Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
EXCLUSIVE: The Australian Broadcasting Corp. has ordered Old School, an eight-part series about an ex-criminal and an ex-cop who go into business together, from Matchbox Pictures. Global sales outside Australia will be handled by NBCUniversal International, which owns 60% of Matchbox, producers of The Slap, Underground – The Julian Assange Story and The Straits. In the vein of New Tricks, the BBC comedy-drama series about a bunch of retired cops turned sleuths, Old School was created by Paul Oliver and will be executive produced by Matchbox’s Tony Ayres and Helen Panckhurst. Matchbox has a busy slate for 2013 including reality shows The Real Housewives for Foxtel, Formal Wars for the Seven Network, Next Stop Hollywood for ABC, children’s drama Lost Boys for ABC, drama series Return To The Devil’s Playground for Foxtel and Ayres’ theatrical feature Cut Snake, which will star Sullivan Stapleton and Ryan Kwanten.
In a blow to comers Netflix and Lovefilm, the UK’s Sky has entered a new multi-year deal with NBCUniversal International Television Distribution that will give it exclusive rights to current, upcoming and library film titles for its Sky Movies service. The pact will give customers an exclusive first window to Universal films after their theatrical runs for at least a year. Titles covered include The Bourne Legacy, Snow White And The Huntsman, Ted and, down the road, Les Miserables, Anna Karenina and Despicable Me 2. All movies will also be available on Sky’s recently-launched video on demand service Now TV.
The deal comes on the heels of September’s exclusive arrangement with Warner Bros. for recent and upcoming titles. That extended agreement was Sky’s first with a Hollywood major since Netflix appeared on the scene at the beginning of 2012. It was also the first pact announced with a major after the UK’s Competition Commission confirmed this summer that the News Corp-controlled Sky does not have a material advantage over its rivals in the first window pay-TV arena. These latest agreements mean that Sky retains exclusive first window rights to films from all of the Hollywood majors. Read More »
President Obama says he intends to nominate Jeffrey Shell as Member and Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The independent federal agency, formed on October 1, 1999, is responsible for all U.S. government and government sponsored, … Read More »
LoveFilm raises the stakes this morning in its battle with Netflix to dominate the UK streaming market. The Amazon-owned service says it has an exclusive multiyear license with NBCUniversal International Television Distribution for Universal Studios titles in the second pay … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Daniel Pipski has been named head of Working Title Television, the joint venture between NBCUniversal International and U.K.-based Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. He replaces Shelley McCrory, who had served as Working Title TV president since … Read More »
In another executive fallout from the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, Peter Smith, the popular president of NBCU International, is leaving the company at the end of this month. I’m told that Smith felt edged out by former Comcast Programming Group President Jeff Shell who’s been brought in from the U.S. to oversee international TV production division of NBC Universal as chairman of NBCU International. “He could have taken a lesser job but it’s a bit of a shame,” says a friend. “This kind of thing always goes on whenever you have new management.” Smith, whose resume also includes a stint at PolyGram, tells me he hasn’t decided what to do next. At NBCU International, Smith was behind the company’s acquisition of Carnival Film & Television in 2008, which brought to the fold the ITV/PBS hit Downton Abbey. As part of the post-merger top management restructuring, Steve Burke, chairman of the combined NBCUniversal, announced in November that Smith would be reporting to Shell. Read More »