At last October’s Mipcom, Israeli interactive talent show Rising Star, was the hot property, selling local versions around the globe. At the Mip-TV market next month, The Big Picture, a new interactive entrant from Israel, is aiming to be the next big thing. The game show hails from Israeli format company A Cappella, which recently made U.S. and UK deals with eOne for religion-themed drama Reaching For Heaven. Big Picture is created by TV host and mentalist Nimrod Harel, whose first scripted series, The Believer, has been sold to Fox International Channels. A budget of $1M went toward developing and producing an English-language Big Picture pilot hosted by Andrew Günsberg (Australian Idol, Live To Dance), which A Cappella will shop at Mip-TV (see promo below). The trivia-based show asks a contestant to identify photographs projected on a 20-meter-high screen in the studio; the pictures can be of celebrities, political figures, events and such. There are 12 stages to the game with the ultimate possibility of winning $1M. The contestant can opt out at any time and take the money they’ve amassed, or continue vying for the top prize. If they get an answer wrong, they leave empty-handed. The interactive element in Big Picture is the participation of the viewing audience. Via a specially-designed app that uses technology created in Israel’s booming start-up community, and with consultants who have worked with the Israeli military, viewers can answer questions by text and potentially become the partner of the onscreen contestant, eventually splitting the purse. In a twist, the show will be pre-recorded in studio, but viewers will participate on the day of broadcast. Those selected will have their image projected on screen, and play along via the technology.
A Capella CEO Einat Shamir says, “The audience at home wants to be an active participant and influence what they watch on the screen in real time. The beauty of our format is the very unique production formula, which allows to overcome a lot of traditional obstacles many TV producers were facing when trying to cater to the new interactivity trend in the business.” Read More »
Warner Bros International Television Production has acquired format rights to distribute BBC One’s new quiz show, The Link. BBC One has commissioned 25 episodes for a daytime slot. The show is produced by STV Productions in association with LTV. Not to be confused with the BBC’s The Weakest Link, the game show pits teams against each other as they race to find the link between questions. Guess the connections, break the links, win money. “We know that great game shows are back at the top of broadcasters’ wish lists. The Link is that rare thing — an original new quiz show with a strong identity in terms of both its game play and visual elements, commissioned in a key market. Our excitement is shared by Mike Darnell and his team at the Warner Bros Television Group, who will be bringing it to market in the U.S.,” says WBITP’s Andrew Zein. The UK version of the show will be hosted by actor Mark Williams, best known as Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter movies. Gary Chippington is executive producer for STV Productions, Jo Street is executive producer for the BBC and Paul Johnson is executive producer for LTV and Tuvalu Entertainment Ltd. Read More »
Chinese director Wu Tianming died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack at his home in Beijing. Wu, known as the “Godfather of the Fifth Generation” directed several films in the 1970s and ’80s that helped reshape Chinese cinema including 1986′s Old Well and 1995′s award winner King Of Masks. He got his professional start at Xi’an Film Studios as an apprentice to Cui Wei and eventually took over the studio in the late 1970s, over the next decade-plus helped guide the careers of such noted Chinese filmmakers as Huang Jianxin, Tian Zhuangzhuang, Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. His last directing job was 2003′s Gadfly, a 20-part TV miniseries based on the E.L. Voynich novel.
Stellan Skarsgard has been cast in the lead role of Abi Morgan’s new BBC series River. Morgan, who has scripted features including Shame, The Iron Lady and the upcoming Suffragette, won an Emmy last year for writing the now cancelled BBC series The Hour. River reteams her with the BBC for a six-part series she created. Kudos is producing. The drama centers on John River (Skarsgard), a brilliant police officer who walks a professional tightrope between a pathology so extreme he risks permanent dismissal, and a healthy state of mind that would cure him of his gift. The series is due to air in 2015.
