UK omnibus 50 Kisses is entering the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest roster of co-writers on a feature film. The 51 scribes will gather today at BAFTA headquarters in London for a special screening of the film that beat the previous record holder, 1943’s Forever And A Day. That film had 21 writers including an uncredited Alfred Hitchcock. The British 50 Kisses was produced by the London Screenwriters’ Festival. Two years ago, it invited writers to submit two-page scripts featuring at least one kiss and set on Valentine’s Day. The 50 best scripts were released online with an open invitation for filmmakers to produce them. Ultimately, 127 shorts were made and those were edited down to produce 50 Kisses. The finished product was released on February 13 this year, earning a per-screen average of nearly £9,500. The end credits run for 17 minutes.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ’50 Kisses’ Sets Writer Record; ‘Mysteries Of Laura’ Deepen; ‘Dropped’ Upped In Sweden; More
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Game Of Thrones’ UK Simulcast; ‘Mr Whicher’ Re-Upped; Andrew Davies Honored; More
Britain’s Sky Atlantic HD is making sure Game Of Thrones fans don’t have to wait to see the first episode of the upcoming fourth season. The pay channel will premiere the season debut simultaneously with HBO’s U.S. East Coast transmission. Catering to the faithful, it will air on Monday April 7 at 2 AM and then be repeated in primetime at 9 PM UK time. Following the first 2 AM transmission, the premiere episode will also be available on demand. After that, Game Of Thrones will settle into its regular time slot. The move is not unprecedented for Sky which has done similar simulcasts with the series finales of Lost and Fringe.
Global Showbiz Briefs: XYZ Boards ‘Redeemer’; ‘Testament Of Youth’ Gets Underway; ‘Black Box’ Sells; More
XYZ Films has joined Spanish-language actioner Redeemer as executive producer and sales agent. The movie, Redentor in Spanish, stars Chile’s Marko Zaror (Expendables 2, Machete Kills). He’s teaming for the fourth time with writer director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza. This time around, the story follows a former hitman who has made a deal with God: Every day he will hold a gun to his own head and pull the trigger; each time he does not die, he will take it as a sign that he is meant to continue hunting down the men he used to work for. Principal photography starts on March 24 in Chile. Zaror is a highly trained martial artist across multiple disciplines who performs all of his own fight and stunt work without any wires or CGI tricks. Espinoza recently was editor on Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno and his credits as director also include Kiltro, The ABCs Of Death anthology and Bring Me The Head Of The Machine Gun Woman. Espinoza, Zaror and Diego Moral Heimpell are producers.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Arrow Takes UK On ‘God’s Pocket’; Channel 4 Warms To ‘Fargo’; Noah Taylor, Charlotte Riley Join ‘Peaky Blinders’; Amy Poehler At Mip; More
Arrow Films has acquired UK rights to God’s Pocket starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Sold by Electric Entertainment, the film is the feature directorial debut of Mad Men’s John Slattery. Electric acquired it at Sundance. IFC has U.S. distribution and Arrow will release later this year in Britain. Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks, John Turturro and Caleb Landry Jones also star in the film written by Slattery and Alex Metcalf. Based on the Pete Dexter novel, the movie follows a man who tries to cover up the accidental death of his stepson in a blue collar neighborhood in South Philadelphia. Arrow’s recent titles include Love Is All You Need, The Hunt and A Hijacking.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘The End’ Gets German Remake; Turkish Censors Ban ‘Nymphomaniac’; Berlin Fest Dates; BBC3 Moving To Web?; Oz’s Animal Logic; More
Eccho Rights has sold popular Turkish drama The End into further markets. It’s already being remade in the U.S. by Sander/Moses Prods at Fox, and now Germany’s UFA will develop a local version for broadcaster SAT1 while Shine France has also taken an option on the series. Further, Netflix has signed a non-exclusive agreement for the original in Sweden and the UK. The story is about a woman navigating a web of lies and intrigue as she searches for her husband whom she presumed dead following a plane crash. But it turns out he never boarded the plane. Produced by Ay Yapim in Turkey, the show is also getting a Russian version.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Irish Film & TV Academy Nominations; Sky Renews ‘Stella’; Sylvie Pialat Honored In France; More
