BBC Two Preps Musical Telefilm, British Airways Docu
BBC Two has a pair of new projects on deck: a musical TV movie and an inside look at national carrier British Airways. Drama Tubby And Enid will star Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton and Olivier Award winner Michael Ball and is an adaptation of Victoria Wood’s stage play, That Day We Sang. Hilary Bevan Jones’ Endor is producing with shooting to start January 6. The story’s roots are found in the recording of Henry Purcell’s Nymphs And Shepherds as sung by the Manchester Children’s Choir in 1929. Jumping ahead 40 years, it focuses on a reunion of the same choir being filmed for a documentary. Wood writes and will direct. Meanwhile, BBC Two has greenlighted an observational documentary series about British Airways. The three-part series will feature unprecedented access to the airline and promises to be the “most in-depth analysis of British Airways in 25 years.” Lion Television is making the doc for BBC Two.
British And French TV Networks Celebrate Nelson Mandela
British and French networks are turning over time to tributes to Nelson Mandela this weekend. BBC One aired the special Nelson Mandela: The Fight For Freedom on Friday night and also will extend its news coverage. Sky1 aired the special Nelson Mandela: The Struggle Is My Life, while the news division will have presenter Jeremy Thompson live in South Africa from Saturday. I’m also told the funeral service for Mandela, who died Thursday, will be aired live. Channel 4 ran Nelson Mandela Superstar, a celebration of his life and legacy on Friday night local, and at the same time, ITV also aired a special program. In France, pubcaster France Télévisions’ France O and Franco-German channel Arte aired specials and documentaries. National network France 2 has scheduled Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman in an Oscar-nominated turn as Mandela, to air on Saturday night. Eastwood shot part of that movie in France.
Related: Nelson Mandela’s Death: Hollywood Reacts
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Warner Bros UK Gears Up For Creative Talent Initiative
Warner Bros UK has recruited its first group of scholars, apprentices and trainees for the inaugural season of Warner Bros Creative Talent. The first selection will participate in the program to gain industry insight and work experience across Warner’s UK film, TV, games and theater operations. The initiative is part of Warner Bros’ long-term commitment to the UK’s creative industries. Among the first folks chosen to take part are students Rienkje Attoh, Sam Coleman and Sam Hughes who are receiving the first Prince William Scholarships supported by BAFTA and Warner Bros. Four others will work as camera trainees and sound trainees on Ron Howard’s Heart Of The Sea and Guy Ritchie’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. More information on the program is available here.
Hugh Bonneville Back As Ian Fletcher In BBC’s ‘W1A’
Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville will reprise his role as Ian Fletcher in a new BBC comedy, W1A. The show is a follow-up to BAFTA-winning comedy series Twenty Twelve, from BBC In-House Comedy. Shooting starts next month on the series that sees Fletcher, the ex-head of the Olympic Deliverance Commission, taking up his next big job – the (fictional) Head of Values at the BBC. His task is to clarify, define, or redefine the core purpose of the BBC across all its functions and to position it confidently for the future. In Twenty Twelve (available on iTunes in the U.S.), the network poked fun at the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics and here looks to be taking a shot at itself after the broadcaster suffered a string of PR scandals in the past year. But John Morton, who wrote the series, says: “It isn’t a demolition job on anybody or anything, and it isn’t one giant in-joke, and this isn’t a game of guessing who is supposed to be who. If it is satirical then it’s satirical about an environment, an ethos, and the absurdities of modern corporate life itself. The key principle is to operate at a level of reality just to the left or the right of fact, to create stories that haven’t actually happened but that could happen or might have happened.“ Says Mark Freeland, head of BBC In-House Comedy: “This is a kind of love letter to the BBC. But a letter that gets mislaid, because the remote computer system is not working.” Twenty Twelve’s Morton also directs the comedy that’s produced by that show’s Paul Schlesinger and executive produced by Jon Plowman. There will be an initial run of four 30-minute episodes to be screened in 2014 on BBC Two. Read More »
BT Sport Scores NBA Games In Multi-Year Deal
Britain’s aggressive BT Sport has closed a multi-year, multi-platform deal with the NBA for up to 200 games a season including regular and playoff action. Although BT has been facing off with rival Sky, which previously had the NBA games under a short-term deal, I understand the News Corp-controlled company did not bid on rights for the coming basketball seasons. BT will broadcast up to seven live games per week in the UK and Ireland starting with the Pacers at the Clippers on December 1st. Sunday games will air in UK primetime. Also included in the partnership will be several magazine shows like NBA Action, NBA Inside Stuff, NBA Tonight and NBA Countdown, while some games will stream live online.
