Reality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.
In mid-May, 21st Century Fox surprised industry watchers when it announced its intent to form a joint venture with Apollo Global Management that would include the Shine Group, Endemol and CORE Media Group. Apollo had been known to be contemplating a tie-up of Big Brother producer Endemol and American Idol parent CORE Media, but the Shine element was new. What was unsurprising was this further move towards consolidation in the TV production sector which has seen myriad companies – big and small — acquired by the likes of Discovery, Warner Bros, ITV, Sony and Red Arrow to name a few, in the past year and a half. Folks caution that it’s still early days for a potential combined Shine-Endemol-Core, but that the desire is there to see such a deal come to fruition. If it does, it will create a so-called Mega Indie that would be one of the world’s biggest independent production companies working across both scripted and non-scripted. 21st Century Fox and funds managed by affiliates of Apollo would co-own and manage the new joint venture. Read More »
Michael Brooks, previously SVP Entertainment Programming & Development at BBC Worldwide Productions and Adjacent Productions, has been tapped as SVP Unscripted Programming at Shine America. Part of the 21st Century Fox-owned Shine Group, Shine America’s current shows include MasterChef, MasterChef Junior, Riot, The Biggest Loser, The Face and the upcoming Restaurant Startup and Fake Off. Brooks will manage current production on many of the company’s unscripted series. “With numerous new series in development and the overall growth of our unscripted slate, Michael is a timely and crucial addition to the Shine America team,” said Paul Franklin, EVP Unscripted, to whom Brooks will report. The exec joined BBC Worldwide Productions in 2010 and developed and produced various titles including Top Gear, Breaking Pointe, Mud, Sweat & Gears and Lives On Fire. Prior to joining BBC Worldwide, Brooks produced five seasons of hit reality-competition series Dancing With The Stars and was part of the team that launched the show in the U.S. He was also co-executive producer across the UK’s I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! Brooks began his career in Australia, where he produced a number of successful entertainment and reality shows.
Veteran TV exec Stephen Garrett is leaving the Shine Group later this year. He is currently Chairman of Kudos, one of the UK’s leading indies, which he co-founded two decades ago and which was acquired by Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine in 2007. The company’s recent credits include Broadchurch, The Hour and Vicious. Garrett is also leaving his post as Executive Chairman of Shine Pictures. Under his stewardship, that feature division has made such titles as Eastern Promises, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen and Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. Upcoming projects, including the Gregory Burke-penned Blowback, will be led by Shine Pictures’ Head of Film Ollie Madden. Together, Shine Pictures and Kudos are currently co-producing feature Spooks: The Greater Good which Garrett is producing with Madden and Kudos CEO Jane Featherstone. Read More »
Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group has promoted Kelly Webb-Lamb to managing director of MasterChef producer Shine TV. The exec has spent the past 18 months as creative director of London-based Shine TV which also encompasses the Shine Soho offices, where all MasterChef series are produced, and Salford-based Shine North. Since joining Shine last year, Webb-Lamb has had a hand in such series as Britain’s Best Bakery (ITV1), Jewish Mum Of The Year (C4), and Ashley Banjo’s Street Crew (Sky1). Recent commissions for Shine TV include Saturday Farm With Dick And James Strawbridge (ITV1), and documentaries Karaoke Nights (C4) and Idris Elba: King Of Speed (BBC2). Webb-Lamb was previously Director of Factual Programmes at Princess Productions where she served as exec producer on Sky 1’s Got To Dance. Her other exec producing credits include Gordon Ramsay: Cook Along Live and Ramsay’s Great British Nightmare.
Idris Elba is heading out on an international driving tour in two-part documentary King Of Speed. The Shine North/Shine TV production is a look at the origins of the car racing scene. The two hours will air on BBC Two; Elba’s detective series Luther airs on BBC One. Elba will visit racetracks in the U.S., Scotland and Finland among other locales to trace the political, social and historical evolution of racing from prohibition to today. The shows will include elements of NASCAR, vintage police chases and Japanese drifting. Among his co-pilots will be Cannonball Run creator Brock Yates. Rick Murray is exec producing with Tim Whitwell; Southan Morris is producing and directing. Production is currently underway, but no airdate has been set.
