Denise O’Donoghue Exiting As ITV Studios Managing Director
Denise O’Donoghue, a veteran television exec and four-year Managing Director of ITV Studios, is leaving the UK-based producer. She will exit at the end of the year with a successor yet to be named, though she will remain a member of the board. ITV Studios is the largest commercial production company in the UK, with titles including Mr Selfridge, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Breathless and the upcoming Thunderbirds Are Go! The production arm of ITV is one of the biggest growth areas for the group, which has been busy making acquisitions in the UK and U.S. “A key part of our strategy is to build a strong international content business, creating more of our own programs which are successful here in the UK and internationally,” ITV Studios Managing Director Kevin Lygo said. “Denise has played a crucial role in rebuilding the UK production business by bringing in and managing brilliant creative talent, which in turn has resulted in the development of a strong and healthy content pipeline.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: Denise O’Donoghue Exiting ITV Studios; BBC Three’s Zai Bennett Joining Sky Atlantic
Denise O’Donoghue Exiting As ITV Studios Managing Director
Global Showbiz Briefs: China Says Not Raising Film Quota; César Awards To Honor Scarlett Johansson; Taylor Lautner To BBC3
Not So Fast: China Says It Isn’t Increasing Movie Quota
Contrary to reports earlier this week, China is not planning to increase its quota on films imported from Hollywood. Official state news agency Xinhua said Tuesday that the quota will remain unchanged at 34, citing an official with the country’s film governing body, SAPPRFT. In February 2012, China and the U.S. signed a pact to increase the number of films approved for theatrical release in China from 20 to 34. The parties also agreed on an increased revenue share of 25%. In the first year the change was implemented, local Chinese films lost market share but since have rebounded strongly with about 58.7% of box office takings in 2013. In a statement on Monday, MPA Asia chief Mike Ellis said the org was unaware of any official plans on changing the quota system but noted that the belief that an open market “best serves filmmakers and audiences alike. … Removing the quota for international films is something we’ve been advocating for some time and would provide the widest possible movie experience for audiences while benefiting the Chinese screen community and our member studios.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Get Santa’ Finalizes Cast As Production Begins; The Lab’s ‘Game Of Chefs’ Set For Launch; More
Christmas Pic ‘Get Santa’ Adds Cast As Filming Begins
Stephen Graham, Ewen Bremner, Jodie Whittaker, Warwick Davis, Joanna Scanlan and Nonso Anozie have joined the cast of Get Santa. Filming starts Thursday in London and Yorkshire on the Christmas movie starring Jim Broadbent and Rafe Spall. In the days before Christmas, 9-year-old Tom finds Santa (Broadbent) in his garden shed after escaping the wreckage of his sleigh and amid a desperate bid to return to Lapland. He’s ultimately arrested for trying to liberate his reindeer from Battersea Dogs Home as Tom and his father embark on a quest to save Christmas. Christopher Smith-directed film from Scott Free London, the BFI, Screen Yorkshire and Altitude Film Entertainment. Get Santa is produced by Liza Marshall, executive produced by Ridley Scott and Carlo Dusi and co-produced by Andrew Litvin and Jack Arbuthnott for Scott Free London. Natascha Wharton is executive producer on behalf of the BFI and Will Clarke and Andy Mayson exec producers for Altitude. Warner Bros is releasing in the UK. Altitude Film Sales is handling international sales.
The Lab’s Cooking Competition ‘Game Of Chefs’ Launching In Israel
ITV Studios and Reshet joint venture The Lab is launching new primetime competitive cooking series, Game Of Chefs. The 20-part hourlong series, produced in Israel by Constantine, will kick off January 19 in that country on Reshet with international format rights sold by ITV Studios Global Entertainment. Game Of Chefs follows three distinguished cooks who compete to find the country’s finest cooking talent. Pressure is on the mentors to ensure the amateurs are up to scratch, as their reputations are on the line. Contestants who make it through the audition phase have to survive a boot camp in which they must impress the chefs over a series of culinary challenges. The chefs then mentor the aspiring talents and their teams through a series of gastronomic battles in which they will cater for tricky clients in various challenging situations. The guests are the judges who eliminate someone from the losing team each week. The Lab previously developed reality format My Dream Wedding, which ITV Studios America has produced for TLC.
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.