Related: Will BSkyB’s Soccer Rights Loss Be A Win For British TV Producers? Read More »
The Exchange Sells Out Jean-Claude Van Damme Pic ‘Swelter’
Jean-Claude Van Damme starrer Swelter had a hot run at the recent AFM. Sales company The Exchange says the film sold out worldwide with a North American deal currently under negotiation. The Muscles from Brussels is joined in the film by Alfred Molina, Lennie James, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Freya Tingley. Keith Parmer (Mob Rules) is director on the movie that sees a group of notorious Las Vegas casino robbers seeking out their former accomplice who’s now a cop with no memory of his past. Swelter is the first completed movie financed by Exchange Peaks Film Capital, a fund that’s financed by production outfit Grand Peaks and run by The Exchange. Among the territory deals secured during the AFM are the UK (Anchor Bay), Germany/Switzerland (Planet Media), Latin America (Swen), France (Happy Audience), Japan (Culture Convenience Club), Australia/NZ (Transmission), South Korea (Sonamu Pictures) and Singapore (Shaw), among many others. Exec producers are Grand Peaks’ Don Simpson and Nat McCormick, Laura Ivey and Brian O’Shea from The Exchange. Film Invaders’ Eleonore Dailly, Alan Simpson and Chris Ranta are producers.
‘Rising Star’ World Tour’s Latest Stop Is Hungary
Keshet International‘s hot singing competition format Rising Star is headed to yet another country. After deals in such places as the U.S. — where ABC is making its own version for next summer — France, Germany and Scandinavia, Rising Star will next visit Hungary. Local commercial network TV2 has ordered 14 episodes of the show for air in fall 2014. A UK deal on the interactive talent format is also understood to be close to fruition with ITV. Read More »
‘Keeper Of Lost Causes’ Is No. 1 In Denmark
Now in release for seven weeks, The Keeper Of Lost Causes keeps on climbing. The Danish film directed by Mikkel Nørgaard has become the No. 1 film of the year in Denmark with approximately $10M at the box office. It overtook Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt, Denmark’s Oscar entry, to land the top spot this week. This is a strong year for Danish movies with The Hunt having previously held the No. 1 position since January, and with local heist comedy All For Two and family film My African Adventure also outperforming Hollywood fare on the 2013 chart. Lost Causes is the first installment in Zentropa’s Department Q franchise that’s based on the best-sellling books by Jussi Adler-Olsen. It was penned by A Royal Affair‘s Nikolaj Arcel and focuses on chief detective Carl Mørck, who’s banished to a basement office to run a cold case division. Nikolaj Lie Kaas (Angels & Demons) and Fares Fares (Zero Dark Thirty) star. TrustNordisk has sold the film around the world, and has U.S. buyers circling.
‘Victor Young Perez’ Sells To U.S.
Picture Tree International has sold U.S. rights on boxing movie Victor Young Perez to Florida-based Synkronized. The film will be released theatrically by Synkronized’s distribution partner, Millennium. It’s based on the true story of the French-Arab boxer who was deported to Auschwitz in 1943 and forced to fight for the entertainment of the Nazis. Brahim Asloum stars in Jacques Ouaniche’s movie that opened in France on Wednesday. It has also sold in Latin America, South Korea, CIS and the Baltics. Picture Tree also closed deals on Mary Queen Of Scots with Australia’s Curious Film taking Oz and New Zealand rights, and Caravella DDC/Carmen Group taking the CIS countries. The film screened at AFI Fest earlier this month. Negotiations are underway on a U.S. deal. Read More »
‘Broadchurch’ Gets Book Treatment
Little, Brown has acquired world rights to a novel inspired by ITV crime series Broadchurch. According to Bookseller, Sphere Fiction’s Jade Chandler bought the book from Cathy King at the UK’s Independent Talent, representing Broadchurch screenwriter Chris Chibnall. He’ll co-write the novel with thriller author Erin Kelly. To be published next August, it will add material to the existing story and delve deeper into the back stories of the characters. Broadchurch, starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman, was a massive hit for ITV this year in the UK. It also aired on BBC America and is being remade by Fox with Tennant playing an American detective brought to a small town where a young boy has been killed under mysterious circumstances.