Also at the BBC, Ben Chaplin, Downton Abbey‘s Joanne Froggatt and Silent Witness‘ Emilia Fox have been confirmed to join drama showcase The Secrets. The strand is a series of five stand-alone films that highlights new writing talent. It’s made by Working Title TV for BBC One. The above are joining a host of British names that includes Olivia Colman, Alison Steadman, Ashley Walters, Helen Baxendale and Sarah Solemani. BAFTA-winning director Dominic Savage will helm the five films, each of which starts with one incident and then follows five different stories stemming from the event. Read More »
China’s First Daily U.S. Talker? ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’
The Ellen DeGeneres Show has become the first U.S. daily talk show to be carried in China with the current 11th season now available on-demand via online video service provider Sohu Video. Episodes of the Warner Bros International Television Distribution property will be subtitled in Chinese and delivered within 48 hours of the original U.S. broadcast. Ellen is the top-rated daytime talk show in the U.S. with women 25-54. The talker seems well-suited to the Chinese audience with its brand of family-friendly humor and big stars. Here’s a clip of DeGeneres welcoming her new audience:
Starz’s ‘Power’ To Premiere At MIP-TV
Power, the Starz original series exec produced by Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent) will have its world premiere at this April’s MIP-TV market in Cannes. MIP-TV and sister market Mipcom have been increasingly drawing big-ticket premieres and talent to the Riviera in recent editions. In October, Mipcom hosted the world premiere of The Tunnel, the Franco-British adaptation of The Bridge. The eight-episode first season of Power was created by showrunner Courtney Kemp Agboh. Jackson also stars in the story of a wealthy New York City nightclub owner (Omari Hardwick) who caters to the city’s elite. He’s also living a double life as the kingpin of the most lucrative drug network in New York. His marriage, family and business all become unknowingly threatened as he is tempted to leave his criminal life behind and become the rags-to-riches businessman he has always dreamed. Mark Canton, Randall Emmett and David Knoller also serve as executive producers. The screening will be held April 7. Read More »
Along with an emphasis on cross-border series, among the takeaways from this week’s Mip-TV market was the increased merging of technology and content. Of the 4,000 acquisition execs in town, 800 were VOD and digital buyers – a 30% jump on last year. Cinedigm did a digital/VOD deal for more than 1,000 episodes of TV shows from Australia’s ABC which CEO Chris McGurk said reflected the “ever-growing importance of efficient, cost-effective delivery of digital content worldwide.”
YouTube was part of the discussion. Tim Hincks, president of Dutch giant Endemol, which has over 100 YouTube channels, said the company will soon launch a new Fear Factor channel, effectively reviving the brand in the U.S. But he stressed that “It’s not how much you’ve got, it’s what you do with them. It’s tying them together and marketing to the consumers and YouTubers on the different channels.”
But BSkyB managing director of content, Sophie Turner Lang, urged attendees to “Talk about the shows, not the pipes.” It’s storytelling that engages audiences, she said, noting that creative meetings have reversed from mostly being about story and talent to being about “protection and digital delivery.” Read More »
In yet another type of cross-border series – this one a sitcom – Family Guy and Will & Grace exec producer Gary Janetti’s Vicious premiered for buyers at Mip-TV last night. The six-part comedy stars veteran British thesps Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi in quite a departure from the likes of X-Men and Shakespeare. The pair plays a constantly bickering, but ultimately loving couple who’ve lived together in a small London flat for nearly 50 years. Their young upstairs neighbor is played by Misfits‘ Iwan Rheon and their best friend by Frances de la Tour of the Harry Potter films. Shine Group’s Brown Eyed Boy produced the show in association with Kudos Film and TV and Nickelby Inc. for the UK’s ITV. In keeping with current hit UK sitcoms like Mrs. Brown’s Boys, it’s shot in front of a live studio audience. There’s no U.S. outlet yet, but a deal was just concluded with Australia’s Seven Network. In a big push, Brown Eyed Boy’s Gary Reich, who’s co-producing with Janetti, says ITV will start trailering the series in British moviehouses and in video ads in the London Underground before the primetime debut later this year. Read More »
The trend towards transatlantic series was further confirmed this week at Mip-TV which starts winding down today. Internationally-packaged dramas that were tubthumped here included Starz/BBC Worldwide’s Da Vinci’s Demons, Endemol/AMC’s Low Winter Sun, Netflix/Gaumont International TV’s Hemlock Grove, Starz/BBC’s The White Queen, eOne/DirecTV‘s Rogue and Tandem Communication’s Crossing Lines, which NBC picked up last month for a summer debut. Early on in the market, Starz announced it was partnering with Sky Atlantic on Fortitude, a drama written by Simon Donald, creator of the original British version of Low Winter Sun.