Rosamund Pike will voice International Rescue agent Lady Penelope in the upcoming re-invention of classic kids series Thunderbirds Are Go! The UK’s ITV Studios is teaming with New Zealand-based Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop to co-produce the update of the series that was created by Gerry and Sylivia Anderson in 1965. Pike, who’s starring with Ben Affleck in David Fincher’s adaptation of Gone Girl and coming off roles in The World’s End and Jack Reacher, will be heard alongside original cast member David Graham who is reprising his role as chauffeur and International Rescue agent Parker. The new series of 26 half-hours will debut on ITV in 2015 using a mix of CGI animation and live-action miniature sets. Also joining as the five brave Tracy brothers, who rocket around the world fighting evil-doers, are Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Rasmus Hardiker and David Menkin (the former two are doubling up on roles).
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘The Wind Rises’ No. 1 Again In Japan; Syfy Bringing ‘The Originals’ To UK; More
‘The Wind Rises’ Makes It Eight Straight Weeks At No. 1 In Japan
Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises is still No. 1 at the Japanese box office after eight consecutive weekends. The Studio Ghibli release was up 13.6% this weekend after the director made his retirement official at a press conference in Tokyo last week. Per FilmBizAsia, the movie has taken in $97.2M to date. The website says that the last domestic movie to stay atop the box office for more than seven weeks in a row was Bayside Shakedown 2 in 2003. Miyazaki’s Oscar winner Spirited Away was tops for 16 consecutive weeks in 2001. Disney said Wednesday that it will open the film February 21 in North America after an Oscar-qualifying run in November.
Global Showbiz Briefs: LoveFilm Brings ‘Copper’ To UK Via Stream; Andrea Iervolino, Monika Bacardi Launch AMBI Pictures; More
‘Copper’ Will Make UK Debut Streaming On LoveFilm
LoveFilm has acquired UK rights to Cineflix series Copper. The series follows Vikings as the second to debut in the UK exclusively via the streaming service, bypassing traditional broadcasters. Netflix competitor LoveFilm will make the show available for streaming starting Friday. Tom Weston-Jones, Kyle Schmid and Anastasia Griffith star in the period police drama co-created by Tom Fontana and Will Rokos. Copper airs on BBC America in the U.S.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Hrithik Roshan Back To Work After Brain Surgery; David Harewood Joins Cop Drama ‘By Any Means’; More
Hrithik Roshan Shrugs Off Brain Surgery, Returns To Work
Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan is to go back before the cameras for local Fox feature Bang Bang in mid-November. The actor underwent brain surgery to remove a blood clot last month, putting the film on hiatus, but now says he is “doubly charged and looking forward to resuming” production”. Siddharth Anand is directing the film, which also stars Katrina Kaif. “Hrithik is raring to go and his enthusiasm is infectious,” Anand said according to NDTV. The release of the film has been moved from May to October 2, 2014, to take advantage of the four-day Dussehra weekend holiday. Roshan is one of Bollywood’s hottest stars and next will be seen in Krrish 3, which bows November 4.
David Harewood Passes Up A Dance For ‘By Any Means’
Erstwhile Homeland CIA director David Harewood turned down a slot on BBC series Strictly Come Dancing last month, but he will appear in another show on the network. Life On Mars and Death In Paradise producer Red Planet Pictures is putting the finishing touches on six-part drama series By Any Means and has added a handful of well-known British guest stars for the first season. Along with Harewood, Downton Abbey‘s Amy Nuttall, Mr. Selfridge‘s Nick Moran and legendary Bond Girl Honor Blackman will all appear. The drama revolves around a clandestine police unit living on the edge and playing the criminal elite at their own game. Regular cast includes Warren Brown (Luther), Shelley Conn (Mistresses), Andrew-Lee Potts (Primeval), Gina McKee (The Borgias) and Elliot Knight (Sinbad). Belinda Campbell and Tony Jordan are exec producers for Red Planet, and Polly Hill exec produces for BBC One.
Lucan focuses on the life of Lord Lucan, aka Richard John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan, a suspected murderer who disappeared without trace in 1974. ITV has commissioned the two-part drama which examines the events …
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Alan Partridge’ Bows To Social Media Pressure; John Woo Starts Work On Two-Part Epic Film; More
Social Media Campaign Nets ‘Alan Partridge’ Premiere For English Town
The people of Norwich, England, have won. After a Facebook and Twitter campaign to bring the premiere of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa to the town that’s the setting for the film, distributor StudioCanal and writer Armando Iannucci today announced it will indeed launch at Norwich’s Anglia Square on July 24. Steve Coogan plays the cult character whose fictional radio station, North Norfolk Digital, is located in Norwich. The movie will premiere at a lunchtime showing in Norwich before being screened later that evening in London’s Leicester Square. The official UK release is August 7. Click on the image at left to enlarge the note Iannucci tweeted from Partridge himself.
