The UK’s Arrow Media has received a commission for six more hours of its wildlife show Animal Fight Night which premieres on Nat Geo WILD in the U.S. on August 18 before rolling out internationally in September. Animal Fight Night was first launched in the U.S. in October last year. It was Arrow Media’s first move into natural history programming and the company later received orders for Building Penguin Paradise (Nat Geo WILD) and Dogs: Their Secret Lives (Channel 4). Each Animal Fight Night episode uses CGI to recreate and examine same species battles between animal world adversaries and dissects the science behind the tactics and bodily weapons that various creatures employ.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Nat Geo Wild Orders More Of Arrow’s ‘Animal Fight Night’; ‘The Voice’ Sings In Croatia, India; ‘Top Gear’ Falls Foul Of Ofcom; More
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Temptation Island’ Comeback In Italy; BBC Asks ‘Doctor Who’ Fans Not To Share Leaked Scripts
‘Temptation Island’ Returning With Italian Version
Temptation Island — remember that one? — is beginning a revival around the world with Italian free-to-air broadcaster Canale 5 signing a significant commission for a fresh new local version. The Banijay Group format will be produced by its Ambra Multimedia in a four-part co-production with Fascino. The series will launch this summer. Created by Chris Cowan and Jean-Michel Michenaud, Temptation Island was a hit for Fox from 2001 and had several high-rated international adaptations in the early 2000s in more than a dozen countries including the UK, Australia, France, Brazil and Russia. The controversial format, which could be seeing a resurgence given the current hunt for social experiments in the reality arena, will send four couples in committed relationships to a remote island paradise for 12 days and nights — without their partner. On opposite sides of the island, the men will be surrounded by a dozen ladies and the women by 12 guys. The 24 hot singles have a mission: to do everything they can to make the couples give in to temptation.
Contrite BBC On ‘Doctor Who’ Script Leaks: Don’t Spoil It!
A security breach at the BBC has resulted in scripts from several episodes of the upcoming eighth season of Doctor Who going online, and the pubcaster is taking its anti-spoiler plea to the fans. “BBC Worldwide is currently investigating a security issue around Doctor Who Series 8 …
Patsy Byrne, who played the clueless, but loyal Nursie to Miranda Richardson’s Queenie on BBC‘s Blackadder died Tuesday at the age of 80 at Denville Hall, a retirement home for actors, in Hillingdon, London. Her death comes less than two weeks since another Blackadder series regular Rik Mayall (Lord Flashheart) also passed away. A native of Ashford, Kent, Byrne studied drama at Rose Bruford College before signing up with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She starred in a number of British TV series including opposite Tony Robinson in a Series 3 episode of Maid Marian and her Merry Men as well as the Tea Lady in the BBC children series Playdays. Notable film credits include Clive Donner’s Stealing Heaven, Bille August‘s non-musical version of Les Miserables starring Liam Neeson (in which she played the role of Toussaint) and the cult British comedy Kevin & Perry Go Large. Check out Byrne’s comedic timing opposite Richardson in this clip from Blackadder:
Global Showbiz Briefs: Spain Getting Local Version Of Israeli Reality Format ‘The Extra Mile’; Layoffs Loom At BBC News
‘The Extra Mile’ Headed To Spain For First Adaptation Outside Israel
Reality format The Extra Mile is getting its first international adaptation. Created by Ami Glam, CEO of Israel’s Studio Glam, the show challenges divorced couples to work together for prize money for their kid. It will be produced by Endemol Spain for Mediaset Telecinco Channel. The Spanish take will be made in the Canary Islands and is expected to be air in the summer. Spain was one of the 12 territories that bought the right to produce The Extra Mile as a part of a multi-territory deal with Endemol. When the show launched in Israel, it broke records for Channel 10. It is still airing and has an average 24.8% share. The Spanish adaptation will be called Ex, ¿Qué harías por tus hijos?
Miniseries are coming of age again, at least according to the Television Academy, whose Board of Governors voted this year to once again give it a category of its own. This has been done from time to time depending on the health and general welfare of the miniseries format. For example, in 2011, the TV Academy felt longform television was dying on the vine and that there was just not enough entries to meet its “Rule of 14” (the minimum number of possible contenders needed to trigger a category). The networks were downsizing the form and, outside of the BBC and HBO, there wasn’t a whole lot of interest. But now, minis are exploding again and a new golden age seems to be on the horizon.