‘The Escape Artist’ Sells In Scandinavia
In related David Tennant news, Norway’s TV2 and TV4 in Sweden have taken rights to Red Arrow International’s three-part drama The Escape Artist. Tennant stars in the thriller that debuts on BBC One tonight. David Wolstencroft wrote the series that’s produced by Hilary Bevan Jones and Paul Frift of Red Arrow’s Endor Productions. Tennant plays defense lawyer Will Burton who specializes in getting people out of tight legal corners. But when his talents acquit the prime suspect in a horrific murder trial, the tables turn. I saw the debut episode last week in London and, without giving away any spoilers, I will say it packs a wallop. Read More »
French Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti and Womens’ Rights Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem signed a charter on Thursday in pursuit of equality for women and men in the local film business. Included in the text are pledges to apply equal pay and fight against stereotypes, and a bid to encourage projects that subvert traditional representations of women and men. The text was written up by gender equality lobby, Le Deuxième Regard. Bérénice Vincent, president of the group said the next step is to get other players from all aspects of the industry to sign on, AFP reported. Filippetti for her part stressed that the charter was part of a desire to “enhance the role of women in culture” without impeding freedom of programming. “I’m against establishing arbitrary quotas, like how many films by women should be selected for the next Cannes Film Festival!” In 2012 there was a brouhaha when French Feminist organization La Barbe strongly lamented the lack of women in the main competition. Festival chief Thierry Frémaux maintained at the time that the festival will never choose a film “that doesn’t deserve it just because it’s directed by a woman.” This year there was one film by a woman in the Competition. Read More »
Pierre Lescure Named Honorary President of Dijon Film Meetings
Former Canal Plus president Pierre Lescure has been named the honorary president of the annual Rencontres Cinématographiques de Dijon, set to take place next month in the French town. The executive, who was co-director general of Vivendi Universal following the French giant’s ill-fated acquisition of the studio in 2000, recently completed a government-commissioned study on anti-piracy laws and France’s fiercely protected Cultural Exception in the digital era. The film meetings in Dijon are organized by writers, directors and producers association ARP. The annual three-day confab includes several panels on issues facing the French and European film industry and regularly attracts heavy-hitters from the media and film sector as well as the Motion Picture Association and some of the U.S. guilds. Michel Hazanavicius is president of the org, but will be absent this year due to a scheduling conflict. VP Costa-Gavras will run the show in his stead. The event is set for October 24-26. Read More »
Britain’s Channel 4 has taken UK premiere broadcast rights to fall comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The series from Dan Goor and Michael Schur is being handled internationally by NBCUniversal International Television Distribution. Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher star. It debuts on Channel 4’s E4 in January in the UK. The show kicked off on Fox in the U.S. on Wednesday night.
The Voice UK has lined up Ricky Wilson as the fourth coach to sit in a red chair for the upcoming third seaon. Lead singer of Britsh band Kaiser Chiefs, Wilson has worked with the BBC before, hosting Never Mind The Buzzcocks and T In The Park. As previously announced, Kylie Minogue is joining the competition series and Tom Jones and will.i.am are returning.
BBC children’s channel CBBC has commissioned a new comedy/drama series to feature Henry Winkler. Hank Zipzer, from DHX Media and Walker Productions, will be produced by Kindle Entertainment. The 13-episode show will air on CBBC in 2014. It’s inspired by the book series Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever, which Winkler wrote with Lin Oliver. The TV project will follow 12-year-old Hank, a smart and resourceful dyslexic boy with a unique perspective on the world. When problems arise, he deals with them in a way no one else would – putting him on a direct collision course with his teachers and parents. Read More »
After a nine-week streak, Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises has slipped from the No. 1 spot at the Japanese box office. Ataru: The First Love & The Last Kill, an adaptation of a popular TV series, overtook the animation master’s final feature at the weekend, making over $3.5M. FilmBizAsia reports that it is only the second live-action TV adaptation to open at No. 1 this year. The Wind Rises fell to the No. 2 spot and now has a cume of $106.5M. Meanwhile, The Wolverine opened at No. 3 with $1.85M and Warner Japan’s remake of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven was No. 4 with $1.45M.