Apart from their international flavor, the shows also have in common that they were almost all picked up in straight-to-series deals. Horrormeister and Hemlock Grove exec producer Eli Roth said knowing that he had 13 episodes from the outset was “really an advantage.” It enabled him to keep working along the way on one aspect of the initial episodes – a character’s complex transformation into a werewolf. Tandem’s Rola Bauer, who’s exec producing Crossing Lines said, “I would encourage” Hollywood to do more straight-to-series orders, and “trust us.” During pilot season, she said, “everyone is chasing the same actors” and trying to access state and foreign tax credits at the same time, making for a frenzied atmosphere. But she allowed that “The UK and America are open to realizing the economic market needs to have a different way of working creatively… I hope the show makes it easier for people to come over here and make co-productions.” Read More »
A+E Networks UK’s History channel has set details of its upcoming local version of Pawn Stars. The show will focus on Regal Pawn, a shop near Chester, England. The eight-part series will star Regal’s owner Mark Manning, (aka Big Mark), his daughter Vicki, his best friend Little Mark and Little Mark’s son, Marco. The UK will be the first market to make its own version of the series that will feature distinctly British items. The show airs in the UK this fall and is produced by Leftfield Pictures, the production company behind the original U.S. series which has increased in popularity in Britain since it debuted in 2010.
Music Box has taken U.S. rights on Beta Film’s Generation War, a six-hour miniseries about the fate of young men and women who fought in World War II. The Band Of Brothers-like story is from ZDF, teamWorx and Beta Film and scored record ratings on ZDF with a 24% market share. It also triggered a local debate about personal guilt in WWII. Music Box is planning a theatrical release in major cities across the U.S., followed by TV, VOD and home video. The UK’s Arrow Film picked up all rights as did eOne/Hopscotch in Australia. Directed by Philipp Kadelbach, the production stars Volker Bruch (The Reader), Tom Schilling, Katharina Schüttler, Miriam Stein and Ludwig Trepte. Beta Film is selling here at Mip-TV. Read More »
If, as Eli Roth contends, “people want their horror horrific,” then judging by the six minutes of Hemlock Grove that screened here today, fans of the genre shall not be disappointed. Roth, who exec produces the Netflix original series, was in Cannes this afternoon with star Famke Janssen. He directed the first of 13 episodes which all become available in the U.S. on April 19. The Gothic horror with a Twin Peaks lilt was produced by Gaumont International TV, a division of the French major. Roth called the studio, “director friendly” and joked, “Especially because they’re French, we can say auteur, and not ironically.”
Roth said he’d been looking for a TV project, but was having a hard time cracking the nut. Netflix let him “run wild” with Hemlock Grove which is written by Brian McGreevey and Lee Shipman and based on McGreevy’s novel. Network TV “has all these standards” but in horror, Roth contends, “you want to see the sex and the killing and the violence. What’s great about Netflix and Gaumont is you can really push the envelope in that direction.” Roth he was aiming for something “beautiful and horrific,” especially in showing how one character transforms into a werewolf, that “would really fuck up an entire generation.”
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BBC drama controller Ben Stephenson and Piv Bernth, head of drama at Danish broadcaster DR, home of the original The Killing and The Bridge, shared their views on co-productions this morning in Cannes. The duo, who each work for public broadcasters, also touched on dealing with U.S. partners and the courage of their convictions. Scandinavia is a hot spot for drama, but Bernth says she only gets 4% of DR’s budget for drama so she’s “working with all kinds of different partners” and “trying to keep our feet on the ground.” She also confirmed that Killing creator Soren Sveistrup is working on a project for Cinemax, which he’ll present to the network within the next month.
Stephenson is careful to avoid the dreaded “Europudding,” or what he terms “Mid-Atlantic pudding,” but says, “In the past, all countries thought their drama was their drama, but today actually we all have quite a lot in common.” Even “the best microscopic local drama” can feel universal. Stephenson pointed to Downton Abbey, which is an ITV show, and to the BBC’s Sherlock as examples. They “are so British in their sensibility. They’re as English as English can get and that shows that if you do something well for your own country, the idea has attraction for abroad.” If Sherlock had been made expressly for international, Stephenson told me recently, it would have been cast differently. In the early days of the show, he said there were concerns that Benedict Cumberbatch’s high-functioning sociopath would not be embraced. “Couldn’t he be slightly nicer? Couldn’t you have a bigger star?” are questions he said were bandied about. “Ultimately it was the courage of convictions. It made Benedict a star and people love those rough edges.” Read More »
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ITV Studios Global Entertainment has secured pre-sales for the 13th and final series of ITV Studios’ iconic detective drama Agatha Christie’s Poirot. Based on crime writer Agatha Christie’s famous novels, series 13 of Poirot has been acquired by eight broadcasters worldwide: TMC (France), ABC (Australia), Prime (New Zealand), Chungwa (Taiwan), Latvian Television, RTV (Slovenia), HRT (Croatia), Sanoma (Hungary) and Digiturk (Turkey). WGBH in the US will co- produce and air two of the Poirot films – The Big Four and Dead Man’s Folly. The deals were brokered by David Wilcox, VP North West Cluster; Jennifer Ebell, VP South East Cluster; Nancy Wang, Senior Sales Executive, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan; Dan Edwards, Senior Sales Executive, Australia and Jemma Losh, Sales Executive, New Zealand for ITV Studios Global Entertainment. Read More »
Listen to (and share) the MIPTV edition of our audio podcast Deadline Festivals & Markets Watch, featuring Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione. Nancy and host David Bloom discuss trends shaping this year’s MIPTV show in Cannes, including the ongoing fight between reality and scripted drama supporters over which is the best way to go in global markets; Dark Knight and Man Of Steel scribe David Goyer’s latest project, Da Vinci’s Demons; and why CSI creator Anthony Zuiker won the Pioneer Prize for his brand-driven online series Cybergeddon. Nancy also looks ahead to likely highlights for the rest of the show.
