ITV, the UK’s leading — and highly acquisitive — commercial broadcaster said this morning that it’s on track to deliver another year of growth despite a 3% drop in viewing figures for the flagship channel over the first six months of 2014. In releasing its half-year results, the company says external revenues are up 7% to £1,225M ($2,074M). That includes increases in non-advertising, online, pay, interactive, and ITV Studios revenues. The latter, which is one of the key areas the company has been focusing on, is up 2% to £402M ($681M). ITV has acquired a slew of independent production companies over the past nearly two years, most recently taking 80% of Pawn Stars maker Leftfield Entertainment. The broadcaster has also been on a transformation plan to reduce debt and says its total cost savings for the full year is ahead of target at about £15M ($25.4M). The acquisitions, it says, will “ensure continued good growth in ITV Studios this year and into next year” while a return to organic growth will be seen in 2015 helped by investment in scripted programming. The evolving strategy will include an increasing emphasis on international content creation and distribution. However, ITV is not expecting to be acquired itself. Liberty Global recently bought BSkyB’s 6.4% holding in ITV, but boss Adam Crozier said today that the broadcaster doesn’t plan to sell parts of its business. “We are certainly not considering selling off any parts of this business; …
Fox’s Gracepoint, an American remake of the British series Broadchurch, is not a shot-for-shot recreation — though it may seem like it’s going in that direction in the first two two episodes, after which it will begin to differ substantially, the exec producers promised to dubious TV critics this afternoon at the TCAs.
The first portions of the British eight-parter were “so well done, why would we contort ourselves to tell it differently?” Carolyn Bernstein said when some critics commented about how the two episodes they’d seen of Gracepoint replicated early Broadchurch episodes. “We didn’t want to fix something we all thought was excellent,” Bernstein explained at Summer TV Press Tour 2014. She and EP/showrunner Dan Futterman promised it will begin to differ substantially.
Further muddying things, in October, Fox announced that Broadchurch star David Tennant had been cast in its 10-hour series. In Fox’s version, Tennant plays an American detective who is the lead investigator in a shocking murder that puts a small town under scrutiny. Though this time it’s set in an American town, like the original it follows the tragic and mysterious death of a young boy found dead on a beach surrounded by rocks and a jutting cliff face, from where he may have fallen. Although his cause of death remains unsolved, the picturesque seaside town where the tragedy occurred is at the heart of a major police investigation and a nationwide media frenzy.
The American version purports to have a different killer.
“I don’t …
American networks have been looking to bring the variety format back to primetime, most recently NBC with The Maya Rudolph Show, now they have another choice. ITV Studios America is shopping an U.S. version of the popular ITV program Saturday Night Takeaway. Originally launched in 2002, Saturday Night Takeaway, hosted and executive produced by top British TV presenters Ant & Dec, is one of the most successful entertainment variety shows in the UK. It offers a mix of games, physical tasks as well as pranks that often involve the show’s celebrity guests (watch below a clip with an elaborate prank on TV chef Gordon Ramsay). Audience members are chosen at random to participate in challenges, and viewers at home can be selected to receive surprise visits with the chance to win prizes. After nine seasons, Saturday Night Takeaway went on hiatus in 2009. It came back last year, winning BAFTA for Entertainment Programme and Entertainment Performance (Ant & Dec). The format has local versions in several countries including Germany, Serbia, China and Belgium.