The Irish Film and Television Academy has unveiled its nominees for the 11th annual Irish Film and Television Awards, which takes place on April 5 in Dublin. In the Best Film category are Neil Jordan’s Byzantium; John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary; Steph Green’s Run & Jump; Stephen Brown’s The Sea; and John Butler’s The Stag. Ruiri Robinson is nominated for director for his debut sci-fi feature film The Last Days On Mars alongside Butler, Jordan and McDonagh. The Best Actor category includes Brendan Gleeson for Calvary; Domhnall Gleeson for About Time; Ciarán Hinds in The Sea; and The Stag’s Andrew Scott. Antonia Campbell-Hughes is nominated for Best Actress in 3096 Days, alongside Saoirse Ronan in Byzantium; Jane McGrath in Black Ice; and Kelly Thornton in Life’s A Breeze. The male supporting race includes Colin Farrell for Saving Mr Banks; Michael Fassbender for 12 Years A Slave; Edward MacLiam for Run & Jump and Peter McDonald for The Stag. Female supporting actors recognized are Sinead Cusack for The Sea; Fionnula Flannigan for Life’s A Breeze; Amy Huberman for The Stag and Orla O’Rourke for Calvary. Up for Best International Film are 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, Philomena and The Wolf Of Wall Street. Among TV nominees is Gillian Anderson thriller The Fall; HBO’s Game Of Thrones; historical action drama Vikings; period crime series Quirke; and urban drama Love/Hate. Downton Abbey, Moone Boy and Dracula also scored acting nods. The full list of IFTA nominees is here.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Colombia Orders 60 Episodes Of ‘ER’; ‘Tbilisi, I Love You’ Hits Georgia Theaters In February; More
Colombia Paging ‘ER’ With 60-Episode Order
ER is going Latino. Warner Bros International Television Production today announced the first Latin American format deal for the seminal medical series. RCN, Fox International Channels and TC have commissioned a local-language version for Colombia with a 60-episode order. Colombia’s Resonant is producing for air this spring. Originally produced in the U.S. by Constant c Productions and Amblin Television in association with Warner Bros Television, the series premiered on NBC in 1994 and ran for 15 seasons. It is the most Emmy-nominated series in history with 124 and notably helped kickstart the careers of George Clooney and Julianna Margulies. “Even though ER is a fundamental American series, its characters and situations are so strong, moving and universal that will surely find a place in the hearts of Latin American audiences,” said Fernando Gaitan, RCN’s VP Content and Production. “We are eager to have it on our screen.”
‘Tbilisi, I Love You’ Opening Next Month In Georgia
Tbilisi, I Love You, part of Emmanuel Benbihy’s Cities Of Love franchise that started with Paris Je T’Aime and New York, I Love You, has set a February 20 release date in Georgia. The movie is a series of 10 short films that are written and directed by natives of Georgia and take on a personal narrative about the republic’s capital city. Malcolm McDowell and Ron Perlman both feature. McDowell’s vignette centers on an actor who reluctantly agrees to a one-month shoot in Tbilisi and develops a love affair with the city. Perlman’s short sees him as a nameless American motorcyclist who rides through Tbilisi’s remote areas with a woman named Freedom. Tbilisi, I Love You is produced by Storyman Pictures David and Nika Agiashvili. Credo Cinema’s Jason Speer, Ever So Close’s Benbihy, as well as Paata Trapaidze are exec producers. A festival schedule is being determined. In the meantime, here’s a trailer:
Global Showbiz Briefs: Fox Sells Star China Stake; Lawyer Who Outed J.K. Rowling As ‘Cuckoo’s Calling’ Author Fined; Channel 5 Sale?; Apollo Theatre Update; ‘SNL’
Twenty-First Century Fox is divesting of its stake in Star China TV. China Media Capital’s management team and CMC itself will acquire Fox’s 47% stake for an undisclosed sum. The company, which was already majority owned by CMC, operates three 24-hour Mandarin-language channels and the Fortune Star Chinese movie library. James Murdoch, Deputy COO, Chairman & CEO of International for 21st Century Fox said the sale was part of a “broader agenda” to streamline “affiliate ownership structures.” In other words, Fox is looking to get out of companies in which it cannot have a majority position, Bloomberg notes. (Last January, Fox increased its holdings in German pay-TV group Sky Deutschland from 49.9% to 54.5% and is believed to still be keen on reviving an aborted attempt to acquire the part of BSkyB it does not already own.) CMC chairman Ruigang Li said the Star China deal marked “a new era” China Media Capital is a partner in DreamWorks Animation’s Chinese venture, Oriental DreamWorks.
