It’s a big day for $1B+ overseas TV deals. French conglomerate Vivendi has agreed to pay €1.02B ($1.4B) in cash for media group Lagardère’s 20% holding in Canal Plus France. This will give Vivendi a 100% stake in the French pay-TV unit, which falls under the Canal Plus Group, of which Vivendi already holds 100%. The agreement follows years of back-and-forth that has seen Lagardère consider a float of its holding on the Paris stock exchange and also sue Vivendi for €1.6B earlier this year in a dispute over a cash-management agreement. The parties have been in mediation for months and said today’s sale agreement “puts an end to all disputes between the two groups related to this participation.” Vivendi is in the process of exploring a split into two separate companies. The Universal Music Group owner would create a new international media group with interests in music, film, pay-TV and online as one business, and mobile phone operator SFR as the other. Canal Plus France, which traditionally makes its money from sports and movies, has been locked in a costly battle with Al Jazeera-backed BeIN Sport over soccer and other rights since the latter entered the fray in 2012. The deal, however, allows Vivendi to shed a minority shareholder with whom its had a bumpy ride and at a time when it is looking to restructure. The Lagardère and Canal Plus Groups will continue to pursue cooperation in program production and the publishing and distribution of television channels, the companies said today.
First it was a somewhat obscure 2004 movie that sold 32,000 tickets in France, then it became a French TV show that sold around the world and is being adapted into a U.S. series. Now, it’s getting the novelization treatment. Pan Macmillan has acquired worldwide publishing rights to The Returned (Les Revenants/Rebound) in a six-figure deal. Author Seth Patrick will develop two books based on storylines from the show’s first two seasons, although Season 2 won’t film until the second half of next year. Patrick wrote the supernatural horror/thriller trilogy Reviver, which was optioned by Legendary Entertainment. The first Returned novel will be published in the fall of 2014. A big hit on France’s Canal Plus, the series crossed the Channel to air in French with English subtitles in the UK and is also getting an original run in the U.S. on Sundance Channel – rare for a foreign-language program. A&E Network nabbed rights for an American remake to be developed as a co-production between A+E Studios and FremantleMedia North America. Deadline reported last month that Lost and Bates Motel‘s Carlton Cuse is in discussions about taking on the adaptation. The story focuses on a small town that is turned upside down when several local people who have been long presumed dead suddenly reappear, having not aged and unaware of their own fatality.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Amelia Pulsford Joins Sharp UK; CNBC’s ‘The Edge’ Looks For Tech’s Next Big Thing; More
Amelia Pulsford Tapped As Director Of Content at Sharp UK
Amelia Pulsford has been named director of content for the newly formed London branch of Core Media‘s Sharp Entertainment. Reality producer Sharp, whose credits include Man V. Food, Extreme Couponing, Bad Ink and Doomsday Preppers, is launching Sharp UK to expand into the competitive European space. Pulsford previously worked for Sharp Entertainment in the U.S. as a producer on Fortune Diggers and Punkin Chunkin, among others. She has also been a producer on Bear Grylls: Escape From Hell and Car Vs. Wild for Discovery International. She will work closely with American Idol parent CORE Media’s UK-based international team.
CNBC’s ‘The Edge’ Focuses On Long-Term Tech Investments
CNBC is launching a new half-hour series looking at long-term investment opportunities created by today’s technological innovations. The Edge will be fronted by network reporters including Ross Westgate, Martin Song, Karen Tso and Carolin Roth, who will travel to various locales to find “the next big thing”. The monthly show debuts September 25 across CNBC in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the U.S. It will be produced and edited from CNBC’s London regional HQ and be complemented by special reports on CNBC.com.
In May, talks broke down between Yahoo and French online video site Dailymotion with France refusing to relinquish control of the successful start-up. Two months later, another key Internet company is poised to return to its Gallic roots. French investment group Fimalac has entered exclusive negotiations to acquire AlloCiné, the top film web portal in France, which greatly resembles MovieFone. The current owner is U.S. based Tiger Global Management. Fimalac chief Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière is understood to be willing to pay up to 70M euros ($91M) for the site which also operates local versions in such countries as Germany, Spain, the UK, Turkey and Brazil. AlloCiné was founded in 1993 as a phone service for movie showtimes. It became the first European cinema portal in 1997 and was owned for a time by Canal Plus. According to French media reports, the company has annual revenues of 19M euros. Fimalac has diversified interests including 50% of Fitch Ratings,
Global Showbiz Briefs: Murderous Coloring Book Yanked; China’s Pop Culture Snobs; Canal Plus Series Lineup Set; More
Coloring Book Based On Horror Movies Yanked In UK After Marketing Gaffe
UK retailer Tesco has pulled a horror-movie-themed coloring book from its website after it was mistakenly marketed to children ages 5 to 8. The book, Colour Me Good Arrggghhhh!! includes images from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction. According to the BBC, Tesco said the book had been placed in the wrong category when listed on its website by a third-party seller. Author, artist and publisher Mel Elliott said the book is indeed meant for an adult audience of “playful grown-ups.”
