produced by Ay Yapim in Turkey, the show is also getting a Russian version.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Gemma Arterton Treads Boards In ‘Made In Dagenham’; Dave Heuten Joins FremantleMedia’s Belgium Arm; More
Gemma Arterton Coming To West End With ‘Made In Dagenham’
Former Bond girl Gemma Arterton is set to star in a West End musical version of 2010 film Made In Dagenham. She’ll play Rita O’Grady, a role originated by Sally Hawkins in the Nigel Cole-directed movie. The show is a musical comedy about women who battled for equal rights at a Ford factory in Essex, England, in 1968. The BBC reports that Richard Bean, who wrote One Man, Two Guvnors, is penning the script for the show, which opens November 5 at the Adelphi Theater. Rupert Goold (Enron, American Psycho) is directing. Arterton recently starred onstage in The Duchess Of Malfi.
There’s more than a month to go before Mip-TV kicks off in Cannes, but folks are already getting into full market swing. To wit: FremantleMedia International says today that it has acquired global distribution rights (ex-U.S.) to CNN‘s 10-part docu-series The Sixties. The CNN Originals series explores the transformative decade, from Kennedy’s assassination, the Cold War and civil rights, to social change and the British invasion. It’s executive produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman (Playtone) and by Mark Herzog (Herzog & Company). The first episode debuted in the U.S. in November to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK and was No. 1 among cable news programs in its slot. A second episode, The Sixties: The British Invasion, aired on CNN/U.S. in January. Those installments and the remaining episodes are due to pick up again Stateside in May.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Film Movement Says ‘A Thousand Times Good Night’ To U.S.; South Korea Takes ‘Prisoners Of War’
Film Movement Picks Up ‘A Thousand Times Good Night’ For U.S.
Film Movement has acquired U.S. rights to A Thousand Times Good Night, the Erik Poppe-directed drama that stars Juliette Binoche and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Film Movement will give the movie a theatrical release in the third quarter of the year, followed by home video and digital. The story follows a top war photographer who is struggling to reconcile her job with her family life. Maria Doyle Kennedy, newcomer Lauryn Canny and Larry Mullen Jr also star. The movie was released in Norway in October and has sold more than 100,000 tickets. Global Screen, which is handling worldwide sales, also just inked deals in Canada (Northwest Pictures), Japan (Kadokawa), Australia (Regency), Denmark (Smile), Turkey (Yeni Bir Film), ex-Yugoslavia (Discovery), Bulgaria (Multivision) and Latin America (HBO).
Global Showbiz Briefs: Vice Media, FremantleMedia Team On Food Platform; ‘Rectify’, ‘Mr Selfridge’ Headed To France & Germany; More
Vice Media, FremantleMedia Team On Food Platform
Vice Media and FremantleMedia are teaming to create a create a multi-channel food platform aimed at a millennial audience. The companies will develop and produce digital content for the yet-unnamed Vice food vertical, which FremantleMedia will take to TV around the world. The venture will offer original video content, editorial features, articles, how-tos, recipes and events, providing a perspective on the intersection where humans and food connect. Recurring franchises will focus on subjects ranging from the politics of food to world travel and cuisine to an irreverent look at home cooking. Content will be available on multiple platforms, including Vice.com, Noisey and Motherboard.
One place where Simon Cowell won’t be landing this season following the cancellation of the U.S. version of his The X Factor: American Idol. “No, he’s not going to be on the show at all,” Idol executive producer Per Blankens said today during a press event on the show’s new LA set. “I’ve heard he’s going to the UK to do X Factor,” he added. (He is.) The possibility of Cowell’s return after Fox last week axed X Factor was as one of several topics addressed in a sit-down with new Idol EPs Blankens, Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager. The trio was joined by Idol’s new director Louis J. Horvitz, set designer Baz Halpin, and returning EP and FremantleMedia president of entertainment programming Trish Kinane. Also there was Fox’s David Hill, the Senior EVP of 21st Century Fox and former chairman and CEO of Fox Sports who was put in charge of the show and the now cancelled X-Factor in early June.