John Woo Begins Work On What Local Media Is Calling Chinese ‘Titanic’
Director John Woo has started production on his next helming effort, The Crossing. Beijing Galloping Horse is producing the war epic/disaster movie as a two-part feature. The film, set in 1940s Shanghai and Taiwan, revolves around three couples from different backgrounds whose lives are affected by the tide of history. It’s been dubbed by local media as the Chinese Titanic. The lead cast includes Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro (House Of Flying Daggers), Huang Xiao Ming (The Banquet), Tong Dawei (The Flowers Of War) and Japan’s Masami Nagasawa. Veteran director Woo, whose U.S. titles include M-I:2 Mission: Impossible 2 and Face/Off, last helmed 2009′s Red Cliff II.
ITV Studios will produce one-off TV movie The Psychopath Next Door for the UK’s Sky Living. Anna Friel (The Vatican, The Look Of Love) will play the glamorous titular character who moves into a suburban community where her magnetic personality hides her true nature. Described as darkly comic, the film is written by BAFTA winner Julie Rutterford. It will air in the fall as part of Sky’s Drama Matters block. Kate Bartlett exec produces for ITV Studios in the company’s first commission from Sky Living. Myar Craig-Brown is producer, Kieron J. Walsh directs.
Masterpiece is re-teaming with ITV Studios to co-produce Breathless, the upcoming six-part drama about a group of doctors and nurses working in a London hospital in the 1960s. Jack Davenport leads an ensemble cast that includes Game Of Thrones‘ Iain Glen, Downton Abbey‘s Zoe Boyle and Natasha Little (Kidnap And Ransom). The series is set in a busy gynecology unit in 1961, a time when abortion was still illegal, the contraceptive pill only just available to married women and moral codes were shifting. Shooting started in April. No U.S. or UK air date has been set.
Global Showbiz Briefs: India’s ‘24’, ITV Shifts Mike Blair, iTunes Prices In Oz, Plus JFK & Afghan Docs
Clock To Start Ticking For Indian ’24′
Slumdog Millionaire star Anil Kapoor is getting to work on the Indian version of the TV series 24. The actor, who was featured in the final season of Fox/20th TV’s real-time drama, will produce via his Anil Kapoor Film Co. He’ll also play the Jack Bauer character, now reportedly named Jai Singh Rathod, in the local take. According to BollywoodLife, production was due to kick off this week at Kapoor’s Stage 21 studio near Mumbai. Delhi Belly director Abhinay Deo is helming the series and Rensil D’Silva, who’s directing Sanjay Dutt’s Ungli, is scripting. The local broadcast partner is Viacom-owned Colors. Kapoor will next be seen on the big screen in Shootout At Wadala directed by Sanjay Gupta.
Almost three years into its five-year Transformation Plan, the UK’s leading commercial broadcaster ended 2012 with a 13% increase in earnings, despite flat ad revenues. In reporting its full-year results this morning, ITV, whose flagship channel …
The UK’s ITV Studios is teaming with New Zealand-based Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop to co-produce Thunderbirds Are Go!, an update of the classic kids series that debuted in 1965. Twenty-six half hours have been ordered for air on ITV and CITV in the UK in 2015. The original Thunderbirds was created by Gerry Anderson, who passed away in December. Although it aired for just two seasons on ITV in the 60s, it became an international sensation. In syndication, the high-tech tales of adventurers rocketing around the world to fight evil-doers became a staple of Saturday morning and weekday afternoon programming in the U.S. The series also spawned feature films and inspired South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s Team America: World Police.
The new series will be produced using a unique mix of CGI animation and live-action model sets while also paying tribute to the legacy of model locations from Anderson’s original. Thunderbirds Are Go! will see the return of the five brave Tracy brothers as they pilot their incredible vehicles into impossible rescues across the globe. Estelle Hughes is exec producing for ITV Studios, Giles Ridge for ITV Studios Global Entertainment and Richard Taylor and Andrew Smith for Pukeko Pictures.