John Malone’s Liberty Global has been on an acquisitions spree in Europe over the past year, and while the company says it does not intend to make a takeover bid for the whole, it has purchased a 6.4% stake in the UK’s leading commercial broadcaster ITV. Liberty has acquired 259.8 million shares in ITV from BSkyB for approximately £481M ($824M), the company said in a statement early Thursday morning.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Steve Coogan’s ‘Mid Morning Matters’ Returning To Sky; ITV Orders WWII Drama ‘Jambusters’; More
Sky Atlantic Sets Steve Coogan For New Season Of ‘Mid Morning Matters’
After bringing his long-running Alan Partridge character to the big screen last year, Steve Coogan will return as the socially awkward North Norfolk digital radio DJ in a new season of Mid Morning Matters on the UK’s Sky Atlantic HD. Shooting has started on the six-part series that’s produced by Coogan’s Baby Cow. A 2015 airdate is planned. Along with the new episodes, Sky Atlantic has also ordered a one-hour documentary special hosted by Partridge. Before making his feature debut, Partridge, created in 1991 by Coogan and Armando Iannucci, returned to UK TV in June 2012 with two Sky Atlantic specials, Welcome To The Places Of My Life and Alan Partridge On Open Books With Martin Bryce. Coogan won a BAFTA as lead male in a comedy program for Places Of My Life, which was Sky Atlantic’s highest-rated comedy commission. Those programs were followed by a six-part special edition of the first season of Mid Morning Matters. The new series is written by Coogan, Neil Gibbons and Rob Gibbons and produced by Ted Dowd. Executive producers are Coogan and Henry Normal for Baby Cow Productions. Coogan last year was nominated with co-writer Jeff Pope for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Philomena. The pair won the BAFTA in the same category. Speaking as Partridge today, Coogan said: “I am both thrilled, humbled, gladdened and excited to be bringing Mid Morning Matters back to …
Spoiler Alert if you haven’t seen matches…
UPDATE, 11:45 AM: It was a loss for Mexico to the Netherlands that saw the North American country’s World Cup 2014 dreams end. However, for Univision, the Sunday game was nothing but a win. 10.4 million viewers watched the Spanish language network’s broadcast of the match. That makes Sunday’s game not only the most watched soccer game ever on Univision or any other US-based Spanish language broadcaster but also the most watched telecast ever on the broadcaster or any other any other US-based Spanish language broadcaster. The previous record holder was the 9.0 million who watched the December 3, 2007 broadcast of the telenova Destilando Amor on Univision. Sunday game on Univision also bested ESPN’s broadcast of the Mexico vs. Netherlands match by 57% more in terms of viewers and 68% among Adults 18-49. But that’s also a record in terms of soccer viewership for Univision and any U.S.-based Spanish-language broadcaster.
PREVIOUS, 7:55 AM: Sunday’s World Cup match-ups saw the Netherlands make a late comeback to dash Mexico’s hopes of advancing to the quarter finals, and Costa Rica overtake Greece in a 5-3 penalty shoot out. The matches continued to set new records for ESPN, with both drawing a 4.5 in the overnight ratings. The two Round of 16 matches now rank as the network’s 4th and 5th largest overnight rating for a World Cup match in any round. The …
Spoiler Alert if you haven’t seen matches…
With England’s national team officially knocked out of the World Cup as Costa Rica bested Italy on Friday, fans in the UK had little taste for following the next match of the day. France’s 5-2 victory over Switzerland at 8 PM on ITV was the lowest rated primetime match of the tournament so far. It drew 4.41M viewers for a 23.6% share. Across the Manche, however, France’s leading broadcaster TF1 saw its highest ratings since 2007 as roughly 16.7M viewers rallied round Les Bleus. That was good for a 62% share and was the biggest World Cup score since the 2006 finale against Italy — and the head butt heard round the world — which drew 22M viewers. Yesterday’s performance and the nation’s embrace of the team makes a big change from four years ago when the players wouldn’t even get off their bus in South Africa. We’ll report ESPN numbers later. Matches set for today are Argentina v Iran, Germany v Ghana, and Nigera v Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Sue Johnston Joins ‘Downton Abbey’; ‘Gone Girl’ Author Gillian Flynn To Pen ‘Hamlet’ Retelling
Downton Abbey has added Sue Johnston to the cast for season five. The actress, known largely in the UK for Waking The Dead, The Royle Family and soap Coronation Street, will have the formidable task of playing Denker, Lady’s Maid to Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess. Johnston joins other previously annonced guest actors, Richard E. Grant, Anna Chancellor and Rade Sherbedgia. The Carnival Films produced ITV saga returns in the fall to the UK.
Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn is the latest novelist to join the Hogarth Shakespeare project which provides new takes on the works of the Bard. Flynn, who also scripted David Fincher’s upcoming adaptation of Gone Girl for the screen, will tackle Hamlet. The Hogarth Shakespeare program is an international publishing initiative from the Penguin Random House imprint. Per the BBC, Flynn said, “Hamlet has long been a fascination of mine: murder, betrayal, revenge, deceit, madness ‒ all my favorite things.” Flynn joins a coterie of authors who are contributing to the project including Jo Nesbo, Tracy Chevalier, Margaret Atwood, Howard Jacobson, Anne Tyle and Jeanette Winterson. The novels will be released simultaneously in 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
ITV‘s Broadchurch just scooped three BAFTA TV Awards on Sunday, and this morning had its first read-through for Season 2. The past 10 days have seen regular cast updates with David Tennant reprising his role as Detective Alec Hardy and BAFTA Lead Actress winner Olivia Colman returning as Detective Ellie Miller. Also in the returning cast are Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan and Arthur Darvill. New to the series, whose plot details are being kept top secret, are Charlotte Rampling, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Eve Myles and James D’Arcy. The photo below is the first time they’ve all been snapped together. Releasing the pic is one way to tide over fans; series creator and writer Chris Chibnall has appealed to the media and the public who might observe filming in Dorset and Somerset later this month to refrain from divulging any tidbits.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Dance Mums’ Sashaying To UK; Australia Gets Fake Prince Harry Dating Show; More
A+E Networks UK Orders British Version Of ‘Dance Moms’
The UK is getting the first format adaptation of Lifetime’s U.S. reality series Dance Moms. A+E Networks UK has ordered a British version the show, to be titled Dance Mums. Shiver, part of ITV Studios, will produce eight hourlong episodes of the show, which will be fronted by actress and dance Jennifer Ellison, whose Liverpool dance school Fame Academy provides the setting. Dance Mums is due to air this year.
