Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur, who segues between Hollywood and home-based projects, is set to direct and produce serialized crime series Trapped in his native country. From Kormakur’s RVK Studios, it’s based on his original idea and written by Sigurjon Kjartansson and Clive Bradley. Trapped follows the investigation of the grisly murder of an unidentifiable man found in the water after an international ferry arrives in a small town at the bottom of a fjord. Soon after, a powerful blizzard hits the town with deadly force, making the only road in or out impassable. The 10-part series, the most ambitious Icelandic commission ever ordered, will air locally on public broadcaster RUV. RVK’s Magnus Vidar Sigurdsson is also producing and RVX, the effects arm of RVK, will design the VFX. Dynamic Television’s Daniel March and Klaus Zimmermann are executive producers and are handling worldwide distribution. Kormakur, whose The Deep was shortlisted for the Foreign Language Oscar in 2012, is currently directing Everest for Universal, Cross Creek Pictures and Working Title Films.
MIPTV Briefs: Baltasar Kormakur To Direct & Produce Icelandic Series ‘Trapped’; ‘Boom!’ Goes To Spain; Japan’s Wowow Boards Scorsese Doc; More
MIPTV Briefs: TF1 Goes ‘Boom!’ With Keshet Format; Zig Zag/Screenz Team On ‘Sofa King Clever’; FremantleMedia Takes ‘Punk’d’ Overseas, Asks ‘Who Lives Here?’
As the Mip-TV market gets underway in Cannes, Keshet International has announced its first offshore rights deal for ticking time bomb show, Boom!. France’s TF1 has acquired the format that just debuted in Israel to powerhouse ratings and is expected to be a big seller here this week. The game show sets a squad of four players the challenge of defusing eight replica bombs by answering trivia questions correctly within a strict time limit. The multiple choice responses are represented by different color wires. If the player gets an answer right, the prize money remains intact and the squad advances. If they cut the wrong wire, or run out of time, the bomb explodes spewing material across the studio and shaking the set. The team loses one player per exploded bomb, and 25% of the potential prize money. Keshet DCP is developing the show for the U.S.
The consolidation of independent unscripted production companies continues, with FremantleMedia buying a 75% stake in SallyAnn Salsano‘s 495 Prods. with the option to acquire the remaining 25%g in the future. Founded in 2006 by Salsano, 495 Prods. is behind such unscripted series as MTV’s Jersey Shore and spinoffs Snooki And JWOWW, The Show With Vinny and The Pauly D Project; Spike TV’s Tattoo Nightmares, which FremantleMedia distributes internationally, and Repo Games; MTV’s dating show Friendzone and the daytime syndicated talk show The Real. The company also produces Jerks With Cameras for MTV, Tattoos After Dark for Oxygen and CMT breakout hit Party Down South. “Our ambition is to continue to grow 495 Productions in the U.S. and to broaden its global footprint even further through our extensive distribution and production network,” FremantleMedia CEO Cécile Frot-Coutaz said.
EXCLUSIVE: In a further foray into scripted programming, FremantleMedia is teaming with the UK’s Corona Pictures for a drama/adventure series project based on best-selling author Wilbur Smith’s Birds Of Prey. Layer Cake scribe JJ Connolly has been set to pen the adaptation of the first three novels in Smith’s Courtney Family Adventures series that begins with Birds Of Prey and includes Monsoon and Blue Horizon. All told, Smith’s 34 books have sold over 120 million copies worldwide. The swashbuckling Courtney novels are set against a backdrop of the uncharted Africa of the 17th century, which offers the promise of the adventure of a lifetime and tantalizing riches. The stories chronicle the lives of the eponymous family as they battle to secure the clan’s fortunes in a place where sea-faring empires, privateers, wild animals and settled African tribes and nations fight it out for control of the land and its treasures. The planned TV series will kick off in 1667 as the family lands in Africa, led by 17-year-old protagonist Hal.