With minis roaring back on their own—they are still combined with movies in the acting, writing and directing categories—what will the landscape look like when nominees are announced July 10?
Not a Shoo-In
Going into the competition, many pundits thought it was all wrapped up. HBO—which has had a streak of miniseries winners with John Adams, The Pacific, Band of Brothers and Angels in America—looked as though it had another slam dunk with its eight-part True Detective, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. It won near-unanimous raves and appeared unbeatable, particularly since, with the mini/movie split, it would not be competing with …
About 18 months ago, former HBO Films chief Colin Callender moved his family back to Manhattan – he’s from the U.K. and spent the better part of three decades working with company head Chris Albrecht. He’d already started Playground LLC, with producing interests in film, television and Broadway. Now he’s got two Tony contenders: Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina, which he co-produced with Fred Zollo and Bob Cole with the Manhattan Theatre Club, and the revival of Hedwig And The Angry Inch, which has affirmed that even — or maybe especially — as a slightly-botched-job transsexual German rock star, Neil Patrick Harris can sell out the house seven times a week at premium prices.
But before the Tony Awards on June 8, he has another venture that literally — well, physically, at least — dwarfs both those shows: Kenneth Branagh’s New York acting debut in the title role of the Scottish play, an import from Manchester, England having a limited run in the vast, demanding expanse of the Park Avenue Armory. What was once a regimental marching hall has been converted to the battlefield opening of the play, which promises to launch Shakespeare’s drama of power, lust and powerlust with a visceral thrill. For Callender, who got his start working at the Royal Court Theatre, it’s like going from sub-atomic particles to Gravity. Or something.
Chris Patten, who has absorbed some of the criticism for the BBC’s handling of the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse revelations and subsequent Newsnight scandal last year that rocked the UK pubcaster, has resigned from the post he has held since 2011. His contract was set to expire in April 2015. Vice Chairman Diane Coyle will take over as Acting Chairman until a successor is appointed. Patten cited recent successful heart surgery last month as the reason for his departure, saying in a memo that “On the advice of my doctors, however, and having consulted my family and friends, I cannot continue to work at the same full pace as I have done to date, and that I should reduce the range of roles I undertake. On this basis I have decided with great regret to step down from much the most demanding of my roles — that of Chairman of the BBC Trust.”
In the pubcaster’s last annual report ending made public in July, Patten said the BBC “seriously let down both itself and license fee payers. Trust in the institution took a hit as a result, although it has begun to recover” from the sex abuse scandal, for which the broadcaster spent about £5M in investigations. Executive payouts also received criticism after former general director Mark Thompson who left in September 2012 to be CEO and president …
In this week’s podcast, Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom preview this year’s Mip-TV market and the interactive Israeli format that may just dominate this year’s show; take a look at some of the very familiar nominees for the Olivier Awards, honoring the best of British stage; and ponder the promised closure of BBC Three amid the possible resurgence of The X Factor in the United Kingdom as Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole return to shore up the sagging franchise.
Starz has partnered with the BBC on the British broadcaster’s eight-episode limited drama series The Missing. Starz will co-produce the project, starring James Nesbitt (The Hobbit trilogy), which has begun filming in Brussels. Written by Harry and Jack Williams and directed by Tom Shankland, the thriller will air on BBC One in the UK and Starz in the U.S. in fall 2014. It is produced by New Pictures and Company Pictures in association with Two Brothers Pictures and Colin Callender’s Playground. All3media International has funded development of The Missing and retains all U.S. rights not obtained by Starz. Missing reunites the auspices behind The White Queen limited series, which was a success for Starz; it also hailed from BBC One, Company Pictures, Playground and all3media.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Chinese “Fifth Generation” Director Wu Tianming Dies; New BBC Dramas Feature Stellan Skarsgard, Ben Chaplin, Joanne Froggatt & More; Maurice Lévy To Give Mip-TV Keynote
Chinese director Wu Tianming died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack at his home in Beijing. Wu, known as the “Godfather of the Fifth Generation” directed several films in the 1970s and ’80s that helped reshape Chinese cinema including 1986′s Old Well and 1995′s award winner King Of Masks. He got his professional start at Xi’an Film Studios as an apprentice to Cui Wei and eventually took over the studio in the late 1970s, over the next decade-plus helped guide the careers of such noted Chinese filmmakers as Huang Jianxin, Tian Zhuangzhuang, Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. His last directing job was 2003′s Gadfly, a 20-part TV miniseries based on the E.L. Voynich novel.