Season 13 of Idol launched to a premiere low January 15 as the show has been trying to get its once mighty mojo back with a reconfigured judging panel and new showrunners. The show moves into its live shows next week, going head-to-head with NBC’s Sochi Olympics. That isn’t a big worry, Blankens told me. “The ratings are doing OK considering and there is really nothing you can do about the Olympics — we knew when we did the schedule that we’d be facing it. Added Kinane: “The ratings have stabilized and we’re very happy with where they are against the Olympics. We’re up over where we were in 2010,” she said.
“What we hope with the live shows next week and going forward is that we can reconnect with the fans and get them to come back home,” Blankens said. “A lot of people love Idol but I think they didn’t approve of the way some things went last year.” Among the format tweaks: for the live shows beginning Wednesday viewers will be able to vote at the beginning of the show as opposed to the end as in past seasons.
Seven months after he exited FremantleMedia, David Ellender is launching a Los Angeles-based independent production company, Slingshot Global Media. Backed by private investment firm TPG, Slingshot plans to develop and produce drama and comedy series for the U.S. market as well as globally-appealing projects through international co-financing, co-production, and pre-sales. London native Ellender spent 12 years at FremantleMedia, serving as CEO of FremantleMedia International from 2006-13.
Speculation has been swirling around a Warner Bros acquisition of Netherlands-based TV producer Eyeworks for several weeks. Warner Bros Television Group now says it has entered into an agreement to acquire all of Eyeworks’ businesses outside the U.S., in 15 territories across Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand. The purchase is an important part of WB Television Group’s growth strategy as it aims to establish a strong foothold in major TV production markets around the world. Ronald Goes, EVP and head of Warner Bros International Television Production, said today, “Eyeworks has the scale to help grow our presence in the global marketplace, as well as quality production capabilities and broadcaster relationships. I am confident that, as part of Warner Bros, it will continue to create and produce high quality content that can become franchises and be exported to create local versions in other markets around the world.” Among shows Eyeworks already makes are Celebrity Splash!, Extreme Weight Loss and Test The Nation. The company also recently signed a development deal with Fox Television Studios to jointly develop scripted programming originating from Scandinavian writers for the U.S. and international markets.
The acquisition by Warner Bros, for which financials were not provided, is subject to regulatory approval. The deal will add 13 new territories to Warner’s existing network of local production companies. Warner already has a majority stake in UK production group Shed Media and in BlazHoffski Holdingan, an indie producer that operates in The Netherlands and Belgium.
Creator Simon Cowell will lead the judging panel when the UK singing competition show returns to ITV for its 11th cycle later this year, the network confirmed today after weeks of speculation. It will be his first season back on the flagship The X Factor after spending the last three years getting the U.S. version up and running on Fox while the ratings for the U.K. original have been going down. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be returning to The X Factor UK,” said Cowell, whose Syco banner co-produces that show with FremantleMedia UK. “It’s been three years since I last judged the competition and I’m excited to find a global superstar again.” Cowell’s return of course raises further questions about the future of the U.S. version of the show as the two run concurrently. Fox has not yet renewed X Factor here after dismal ratings for the recent third cycle. Despite Cowell’s announcement last month that X Factor will be returning for fourth season, Fox boss Kevin Reilly said during TCA that no decision has been made — though he hinted the show will continue in some form. “The show definitely underperformed this year, ratings are not what we wanted, but X Factor still is one of the most successful brands in the world, and the No. 1 and No. …
Global Showbiz Briefs: FremantleMedia Buys Global Format Rights To ‘Fittest Family’; Endemol Picks Up International On ‘Parts Unknown’, ‘Inside Man’
FremantleMedia Buys Global Format Rights To ‘Fittest Family’
FremantleMedia has secured the global format rights to Animo TV/Kite Entertainment’s Fittest Family. Currently airing on Irish pubcaster RTÉ One as Ireland’s Fittest Family, the six-part series features 12 uber-fit and sports-mad families compete for the title of the nation’s fittest family and a big cash prize. Each episode sees features four sporting legends assigned to coach the families and push them to their fitness max. The families compete against one another as they get put through a set of extreme challenges with only the fittest surviving. FremantleMedia will launch Fittest Family at MIPTV in April.