Corona Pictures co-founders Rupert Jermyn and Richard Johns (Shadow Of The Vampire, The Liability) are producing the series which is being co-developed by FremantleMedia. The partners are eyeing an initial 13-episode season and have begun discussions with UK, U.S. and European broadcasters. They will present the project further at Mip-TV next month. Jermyn …
A rash of acquisitions of European and U.S. independent production companies has been steadily spreading over the past year and a bit. One exec says, “We joke that there’s a transaction a day.” Leading the charge is the UK’s ITV, which has been on a shopping spree since it first bought a controlling stake in Duck Dynasty maker Gurney Productions in late 2012. Also acquisitive has been the Pro Sieben-owned Red Arrow, which recently bought Say Yes To The Dress maker Half Yard Prods. But it’s a two-way street: NBCUniversal already owns Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films in the UK as well as Monkey Kingdom and Chocolate Media, among others. Warner Bros last month entered an agreement to take over the global interests, outside the U.S., of Dutch company Eyeworks, and has a majority stake in UK production group Shed Media. Core Media is also known to have its eyes open to UK purchases. What’s more, many of these outfits also own companies in the hot Nordic region. And now there’s word that giant FremantleMedia may be moving in on vast group All3Media. A TV industry exec says, “We had the super-indies and now there’s a new breed of mega-indies.” If FremantleMedia acquires All3Media, it would create what an observer describes as “a very big beast.” Fremantle is a large group with significant turnover and some of their properties are getting older, an exec suggests. “It’s very difficult to replace that scale just through new productions.” However, I’m cautioned that should a deal be done, it won’t be in the imminent future.
So what’s been driving all this consolidation and cross-pollination? For one, with TV channels proliferating in the U.S., whether it be via basic cable or digital platforms, foreign outfits see a prime opportunity to establish a foothold and build scale. In the reverse, U.S. companies moving into the booming UK production sector know that broadcasters are doling out a lot of cash for original content.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Gemma Arterton Treads Boards In ‘Made In Dagenham’; Dave Heuten Joins FremantleMedia’s Belgium Arm; More
Gemma Arterton Coming To West End With ‘Made In Dagenham’
Former Bond girl Gemma Arterton is set to star in a West End musical version of 2010 film Made In Dagenham. She’ll play Rita O’Grady, a role originated by Sally Hawkins in the Nigel Cole-directed movie. The show is a musical comedy about women who battled for equal rights at a Ford factory in Essex, England, in 1968. The BBC reports that Richard Bean, who wrote One Man, Two Guvnors, is penning the script for the show, which opens November 5 at the Adelphi Theater. Rupert Goold (Enron, American Psycho) is directing. Arterton recently starred onstage in The Duchess Of Malfi.
Global Showbiz Briefs: FremantleMedia Buys Global Format Rights To ‘Fittest Family’; Endemol Picks Up International On ‘Parts Unknown’, ‘Inside Man’
FremantleMedia Buys Global Format Rights To ‘Fittest Family’
FremantleMedia has secured the global format rights to Animo TV/Kite Entertainment’s Fittest Family. Currently airing on Irish pubcaster RTÉ One as Ireland’s Fittest Family, the six-part series features 12 uber-fit and sports-mad families compete for the title of the nation’s fittest family and a big cash prize. Each episode sees features four sporting legends assigned to coach the families and push them to their fitness max. The families compete against one another as they get put through a set of extreme challenges with only the fittest surviving. FremantleMedia will launch Fittest Family at MIPTV in April.
