Tom Hardy and partner Dean Baker have been ramping up production efforts of late via their shingle Hardy Son & Baker, most recently teaming with Steven Knight and Ridley Scott for BBC period series Taboo. The pair has now entered a two-year first-look deal with NBCUniversal International Television Production to develop scripted series for the U.S. and international marketplace. Hardy and Baker founded the company in 2012 to make sophisticated, high-quality films, TV series and documentaries. Last year, they produced primetime documentary series Poaching Wars for ITV, which Hardy hosted. While the actor stays busy in features with films like the upcoming Child 44 and Mad Max: Fury Road, and this month shoots big Cannes seller Legend, he’s increasingly active on the small screen. Hardy Son & Baker is co-producing Taboo with Scott’s Scott Free, and Hardy is also starring. Knight created the drama based on an original story by Hardy and his father about an early 19th century adventurer battling the East India Company during a time in British history when the rising power of the Empire seeped into every dark corner. Hardy also has a role in the second season of BBC Two drama Peaky Blinders, which Knight, who directed Hardy feature Locke, also created.
In a statement today, Hardy said, “NBCUniversal is a great fit for Hardy Son & Baker and this partnership is a … Read More »
Matthew Lewis Joins ‘Bluestone 42′; ‘Peaky Blinders’ Renewed
Matthew Lewis, best known for playing Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movies, has joined the cast of Bluestone 42, the BBC Three comedy/drama about a fictional bomb-disposal detachment in Afghanistan. Lewis will play an ammunition technician from Leeds with a penchant for danger. The second season of Bluestone 42 starts filming later this month and returns to BBC Three with a Christmas special, followed by a six-part series in early 2014. In other BBC News, BBC One has ordered a second season of Atlantis, the fantasy adventure series that has been the biggest new Saturday night drama series launch across all channels since 2006. The 13-part series is co-produced by BBC America and is set in the mythical city of Atlantis where it re-imagines Greek myths and legends for a new generation. It was created by Merlin writer Howard Overman. Also, BBC Two has recommissioned Cillian Murphy starrer Peaky Blinders. The period gangster drama hails from Caryn Mandabach Productions and Tiger Aspect Productions. It has had an average 2.4M viewers across Season 1 and will return in 2014 with six new episodes. Peaky Blinders is created by Steven Knight and also stars Sam Neill and Helen McCrory.
‘Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model’ Off The Sky Living Runway
The CW last week officially said it had ordered a 21st cycle of America’s Next Top Model. But the British version of the competition series will not be returning to Sky Living in the UK. Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model concluded its ninth cycle earlier this year. Sky said today: “After nearly a decade on air, BINTM won’t be returning to Sky Living next year. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the talent who have been involved in the series, with particular thanks to Thumbs Up Productions, exec producer and host Elle Macpherson and this final season’s judges Dannii Minogue and Tyson Beckford.” Sky Living is not without a model competition show, however. It’s airing the British version of The Face, co-produced by Princess Productions and Shine TV. Read More »
Joann Alfano is returning to NBC as EVP at NBCUniversal International Television Production. Based in Los Angeles, she will oversee the company’s global scripted business, which includes Camp (NBC), Motive (ABC), Family Tree (HBO), Newlyweds (Bravo) as well as the upcoming Dracula (NBC) and Season 4 of Downton Abbey (PBS). She will report to division president Michael Edelstein. Alfano succeeds EVP Deborah Oppenheimer who recently joined one NBCU’s labels, Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films, though Alfano’s role will be broader. From today’s announcement:
Alfano will supervise the development and production of scripted programming across the NBCUniversal International Television portfolio of companies including Carnival, Lucky Giant and Matchbox Pictures. She will also manage the division’s strategic partnerships with both Working Title Television and Lark Productions.
In addition, she will identify and develop new projects with the goal of bringing writers and producers from the US to NBCU International production entities. She will also be in charge of the imminent expansion of the division’s Los Angeles office.
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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, non-military, international broadcasting such as Voice Of America and Radio Free Europe. Shell was named President of NBCUniversal International in 2011 after serving for six years as President of Comcast Programming Group, overseeing Comcast’s group of networks. He also is a former CEO of Gemstar TV Guide International and and held a number of positions within News Corp, including President of FOX Cable Networks Group overseeing FOX’s entertainment and sports cable programming business. Shell also worked in the Strategic Planning Group at the Walt Disney Company and at Salomon Brothers Inc. Shell currently serves on the board of the National Constitution Center. He is one of seven people announced today by the White House as nominees for various administration posts.
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 window — which typically begins more than a year after a film first appears in theaters. The deal will provide LoveFilm with titles including It’s Complicated, Nanny McPhee Returns, Leap Year, Green Zone, The Wolfman, Fast And Furious 5, Bridesmaids, Snow White and the Huntsman, Bourne Legacy, Dr Seuss’ The Lorax and Safe House. LoveFilm also has rights to films from Disney, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, Entertainment One and STUDIOCANAL. The goal is “to deliver the widest choice of content on as many platforms as possible,” says LoveFilm’s Jim Buckle. Its videos can be streamed to more than 175 devices including PCs, Macs, Playstation3, Xbox 360, iPads, and Internet-connected TV sets and Blu-ray players.
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 the company’s launch in early 2010. Pipski has history with Working Title Films, where he started his career in 1999, eventually rising to VP. He went on to serve as SVP production of Sean Bailey, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Live Planet and Michael London’s Groundswell Prods. and, most recently, as producer for Andrew Lauren Prods. At Live Planet, Pipski helped developed Enemies and Marlowe, both of which went to pilot at ABC. Since its launch, Working Title TV has landed a series order for Love Bites at NBC and has three projects at the BBC: Birdsong, an adaptation of the Sebastian Faulks novel; The Borrowers; and Love in London, starring David Tennant and Rosamund Pike. “We are delighted to welcome Daniel back into the Working Title fold,” said Fellner, Working Title’s co-chairman. “He started his career with us in 1999 and immediately proved himself a star. His taste and relationships are impeccable, and he will be the perfect person to lead our charge into the television arena.”
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 »