Deadline Festivals & Markets Watch, MIPTV 2013, (MP3 format)
Deadline Festivals & Markets Watch, MIPTV 2013, (MP4a format) Read More »
Gideon Raff, creator of the original Israeli drama Prisoners Of War and the writer and exec producer of its Emmy-winning U.S. version Homeland, says he doesn’t know how the series’ story will end. But Bert Salke, the president of Fox 21, which produces Homeland, says he thinks the writers have a “sense of where they want Carrie to be in six years.” It needs to be remembered that the story really started with Claire Danes’ CIA agent, Salke said. At a panel for a small group of journalists here at Mip-TV today, Salke also noted that Danes and co-stars Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin have input and “influence the characters.” Homeland was renewed for a third season in October.
Talking of the genesis of the original Prisoners Of War (Hatufim in Israel), Jerusalem-born Raff explained the subject was “taboo” in his home country because there are 1,500 current prisoners of war and when any POW returns, there is a severe reticence to “know what happens to them.” Prisoners Of War was the first time such a subject had been broached on local television and “in the beginning we kind of got flack for exploiting the subject for ratings, I guess, which was a ridiculous argument. But once people saw the show, the arguments subsided,” Raff said. Now, there is controversy over Prisoners Of War, which recently concluded its second season, as did Homeland, “but it’s about the show, not the subject.”
Salke said that when Fox originally optioned Prisoners Of War for 24 alums Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, “it was thought of as a network show.” Salke says he “immediately thought it was cable. You can do so many different things on cable.” Homeland was a “tough call” for Fox chairman Kevin Reilly. “People were scared”, and because of the terrorism and counter-terrorism aspects of the show it was hard to tell where the show was going, so they approached pay channels. Showtime’s David Nevins and Matt Blank “got it right away,” per Salke. Ran Tellem, who is VP Programming at the series’ Israeli broadcaster Keshet, concurred that “half the people” at the Prisoners Of War broadcaster initially “thought we couldn’t do it. We had a POW at the time.” Read More »
In Cannes to receive the 2013 Pioneer Prize at the International Digital Emmy Awards tonight, CSI franchise creator Anthony E. Zuiker talked about NBC drama pilot Wonderland during a Q&A this afternoon. Zuiker, who’s exec producing the series, said the Whit Anderson-scripted show will follow Alice and a new character, Clara. Clara is “having the worst day of her life” when she is sent to Wonderland where it turns out her father has been living for several years. To get her life back on track, Clara must rise up against Wonderland’s reigning Queen, the woman once known as Alice. Deadline recently reported that the pilot will not be produced within the regular pilot season because of the scale and complexity of the production.
Zuiker also spoke about Cybergeddon, the series for which he’s being honored here at Mip-TV. The online thriller launched on Yahoo in September last year in 25 different countries and 10 different languages. Oliver Martinez and Missy Peregrym starred in the series about the growing threat of cybercrime. Notably, the series partnered with Symantec which helped on the tech aspect, but also featured heavily. “We explained the value to them for a (project with) a shelf life of 30 years,” Zuiker said. “A 30-second spot on CSI cost $1M” at the time, but “for that same $1M for Symantec, you make a movie with a shelf life. You can’t cut the brand out of the movie,” but an ad “goes away in the blink of an eye,” he explained. Zuiker noted that he’s developing projects that involve such brands as Samsung and Dr Pepper. “Bringing a product to life and seeing it in a different way is really exciting.” Read More »
Da Vinci’s Demons creator David S. Goyer was in Cannes this morning to present clips from the new Starz/BBC Worldwide series that debuts April 12 in the U.S. The Batman trilogy and Man Of Steel scripter said he’d already had a lifelong interest in the famed inventor when he was approached for Da Vinci’s Demons and “wrote a crazy idea I never thought they’d go for.” Likening Da Vinci to the original Batman, whose cape was based Da Vinci’s glider drawings, he said the show could be seen as “Leonardo as a superhero.” British actor Tom Riley, who plays Da Vinci, was also in the MIPTV audience and showed off his ambidextrous talents in snippets from the series which got a rousing reaction. Read More »
Reporting from Cannes
The annual Mip-TV market, and its sister Mipcom, keep getting more interesting as star power grows and what’s on offer takes on an increasingly global feel. At October’s Mipcom, Kevin Spacey was in Cannes to support Netflix’s House Of Cards; Jane Campion presented BBC/Sundance Channel series Top Of The Lake; Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys were here for The Americans and even Harvey Weinstein turned up in support of The Weinstein Co.’s push into international TV sales. Mip-TV, which kicks off in earnest on Monday, will draw such speakers as BBC controller Ben Stephenson, eOne’s Darren Throop, Da Vinci’s Demons creator David S. Goyer, CSI franchise creator Anthony Zuiker, Homeland exec producers Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff, Endemol’s Tim Hincks and Discovery chief David Zaslav. Shine America CEO Rich Ross is also in town.
