Sky Arts HD is getting ready for its annual Playhouse Presents series which returns to the channel this May. The showcase is devoted to one-off comedies and dramas with talent lined up this year to include Matthew Perry, Billie Piper, Ben Wishaw, Mark Strong, Jo Brand, Simon Callow, Cara Delevingne, Lindsay Duncan, Kevin Eldon, Jane Horrocks, Daniel Mays, Sylvia Syms, Ashley Walters, Jason Watkins and Richard Wilson. Previous editions have had such names as Jon Hamm, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Thompson, Idris Elba and David Tennant. This year also involves the writing talents of Oscar-winner Peter Straughan, among others. Perry, who’s prepping his Odd Couple pilot at CBS, will make his UK TV comedy debut with The Dog Thrower, the story of a man who finds fame, then infamy, when he starts throwing his dog. It’s produced by Runaway Fridge. Among the other offerings, Piper and Whishaw will star in Foxtrot from Sprout Pictures, about a gang heist gone wrong; Syms and Delevingne play unlikely friends in Timeless, a story of love, loss and hope, written by Tim Firth (Calendar Girls) and produced by Steve Coogan’s Baby Cow; and Strong will star as a tormented movie actor in the Straughan-penned Nosferatu In Love from Bonafide Films.
The doctors are in, again. Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe have signed on for a second series of A Young Doctor’s Notebook & Other Stories. The Big Talk Productions mini will return later this year on Sky Arts in the UK. The first four-part series originally aired in December 2012 and was the most successful program in Sky Arts history. Ovation will air series one this fall in the U.S. The adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s short stories sees Hamm as a Russian doctor during the Russian Revolution, and Radcliffe as his younger self. The comedy-drama’s second series will return to the small village of Muryevo in 1918 to find the Young Doctor battling against an all-consuming morphine addiction.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Sky Arts Talks With Music Legends; Idris Elba To Produce ‘One Square Mile’; More
UK’s Sky Arts ‘Talks Music’ With The Stars
Britain’s Sky Arts is launching a new music interview series, …Talks Music. The 10-part show will look at the careers of some of the world’s most iconic music legends. Confirmed guests so far include Nile Rodgers, Boy George, Jeff Beck and Blondie’s Deborah Harry and Chris Stein. Whizz Kid Entertainment is producing, with Malcolm Gerrie conducting the sit-downs in front of a live studio audience. Gerrie and guests will also take questions from the floor. Jeff Wurtz, of Inside The Actors Studio, is directing and Gerrie is exec producing. A fall debut is planned.
Modern Times Group Buys Into UK Market For $23.6M
Modern Times Group, an international broadcasting outfit that operates free and pay-TV in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Russia and Africa, has added a UK-based international distributor to its portfolio with the acquisition of 92.4% of Digital Rights Group for £15M ($23.6M). Titles in the Digital Rights Group stable include The Inbetweeners, The Singing Bee, Kingdom, Sea Patrol and Criminal Justice. DRG founder and former CEO Jeremy Fox will return to the company, replacing exiting managing director Jonathan Jackson. MTG also picked up a 51% stake in Norwegian producer Novemberfilm for an undisclosed sum. The Oslo-based company produces series and commercials including key formats The Zookeepers, Insider and Missing.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Monolith Films & DreamWorks Ink Distribution Deal, Leonardo Da Vinci Docu Set For UK Premiere
Monolith Films has inked a long-term deal to distribute DreamWorks films in Poland. ”We feel honoured to become a strategic distribution partner of such a legendary film studio as DreamWorks. As the leading, independent distributor in Poland we have great hope that this partnership will lead to several joint projects that will be successful both on the Polish and international film distribution market,” Mariusz Łukowmski, president of Monolith group, told Film New Europe, which first reported the deal. The upcoming DreamWorks titles slated for distribution include the Vince Vaughn-starrer The Delivery Man; The Fifth Estate, a drama about the WikiLeaks scandal; and the action pic Need For Speed.
While its sister channel Sky Atlantic gears up BBC America co-production Fleming, Sky Arts has assembled an all-star roster for its new Playhouse Presents showcase. The slate of new shows is part of the paybox’s commitment to increase investment in original content to £600M by 2014. The previous Playhouse Presents series, which included such talent as Jon Hamm, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Thompson and David Tenant, was the most successful ever for the Sky Arts channel. This year’s lineup includes Kylie Minogue, David Harewood, Anna Friel, Matt Smith, Idris Elba and Vanessa Redgrave, among others. Doctor Who‘s Smith will make his directing debut with Cargese starring Being Human‘s Craig Roberts and A Long Way Down‘s Joe Cole. Luther star Elba will helm The Pavement Psychologist from his own script that centers on Friel as a woman whose world is turned upside down when she meets a homeless man. Stephen Fry‘s Sprout Pictures produces. Also from Sprout, dark comedy Hey Diddly Dee will star Minogue and Homeland‘s Harewood while Redgrave stars in Union Square, a story of loneliness in the big city, written and directed by her son Carlo Nero. The series of programs starts in the UK in March.
Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe have teamed for the Sky Arts Playhouse Presents miniseries, a four-part comedy-drama based on a collection of semi-autobiographical short stories by Russian writer and playwright Mikhail Bulgakov. Radcliffe plays a young doctor working in a small village in 1917, and Hamm plays his older version; the two meet is a series of exchanges throughout (Don Draper and Harry Potter sharing a bath!). A Young Doctor’s Notebook is exec produced by Big Talk Productions and Hamm’s Point West Pictures. It debuts in the UK on December 6, but there’s no U.S. date or broadcaster so far.