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.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Bates Motel’ In UK; ‘Not Another Happy Ending’ To Close Edinburgh; BBC Worldwide & Foxtel
‘Pulp’ Director Lines Up ‘Anomaly’
Adam Hamdy, who co-directed Brit indie Pulp, the first feature to premiere on the Xbox platform, has inked a deal for his next film. He’ll write and direct sci-fi thriller Anomaly for L.A.-based production firm Alexander Content and UK-based Dare Productions. Principal photography is scheduled for a September start on the story of a young man who wakes up in the hospital after a terrible car accident and sets out on a quest to discover the truth about what really happened to him. Producers are Alexander Content principal Rick Alexander and UK-based Phil Bland. Exec producers are Syndicate Works principal Pat Nelson and Hamdy. Pic is financed by UK-based accountancy Smith & Williamson.
Foxtel Shuffles Exec Deck
Foxtel Networks Australia announced a series of executive changes on Monday, orchestrated by executive director of television Brian Walsh. The restructure follows the January 1 launch of the Foxtel-branded movies and premium drama channels. Brendon Moo takes the role of general manager, general entertainment channels, responsible for Fox8, Arena, Fox Classics, The Comedy Channel and 111 Hits.
Australia’s Foxtel Rejigs Packages And Pricing
Responding to subscriber complaints that it had reduced its movie channels on January 1 without reducing fees, News Corp.-controlled Foxtel has unveiled new packaging and pricing. More than 1,000 viewers complained on the paybox’s Facebook page after it axed seven channels owned by Warner Bros., Disney, Village Roadshow and MGM. Those channels and the Showtime channels which Foxtel acquired from Sony, NBCUniversal, Fox, Paramount and Liberty Media last October were replaced by six thematic channels and Foxtel Movies Premiere, resulting in four fewer channels. From March 1, the monthly price for the movies and premium drama package and World Movies drops from $A32 ($33.60) to $25, but the basic tier, renamed Essentials, goes up from $45 to $47.
Foxtel Adds Roadshow to New Unified Movies Service
Roadshow Films, Australia’s largest distributor, has licensed its films to paybox Foxtel’s unified movies service which launches January 1. Roadshow, Disney, Warner Bros and MGM are losing their home on Foxtel on December 31 when their jointly-owned service The Movie Network goes dark. Foxtel refused to renew TMN’s deal as it moves forward with its own service of seven channels after buying the other major movies provider, Showtime, from partners Fox, Paramount, Sony, NBCUniversal and Liberty Media in October. Foxtel said it’s in advanced negotiations with other distributors. A WB deal appears to be imminent.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
Warner Bros, Disney, Village Roadshow and MGM films may not be missing from Australian pay-TV screens for long, despite the decision to dissolve their joint venture The Movie Network. Each studio is negotiating with dominant platform Foxtel and Deadline has learned the first licensing deals could be signed within two weeks. That would see those studios’ films screening on Foxtel by March or earlier as part of the paybox’s unified movies service. The seven TMN channels will disappear from Foxtel on December 31 when the current contract expires. TMN shareholders had no option other than to pull the plug when Foxtel rejected any idea of the separate channels continuing. Those studios are realizing they will have to accept less lucrative terms as Foxtel cuts costs and reduces the number of movie channels after buying the other major service Showtime from Paramount, NBCUniversal, Fox, Sony and Liberty Media in October. Foxtel is poised to announce a new lineup of rebranded movie channels and a new pricing structure, perhaps as early as Sunday. TMN has appointed Deloitte as liquidators. About 10 TMN staffers are expected to be offered jobs at Foxtel.
Global Showbiz Briefs: CAA’s Frank Jung Joins CAPE Board, Foxtel Launches Foxtel Go, Youku, Sony, Shine’s Dragonfly
CAA’s Frank Jung Joins CAPE Board Of Directors
CAA’s Frank Jung has joined the board of directors for the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE). Jung, a television and digital packaging agent at CAA, joins YouTube’s Bing Chen and Dancing With The Stars’ judge Carrie Ann Inaba as new CAPE board members. Jung’s clients include Mike Sussman, co-creator of TNT’s Perception, Sang Kim, writer/producer of The Walking Dead and Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum. In September CAPE, in partnership with NBCUniversal, hosted the 12th Annual New Writers Awards. Other executives and artists on CAPE’s Council of Advisors and Board of Directors include Ang Lee, John Woo, Dean Devlin, David Henry Hwang, Lou Diamond Phillips, B.D. Wong, Janet Yang, and Teddy Zee.
Foxtel Launches Mobile Service Foxtel Go
Australia’s biggest TV platform Foxtel today launched Foxtel Go, enabling subscribers to watch 21 live channels including A&E, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Sky News, Disney and Fox Sports on iPads. The mobile service also includes hundreds of catch-up episodes of series such as The Walking Dead, Gossip Girl, Magic City, Vampire Diaries, Gravity Falls, Spooks and Haven. The initiative is part of Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein’s strategy to introduce new services to reduce churn and to grow pay TV penetration from 34% to 50% over the next five years. “The TV landscape has changed, viewers are not just watching TV in the living room, they’re watching TV on the way to work, at the beach or in another room of the house,” he said. “Foxtel Go is the biggest thing we’ve launched since digital and (the PVR) iQ.”- Don Groves.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
EXCLUSIVE: Using its clout as Australia’s dominant pay-TV platform, Foxtel is trying to drive a hard bargain with Warner Bros., Disney, Village Roadshow and independent distributors as it negotiates new movie deals. Foxtel is seeking to slash license fees by as much as 40%, Deadline has learned, as it pursues its aim of owning, producing and managing the movie channels on its platform. Buying films direct from the studios and indies, as sister company Sky does in the UK, will enable Foxtel to significantly lower its programming costs after years of paying over-the-odds in output deals negotiated by the two major local platforms, Showtime and The Movie Network.
