Australia’s longest-running drama Neighbours will make its U.S. debut July 14 on Hulu and Hulu Plus, the TV-network-backed streaming service announced today. New episodes will debut daily, Monday through Friday, airing four weeks after the Australian broadcast.
Steve Buscemi is teaming with AOL for unscripted original Park Bench. Set in New York City, the web series is part of the AOL Originals platform which will carry the first season online in the U.S. Production starts this month in NY where Buscemi will interact with everyday denizens of the Big Apple along with his celebrity pals, discussing everything from pop culture to current events. The show is produced by Olive Productions and RadicalMedia, and is intended to convey Buscemi’s relationship with the city of New York and its array of one-of-a-kind characters. “Having lived and worked in New York my whole life, I’m ready to take advantage of all it has to offer,” said Buscemi. “I just need to lay down for five minutes.” FremantleMedia International will shop Park Bench at next week’s Mip-TV. Wren Arthur and Buscemi are executive producing for Olive; Justin Wilkes, Joe Killian and Jon Doran are exec producing for RadicalMedia. Buscemi and Olive are represented by WME, The Gotham Group and attorney George Sheanshang.
Global Showbiz Briefs: eOne Names Pair To Its Board; Cast Additions And Changes For BBC One Dramas; More
Allan Leighton, Linda Robinson Named To eOne Board
Canadian giant Entertainment One has appointed Allan Leighton to its board as Non-Executive Director and Chairman. He replaces James Corsellis as Chairman, though Corsellis will remain a Non-Exec Director. Leighton is a former board director of BSkyB in the U.K. and previously was Chairman of The Royal Mail, CEO of Asda Stores Limited and Walmart Europe, Deputy Chairman of Selfridges & Co and Chairman of LastMinute.com. Also joining the eOne board a little more than a year after its acquisition of Alliance Films is media attorney Linda Robinson as Non-Exec Director. Patrice Theroux, who leads eOne’s global film business, is stepping down from the board to focus on his exec responsibilities.
FremantleMedia International and Oscar-nominated director Roland Joffé are putting a new spin on Victor Hugo’s classic The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. Under a co-development partnership, Joffé (The Killing Fields, The Mission) will write a retelling of the story to be titled Ugly. The planned TV series will trace the titular character’s journey and aims to show what it means to be human regardless of outward appearances. The period project will be set against the political, economic and social explosion of early 17th Century France. A further move by Fremantle into scripted drama, Ugly will be discussed with broadcasters at the upcoming Mip-TV market in Cannes. Earlier this year, FremantleMedia North America acquired rights to the Neil Gaiman urban fantasy novel American Gods for a potential series, and last year the parent company acquired a majority stake in Danish scripted producer Miso Film. Joffé is also lined up to direct A+E Studios and ITV Studios America’s eight-hour mini Texas Rising (working title) which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Joffé is repped by Resolution.
Mip-TV: Warner Takes Format Rights To BBC’s ‘The Link’; FremantleMedia Intl To Sell ‘Lindsay’; Keshet’s Avi Nir To Keynote; The Company, Dori Media Partner
Warner Bros International Television Production has acquired format rights to distribute BBC One’s new quiz show, The Link. BBC One has commissioned 25 episodes for a daytime slot. The show is produced by STV Productions in association with LTV. Not to be confused with the BBC’s The Weakest Link, the game show pits teams against each other as they race to find the link between questions. Guess the connections, break the links, win money. “We know that great game shows are back at the top of broadcasters’ wish lists. The Link is that rare thing — an original new quiz show with a strong identity in terms of both its game play and visual elements, commissioned in a key market. Our excitement is shared by Mike Darnell and his team at the Warner Bros Television Group, who will be bringing it to market in the U.S.,” says WBITP’s Andrew Zein. The UK version of the show will be hosted by actor Mark Williams, best known as Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter movies. Gary Chippington is executive producer for STV Productions, Jo Street is executive producer for the BBC and Paul Johnson is executive producer for LTV and Tuvalu Entertainment Ltd.