Network Ten Bringing Fake Prince Harry Reality Show To Australia
Network Ten has acquired Shine International’s upcoming reality series I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’ for Australia. Co-produced by Zig Zag Productions and Ryan Seacrest Productions, the eight-episode series features 12 women competing for their chance to marry “Prince Harry”, while living at an English estate. But there is a catch: It’s not actually Prince Harry but imposter Matthew Hicks. Marry ‘Harry’, executive produced by Danny Fenton, Kevin Utton, Matt Gould, Ryan Seacrest, Adam Sher, Heather Schuster, David Tibballs and Rebecca Eisen, will have its global premiere May 27 on Fox.
The second season of ITV‘s hit drama Broadchurch is gearing up to shoot in Dorset, England. With that, the network and the series producers have now confirmed the returning cast. David Tennant will reprise his role as Detective Alec Hardy and Olivia Colman will be back as Detective Ellie Miller. Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan, who play the parents of murdered schoolboy Danny Latimer, are also returning as is Arthur Darvill as local vicar Paul Coates. As with the first season, secrecy shrouds the plot of S2. Creator Chris Chibnall is exec producing for Imaginary Friends and Jane Featherstone is exec producer on behalf of Kudos. Richard Stokes is back as producer, and James Strong, who directed five episodes of the first season, will helm episodes 1 and 2 of the new series. ITV Director of Drama Steve November said today, “We’re delighted Broadchurch is back in production, but we’re remaining tight-lipped about how the story develops. Suffice to say Chris has delivered as always and the scripts are just as exciting as the first series.” Last year Broadchurch kept UK viewers riveted averaging over 9M viewers. The series became the most watched weekday drama since 2004 and the finale was met with anticipation worthy of “Who shot J.R.?” comparisons. Tennant is starring in Fox’s event series Gracepoint, the U.S. remake of Broadchurch.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Simon Dickson Leaving Shine Group’s Dragonfly; ITV Agrees To Revive ‘Hollywood Squares’ Format; More
Simon Dickson Exiting As Managing Director Of Shine Group’s Dragonfly
Simon Dickson, Managing Director of Shine Group factual producer Dragonfly, is leaving the company after three years. The exec will step down next month, with Dragonfly Creative Director Mark Raphael and COO Lucinda Hicks taking over as Co-Managing Directors. Dickson joined Dragonfly in April 2011 as the company’s Creative Director before becoming Managing Director in November 2012. Prior to joining Dragonfly, he served as Deputy Head of Documentaries at Channel 4. At Dragonfly, Dickson was executive producer on event documentary The Plane Crash (Discovery and Channel 4) and celebrities-in-the-wilderness series Bear Grylls’ Wild Weekends (Channel 4). Under his stewardship the company has delivered such documentaries as The Horsemeat Banquet (BBC Three), Terror At Sea: The Sinking Of The Concordia (Channel 4) and Hurricane Sandy: Anatomy Of A Superstorm (BBC Two) alongside series People Like Us and What Happens In Kavos for BBC Three and Channel 4, respectively.