Peter Jackson was given New Zealand’s highest honor on Tuesday, becoming an Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand for services to the country. He also received the order’s insignia, the first time a film industry player has been given the badge. According to Stuff, only 20 members of the order can hold the badge and it must be returned by the recipient’s estate upon their death. “Obviously, it’s something I’m going to have to look after and I’m going to have to make sure my children know where to find it, but I do hope to hold on to it for quite a long time,” Jackson said. Read More »
Wellington Residents Can’t Access Town Hall During ‘Smaug’ Recording
New Zealand website Stuff reports that the people of Wellington have “essentially lost access” to the Town Hall while the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra records the score for … Read More »
Adopt Acquires Hit Croatian Comedy
Adopt Films has taken all U.S. rights to Croatian comedy The Priest’s Children. The Vinko Brešan-directed movie premiered at Karlovy Vary and has become the 3rd highest-grossing Croatian film in the country since it achieved independence in the 1990s. A pastiche about the slightly unethical fashion in which an idealistic young priest addresses the declining birth rate among his flock on a magically beautiful Crotian island is reminiscent of 1983’s Scotland-set Local Hero. It stars Krešimir Mikić, Zdenko Botic, Nikša Butijer, Drazen Kuhn and Marija Škaričič. Producer is Ivan Maloča for Interfilm Produkcija and Zillion Film. It was written (and scored) by Mate Matišić, based on his play. Adopt acquired the film from Paris-based Wide Management. Read More »
Niels Arden Oplev Readies ‘Racewalking’
TrustNordisk will be bringing the latest project from Niels Arden Oplev to Toronto. The director of the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is returning to his native Denmark to direct the adaption of Morten Kirkskov’s novel Racewalking. The helmer recently signed a one-year overall deal with CBS Studios after directing the pilot of crime drama Unforgettable and the opening episode of summer series Under The Dome. His last feature, Dead Man Down, starred Colin Farrell and Dragon Tattoo’s Noomi Rapace. Racewalking stars Anders W. Berthelsen of the original The Killing, alongside Borgen’s Sidse Babett Knudsen. Villads Bøye, Frederik Winther Rasmussen and Kraka Donslund Nielsen also star. The script is by The Art Of Crying’s Bo Hr. Hansen. It’s set in 1976 in a quirky small town where 14-year-old Martin is getting ready for his communion. But in the midst of it all his mother suddenly passes away and her tragic death triggers a series of events that changes his life forever and affects everyone else in the community. A Hijacking exec producer Thomas Heinesen is producer. Read More »
London’s ‘X Factor’ Musical Finds Its Simon Cowell
Nigel Harman, the former Eastenders star who has a role in Season 4 of Downton Abbey, has been tapped to play a character based on Simon Cowell in I Can’t Sing! The X Factor Musical. The show will be directed by Olivier Award-winner and Tony Award-nominee, Sean Foley. It’s set to premiere at the London Palladium on March 26, 2014. Cowell and Sony Music’s joint venture Syco Entertainment is partnering with Stage Entertainment UK to launch the show that’s written by British comedian Harry Hill.
Hugh Jackman Honored At Zurich Film Festival
Hugh Jackman will receive the Golden Icon Award at the Zurich Film Festival which runs September 26 – October 6. The fest’s most prestigious symbol of recognition is awarded “in appreciation of the lifetime achievements of an actor or actress.” Jackman’s latest film, Prisoners, will be screened at the fest. “Hugh Jackman is in a class by himself as a multi-talented entertainer with a global following,” said fest co-director Karl Spoerri. “There is nothing he can’t do and he proves this time and time again with every project he’s involved in. We’re honored to recognize his brilliant career at the Zurich Film Festival.” Read More »
Discovery, Animal Planet Partner On ‘Killer Islands’
Discovery Networks International and Animal Planet have teamed up for Killer Islands (working title). The original six-part series, described as a natural history documentary with an investigative twist, follows wildfire expert Dave Salmoni as he sets out to solve some of the last big mysteries surrounding the world’s most successful natural-born killers. Killer Islands will premiere on Discovery Channel internationally in 224 countries and territories across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America beginning spring 2014, and on Animal Planet U.S. in the summer of 2014. Killer Islands is a co-production between DNI and Animal Planet U.S. and produced by Silverback Films. Read More »
Channel 4 Threatened With Lawsuit Over Ryanair Report
In the past year, the BBC has been the subject of harsh criticism — and legal action — over some of its reporting. Now it’s Channel 4‘s turn. A report by the network’s news program Dispatches has flown in the face of low-cost airline Ryanair, marking the second time in seven years the pair have butted heads. The investigative show’s Monday episode included concerns from unidentified pilots over the airline’s fuel policy and safety measures. Ryanair now says it plans to sue. “Ryanair has instructed its lawyers to issue legal proceedings against Channel 4 Dispatches for defamation,” the no-frills airline said. The program highlighted three occasions in which Ryanair pilots called in emergency alerts because they were low on fuel. Ryanair says the incidents occurred because of bad weather and that EU regulations were met in each case. The Dublin-based carrier serves 30 countries in Europe and North Africa. In 2006, it was the subject of a separate Dispatches report, “Ryanair Caught Napping,” which criticized its safety, training and hygiene practices. Ryanair denied the allegations. Channel 4 told Deadline today, “We stand by our journalism.”