Brit TV Dramas Drive ‘Snobbish Pop-Cultural Hierarchy’ In China
British dramas such as Downton Abbey and Sherlock are big hits at home and abroad, but in China they’re also part of what the Wall Street Journal calls “an increasingly snobbish pop-cultural hierarchy.” Described by local media as a “disdain chain,” it works like this: British drama fans look down on folks who prefer U.S. shows, and they in turn look down on Korean soap fans. The lowest of the low in the disdain chain are fans of domestic dramas. The taste for high-end British fare like Downton and Sherlock is a growing phenomenon. Entgroup compiled levels of discussion on different social media sites to find that British dramas are catching on with the wealthy youth and account for upwards of 9% of foreign TV discussion. Also notable, more than half of those who follow British dramas on social media sites have at least a bachelor’s degree, Entgroup found. Hit Brit shows like Downton are expected to have 160M online followers in the next two to three years. Sohu.com, Youku Tudou and Tencent all have dedicated online channels for British dramas and the Journal says the latter two are competing to sign exclusive deals with distributors like BBC Worldwide and Fremantle Media to stream the shows.
Nary a day went by at last month’s Cannes Film Festival without some sort of non-movie-related scandal erupting on the Croisette. Thieves who made off with millions in jewelry have yet to be apprehended, but a man now …
EXCLUSIVE: British TV writer-producers Simon Mirren and David Wolstencroft have come on board to rewrite Versailles, an English-language period drama series for French pay TV network Canal Plus. The duo will executive produce the 12-episode series, set at the Court of French King Louis XIV, alongside Anne Thomopoulos, who executive produces another European historical drama series, Borgia. On Versailles, co-produced by CAPA Drama and Zodiak’s Marathon, Mirren and Wolstencroft replace Mad Men‘s Andre and Maria Jacquemetton, who were signed for the project two years ago. Versailles is being fast-tracked for possible production start in early 2014. Zodiak Rights will handle worldwide distribution in non-English speaking territories.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Tom Hardy Hosts ‘Poaching Wars’; Big Bucks For Aussie Cricket; ITV Preps Singing Show; More
Tom Hardy To Host ITV’s ‘Poaching Wars’
Tom Hardy will host ITV documentary series Poaching Wars With Tom Hardy, a look at the wholesale wildlife poaching crisis in Africa. ITV says the actor conceived the proposition for …
Global Showbiz Briefs: New BBC Chief Takes Reins, HBO & Canal Plus, China’s TV Docu Market, Bona Film Group
New BBC Chief Says “Best Days Lie Ahead”
Today was the first day on the job for the BBC’s new director general, Tony Hall. The broadcaster’s former head of news returned to the Beeb after more than a decade as CEO of the Royal Opera House. The organization he confronted today is in far different shape than it was when he left. After going into crisis mode last October when the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal broke open, the BBC was rocked by the mishandling of a Newsnight report that mistakenly identified a senior politician as an alleged pedophile. Those events led to the resignation of former director general George Entwistle after only 54 days on the job. Mark Thompson, Entwistle’s predecessor, left in September to become CEO of The New York Times Company and under his watch austerity measures were put in place after the license fee that was frozen until 2017. Two major unions went out on strike at the BBC last Thursday in protest over what was referred to as “a modern-day BBC sweatshop” along with bullying claims at the company. Hall made a handful of appointments prior to starting at the BBC, but has yet to name a head of news or head of television. In an email to staff today, he said, “With imagination and hard work, the BBC’s best days lie ahead of us.”
In what will be the first fully-subtitled drama to air on the UK’s Channel 4 in 20 years, the net has acquired premiere broadcast rights to French supernatural series Les Revenants. Zodiak is handling international sales on the thriller that was produced by Haut et Court for Canal Plus and originally aired to record numbers last fall. The show, re-titled Rebound in the UK, centers on a group of people in a small Alpine village who find themselves in a state of confusion, trying to return to their homes. What they don’t yet know is that they’ve been dead for several years, and no one is expecting them back. Fabrice Gobert created the show based on the 2004 feature Les Revenants by Robin Campillo. Anne Consigny, Clotilde Hesme, Celine Sallette, Frederic Pierrot, Samir Guesmi and Guillaume Gouix star.
The UK is no stranger to subtitled fare – BBC Four airs such imported shows as Sweden’s Wallander, Denmark’s Borgen and Italy’s Inspector Montalbano. But the Rebound deal marks the second time in recent months that there’s been cross-Channel collaboration on a series. Sky Atlantic and Canal Plus started shooting last month on The Tunnel, the 10-part bilingual English-French adaptation of Scandinavian cop series The Bridge.
Originally produced by France’s Haut et Court for Canal Plus, Les Revenants aired in eight one-hour episodes last fall, drawing record numbers for the pay-TV channel. Paul …
Rodolphe Belmer Ascends At Canal Plus
Rodolphe Belmer has been appointed to the board the Canal Plus Group and named director general of the company. The executive, No. 2 at France’s dominant pay-TV company, was formerly deputy director general. Among his functions will be oversight of the free and pay-TV activities of Canal Plus in France as well as other activities. He will not, however, oversee international expansion or film-related activities which will remain under president Bertrand Meheut. According to Le Monde, Meheut, whose mandate at Canal Plus chief ends at the end of 2014, has been preparing his succession for several months. Belmer has been second in command at Canal since 2003 and recently oversaw the acquisition of free-to-air channels Direct 8 and Direct Star from the Bolloré group.
Yahoo To Bow Out Of South Korea
Yahoo Inc’s South Korean operation said today it will exit the country, underscoring its struggle against Google, Facebook and local competitors expanding aggressively into mobile advertising and online services. South Korea is the first Asian country Yahoo is leaving. Yahoo Korea, which started business in 1997 and is wholly owned by the U.S. search company, has around 200-250 employees in South Korea. It will terminate Korean online portal services in December. In the South Korean market, it has failed to beat local rivals such as NHN Corp, Daum Communications Corp and SK Communications Co.