Endemol Buys International Rights To ‘Parts Unknown’, ‘Inside Man’
Endemol said Monday that it has acquired TV distribution rights outside the U.S. to CNN’s factual series Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown and Morgan Spurlock: Inside Man. Parts Unknown follows host chef, author and TV host Bourdain as he travels to uncover little-known areas of the world and celebrate diverse cultures by exploring food and dining rituals. Inside Man, hosted by Oscar-winning documentarian Spurlock, provides an intimate look into diverse sectors of American life and offers a deep-dive into pressing issues facing the U.S. including migrant farm workers, the elder care industry, union workers, gun owners, education, bankruptcy and the drought.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Women’s Prison Drama ‘Wentworth’ Headed To Holland; Breakthrough Entertainment Adds Two Partners
FremantleMedia Sending ‘Wentworth’ To Holland
FremantleMedia said Tuesday that Holland will be the second territory to produce a local version of the Australian prison drama Wentworth. Produced by FremantleMedia’s FourOne.Media, the Dutch-language remake, titled Celblok-H, will reproduce all 10 original scripts transported into a Dutch setting. SBS 6 has commissioned the gritty story of survival, rivalry, power struggles and unlikely allegiances within a female prison, which will premiere in March. The drama, which airs on Foxtel Australia, is in production for its second season in Melbourne. A third season of the show was announced in January, before season two had aired.
Two Senior Execs Made Partners At Breakthrough Entertainment
Breakthrough Entertainment President of Distribution Nat Abraham and CFO Michael McGuigan have been named partners in the Canadian entertainment studio, joining founders Ira Levy and Peter Williamson. Abraham joined the company — which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year — in 2006, while McGuigan began his tenure in 1999. “Since Breakthrough Entertainment’s early beginnings, our company has grown tremendously and over the years Nat and Michael have contributed meaningfully to that growth. As our new Partners, this Management team will ensure the trend continues into the future,” said Levy. The company’s recent credits include the series Rocket Monkeys, Mother Up and Less Than Kind and the feature Cas & Dylan.
EXCLUSIVE: Acclaimed urban fantasy novel American Gods is headed to television. FremantleMedia North America has acquired the rights to the book by Neil Gaiman, creator of the popular Sandman comic. Gaiman will executive produce the potential American Gods series with FMNA. The 2001 novel has been translated into over 30 languages and has earned Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker Awards for Best Novel. In American Gods, a war is brewing between old and new gods: the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots from around the world steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. The story centers on Shadow Moon, an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a conman but in reality one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.
Endemol North America (Big Brother), has signed an exclusive overall deal with Armando Christian Perez (Pitbull) to develop and produce original content for television and digital platforms. Perez will also serve as executive producer on the projects under the deal announced at Endemol’s NATPE party, along with manager and Latium Entertainment CEO Charles Chavez. The digital aspect of the deal also includes a Pitbull channel on upcoming online network Endemol Beyond. Pitbull’s single Timber featuring Ke$ha, is in its third consecutive week at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and new song We Are One (Ole Ola) featuring Jennifer Lopez and Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte was named the official anthem for the 2014 World Cup.
FremantleMedia International has promoted Hayley Dickson to VP Television Acquisitions and Development, Global Content. Dickson previously served as Director, Television Acquisitions and Development before moving into the newly created role where she will oversee Global Content in its North American division, acquiring content for domestic and international release in entertainment, factual, lifestyle, drama, and comedy genres. She’ll also head new business development while working with Fremantle’s Distribution and Scripted Development teams. While at Fremantle, Dickson has initiated strategic relationships with Hulu, Vuguru, and Young Hollywood among others. Earlier this week, Fremantle brought Toby Gorman aboard to head Unscripted as EVP Alternative Programming.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Natascha McElhone To Star In London Stage Adaptation Of ‘Fatal Attraction’; Michael Palin In BBC Drama; Some Chinese Hits Miss Taiwan Quota; More
Natascha McElhone Boards West End ‘Fatal Attraction’
