British independent production company Boom Pictures will back Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes’ new drama shingle, which is to be called MainStreet Pictures. The ITV executives, who are responsible for getting Downton Abbey on the air, announced last week that they were leaving the network to set up their own indie. MainStreet will launch in July as part of the Boom Pictures stable of companies which also includes TV producers Boomerang, Apollo and Delightful Industries, post-production outfit Gorilla, talent agency Harlequin and documentary producer Indus Films. Former BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey is Boom’s executive chair with whom Mackie and Haynes worked at the BBC prior to their seven-year run at ITV. Most recently at ITV, the duo commissioned series Appropriate Adult, Mr Selfridge and Broadchurch, which was acquired by BBC America earlier this month. MainStreet will operate from Boom’s London offices.
Olivia Colman, Paddy Considine Reteam For ‘Whicher II’
Hyde Park On Hudson co-star Olivia Colman will join Paddy Considine in ITV’s The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher II. The Hat Trick Productions drama is based on the real-life 19th century Metropolitan Police detective. The two-hour film is a follow-up to the 2011 drama that was based on the book by Kate Summerscale. Colman plays a woman who hires Considine’s Whicher to investigate the murder of her niece. Colman recently won a British Independent Film Award for best supporting actress in Hyde Park On Hudson. She also won the BIFA last year as best actress for Tyrannosaur which was directed by Considine. Shooting is currently underway on the story written by Neil McKay (Appropriate Adult) and directed by Christopher Menaul. Mark Redhead is exec producer, Rob Bullock is producer.
The makers of hot cable show Duck Dynasty have just cashed out. British television giant ITV announced today that it’s expanding its U.S. production arm ITV Studios America with the acquisition of Gurney Productions. ITV is paying $40 million for a 61.5% controlling stake in Gurney Productions, best known for Duck Dynasty as well as Auction Hunters, American Digger and Haunted Collector. ITV also has a put and call option to buy the remaining 38.5% which can be exercised from 3 to 5 years after the initial deal. “Gurney Productions is a high margin business with three quarters of its revenues coming from returnable series. The company’s EBITA for 2012 is forecast to be at least $10M,” ITV said Saturday. Gurney Productions will report directly to Paul Buccieri, Managing Director of ITV Studios International and President/CEO of ITV Studios America. Further, Gurney Productions’ revenues will be included in ITV Studio’s international revenues starting in 2013. Sources said the maximum total consideration payable by ITV is $111M, depending on the performance of Gurney Productions over the next 3 to 5 years and payable only if Gurney continues to deliver significant growth. ITV Studios America already produces
ITV just released a trailer for the upcoming drama series Mr. Selfridge starring Jeremy Piven. In July, Masterpiece/WGBH joined ITV Studios as co-producer on the series, which will air in the U.S. under PBS’ Masterpiece banner. Piven stars as the flamboyant American entrepreneur and UK …
ITV has confirmed that Simon Cowell will return to Britain’s Got Talent as a judge for the show’s seventh season. Cowell will reunite with judges Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams after coming back to the show in 2012 to give it a boost as it faced off with BBC1’s The Voice UK. Last May’s BGT season 6 finale was seen by a peak of 14.5M viewers and was the most watched show of the year up to that point. Cowell’s full-time return to BGT in January comes just as the impresario is facing a big ratings slip at his other ITV talent show, The X Factor. On Sunday, that show’s finale fell to its lowest ratings since 2006 igniting calls for Cowell to return to the series he left in 2010 to concentrate on its U.S. version which airs on Fox. Both BGT and The X Factor’s contracts with ITV are up after their upcoming seasons.
Simon Cowell’s The X Factor closed its 9th season on the UK’s ITV on Sunday night with the lowest audience for a finale since 2005 2006, according to overnight data reported by The Guardian. Declining figures this season have led to suggestions that a revamp is coming for the 10th series, the last the show has contracted with ITV. There are also suggestions that Cowell may need to return to the judging panel to save the show. Cowell made a special appearance on The X Factor UK in September, but while it helped the show win the night, it did not boost overnight ratings from the previous Cowell-less episode. Still, The Times of London writes today, “The X Factor may not be dead but either the end is nigh, or Cowell’s return is.”
This Sunday night’s season finale hit a peak of 12.8M with delayed viewings. Overall, an average 11.1M viewers (with delayed viewings) watched the two-hour show that aired from 7:40pm to 9:40pm for a 39.6% share. That was a 2M down from last year’s finale and more than 6M off the 2010 finale, The Guardian reports. Figures for the semi-final show last weekend were down 40% compared to 2010 when Cowell was still a judge, according to The Independent. (That season launched boy band One Direction.) Advertising revenues are also said to be down. ITV will generate about £85M in advertising coin from this season, according to The Guardian, about £15M down from its peak.