Stellan Skarsgard has been cast in the lead role of Abi Morgan’s new BBC series River. Morgan, who has scripted features including Shame, The Iron Lady and the upcoming Suffragette, won an Emmy last year for writing the now cancelled BBC series The Hour. River reteams her with the BBC for a six-part series she created. Kudos is producing. The drama centers on John River (Skarsgard), a brilliant police officer who walks a professional tightrope between a pathology so extreme he risks permanent dismissal, and a healthy state of mind that would cure him of his gift. The series is due to air in 2015.
Also at the BBC, Ben Chaplin, Downton Abbey‘s Joanne Froggatt and Silent Witness‘ Emilia Fox have been confirmed to join drama showcase The Secrets. The strand is a series of five stand-alone films that highlights new writing talent. It’s made by Working Title TV for BBC One. The above are joining a host of British names that includes Olivia Colman, Alison Steadman, Ashley Walters, Helen Baxendale and Sarah Solemani. BAFTA-winning director Dominic Savage will helm the five films, each of which starts with one incident and then follows five different stories stemming from the event.
In this week’s audio podcast, Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom look at the possibility that frenemies John Malone and Rupert Murdoch will combine and snap up the UK’s Channel 5, even as a booming ITV opts out; and Amazon’s new combination platter of Prime services that are challenging Netflix more aggressively in Britain, including through a partnership with the BBC to revive the cancelled period drama Ripper Street. They also preview those other big awards this weekend, France’s Cesars, and take their weekly look at the international box office, as both Frozen and The Hobbit 2: The Desolation Of Smaug continue to rack up huge cumulative grosses.
Amazon has come to the rescue of British period drama Ripper Street. The online giant is today launching its Amazon Prime Instant Video service in the UK and with that has announced a commission for a 3rd season of the BBC crime series. It’s also acquired UK subscription streaming rights to the previous seasons. The Victorian era show, which stars Matthew Macfadyen, was cancelled by the BBC in December after a 2nd season ratings drop. The news elicited an outpouring of lament from fans and it was soon rumored that Amazon’s streaming service LoveFilm might pick up the slack. Amazon recently said it was folding LoveFilm into its Prime service in Britain with the new-look platform bowing today, along with the news that new episodes of Ripper Street will be made available exclusively to Amazon Prime Instant Video members before screening on BBC One a few months later.
Tom Hardy is headed to the BBC. The actor has signed on for Season 2 of gangster drama Peaky Blinders. The period series is set in Birmingham, England 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. Hardy will play a charismatic leader who presents a unique opportunity to Cillian Murphy‘s Tommy Shelby. Hardy’s last dramatic turn on the small screen was in 2009 miniseries The Take which aired on Sky 1. With Peaky Blinders, he reteams with his Dark Knight Rises and Inception co-star Murphy as well as with Steven Knight who created the series and also wrote and directed Hardy feature Locke. Knight is writing all six episodes of the second season which starts shooting later this month. It will see the Shelby family expand their empire as the 1920s begin. In November, The Weinstein Company acquired U.S. TV and VOD rights for the first three seasons with an option for others. Hardy is repped by CAA and United Agents.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Natascha McElhone To Star In London Stage Adaptation Of ‘Fatal Attraction’; Michael Palin In BBC Drama; Some Chinese Hits Miss Taiwan Quota; More
Natascha McElhone Boards West End ‘Fatal Attraction’
Californication‘s Natascha McElhone is set to take on the role of Alex Forrest in the stage adaptation of Fatal Attraction. Written by James Dearden and directed by Trevor Nunn, Fatal Attraction opens at London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket on March 25. Dearden was nomiated for an Oscar for writing the 1987 hit film about a one-night stand that turns deadly. This is his first venture into live theater. McElhone’s stage credits include Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Count Of Monte Cristo, The Cherry Orchard and Honour. Veteran director Nunn’s recent theater credits include takes on A Little Night Music, Cyrano De Bergerac, Inherit The Wind, Kiss Me Kate, Birdsong, All That Fall and Scenes From A Marriage. Fatal Attraction is produced by Theatre Royal Haymarket Productions, Robert Fox and Patrick Ryecart. The rest of the cast is due to be announced shortly.