Californication‘s Natascha McElhone is set to take on the role of Alex Forrest in the stage adaptation of Fatal Attraction. Written by James Dearden and directed by Trevor Nunn, Fatal Attraction opens at London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket on March 25. Dearden was nomiated for an Oscar for writing the 1987 hit film about a one-night stand that turns deadly. This is his first venture into live theater. McElhone’s stage credits include Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Count Of Monte Cristo, The Cherry Orchard and Honour. Veteran director Nunn’s recent theater credits include takes on A Little Night Music, Cyrano De Bergerac, Inherit The Wind, Kiss Me Kate, Birdsong, All That Fall and Scenes From A Marriage. Fatal Attraction is produced by Theatre Royal Haymarket Productions, Robert Fox and Patrick Ryecart. The rest of the cast is due to be announced shortly.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Thomas Bezucha Helms ‘Priceless’ Remake; BBC Adds Ex-Sony Chairman Howard Stringer; More
Thomas Bezucha Directing English-Language Remake Of ‘Priceless’
The Family Stone and Monte Carlo director Thomas Bezucha will helm the English-language remake of French romantic comedy Priceless for European film group uMedia. The original movie starred Audrey Tautou and Gad Emaleh and sold 2.15M tickets in France in 2006. Umedia’s remake has been greenlighted for production in early summer on the French Riviera. The story follows Alec, a shy and hardworking waiter at a grand hotel who is mistaken for a millionaire and seduced by a captivating American girl with expensive tastes. When Lauren discovers his true identity and limited resources, she takes off, but Alec pursues her along the Cote-d’Azur. When he ends up stranded and broke, he is saved by a wealthy woman-of-a-certain-age and finds himself kept in the same manner as Lauren, who coaches him on how the play the game as her feelings for him deepen. Pierre Salvadori directed the original which was sold internationally by Wild Bunch.
BBC Adds Howard Stringer Amid Corporate Changes
The BBC has announced a series of changes to transform how the corporation is run. At the same time, it has added former Sony chairman Howard Stringer as a non-executive director for a term of three years beginning January 1. The moves come a year after myriad crises began to plague the broadcaster including the Jimmy Savile child sex abuse scandal and the editorial missteps at flagship news program Newsnight. Among the changes are a 60% reduction in the number of pan-corporation management boards “so that senior managers will be able to make faster decisions and concentrate on running their teams and departments.” Decision making by multiple committees will shift to much greater personal responsibility, ensuring “there are no blurred lines,” the broadcaster said. “As a creative organization, individuals need to be able to take creative risks without fear, managers will not be penalized for brave, well-made decisions that were taken for the right reasons.” Speaking about the changes, director general, Tony Hall, said, “This is an important first step in making the BBC simpler and better run.”
FremantleMedia is expanding its scripted business with this acquisition in the hot Nordic region. Miso Film‘s TV credits include the recently launched Dicte, and Those Who Kill, a drama being remade for A&E with Chloë Sevigny and James D’Arcy starring. It’s also working on 1864, an epic war drama series directed by Ole Bornedal that’s Denmark’s biggest production ever. On the feature side, Miso produced 2008′s Max Manus, the Norwegian drama that launched the careers of Kon-Tiki helmers Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg. Here’s the full release:
FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment President Sander Schwartz is leaving the company later this month to pursue new business opportunities in television production, the company said today. Schwartz established the division in 2009 and is credited with helping build it into one of the world’s leading independent producers of kids’ and family programming. Its portfolio includes titles such as Tree Fu Tom, Kate & Mim-Mim, Strange Hill High, Wizards Vs Aliens, Grojband and Max Steel. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work with the outstanding team at FremantleMedia,” said Schwartz. “Though I have decided that it’s time for me to take on a new challenge, I leave with great confidence in the company’s rich opportunity as a leader in family entertainment.
Mipcom Briefs: Travel Channel On ‘RV Rampage’; ‘Cambodian Idol’ Tunes Up; ITV ‘Keeping The Nation Alive’; ‘Wentworth’ Sales; MipTV’s Digital Fronts
Travel Channel has ordered 10-episode New Zealand-set series, RV Rampage. The show will be produced by Tuesday’s Child, the UK indie set up by former Shine TV joint MD Karen Smith. RV Rampage sees five couples from around the world travel from one end of the country to the other in a mobile home as they face cultural, physical and mental challenges. Henry Cole and Amanda Byram will host. Smith and Steph Harris are exec producing for Tuesday’s Child.