Global Showbiz Briefs: James Norton, Robson Green To Star In ITV’s ‘Grantchester’; Damian Lewis, Jeremy Northam Join ‘Our Kind Of Traitor’; More
James Norton, Robson Green Set To Star In ITV Drama ‘Grantchester’
ITV has set the cast for its new six-part drama Grantchester. James Norton (Death Comes To Pemberley, Rush) will play the lead role of Sidney Chambers, a charismatic clergyman who turns investigative vicar when one of his parishioners dies under suspicious circumstances. The series is adapted from James Runcie’s novel Sidney Chambers And The Shadow Of Death. Robson Green (Reckless, Wire In The Blood) will join him as partner in crime Geordie Keating. Morven Christie, Tessa Peake-Jones, Kacey Ainsworth, Al Weaver, Pheline Roggan, Fiona Button, Ukweli Roach, Tom Austen and Pip Torrens also star. Daisy Coulam penned Grantchester, which is produced by Lovely Day, a sister company of Shine’s Kudos. Emma Kingsman-Lloyd is producer and Diederick Santer is exec producer. Shooting starts this month.
Damian Lewis, Jeremy Northam Join John LeCarré Adaptation ‘Our Kind Of Traitor’
Shooting begins Wednesday on Our Kind Of Traitor, the adaptation of John Le Carré’s novel that’s directed by Susanna White. Damian Lewis and Jeremy Northam have joined the previously announced Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard and Naomie Harris in the cast. Hossein Amini adapted the thriller about an English couple who embark on a tortuous journey after a chance meeting with a Russian millionaire. The film is produced by Simon Cornwell and Stephen Cornwell …
Global Showbiz Briefs: Julie Sultan To Run AMBI’s International Sales Unit; ITV Buys Stake In Nordic On-Demand Channel Cirkus; More; More
AMBI Pictures Taps Julie Sultan To Run New International Sales Unit
Julie Sultan has been named as President of Worldwide Sales & Acquisitions at AMBI Distribution Corp, the newly launched international sales division of AMBI Pictures. She will oversee the new company, which represents Beverly Hills-based AMBI’s original productions as well as third-party product from around the world. Sultan has served in senior positions at Lakeshore Entertainment, where she oversaw sales of “Million Dollar Baby,” and the “Underworld” franchise, as well as NBC and Peace Arch Entertainment.
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.
In a move that was expected, ITV officially announced today that it has ordered 10 new episodes of period drama Mr Selfridge. The Jeremy Piven-starring series is currently in its 2nd season and the next promises to see his character’s life begin to “unravel.” The department store drama is based on the life of flamboyant American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge (Piven) who founded the London shopping mecca Selfridges in 1909. Season 2, which is airing now in the UK with an average 6.4M viewers and a 21.6 share, was the No. 1 show in its time slot last Sunday with 4.8M at 9 PM. The current run picks up in 1914 as the store celebrates its 5th anniversary and with talk of war ahead in Europe. Season 3 is due to pick up in 1919. PBS starts airing S2 on March 30 in the States; no air dates have been set for the next go-round.
Piven is currently shooting the Entourage movie and filming on S3 of Mr Selfridge will bring him back to London for an April start. Kate Lewis, executive producer for ITV Studios, says there are “surprises” to come. “You only have to walk down Oxford Street today to know that Selfridges Department Store continued to be successful, but for its founder, Harry Selfridge, things were very different. His …
ITV has set the roster for its upcoming four-part miniseries that follows the lives and loves of both historical and fictional characters in 1666 London as The Great Fire rages. Broadchurch‘s Andrew Buchan, Rose Leslie (Utopia, Game Of Thrones, Downton Abbey), Jack Huston (American Hustle, Boardwalk Empire) and Daniel Mays (Mrs Biggs, Welcome To The Punch) have each taken on key roles in the production from Fleming and Mistresses‘ Ecosse Films. Inspired by the real events of 1666 when nearly half of London was destroyed in less than a week, the drama is written by Tom Bradby, political editor of ITN and author of Shadow Dancer. The story unfolds over four consecutive days as the fire takes hold of the city and the people desperately attempt to overcome the flames amid a threat to the monarchy. Buchan will play humble baker Thomas Farriner in whose shop the fire began on September 2, 1666. Leslie plays his sister-in-law with whom he has a complex relationship. Huston is the playboy King Charles II and Mays is Samuel Pepys, a close confidante. Per ITV, pyrotechnics and special effects, as opposed to CGI, will create the fire sequences as London burns. Also in the cast are …
In this week’s audio podcast, Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom look at the possibility that frenemies John Malone and Rupert Murdoch will combine and snap up the UK’s Channel 5, even as a booming ITV opts out; and Amazon’s new combination platter of Prime services that are challenging Netflix more aggressively in Britain, including through a partnership with the BBC to revive the cancelled period drama Ripper Street. They also preview those other big awards this weekend, France’s Cesars, and take their weekly look at the international box office, as both Frozen and The Hobbit 2: The Desolation Of Smaug continue to rack up huge cumulative grosses.