There’s more than a month to go before Mip-TV kicks off in Cannes, but folks are already getting into full market swing. To wit: FremantleMedia International says today that it has acquired global distribution rights (ex-U.S.) to CNN‘s 10-part docu-series The Sixties. The CNN Originals series explores the transformative decade, from Kennedy’s assassination, the Cold War and civil rights, to social change and the British invasion. It’s executive produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman (Playtone) and by Mark Herzog (Herzog & Company). The first episode debuted in the U.S. in November to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK and was No. 1 among cable news programs in its slot. A second episode, The Sixties: The British Invasion, aired on CNN/U.S. in January. Those installments and the remaining episodes are due to pick up again Stateside in May.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Film Movement Says ‘A Thousand Times Good Night’ To U.S.; South Korea Takes ‘Prisoners Of War’
Film Movement Picks Up ‘A Thousand Times Good Night’ For U.S.
Film Movement has acquired U.S. rights to A Thousand Times Good Night, the Erik Poppe-directed drama that stars Juliette Binoche and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Film Movement will give the movie a theatrical release in the third quarter of the year, followed by home video and digital. The story follows a top war photographer who is struggling to reconcile her job with her family life. Maria Doyle Kennedy, newcomer Lauryn Canny and Larry Mullen Jr also star. The movie was released in Norway in October and has sold more than 100,000 tickets. Global Screen, which is handling worldwide sales, also just inked deals in Canada (Northwest Pictures), Japan (Kadokawa), Australia (Regency), Denmark (Smile), Turkey (Yeni Bir Film), ex-Yugoslavia (Discovery), Bulgaria (Multivision) and Latin America (HBO).
Seven months after he exited FremantleMedia, David Ellender is launching a Los Angeles-based independent production company, Slingshot Global Media. Backed by private investment firm TPG, Slingshot plans to develop and produce drama and comedy series for the U.S. market as well as globally-appealing projects through international co-financing, co-production, and pre-sales. London native Ellender spent 12 years at FremantleMedia, serving as CEO of FremantleMedia International from 2006-13.
FremantleMedia International has created FremantleMedia Canada, a Toronto-based sales office for its distribution operation. Susan Hummel, a recent hire as SVP distribution and sales, will head up the new office. FremantleMedia Canada will grow the company’s business in both the English and French languages. Hummel will be responsible for developing and managing strategies to license FremantleMedia content to various distribution platforms and will create local marketing initiatives. The exec was recently SVP of U.S. basic cable and Canadian TV distribution for MGM. She also previously worked at Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and FX. In the past year, Fremantle has increased its focus on investing in in-house and third-party content and development, as well as upping its commitment to scripted programming. Earlier this week, FremantleMedia North America acquired the rights to Neil Gaiman book American Gods which it will develop as a drama series.
With Red Arrow International managing director Jens Richter moving over to the CEO post at FremantleMedia International, Red Arrow execs Irina Ignatiew and Henrik Pabst have been named to succeed him. The former Red Arrow deputy managing directors will replace Richter after a transition period and will jointly lead the distribution house. Ignatiew will have individual responsibility for global scripted distribution and Pabst for global format/factual distribution. Jan Frouman, group managing director of Red Arrow Entertainment Group said today, “It’s never easy to say goodbye to an executive as capable and accomplished as Jens Richter. He built Red Arrow International and has been with Red Arrow Entertainment Group from the start. But, to his credit, he also assembled a stellar team and enabled us to find his successors from within.” Among Red Arrow’s properties are cooking competition The Taste, Netflix’s Lilyhammer, BBC miniseries The Escape Artist, and comedy entertainment formats Benidorm Bastards and Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.
Red Arrow International managing director Jens Richter will join FremantleMedia International as CEO, taking up the post that was vacated in July by David Ellendery. FremantleMedia International confirmed the appointment today, after Broadcast got the jump, saying Richter will join once he completes his contract at Red Arrow, the global sales arm of Germany’s ProSiebenSat.1. Richter has been with Red Arrow since 2004, when the company was known as SevenOne International. He has overseen worldwide distribution of such shows as cooking competition The Taste, Netflix’s Lilyhammer and the recent Endor-produced BBC series The Escape Artist with David Tennant.