Global Showbiz Briefs: PBS Giving U.S. Peek At ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 4; Last Of ‘The Office’ Coming To Comedy Central UK; More
PBS To Air ‘Downton Abbey’ Recap/Preview Special Ahead Of Season 4
In an effort to appease anxious U.S. viewers, PBS is planning a behind-the-scenes special sneak peek at Downton Abbey‘s upcoming Season 4. The period drama is pulling record ratings on the UK’s ITV but doesn’t bow Stateside until January 5. So, on December 1, PBS will air Return To Downton Abbey, a recap of previous seasons and a look at the upcoming trials and tribulations of the Crawley clan. Susan Sarandon will host the special that’s set around three themes: The Changing World of Downton Abbey, The Women of Downton Abbey and Love and Other Relationships at Downton Abbey. Cast members interviewed include Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Joanne Froggatt, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Shirley MacLaine, Sophie McShera and Laura Carmichael. Creator Julian Fellowes and exec producers Gareth Neame and Rebecca Eaton also take part.
Final Seasons Of U.S. ‘The Office’ Coming To Comedy Central UK
Comedy Central UK is bringing the final two seasons of the U.S. version of The Office to Britain. Under a deal with NBCU International TV Distribution, Seasons 8 and 9 will air on Comedy Central starting this month. The series, based on Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s original UK version, has been a staple of Comedy Central UK’s schedule and a strong performer.
Mipcom Briefs: Keshet’s ‘Rising Star’ In Russian Redo; ‘Dining With The Enemy’ In Canada; UK TV Exports Reach £1.2B; More
Keshet International‘s hot format Rising Star is headed to Russia. Broadcaster Rossiya 1, part of media group VGTRK, will air a local version of the interactive primetime show which France’s M6 acquired earlier this week. Keshet DCP, a joint venture with DC Media, is also shopping a U.S. version to American broadcasters. Keshet debuted a live screening of Rising Star from Israel last night in Cannes. The singing competition integrates home viewers who vote in real-time via an app that also posts their photos to the TV screen. The app has now been downloaded more than 1.2M times. The show is a big hit at home where it’s produced by Tedy Productions for Keshet Broadcasting.
Canada’s TV5 is prepping war-zone/foodie hybrid A Table Avec L’Ennemi, an adaptation of Norwegian format, Dining With The Enemy. The six-part series will be hosted by journalist and author Frédérick Lavoie and chef Charles-Antoine Crête. It will travel to conflict areas around the world including Mexico, Rwanda and Afghanistan, and see two representatives from opposing factions share a meal and discuss their views and vision of ongoing strife. “We forget that, in war zones or risk areas, life goes on. People try to live a normal life and their main concerns are much like ours… We hope the dinner table will serve as a meeting place, a place for dialogue and hope between two cultures”, says TV5 Programming Director Pierre Gang. Media Ranch president Sophie Ferron will produce with the series to air in fall 2014. Canadian production and distribtion outfit Media Ranch has an option to produce local adaptations of Dining With The Enemy in English-speaking Canada and the UK, and is in discussions on a Canada-U.S. co-production.
Listen to (and share) episode 8 of Deadline’s audio podcast Global Showbiz Watch With Nancy Tartaglione. Deadline’s international editor and host David Bloom look at Downton Abbey’s big UK debut in Season 4; controversy around the Oscar Foreign-Language candidates, including India’s choice, The Good Road; Dalian Wanda Group’s massive movie-related projects in China and whether they’re real or just real estate; and Icon’s return to film distribution in a diminished field of UK competitors.
Listen to (and share) episode 3 of Deadline’s audio podcast Global Showbiz Watch With Nancy Tartaglione. Deadline’s international editor talks with host David Bloom about what the creators of Downton Abbey have planned for Season 4; the record-breaking Bollywood hit Chennai Express and where it might roll next; whether Simon Cowell is truly ITV’s X factor; and last-minute dealmaking over the lucrative TV rights for the most important thing in Britain as English Premier League football kicks off.
Downton Abbey executive producer Gareth Neame says Season 4 of the hit period drama will demonstrate that the show “never sits back on its laurels. It shakes up and moves on.” Neame spoke with me ahead of a press screening today of the first episode of the new season which brings the action into the Roaring Twenties. The series picks up in 1922, six months after the death of Dan Stevens’ character Matthew Crawley, whose fatal car crash came in the last minutes of the Season 3 Christmas episode. The “spine” of next season will be the fate of his widow, Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery), as she heads to the next stage of her life, Neame tells me. It’s a “heavy situation to kick off with,” but it won’t be all brooding at the Grantham estate. The majority of the goings-on throughout the season will variously be “dramatic, comedic and romantic.” The audience is “still left reeling with the death of Matthew” as it comes to the new season, but Neame says he and Downton creator Julian Fellowes, “have always said that while it was clear we didn’t want to lose Dan, we weren’t able to persuade him (to stay) and so we rethought the whole thing. It was positive for the story.”
TCA: PBS Chief Paula Kerger Credits ‘Downton Abbey’ In Part For Ratings Spike; Series To Return January 5
Add PBS CEO Paula Kerger to the list of network chiefs not buying what NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt was selling at Summer TV Press Tour about Flat being the new Up, ratings-wise. PBS is up 5% in primetime this year versus last, Kerger noted this morning at the tour. A chunk of that increase comes from the whopping 26% ratings spike PBS is enjoying on Sundays, thanks largely to Downton Abbey – which, irony of ironies, is a property of NBCUniversal International. Downton, Kerger noted, clocked around 8 million viewers in its most recent run, which makes it PBS’ most watched scripted series ever and the second most watched program of any genre, behind only Ken Burns’ docu The Civil War. “We are living in a golden era of drama in television…Sunday night on public television has become a great night for drama,” Kerger gloated.
She thanked cable networks that once gave PBS stiff content competition for “pivoting” in their programming strategy which “left a big opening” for public broadcasting.
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.
Diane Haithman is an AwardsLine contributor.
On giving advice
In a way, I always think advice is rather impertinent really, because I’m not aware of knowing anything that anyone else doesn’t. I suppose the only thing I would say to young writers is if you want to do these courses and read these books, just remember that the element that gets you started is the one thing that everyone else has not got. In a way, they are teaching you to do it like everyone else did. I didn’t do any of that.