Sony, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Fox and Liberty Media have agreed to sell the Showtime channels to Foxtel, effective October 31. Showtime’s contract wasn’t due to expire until the end of 2013 but the studios were persuaded to terminate that deal so they could obtain preferential terms as the four majors with which Foxtel is allowed to do exclusive deals under an agreement with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Ending output deals also means Foxtel can refuse to buy sub-standard TV movies and direct-to-DVD titles that were part of those arrangements, further lowering its costs. Foxtel is also negotiating with The Movie Network (co-owned by WB, Disney, Village Roadshow and MGM), whose contract runs out December 31 and is unlikely to be renewed.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
The new output arrangement with HBO gives Foxtel, Oz’s dominant pay-TV player, a longer hold-back period before shows are available to free-to-air networks and stipulates that it can run programs as soon as possible after they air in the U.S. Foxtel will be 50% owned by News Corp. once the conglomerate’s Consolidated Media acquisition goes through and much as the News Corp.-controlled Sky has done with HBO shows in the UK, Foxtel in Oz intends to fast-track series after their U.S. launches. Foxtel will also position Showcase, one of the Showtime movie channels it’s acquiring from Sony, NBCUniversal, Fox, Paramount and Liberty Media, as Australia’s “home of HBO” just like Sky has done with the UK’s Sky Atlantic. Showcase already screens HBO shows including Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Girls, True Blood and Veep. Among the new shows covered is upcoming police drama True Detective, with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
Four U.S. studios have agreed to sell their Australian movie channels to Foxtel, the dominant pay-TV platform, and three other studios are soon expected to follow suit. Foxtel will gain control of the Showtime channels owned by Sony, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Fox and Liberty Media, on October 31. That deal is in line with Foxtel’s desire to own, produce and manage the movie channels on its platform. Foxtel had been negotiating with those studios for months to buy out their contract to supply the Showtime channels via their jointly-owned Premium Movie Partnership, which was due to expire at the end of 2013. A Foxtel spokesman tells Deadline negotiations are continuing with Warner Bros., Disney, MGM and Australia’s Roadshow, which own the other major movie platform The Movie Network. TMN’s contract with Foxtel runs out December 31. The majority of PMP staff will be offered positions at Foxtel. The spokesman declined to say when or if the Showtime channels will be rebranded.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
The Olympics delivered ratings bonanzas to Australia’s Nine Network and pay TV platform Foxtel although it was a loss-making exercise for Nine and Foxtel reported there was “a tick up” in signing new subscribers. But the halo effect of the Games helped ensure strong launches Monday night for Nine’s Big Brother and Australian crime series Underbelly: Badness. Nine picked up Big Brother after it was cancelled by Network Ten in 2008 after eight seasons and installed a new host in Sonia Kruger. The premiere episode aired at 7 PM and drew an average of 2.25 million viewers nationally, followed at 8.30 PM by Underbelly: Badness, which averaged 2.37 million. Nine’s live broadcast of the Olympics Closing Ceremony (6AM-9AM Australian Eastern Standard Time) averaged 1.48 million viewers. Nine and Foxtel jointly paid $A120 million ($126 million) for the rights to the 2010 and 2012 Games. Jeff Browne, Nine’s managing director, said the network would lose “less than $20 million” on the London Olympics. Foxtel aired the Games on eight dedicated channels, provided at no cost to Fox Sports subscribers, posting record ratings for subscription channels.
The deal, which the Australian competition authority greenlit today, is valued at around $2 billion and was originally agreed between the companies last year. News Corp owns 25% of Foxtel while John Malone’s Liberty Global is Austar’s biggest shareholder. The go-ahead was granted after Foxtel agreed to a series of concessions imposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which sought to reduce the combined entity’s content exclusivity. Foxtel has committed not to acquire exclusive internet protocol television (IPTV) rights to dozens of channels including Nickelodeon, National Geographic, the Disney Channel and ESPN as well as rights to certain movie content. Among other commitments, Foxtel has agreed not to seek to acquire or renew exclusive new distribution rights to movies in linear channels or entitlement VOD services from more than 50% of the major studios or more than 50% of the eight key independent distributors in Oz. Telecom giant Telstra Corp owns 50% of Foxtel and the regulator feared the new company would stifle competition. “By reducing content exclusivity, the undertakings will lower barriers to entry and promote new and effective competition in metropolitan and regional telecommunications and subscription television markets,”
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:
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:
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.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Ataru’ Dethrones ‘The Wind Rises’ In Japan; Peter Jackson Given Highest Kiwi Honor; 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.
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.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Battle For Kabel Deuschland; Spain Box Office Plunges; Oz News Corp Stock Bow Disappoints; More
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.”
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:
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.