At these international markets, there’s an increasingly habitual fight between the big ticket drama and the reality format business. Both are lucrative in an expanding and fragmented market. But while certain companies are chasing the critical mass of the next Big Brother, others are finding it’s good to be in the scripted drama business, making deals that give them – and the shows – the most flexibility.
High-profile dramas that will be showcased here in Cannes this week include Da Vinci’s Demons which was picked up straight to series by Starz in October and premieres there on April 12. The BBC Worldwide co-production will roll out in 120 countries courtesy of Fox International Channels. (Starz is also in Cannes with the first episode of The White Queen which will premiere with star Max Irons in attendance.)
The straight-to-series deal is part of a growing trend that sees companies seek direct orders in the U.S. for a license fee, relying on international sales. Jens Richter of Red Arrow International, which sold cooking competition show The Taste to ABC, says that when it comes to drama, “For an indie, it only works if it goes straight to series. You can’t go through a pilot… and then take the risk.” Red Arrow also handles the Norway-set Lilyhammer with Steven Van Zandt which is a partnership with Netflix and is currently shooting its second season. “Everybody profits, you spread risk on various shoulders and go straight into production.” There’s also an upside for talent. They can take a backend position that’s worth “real money from day one.” Read More »
FremantleMedia has acquired global distribution rights to the follow-up to Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity. Inspired by the books of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the first series followed the authors and a host of celebrity advocates on a journey across 10 countries to showcase stories of female resilience in the face of adversity. The new untitled series will be set in the Americas and airs in the U.S. on PBS in late 2014. Maro Chermayeff, Jamie Gordon, Jeff Dupre, Mira Chang and Joshua Bennett are exec producing the program from Show of Force Productions.
Germany’s Beta Film will handle international sales on HBO Europe’s three-part mini The Burning Bush. Directed by Agnieszka Holland and based on real events, the series follows the plight of Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in protest of the Soviet occupation of Prague in 1969, and his family’s legal fight to clear his name. HBO Europe’s most ambitious project to date, the series had a successful rollout across Europe this year. It’s based on a script by Stephen Hulik and was produced by HBO Europe’s Antony Root and Tereza Polachova and Nutproducke’s Tomas Hruby and Pavla Kubeckova. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After expanding into directing, producer Tony Krantz is now making a foray into writing. Krantz and his Flame Ventures have partnered with Entertainment One for Saboteurs, an ambitious international drama series about the underground resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II. In his first-ever writing effort, Krantz penned the pilot script on spec. Given the project’s scope and setting, he sent it to eOne, which specializes in international co-productions. Not to sway them, he didn’t disclose he was the writer until he got a call a couple of days later that eOne was buying the project. (Of course, Krantz has writing in his DNA — his mother is popular novelist Judith Krantz.)
Saboteurs is a fictional story about the first resistance cell in Nazi-occupied Paris. It is set in the early months of WWII, before the U.S. got involved following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The cell consists of regular people with no training or experience who decide to fight back. Saboteurs is an action thriller chronicling their adventures as resistance fighters with a mix of Nazis, traitors, regular people and Americans. In addition to writing, Krantz will direct and executive produce. eOne is already eying U.S. cable networks for Saboteurs and is expected to meet with key international buyers at the upcoming MIPTV before officially launching the project at MIPCOM in the fall. Read More »
Russian production company J.I.T.V. has licensed the rights to adapt Keshet International format M.I.C.E. which it will also distribute in Russia and CIS. A U.S. version was set by NBC as a put pilot in September … Read More »