Legendary Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan is to star in his first ever TV drama series. The untitled Endemol India co-production is being made for Sony Entertainment Television India. Hot writer-director Anurag Kashyap, whose Gangs Of Wasseypur and Ugly ran consecutively in the last two Cannes Directors’ Fortnight sections, is developing the project. Endemol India conceived the series that’s described as an epic drama, although details are being kept close to the vest. Bachchan’s company Saraswati Creations is co-producing. Bachchan, who has acted in more than 180 films, recently made his Hollywood debut in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. He’s previously hosted the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and the local version of Endemol format Big Brother, known in India as Big Boss. Kashyap was involved in four movies that played Cannes last month. Along with directing Ugly, he helmed a segment of Bombay Talkies, co-produced Monsoon Shootout and produced Critics’ Week title The Lunchbox which Sony Pictures Classics acquired. Endemol India was founded in 2006 and is a partnership between Endemol and The Chernin Group’s Asian investment arm, CA Media.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘The Trip’ Season 2; UK Tax Incentives; Sony, Universal Team In Nordic Region; Electus & ‘Bet On Your Baby’; Endemol In Israel & More
Coogan, Brydon & Winterbottom To Take Another ‘Trip’
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are reteaming with Michael Winterbottom for a second series of The Trip. The BBC Two comedy, released theatrically in the U.S. by IFC, set Coogan and Brydon off on a road trip to tour the UK Lake District’s best restaurants. Memorable for the duo’s attempts to best one another at celebrity impressions, the first season was highly improvised. The second season will be set in Italy on a road trip that retraces the footsteps of the Romantics, Coogan told Empire Magazine.
UK Touts Tax Incentive For High-End TV Productions
The British film industry celebrated the UK’s new Creative Sector Tax Reliefs this morning in London. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey were on hand to outline the importance of the new incentives which will see qualifying high-end TV and animation productions receive up to 25% in tax relief. The scheme came into effect on April 1. Vaizey said “The UK’s creative industries are a real success story, worth more than £36 billion a year. We know that the television and animation sectors make a real difference to the UK economy and these new tax reliefs will be instrumental in expanding our potential.” Iain Smith, producer and chair of the British Film Commission, encouraged the industry to “continue to fight rigorously to maintain our position as a leading center of production.” There was also a case study of HBO’s Game Of Thrones, which is shooting its fourth season in Northern Ireland. HBO SVP Jay Roewe noted the new measures “will make filming in the UK an even more viable proposition.” The BFC recently hosted events in Los Angeles and New York to educate studios, broadcasters, producers and agents on the incentives.
Along with an emphasis on cross-border series, among the takeaways from this week’s Mip-TV market was the increased merging of technology and content. Of the 4,000 acquisition execs in town, 800 were VOD and digital buyers – a 30% jump on last year. Cinedigm did a digital/VOD deal for more than 1,000 episodes of TV shows from Australia’s ABC which CEO Chris McGurk said reflected the “ever-growing importance of efficient, cost-effective delivery of digital content worldwide.”
YouTube was part of the discussion. Tim Hincks, president of Dutch giant Endemol, which has over 100 YouTube channels, said the company will soon launch a new Fear Factor channel, effectively reviving the brand in the U.S. But he stressed that “It’s not how much you’ve got, it’s what you do with them. It’s tying them together and marketing to the consumers and YouTubers on the different channels.”
But BSkyB managing director of content, Sophie Turner Lang, urged attendees to “Talk about the shows, not the pipes.” It’s storytelling that engages audiences, she said, noting that creative meetings have reversed from mostly being about story and talent to being about “protection and digital delivery.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Masterpiece’ Memoir; Endemol & AMC Pact On Non-Scripted; ‘Draw It’ In UK; ‘Boys In Trees’
Rebecca Eaton To Pull The Curtain Back On Masterpiece
Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton will publish a memoir this fall. Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind The Scenes Of Masterpiece Theatre And Mystery! PBS releases October 29 via Viking in the U.S. Eaton has presided over PBS’ Masterpiece, which airs such British and international hits as Downton Abbey and Sherlock, for 25 years. Eaton says, “As an Anglophile who loves books and great acting, I’ve had the perfect job.” For the book, she interviews actors, writers, directors and producers and is expected to share stories about Downton’s Maggie Smith, Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Radcliffe whose first TV role was as the title character in David Copperfield. Under Eaton’s leadership, Masterpiece has earned 44 Emmy Awards, 15 Peabody Awards, four Golden Globes, and two Oscar nominations. She’s writing the book with Patricia Mulcahy.