‘Real Sex Season’ Coming To Channel 4
In other Channel 4 news, the network says it wants to be “very un-British and talk about what really goes on in Britain’s bedrooms.” To do so, it’s planning a thematic series of shows to form the Real Sex Season beginning in September. The focus will be the effect that pornography is having on people’s expectations of sex. Included among the new shows are Porn On The Teenage Brain, a study of the impact of readily-available, explicit content on adolescents; The Week The Women Came, produced by ITV’s The Garden, about a group of women on a mission to confront loss of libido; and Date My Porn Star, which gives three porn-obsessed men the chance to meet and date their favorite adult movie stars to see if they can distinguish between the fantasy and the reality.
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Denmark Sees Boom In Admissions For Homegrown Films
Danish films are on a roll at home, with local pics taking 34% of the box office in the first six months of 2013, Cineuropa reports. Three Danish pics are at the top of the heap, led by Thomas Vinterberg’s 2012 Cannes entry The Hunt, which won Mads Mikkelsen the best actor prize at the festival. Homegrown films had a record 33% of the market in 2012 and in the first half of 2013 have sold 2.25M tickets, according to figures from the Danish Film Institute. Of those tickets, The Hunt, Martin Miehe-Renard’s My African Adventure and Rasmus Heide’s All For Two sold 1.47M. Conversely, TV viewing is down. Recent TNS Gallup figures show that Danes watched 13% less television than in the same period last year, Cineuropa said.
Tom Stoppard Radio Play Celebrates Floyd’s ‘Dark Side’ Turning 40
Tom Stoppard has written a new radio play to mark the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon. Darkside, premiering August 26 on BBC Radio 2, is a fantastical based on themes from the album. The cast includes Bill Nighy, Rufus Sewell, Adrian Scarborough, Iwan Rheon and Amaka Okafor. On the night of broadcast, visitors to bbc.co.uk/radio2 will be able to watch a specially commissioned animation by Aardman to accompany the drama.
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Gap2000 Partners With Vladar On ‘Retardation’
Former recruitment exec Premila Puri Makh was born in Mumbai, grew up in the Netherlands and now lives in London, which she uses as a production base for a burgeoning slate of feature projects from her GAP2000 Films and Ariana Entertainment companies. Via GAP2000, which Premila built with her brother, writer-director Sameer Puri, she’s producing Retardation, a psychological suspense thriller about a man who wakes up with no memory and has to figure out where he comes from. GAP2000 has just partnered with NY-based The Vladar Company (Head Smash) to develop the project which they will shoot in India – and in English – in February 2014. Sameer Puri wrote the script and will direct. Partners are circling including a major U.S. sales company. The movie is being cast with well-known Indian actors from the indie scene and Premila has locked New York City rock band Deadbeat Darling for music. GAP is focusing on Indian films that will decidedly stray from the western vision of Bollywood cinema. Read More »
Dominique Lavanant Takes Over Role Following Lafont Death
Dominique Lavanant has replaced the late Bernadette Lafont in Les Vacances Du Petit Nicolas, Laurent Tirard’s sequel to his 2009 French hit comedy Le Petit Nicolas. Lafont, a veteran of some 120 films, passed away last week. She was to have played the grandmother of the titular tyke. Lavanant, Le Parisien reports, is taking over the role for the film which is currently shooting. Lavanant and Lafont previously starred together in Paulette in 2012. Lavanant is also known for her role in Patrice Leconte’s classic comedy franchise Les Bronzés, Jean-Marie Poiré’s 1983 comedy Papy Fait De La Resistance and for Agent Trouble, which won her a César in 1998. Les Vacances Du Petit Nicolas releases in France in July next year. Read More »