Shine-owned production company Kudos has partnered with Imaginary Friends Productions for an exclusive two-year, first-look deal. Imaginary Friends is run by Broadchurch writer and exec producer Chris Chibnall. He’s coming off the first season of the hit ITV show which had all of Britain engrossed. Kudos will have first crack at co-developing and co-producing Chibnall’s new scripted projects. As with Broadchurch, he would exec produce alongside Kudos CEO Jane Featherstone. Shine International will rep sales. Broadchurch was renewed for a second season and will air in the U.S later this year on BBC America. Chibnall previously worked with Kudos as a writer on Life On Mars and a showrunner on Law & Order: UK.
Shine International Takes Interim Tag Off Nohr
More than eight months after Nadine Nohr stepped in as interim CEO at Shine International, the company has made her gig permanent. Two years ago, the exec supervised the unit’s revamp and relocation. She began as a consultant to Shine International, the sales and distribution arm of the Shine Group, in 2011. Her resume includes a dozen years at Granada International. Read More »
The new memorandum of understanding should end a suit in Delaware’s Chancery Court that stemmed from News Corp’s $675M acquisition of Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group. Shareholders led by Amalgamated Bank charged that the high price showed that her dad, Rupert, “has operated News Corp. as his own private fiefdom with little or no effective oversight from the board.” Under the settlement, News Corp walks away with no admission of wrongdoing — but also agreeing to governance practices that enhance the power of independent directors, provide more transparency about the company’s political contributions, and encourage anonymous whistleblowing. Due to the unusual way the case was structured — Amalgamated sued the board on behalf of News Corp — the company will collect $139M from insurance proceeds. The agreement ends a headache for News Corp as it prepares to split into two companies: one featuring its entertainment assets and the other with publishing ones including The Wall Street Journal. News Corp says that it already has begun to modernize its governance and has “committed to building on those efforts going forward.” Read More »
Former Battlestar Galactica star Jamie Bamber has landed the lead in Sky1 HD’s upcoming eight-part series, The Smoke. Bamber, who also stars in TNT’s David E. Kelley medical drama Monday Mornings, will play a firefighter in the drama about the lives of a crew in a London fire station. Rhashan Stone (Strike Back) has also been cast along with Pippa Bennett-Warner and Taron Egerton. Written by Lucy Kirkwood (Skins), the series hails from Shine’s Kudos Film and Television. Production is gearing up in London for air in early 2014. Law & Order UK and Broadchurch‘s Jane Featherstone is exec producing with The Hour‘s Noelle Morris for Kudos. Anne Mensah is exec producer for Sky; Mike Barker (Silent Witness) is directing; Chris Fry (Mayday) is producer. Bamber is repped by Alan Siegel Entertainment, Paradigm and Independent Talent.
Prime Focus Pulls Into China; UK May Shore Up VFX Industry
The gloomy VFX scene saw a few bright spots in the international market today. In the UK, the 2013 budget was unveiled and along with it, news that the Treasury will launch a public consultation on options to provide further support for the VFX industry via the tax system. In total, the creative industries received an extra £25M to help boost economic growth. Meanwhile, VFX specialist Prime Focus said it is setting up a Chinese joint venture with Hong Kong–based private equity group AID Partners and local partner Zhejiang Jingqi Wenhua Chuanbo Company. Prime Focus, which is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and has offices in the U.S., Canada, the UK and India, will invest $3M in the new operation which will provide services including 2D/3D conversion, VFX and post-production services on the mainland and in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. At the same time, AID, whose investments include Legendary Pictures and HMV Asia, has invested $10M in Prime Focus’ Netherlands subsidiary, Prime Focus World NV. The group’s credits include Shrek, Transformers 3, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, The Smurfs and Men In Black 3. Read More »
After launching on Oxygen in the U.S. last month, model reality show The Face will make its way to Britain. Sky Living has picked up the original series and ordered a local format to be co-produced by Princess Productions and Shine TV. Shine America produces the U.S. version that stars Naomi Campbell who will also topline and executive produce the UK version. Two other supermodels will join Campbell to mentor three teams of four girls over eight weeks as they compete in photo shoots, runway shows and commercials. The last girl standing will be crowned the face of a globally known brand. Production starts in the spring with contestant auditions being held now throughout the UK for girls 18 and older.