PGS To Offer ‘Stan Lee’s Mighty 7′ At Mip Market
Andy Heyward’s A Squared Entertainment is partnering with Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment and Archie Comics to produce Stan Lee’s Mighty 7. The TV movie trilogy is billed as the first-ever reality superhero show and sees Lee insert himself into the story as a writer hired by Archie Comics to create a new group of superheroes. But when a group of seven aliens crash lands near his trailer, Stan decides to teach them how to behave as superheroes to thwart the military that’s in hot pursuit. The Mighty 7 comic book began appearing last year as a bi-monthly series. PGS Entertainment is kicking off sales at Mip-TV next month with the first movie to deliver in Q4.
Global Showbiz Briefs: BFI Film Fund For Docs, Film London For Artists, RealD In Hospitals, Endemol’s ‘Big Boss’
Documentary Makers To Pitch BFI For Funding
The BFI Film Fund will dish out funding to documentaries via twice-yearly public pitch sessions, in London and at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Documentarians will pitch ideas to a panel of senior execs “from within the BFI Film Fund and wider documentary funding community”, with selected candidates benefitting from a day of expert-led development to help them focus pitches and strengthen ideas. Documentary filmmaking in Britain is on a high after a string of high-profile successes like Man On Wire and Senna, as well as this year’s Oscar- and BAFTA-winning Brit-produced Searching For Sugarman and the BAFTA-winning The Imposter. “Documentary is the punk of the film industry,” said the BFI’s Lizzie Francke. “We’re absolutely committed to supporting the UK’s visionary documentary filmmakers and we’re pleased to be working with Sheffield Doc/Fest on this new way to deliver support directly to the sector.” – Joe Utichi
‘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.
Endemol North America has promoted four executives: Caroline Baumgard to EVP Development, Rob Smith to EVP Programming; Rob Day to EVP Production, and Ron Milkes to EVP Operations, Strategy and Corporate Development. The four will continue to be based in Los Angeles and report to David Goldberg, Chairman and CEO, Endemol North America.
UK House of Lords OKs Assistance For Victims Of Media Misbehavior
As David Cameron’s government in the UK continues to dither over what to do about the proposals made in the Leveson Report on the phone-hacking scandal, peers in the House of Lords — the UK parliament’s upper house — have passed an amendment to the Defamation bill establishing a cheap arbitration service between newspapers and those claiming to be wronged by the press. The proposal was a key feature of Leveson’s report. The cross-party amendment was spearheaded by peers including film producer Lord David Puttnam, who said lawmakers had an “obligation to act, and to be seen to act, on behalf of victims past, present and future”. The Defamation Bill, which has a key focus on complaints against alleged defamation published on the Internet, reflected none of the concerns brought to light by the Leveson Report, he said. “It is almost as if Leveson never happened.” The move marks a major rebellion against the government, with peers voting 272 to 141 in favour of legislation which would also introduce a statutory system for press regulation, a line Cameron had promised not to cross. The bill will go back before the House of Commons next month, forcing the Leveson debate back into the open.
Endemol Taps Former FremantleMedia Exec To Oversee Asian Operation
In the latest in a string of executive appointments, Big Brother producer Endemol has named Fotini Paraskakis managing director of its Asian operations to oversee creative, production and format sales activities across the region. The exec joins from FremantleMedia Asia where she was director of content for all of the company’s formats in the region including Idols, Got Talent and X Factor. As Endemol looks to expand in Asia, its recent projects there include a first series of Fear Factor and a second season of The Money Drop for Astro in Malaysia; a third season of Your Face Sounds Familiar on Hunan Satellite TV in China and the return of Deal Or No Deal and the launch of The Money Drop in the Philippines.
There’s been a shake-up in the executive ranks and management structure of Big Brother producer Endemol in the past few weeks. Former Group COO and Endemol France CEO Virginie Calmels recently announced her departure with Martha Brass later named as her replacement at the Group level. Last week, Olivier Gers stepped down as CEO of the commercial division, Endemol Worldwide Brands. The company today says it has established a new Group Commercial Board, made up of a selection of senior execs from across the group, to replace the Endemol Worldwide Brands division and more closely integrate commercial and creative activities. Here’s the release:
Endemol, the world’s largest independent TV and digital media production company today announced a reorganisation of its commercial and global brands business.
A newly created Group Commercial Board comprising senior Endemol executives from around the world has been established in place of Endemol Worldwide Brands (EWB).
Former EWB Regional Director, International, Branco Scherer has been promoted to the new Board as Executive Director, Commercial Affairs. His role will be to liaise and coordinate with Endemol’s commercial teams around the world and to ensure that ideas and information are shared across the Group.