Former BBC entertainment commissioner Karl Warner and Sony Pictures Television are partnering to create London-based production company, Electric Ray. Warner will run the new venture as managing director. The plan is for Electric Ray to produce content for UK broadcasters and international export across the factual entertainment and entertainment genres. Electric Ray will also collaborate with SPT’s U.S. and international production companies on development. SPT’s distribution arm will handle sales of Electric Ray’s slate. The UK is a hotbed of TV production these days with the studios backing local companies to access talent and new content. SPT’s UK production business also includes Victory Television, Gogglebox Entertainment, Silver River Productions and Left Bank Pictures. Warner was the BBC’s youngest ever commissioning editor, and greenlit and executive produced such shows as Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, game show Reflex, Junior Doctors, World’s Craziest Fools and The Undercover Princes. He resigned from the BBC last summer. The development team at Electric Ray will be run by Thomas O’Brien who helped create E4′s Party House and ITV2′s The Magaluf Weekender in his previous roles at Room 414 and Two Four. The company name is taken from the nickname given to Karl’s father, Raymond, who was an electrician.
British director Steve McQueen is headed to the BBC. The 12 Years A Slave helmer is working on a “major drama,” according to BBC Controller Ben Stephenson, who told Deadline, “It is incredibly exciting to be working with the hugely talented British director who has rapidly become one of the finest directors in the world.” The news was first reported by The Daily Mail‘s Baz Bamigboye, who says the director told him the West London-set series would explore the black experience in Britain as seen by a group of friends and their families from 1968 to today. McQueen noted, “I don’t think there has been a serious drama series in Britain with black people from all walks of life as the main protagonists.” The series, described as “epic” in scope, is being developed with Rainmark Films (Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight) and will air on either BBC One or BBC Two, although it is expected to take at least another year. This would be the director’s first drama series. 12 Years A Slave has been earning prizes this awards season and is nominated for multiple Golden Globes and BAFTAs.
The BBC‘s Doctor Who Christmas special, The Time Of The Doctor, was the most-watched drama, and the second most-watched program, in Britain yesterday. The show, which saw Matt Smith’s departure as the 11th Doctor, and Peter Capaldi’s entrance as the new Time Lord, was seen by 8.29M people for a 30.7% share according to the overnights. It also had the highest peak audience with 10.2M viewers at 8:25 PM, the last few minutes of the broadcast. Despite battering storms that left thousands without power on Wednesday, the figures are higher than last year’s festive ep which was seen by 7.59M people. After the show, the exiting Smith tweeted: “To the Whoniverse, thanks a million. You’re the best. I’ll miss you. And I’ll miss the madness.” On ITV, the Downton Abbey Christmas special, which aired in the 8:30-10:30 PM slot, picked up a 27% share with an average 7.01M viewers tuning in to see the Crawleys on a trip to London. The episode brought back Shirley MacLaine as Cora’s mother Martha Levinson, and introduced Paul Giamatti as her brother Harold. It was off last year’s Christmas special, which included the shocking death of Matthew Crawley, and was seen by 7.32M. Season Four is now officially over in the UK, but it starts Stateside on January 5th on Masterpiece …
Sherlock returns to the BBC on New Year’s Day and to PBS on January 19 for three new 90-minute installments of the detective drama. As a pre-holiday treat, the BBC has posted a seven-minute mini-episode that provides some exposition for the new go-round. (The move is similar to the BBC’s tease of the 50th anniversary Doctor Who movie Day Of The Doctor last month.) The network also offers a new blog post by Dr John Watson promising it will be his last, as it’s time for him to “move on” (read it here). Watson (Martin Freeman) and Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves) feature in the mini-ep, titled “Many Happy Returns”, as does Benedict Cumberbatch‘s titular high-functioning sociopath — with a wink. Check it out:
Longtime sports commentator and presenter David Coleman OBE has died. He was 87. His family told the BBC that Coleman, who first began working for the news organization in 1954, passed after a short illness. Coleman was the recipient of an OBE in 1992 who covered sports for BBC, including soccer and the Olympics, for nearly five decades. In that time he presented Grandstand and Sportsnight and hosted quiz show A Question of Sport for 18 years, in addition to announcing numerous World Cup, European Cup, and FA Cup finals. He made his Olympics commenting debut in 1960 and retired after broadcasting his 11th summer Olympics in 2000. British Prime Minister David Cameron Tweeted in response to Coleman’s passing: