Angela Lansbury To Topline ‘Blithe Spirit’ On London Stage
Angela Lansbury is set to appear on the London stage for the first time in nearly four decades in a new production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit. The 88-year-old Brit will play Madame Arcati, a role she played on Broadway in 2009, winning a Tony Award. The show will open March 18 for a limited 15-week run at the Gielgud Theatre. The former Murder, She Wrote star and MGM contract player, who won an Honorary Oscar this year, most recently trod the West End boards playing the lead role in Gypsy in 1974.
‘The Grandmaster’ Leads With Asia-Pacific Film Festival Awards Nominees
Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster leads the field with nine nominations at the 56th Asia-Pacific Film Festival awards. The film, which premiered at Cannes, is up for best picture against Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo, Kore-Eda Hirokazu’s Like Father, Like Son, Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox, Tsai Ming-liang’s Stray Dogs and Georgia’s In Bloom. Missing among the best pic nominees is Snowpiercer, which has the second-most nominations with seven. The Lunchbox is third with six. The awards will be presented at during a ceremony December 15 in Macau. A full list of nominations is here. Read More »
The world’s leading consumer publisher has been formed via the merger of Penguin and Random House. Respective owners Pearson and Bertelsmann announced the merger of the groups last October and today confirm the deal is done. Bertelsmann will own 53% and Pearson 47% of the new company, Penguin Random House. The company will include all of Random House and Penguin Group’s publishing divisions and imprints in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and India, as well as Random House’s publishers in Spain and Latin America, and Penguin’s trade publishing activity in Asia and South Africa. Headquartered in New York, the company is expected to generate annual revenues of about $3.9B. Random House chair and CEO Markus Dohle will be CEO of Penguin Random House. Penguin Group chief John Makinson will be chairman of the board.
As it seeks to expand, Europe’s biggest media company, Bertelsmann, plans to spend as much as 3B euros ($3.9B) on acquisitions over the next three years, a move that reflects the current culture of increased media M&A activity in Europe. The company recently said it would reduce its stake in broadcasting giant and FremantleMedia owner the RTL Group, potentially raising about $2B. CEO Thomas Rabe said today that those proceeds coupled with about 500M euros in annual net cash flow would help fund individual deals worth “a couple hundred millions of euros,” according to Bloomberg. Bertelsmann is looking to expand into digital content and emerging markets and Rabe said, “It is our clear objective to grow the company in the next couple of years. Assuming a little bit of tailwind from a recovery in Europe, we expect to grow to 17B euros this year and 18B euros in the next.” An IPO, however, is “off the table for the foreseeable future.” Read More »
‘The X-Factor’ Musical Headed To London’s West End
The show’s creator Simon Cowell has granted permission for a London stage version of the TV singing competiton. Cowell and Sony Music’s joint venture Syco Entertainment are partnering with Stage Entertainment UK (Oliver!, Hairspray, Singin In The Rain) to launch the musical next year, Reuters reports. What they’re calling an affectionate poke at Cowell’s TV show, X Factor – It’s Time To Face The Musical! will hit London’s West End in early 2014. British comedian Harry Hill is writing with Steve Brown handling music and Sean Foley is directing. Story centers on fictional character Chenice who finds herself and her talking dog in line waiting for an audition that will change her life. Read More »
Despite reported last-minute interest from News Corp., UK-based Pearson has agreed to merge its Penguin with Bertelsmann’s Random House. It creates the world’s leading consumer publisher. The deal, announced Monday morning, comes after the News Corp.-owned Sunday Times said Rupert Murdoch had indicated he would offer about $1.6B for Penguin. A combination of Penguin and News Corp.’s HarperCollins would have had an English-language book market share of 20%, and appeared favored by analysts, according to Reuters. The combined Penguin Random House will have about a 25%-30% share as the companies look to fend off competition in the e-book space. The joint venture will be 53%-owned by Bertelsmann and 47%-owned by Pearson and is subject to regulatory and other approvals. It is expected to close in the second half of 2013. Following is the press release from Pearson: Read More »
Of course both of these publishers provide plenty of source material for Hollywood. Now the Financial Times is reporting that the parent companies of Random House and Penguin are in talks to combine the units. Random House’s Bertelsmann would have more than a 50% stake in any tie-up with Pearson’s Penguin, which combined could control one-quarter of the U.S. and UK publishing market, the paper says. The publishing sector has been facing fierce competition from the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google in the e-book business.