Endemol Buys International Rights To ‘Parts Unknown’, ‘Inside Man’
Endemol said Monday that it has acquired TV distribution rights outside the U.S. to CNN’s factual series Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown and Morgan Spurlock: Inside Man. Parts Unknown follows host chef, author and TV host Bourdain as he travels to uncover little-known areas of the world and celebrate diverse cultures by exploring food and dining rituals. Inside Man, hosted by Oscar-winning documentarian Spurlock, provides an intimate look into diverse sectors of American life and offers a deep-dive into pressing issues facing the U.S. including migrant farm workers, the elder care industry, union workers, gun owners, education, bankruptcy and the drought.
FremantleMedia International has created FremantleMedia Canada, a Toronto-based sales office for its distribution operation. Susan Hummel, a recent hire as SVP distribution and sales, will head up the new office. FremantleMedia Canada will grow the company’s business in both the English and French languages. Hummel will be responsible for developing and managing strategies to license FremantleMedia content to various distribution platforms and will create local marketing initiatives. The exec was recently SVP of U.S. basic cable and Canadian TV distribution for MGM. She also previously worked at Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and FX. In the past year, Fremantle has increased its focus on investing in in-house and third-party content and development, as well as upping its commitment to scripted programming. Earlier this week, FremantleMedia North America acquired the rights to Neil Gaiman book American Gods which it will develop as a drama series.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Women’s Prison Drama ‘Wentworth’ Headed To Holland; Breakthrough Entertainment Adds Two Partners
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.
EXCLUSIVE: Acclaimed urban fantasy novel American Gods is headed to television. FremantleMedia North America has acquired the rights to the book by Neil Gaiman, creator of the popular Sandman comic. Gaiman will executive produce the potential American Gods series with FMNA. The 2001 novel has been translated into over 30 languages and has earned Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker Awards for Best Novel. In American Gods, a war is brewing between old and new gods: the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots from around the world steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. The story centers on Shadow Moon, an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a conman but in reality one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Netflix Execs Headed Back To France For Expansion Talks; Patrick Malone Joins Goldcrest Post; More
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.”
Endemol North America (Big Brother), has signed an exclusive overall deal with Armando Christian Perez (Pitbull) to develop and produce original content for television and digital platforms. Perez will also serve as executive producer on the projects under the deal announced at Endemol’s NATPE party, along with manager and Latium Entertainment CEO Charles Chavez. The digital aspect of the deal also includes a Pitbull channel on upcoming online network Endemol Beyond. Pitbull’s single Timber featuring Ke$ha, is in its third consecutive week at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and new song We Are One (Ole Ola) featuring Jennifer Lopez and Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte was named the official anthem for the 2014 World Cup.
FremantleMedia International has promoted Hayley Dickson to VP Television Acquisitions and Development, Global Content. Dickson previously served as Director, Television Acquisitions and Development before moving into the newly created role where she will oversee Global Content in its North American division, acquiring content for domestic and international release in entertainment, factual, lifestyle, drama, and comedy genres. She’ll also head new business development while working with Fremantle’s Distribution and Scripted Development teams. While at Fremantle, Dickson has initiated strategic relationships with Hulu, Vuguru, and Young Hollywood among others. Earlier this week, Fremantle brought Toby Gorman aboard to head Unscripted as EVP Alternative Programming.
With Red Arrow International managing director Jens Richter moving over to the CEO post at FremantleMedia International, Red Arrow execs Irina Ignatiew and Henrik Pabst have been named to succeed him. The former Red Arrow deputy managing directors will replace Richter after a transition period and will jointly lead the distribution house. Ignatiew will have individual responsibility for global scripted distribution and Pabst for global format/factual distribution. Jan Frouman, group managing director of Red Arrow Entertainment Group said today, “It’s never easy to say goodbye to an executive as capable and accomplished as Jens Richter. He built Red Arrow International and has been with Red Arrow Entertainment Group from the start. But, to his credit, he also assembled a stellar team and enabled us to find his successors from within.” Among Red Arrow’s properties are cooking competition The Taste, Netflix’s Lilyhammer, BBC miniseries The Escape Artist, and comedy entertainment formats Benidorm Bastards and Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.