Cambodia and Myanmar are getting their first-ever global talent formats, via a new deal with FremantleMedia International. Hang Meas Group will produce multiple seasons of Cambodian Idol and Cambodia’s Got Talent for air on Hang Meas HDTV, Fremantle said today. In Myanmar, Forever BEC-Tero has licensed the Got Talent format for Channel 7 and MRTV-4.
ITV Studios acquired UK producer The Garden in April this year and has just announced deals on its medical documentary series Keeping The Nation Alive. ITV Studios Nordic has been commissioned by TV Norge to produce Keeping Norway Alive, a six-part series to air next year, and ITV Studios France will make Keeping France Alive for pubcaster France 2, also for air in 2014. The original BBC Two series has also been sold to BBC Knowledge in Australia. The series provides a behind-the-scenes snapshot of 24-hours in the nation’s healthcare system; from emergencies and cardiac operations to tattoo removals and plastic surgery.
FremantleMedia and Simon Cowell and Sony’s Syco Entertainment are launching one-stop-shop YouTube channels for the Got Talent and X Factor franchises. Although the various versions around the world — 55 for Got Talent and 25 for X Factor — have their own dedicated channels, the new outlets will draw fans to a single destination for the first time. That’s eyed as a big opportunity for brands to target a massive worldwide audience in one place. Each channel will curate viral clips from the local shows, which Fremantle and Syco say number in the billions of views per year. The companies will also produce original content including spinoffs and roundups. Here’s a teaser:
In a sign it’s eyeing increased deal flow, FremantleMedia has hired Julian Tomkins to serve in the newly created post of Director of Strategy and Mergers & Acquisitions. He will be based in London and lead a team responsible for setting and delivering overall company strategy. Tomkins will also oversee all mergers, acquisitions, partnerships and joint ventures activity. He joins Fremantle after a stint as a consultant to UK and international media and digital media clients. He previously spent seven years at NBCUniversal where he held several senior posts including SVP, Head of International Business Development. During his time there he oversaw the acquisition of Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films, and the Hallmark international channels business. Fremantle CEO Cécile Frot-Coutaz said, “Julian’s extensive knowledge of content creation and the digital arena together with his strong track record in new business development and M&A will be a real asset as we look at all the options to grow FremantleMedia.”
eOne Revamps Broadcast And Digital Unit In Canada
Entertainment One is reorganizing its broadcast and digital division in Canada. SVP Television & Online Naveen Prasad is leaving the company under the restructuring, and Audrey Gardiner is being promoted to VP Licensing for eOne Films Canada and Dan Loewy becomes VP Transactional for eOne Films Canada. Together the former Alliance execs will oversee the Canadian film division’s broadcast and digital activities. Prasad had been overseeing the film group’s TV and digital activities after joining from Alliance following the takeover of that company by eOne. EOne says the reorganization will “support the group’s increasing activity in the digital sphere.” The Canadian team will work in tandem with digital leadership from across eOne’s international divisions.
New British Company Boxatricks To Focus On Creating Formats
British producers Colman Hutchinson and Steve Springford have joined with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire creators Michael Whitehill and David Briggs to launch Boxatricks. The UK company will focus on creating formats in the game and quiz show space as well as factual entertainment programs. Hutchinson was previously head of entertainment at Hat Trick Productions and Celador Productions. Springford is a former director of production at Celador. His credits include overseeing production of Millionaire, The National Lottery: Winning Lines and The Hypnotic World Of Paul McKenna. Whitehill co-created Millionaire in 1998 with Briggs and Steven Knight. Briggs previously collaborated with Hutchinson on the Brainiest format and with Springford on The National Lottery: Winning Lines. With Whitehill, he worked on The People Versus and Winning Lines.