A new UK broadcast drama rivalry played out on Monday as ITV’s Broadchurch kicked off at 9pm, going head-to-head with the BBC’s Mayday. The five-part Mayday started its run on Sunday night, drawing 6.23M viewers, and will air over consecutive evenings this week. The contemporary ensemble is centered around a Mayday parade where a local girl goes missing. But on Monday, the show shed viewers who flocked to ITV for Broadchurch which stars David Tennant and Olivia Colman and will air on BBC America later this year. The eight-part drama explores what happens to a small coastal community when a media frenzy comes to town after a young boy is murdered and scored 6.15M viewers with an extra 716,000 on +1. Mayday in turn tumbled to 4.3M. Both shows received strong reviews in Britain and both are produced by Kudos Film and Television, part of Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group. Mayday does not yet have a U.S. broadcaster.
Mark Wahlberg Calls On Canada To Restore Film Tax Incentives
Mark Wahlberg is urging the Canadian government to restore federal tax incentives for film production. “We are really trying to encourage the government to reinstate these tax incentives to bring film and cinema back to Canada,” Wahlberg told The Globe And Mail in Toronto. Wahlberg, who has made seven movies in Canada, says a steady reduction in government tax subsidies means fewer Hollywood projects will be made there. Wahlberg’s Canadian-shot films include Fear, Shooter, The Big Hit, and Max Payne. Read More »
‘MasterChef’ Renewed In China, ‘Minute To Win It’ Goes Local
Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group and the Shanghai Media Group have pacted for the second series of cooking reality competition show MasterChef China and for a local take on the beat-the-clock themed Minute To Win It. Both will go out on SMG’s Dragon TV. The first series of MasterChef China ends next week after so far reaching an audience of 118M. Pre-production is to start immediately on the new season and on Minute To Win It with both to air next year. Read More »
Three years after her brother James Murdoch delivered the keynote MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Elisabeth Murdoch put her own mark on the event Thursday evening. The first woman to deliver the address in 17 years, she said in her opening remarks that being asked to give the speech was an honor and “a massive pain in the ass.” However, she allowed, “Writing a MacTaggart has been quite a welcome distraction from some of the other nightmares much closer to home. Yes, you have met some of my family before – the committee may be less than keen on women, but by god, you do love a Murdoch.” She spoke fondly of her background and her family – while taking a dig here and there – and also addressed some of the issues facing News Corp, which owns the Shine production group that she founded in 2001, as well as calling out her brother and urging her peers to connect with their audience.
RELATED: Top British Politician: The “Age Of Deference To The Murdochs” Is Over
Of her somewhat controversial decision to sell Shine to News Corp. last year, Murdoch said, “After various considerations it became clear to me that News Corp. was the best strategic home for us. Now, I can almost hear you thinking ‘No shit, Sherlock,’ but in many ways it was the very last place I wanted to go. I really hadn’t spent 12 years on my own just to do what was expected of me. But there was, and still is, irresistible logic to it.”
“Obviously News is also a company that is currently asking itself some very significant and difficult questions about how some behaviors fell so far short of its values,” she said. “Personally, I believe one of the biggest lessons of the past year has been the need for any organization to discuss, affirm and institutionalize a rigorous set of values based on an explicit statement of purpose.” Read More »