‘Skyfall’ On Track To Beat ‘Quantum’s China Cume In 7 Days
As of Thursday night, Skyfall’s 4-day cume in China was $17.9M, handily breaking the coveted 100M yuan mark. The film opened Monday and is playing on 8,079 screens in the country’s widest release ever. Sony says the 23rd James Bond film that has already broken the $1B mark internationally, is on track to outgross the last Bond film, Quantum Of Solace, in its first seven days in China. The movie’s release on Monday, at $5.1M, was almost three times that of Quantum. It came out amid reports of some tweaks by the local censors and calls by film industry insiders for reforms to the movie review system. Shi Chuan, a professor at Shanghai University’s school of film & TV arts and technology, proposed laws be put in place for censors to follow and said, “Movie regulators should respect the producers’ original ideas, rather than chopping scenes arbitrarily.”
Big Brother producer Endemol has made changes to its senior management structure including naming former international operations managing director, Martha Brass, as the group’s COO. The news comes on the heels of the abrupt departure last week of Endemol Group COO and Endemol France CEO Virginie Calmels. Here’s the press release:
Endemol, the world’s largest independent production company, today announced that the Management Board, comprising CEO Just Spee and President Tim Hincks, has appointed a new Management Committee to focus on overseeing and supporting the business on a day-to-day basis.
Martha Brass, formerly Managing Director of International Operations, joins the Management Committee as the Group’s Chief Operating Officer. Brass will continue to oversee emerging markets whilst taking operational responsibility for additional territories including Scandinavia and Central and Eastern Europe.
Endemol Group COO and Endemol France CEO Virginie Calmels is to leave the company “shortly” according to a statement. Calmels, who joined Big Brother producer Endemol in 2003, was named COO last year. Just last week, she was named president of the supervisory board of Euro Disney, but at the time of that announcement was expected to continue at Endemol. Nicolas Coppermann, who became managing director of Endemol France in May, will now become CEO. Endemol France’s recent credits include The Money Drop for TF1 and Undercover Boss for M6.
Private equity firm Apollo Global Management is looking to build one of the biggest independent content companies in the world with a potential merger of CORE Media Group and Peter Chernin’s Chernin Entertainment into Endemol.
I hear Apollo controls the largest portion of Endemol debt, giving it a stake of about 30% in the company behind such reality franchises as Big Brother. Meanwhile, last year Apollo bought American Idol parent CKx (now CORE Media) for $560 million. Apollo is considering combining the two unscripted TV-focused entities and adding scripted TV outfit Chernin Entertainment to the mix. (Chernin’s company also has a feature division.) In order to bring in Chernin Entertainment, I hear Apollo will likely combine resources with Chernin investor Providence Equity Partners, but Apollo is expected to be in the driver’s seat as the controlling shareholder of a restructured Endemol with CORE and Chernin.
I hear if the plan comes to fruition, Chernin would be the Chairman of the global Endemol Worldwide, while CORE president Marc Graboff would be running the combined company. A merger of the three entities would create an instant TV powerhouse, melding Chernin’s rich Fox deal and the company’s scripted portfolio and …
Copperman will report directly to Virginie Calmels, who was recently promoted to Chief Operating Officer of Endemol Group and continues to oversee Endemol France as its Chairman. Calmels will now share her time between her responsibilities at Endemol France and the position she has taken up internationally at Group level.
In his new role Nicholas Coppermann will support Calmels, taking responsibility for the day to day operational management of Endemol France, which has recent credits including hit series for TF1 such as Secret Story, The Money Drop and les 12 Coups de Midi, and Undercover Boss for M6.
Big Brother producer Endemol continues to make changes at the top. Lucas Church has been upped from COO to CEO Endemol UK with CFO Richard Johnston named COO. Both men held their previous positions since 2008. The UK group includes Initial, Remarkable Television, Zeppotron, Darlow Smithson Productions, Tiger Aspect and Tigress and annually produces over 2,000 hours of programming. Church will work closely with Tim Hincks in overseeing the creative and strategic direction of the UK business. Hincks was formerly CEO of Endemol UK and last week was named president of Endemol Group and chairman of Endemol UK. Among the group’s recent international successes are multi-platform big money game shows The Million Pound Drop, The Bank Job and Pointless. Endemol series Black Mirror just won the Rose d’Or Award for best comedy program. Its Low Winter Sun is being remade for AMC in the US.
CEO of Endemol UK Tim Hincks has been appointed President of Endemol Group. Chairman and CEO of Endemol France Virginie Calmels has become Chief Operating Officer at Endemol Group.
Hincks and Calmels will report directly to Just Spee, who was appointed CEO of Endemol Group at the beginning of April.
CA Media, the Asian investment arm of The Chernin Group (TCG), and Endemol, the world’s largest independent television producer, today announced the formation of a strategic alliance in which CA Media has acquired a 49% stake in Endemol India. CA Media and Endemol’s strategy is to build Endemol India into the leading and most valuable content production company in India across television, film and digital content. Deepak Dhar, who has been Managing Director of Endemol India since 2007, will continue to lead the company and is promoted to CEO.