The lawyer who blew J.K. Rowling’s cover as the author of detective novel The Cuckoo’s Calling has been fined £1,000 for breaching privacy rules, the BBC reported. Rowling had penned the book under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith but was revealed as its true writer in July after The Sunday Times ran a story outing her. Chris Gossage, a partner at Russells Solicitors, had confided in his wife’s best friend that Rowling had written the book and that person then revealed the information in the course of a Twitter exchange with a journalist. Rowling swiftly took legal action against those responsible. They apologized, and agreed to pay Rowling’s legal fees as well as making a substantial donation to the Soldiers’ Charity. The more recent fines were applied by the UK’s Solicitors Regulation Authority. Sales of Cuckoo’s Calling skyrocketed after the Harry Potter creator’s identity was made public.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Channel 4 Orders Comedy Pilot ‘Catastrophe’; Endemol Invests In Social Casino Gaming Firm; More
Channel 4 Orders Comedy Pilot From Rob Delaney, Sharon Horgan
The UK’s Channel 4 has commissioned the pilot Catastrophe from Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan. The pair will write and star in the single-camera comedy about an Irish woman and an American man who make a bloody mess as they struggle to fall in love in London. Catastrophe is an Avalon Production for Channel 4. Adam Tandy will serve as a non-writing producer with Avalon Television UK producing. Delaney won the award for “Funniest Person on Twitter” at the Comedy Central Comedy Awards. His television credits include Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, Fuel TV’s The Daily Habit, and the pilot Movie Nook for TBS. Delaney is repped by Kara Baker at Avalon Management, WME and CAA Touring.
Endemol Bets $13M On Social Casino Gaming Company Plumbee
Endemol said today that it has invested $13 million in social casino gaming company Plumbee. The digital start-up’s existing investor, Idinvest Partners, also participated in this round. The deal values the business at $40 million. Launched in 2011, Plumbee creates, operates and markets free-to-play online and mobile games on social networks. The two companies will create premium social casino games, exploiting Endemol’s global entertainment brands and building on Plumbee’s worldwide user base.
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.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: BBC Two Sets Musical Telepic, British Airways Docu; UK, French Nets Honor Nelson Mandela; More
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.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Warner Bros UK Preps Inaugural Creative Talent Initiative; Hugh Bonneville Reprising ‘Twenty Twelve’ Role; More
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.
Global Showbiz Briefs: BT Nets NBA Games; Comedy Central Has New Overseas Projects; Salman Khan; BAFTA; 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.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Jean-Claude Van Damme Pic ‘Swelter’ Sells Out; ‘Rising Star’ Headed To Hungary; 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.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Keeper Of Lost Causes’ Tops Danish Box Office; ‘Victor Young Perez’ Wins Bout For U.S.; 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.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Broadchurch’ Book; ‘The Escape Artist’ Sales; Bassem Youssef; Louis Delluc Shortlist; 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.
Global Showbiz Briefs: French Charter For Film Biz Gender Equality; Keshet’s ‘Rising Star’ To Germany; Marvel Anime In UK; 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.