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage
The ongoing crisis in the British media has drawn in a new player. As the BBC continues to sift through the scandals in its news division, rival broadcaster ITV is facing scrutiny from regulator Ofcom over one of its own news programs. ITV’s Today-style This Morning show will have to answer whether a recent interview with Prime Minister David Cameron breached the broadcasting code by failing to provide a “right of reply” to former Margaret Thatcher adviser Lord McAlpine when he was incorrectly linked to child sex abuse allegations, The Guardian reports. Host Phillip Schofield was forced to apologize after he confronted Cameron with a list of alleged perpetrators he had gleaned in “about three minutes” on the Internet, and the list was briefly made visible to the cameras.
Downton Abbey‘s UK broadcaster ITV reported its interim results today with the group’s external revenue up 4% to £1.57B ($2.49B). Non-net advertising revenue was up 15% to £730M ($1.16B), driven by production arm ITV Studios, maker of such programs as Hell’s Kitchen and the upcoming Mr. Selfridge with Jeremy Piven. ITV Studios is expected to turn a profit of over £100M ($158.7M) for the year “and the number of new commissions and recommissions already secured for 2013 gives us confidence that there will continue to be good underlying growth in the Studios business,” boss Adam Crozier noted.
Continuing its five-year transformation plan, the company says total cost savings this year will be about £30M ($47.6M), or £10M ($15.87M) ahead of target. The advertising market has been “broadly flat,” Crozier said.
Rising British actress Hayley Atwell will play a policewoman who becomes obsessed with tracking down the killer of a 15-year-old girl in ITV’s just-commissioned Life Of Crime. The series comes …
Global Biz Briefs: New Zealand Offshore Production, Savile Allegations, ‘Mental’, ITV, Pathé,”Chopper” Read
New Zealand Hints At Improving Offshore Production Incentives
New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key has agreed to consider changing the incentives for large scale productions to make them more attractive to offshore TV producers after being lobbied by Hollywood studio executives. The Large Budget Screen Production Grant provides a tax rebate of 15% but that requires a minimum spend of $NZ15M ($12.2M). Back home after a four-day visit to Los Angeles, Key said the studios wanted changes to the subsidy in relation to TV productions, telling Radio NZ “There’s a little bit of logic in what they’re saying, I can understand one of two of the issues, but we’ll need to go away and think those through carefully.” James Cameron, who shot Avatar in Wellington and plans to shoot the Avatar sequels in NZ, hosted Key’s visit. Cameron said Key also spoke about tweaking the incentives to mitigate the declining value of the U.S. dollar. Despite the exchange rate (the Kiwi dollar currently is worth US82 cents), the country has played host to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit franchise, Andrew Adamson’s Mr. Pip, the Evil Dead remake and Peter Webber’s Emperor. – Don Groves
After its first two episodes of the new season drew softer-than-normal numbers, Downton Abbey bounced back on Sunday with ratings that would make even the Dowager Countess crack a smile. Episode three of season three pulled in 9.66M …
Shirley MacLaine rolled up to Downton Abbey last night to trade barbs with Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess in the show’s Season 3 UK premiere. ITV1 drew 8.64M viewers to the 90-minute opener. The hugely-anticipated return of the Crawley …
Australia’s Network Ten Top Programmer Quits
Network Ten’s chief programming officer David Mott today fell on his sword after a steep slide in ratings and the failures of a slew of local series including Everybody Dance Now, The Shire, I Will Survive and Being Lara Bingle. A 16-year company veteran, the respected and well liked Mott said “it’s a sad day when you say goodbye to friends and colleagues. In a job where you live and die by the numbers, perhaps I’ve been luckier than most. It’s been a great ride, and I’ve loved every second of it.” The company said network head of programming Beverley McGarvey would take over Mott’s responsibilities for the time being. Successful shows Mott commissioned include MasterChef, Australian Idol, The Biggest Loser, Thank God You’re Here, Big Brother, Offspring and Puberty Blues. In the first half of 2012, Ten’s audience share averaged a lowly 15.9%, versus Seven with 24.7% share and Nine at 22.7%.
India Approves Disney Investment
India approved a $180 million foreign direct investment plan by the Walt Disney Company as part of the finance ministry’s push to clear a backlog of investment proposals in an effort to inject some life into the economy. Disney in February acquired a controlling stake in UTV, one of India’s premier media and entertainment companies, then delisted it after spending about $375 million to buy out other investors. Disney has plans to restructure its digital assets in India to drive growth in segments like mobile, online and interactive TV, the company says on its India website.
New Commissioner Of Comedy At BBC
Shane Allen, former head of comedy at Channel 4, has been named controller of comedy commissioning at the BBC. At Channel 4, Allen had a hand in the BAFTA-nominated Friday Night Dinner and the BAFTA-winning IT Crowd and Peep Show. He also commissioned the second and third seasons of The Inbetweeners, whose feature adaptation was a smash at the box office in 2011. For the BBC, Allen will be based in London as part of the team delivering a pan-UK comedy strategy across TV, radio and online.