Gareth Neame came to Summer TV Press Tour 2013 to talk about PBS’ broadcast of The Hollow Crown – NBCUniversal International’s filmed adaptations of four of Shakespeare’s most gripping history plays: Richard II; Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; and Henry V. Collectively, they’re the first miniseries, says Neame, the managing director of Carnival Films (Downton Abbey) – the production company he sold to NBCU in ’08. The lavish series chronicles the rise and fall of three kings who shaped English history. The series starts with vain, self-indulgent Richard II (Ben Whishaw), who is ultimately overthrown by his cousin Bolingbroke (Rory Kinnear), who ascends the throne as Henry IV (Jeremy Irons). Henry IV’s reign is marred by his own guilt over Richard’s death, civil war, and the fear that his son Hal (Tom Hiddleston) is a wastrel and unworthy of the throne.
These Shakespearan plays are completely interconnected and intertwined, Neame said this afternoon. “And in this age where we’re all talking about these 10 or 12-part [miniseries] about power and family, I looked at this as the beginning of it… These four together, watch the continuity of them, and it is amazing to look at – 300 years ago the same sense of narrative as modern narratives.”
Wallander, Millennium Triology and Fort Boyard producer and distributor Zodiak Media today said it would reorganize its London- and Paris-based international sales operation, Zodiak Rights. As a result of the restructure, managing director of Zodiak Rights London, Jane Millichip, will exit the company at the end of January. The newly-created role of COO will be filled by former director of broadcast at NBCUniversal’s KidsCo TV, Sara Wookey.
From Januray 1, rather than be territoriy-based, Zodiak Rights’ new structure will be genre-based and include five divisions: non-scripted, scripted, kids, digital & publishing and clips. All non-scripted programming will be sold out of London while scripted will trade out of Paris. All other divisions will be based out of London. Zodiak Rights CEO, Matthew Frank, said the shift would “provide absolute clarity for buyers on where they should be going.”
In its second full development cycle, Working Title Television has sold six series projects in broadcast and cable. This is the largest slate in the 21-month history of the TV production company, a joint venture between NBCUniversal International and Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner that in July tapped Daniel Pipski as its new head. Four of Working Title TV’s six projects are at NBC and Universal Television, which have a first-look deal with the company through the joint venture arrangement: dramas We, The Potters written by David Sussman, McMafia written by Matt Johnson & John Turman and Gypsy Tea Room written by Chris Monger, and comedy My Nuclear Family penned by Lucy Dahl. Universal TV also produces The Outside Man, a light drama Working Title TV has in the works at NBCU’s flagship cable network USA with Matt Johnson and John Turman writing. The company’s remaining project, thriller drama Off The Grid, was set up at ABC before the recent relaunch of the former NBC production arm as a full-fledged studio producing for all networks, so it will be shepherded through ABC Studios. Read More »
The ramifications of Comcast’s takeover of NBC Universal continue to be felt overseas too. Roma Khanna, president of Universal Networks International, has decided to quit NBCU International. Kevin MacLellan is moving from Los Angeles to London having been named president, international television. He’s a Comcast guy, and the move underscores the cable TV giant asserting its grip internationally under new NBCUniversal International chairman Jeff Shell, formerly president of Comcast Programming Group, whose appointment prompted last month’s exit of Peter Smith, the popular president of NBCU International. Khanna denies that her decision to quit has anything to do with MacLellan getting the top job. “I think Kevin is a great choice,” she tells me. “Jeff Shell offered me a role and we had a really great conversation about it, but it wasn’t something that I wanted to do.” Belinda Menendez, president of NBCU international TV distribution, is also relocating from LA to London. Menendez’s new expanded role will see her not only being in charge of TV program distribution, but also taking over Khanna’s job of running NBCU’s overseas channels business, Universal Networks International. These include channels Syfy Universal, Diva Universal and 13th Street Universal. Rowan Conn has been named chief financial officer.
EXCLUSIVE: NBC Universal International has acquired independent U.K. production company Monkey Kingdom. The pact represents the first acquisition at NBCU International by the company’s TV production president Michael Edelstein. It also marks the third production venture for NBCU International following the 2008 acquisition of Carnival Film & Television and the launch earlier this year of WTTV, NBCU’s joint venture with Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. It is part of NBCU International’s expansion under president Peter Smith as NBCU looks to achieve $5 billion in non-US revenues.
Under the terms of the agreement, NBCU International will acquire 100% of Monkey Kingdom as well as its library rights. Monkey Kingdom was founded in 2001 by veteran producers David Granger and Will Macdonald. The company, whose main focus is in the unscripted area, has produced such series as The Charlotte Church Show, Comedy Roasts, My Kind Of Town, Make My Day, The Passions of Girls Aloud and Newlyweds. In the digital content space, it is behind The Secret World of Sam King, a 60-episode drama for Bebo. Now part of NBCU’s International TV Production unit, Monkey will continue to be run by Granger and Macdonald reporting to Gareth Neame, Managing Director, UK. Monkey will work closely with Neame and Sophie Lloyd of Peacock Prods., an NBC Universal non-fiction production unit that uses the resources of NBC News.