After an 8-year stint in the U.S., producer Simon Andreae is headed back to Britain to hang production shingle Scarlet Media. Sony Pictures Television is backing the venture and taking a majority stake. It will also distribute Scarlet’s output internationally. This marks the fifth UK production company owned by SPT and its 19th international outfit. London-based Scarlet Media will focus on original factual and factual entertainment formats as well as series and specials. Andreae will be managing director, reporting to SPT president of international production Andrea Wong. Most recently, Andreae was SVP West Coast Development and Production for Discovery. He is also founder of LA-based The Incubator and a former Channel 4 exec. SPT’s other UK production companies are Left Bank Pictures, Gogglebox Entertainment, Silver River and Victory Television.
EXCLUSIVE: Sheldon Turner and Jennifer Klein have signed a first-look deal at Sony Pictures Television for their Vendetta Prods. Under the pact, the two will continue to develop and executive produce series for the broadcast networks while also expanding into cable, with Turner set to write some of the projects. Since launching Vendetta in 2011, Turner and Klein had been based at ABC Studios where they most recently set up Skindeep, written by Sheldon, and Black Friday, penned by Ken Nolan, at ABC this past season.
The Breaking Bad veteran will continue to develop original projects for the studio and will serve as co-EP on Fox’s upcoming midseason drama Rake. Sam Catlin shared a pair of Emmy noms for AMC’s Breaking Bad as Outstanding Drama Series in 2010 and 2012 and won the WGA Award last year. His credits also include Canterbury’s Law, Kidnapped and the comedy feature The Great New Wonderful. Catlin, who also signed a 2-year overall deal with Sony Pictures Television in August 2011, is represented by UTA and attorney Ken Richman.
Long before Amanda Knox, Casey Anthony and Jodi Arias, there was another young American woman on a trial for murder that became a media spectacle. I’ve learned exclusively that Christina Ricci has been tapped to play Lizzie Borden in a Lifetime original movie about the woman tried and acquitted in the 1892 ax murders of her father and stepmother. Directed by Nick Gomez and produced by Sony Pictures Television, the movie tells the story of Fall River, Mass., resident Borden, who finds herself on trial for the brutal murder with a hatchet-type weapon of her father, Andrew Jackson Borden, and his second wife, Abby Durfee Gray Borden, at their family home. She was acquitted at a trial, which drew national attention, though no one else was ever charged with the crime, which has remained unsolved. Despite being found guilty in the court of public opinion in her native town, at least in some circles, Borden lived in Fall River for the rest of her life. Judith Verno (Lifetime’s Drew Peterson: Untouchable) executive produces the movie, which joins such recent entries at the network as Amanda Knox: Murder On Trial In Italy, Prosecuting Casey Anthony and the upcoming Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret, which also is exec produced by Verno. Elizabeth Montgomery played Borden in the 1975 ABC movie The Legend Of Lizzie …
EXCLUSIVE: Veteran drama showrunner John Eisendrath has signed a new two-year overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. Under his previous overall pact with Sony, Eisendrath most recently helped develop Jon Bokenkamp’s drama project The Blacklist for NBC and served as executive producer/showrunner on the pilot. He continues as executive producer/showrunner on The Blacklist, which was picked up to series after the pilot became NBC’s best testing pilot in 10 years and landed the network’s best slot on the fall schedule, behind The Voice on Monday. ICM Partners-repped Eisendrath created and exec produced the praised 2003 ESPN drama series Playmakers. He also served as executive producer/showrunner on NBC’s Outlaw and My Own Worst Enemy and executive produced ABC’s Alias, Fox’s Beverly Hills, 90210 and the WB’s Felicity.
Everybody Loves Raymond has already been adapted for foreign audiences including in Russia, where the process was the subject of 2010 documentary Exporting Raymond. Now, the BBC has confirmed that a pilot for a UK remake will be shot for BBC One later this month. British comic actor-writer Lee Mack is penning the pilot for The Smiths and will star alongside The Office‘s Catherine Tate. Just as Ray Romano did on the Emmy-winning CBS sitcom that ran from 1996-2005, Mack will play a successful sportswriter whose overbearing parents and older brother live next door, but the action will move from Long Island to the English county of Cheshire. Tate plays Mack’s wife in a role originated by Patricia Heaton, and further cast is to be confirmed.
The new facility, Colorworks 4K Television is located at the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, and will provide services for original shows shot in 4K as well as 4K remastering. The facility features two 4K grading suites and one editorial finishing suite, with direct synergy to Sony Pictures Television Backbone. Sony cites what it claims is growing demand for the format after the unveiling of new 4K camera systems, of which Sony produces two. HD broadcasts are not yet universal in US homes, with low power stations still not required to make the transition, but since the 2009 conversion the format has grown in prevalence, even if global shipments of HD televisions declined by 4% in 2012.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Jane Campion Returns To Cannes, SPT In Germany, The Agency Group & Maggie Simpson
Jane Campion To Judge Shorts In Cannes
The only woman to ever win the Palme d’Or will return to Cannes this May as president of the Cinéfondation and Short Film Jury of the 66th Cannes Film Festival. In 1986, Jane Campion won the short film Palme d’or for Peel and in 1993 made history when she took the top prize in the main competition with The Piano. Her last film, Bright Star, was presented in competition at Cannes in 2009. The Cinéfondation and Short Film jury is made up of five judges who choose three prize winners from among the Cinéfondation’s selection of film school entrants and the winner of the short film Palme d’Or, which this year will be presented during the closing ceremony of the Festival, on May 26.
Nathalie Lubensky will manage the global marketing and branding initiatives for Sony Pictures Television’s networks portfolio that spans 159 countries and reaches more than 800 million homes. She’s responsible for building local, relevant brands; expanding and pursuing new networks marketing opportunities as well as supporting advertiser sales for existing networks brands such as AXN, SET, Animax, SPIN, ONE and MAX and their brand extensions. Most recently Lubensky served as SVP marketing for media networks across Disney and ESPN and previously served as marketing consultant for the U.S. Fund for Unicef. In another move, Tom Keeter, who served as SVP marketing, has expanded his role to SVP marketing, international distribution and international production. Keeter joined SPT in 1996 as marketing director for the international television division. Since 1998 he’s been based in London, overseeing marketing for the EMEA region, helping launch SPT’s networks business in Europe and Africa as well as supporting its distribution and local production businesses.
London, UK (19 November, 2012) — Sony Pictures Television (SPT) has appointed Richard Parsons as senior vice president for corporate business and legal affairs, international production, it was announced today. In this role, Parsons will lead corporate business affairs for SPT’s portfolio of international production companies and manage deal executions on acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic partnerships.
Parsons will report to Corii Berg, SPT’s senior executive vice president, business affairs, in Los Angeles. He takes up his role later this month and will be based at SPT’s London office.
Global Showbiz Briefs: CAA’s Frank Jung Joins CAPE Board, Foxtel Launches Foxtel Go, Youku, Sony, Shine’s Dragonfly
CAA’s Frank Jung Joins CAPE Board Of Directors
CAA’s Frank Jung has joined the board of directors for the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE). Jung, a television and digital packaging agent at CAA, joins YouTube’s Bing Chen and Dancing With The Stars’ judge Carrie Ann Inaba as new CAPE board members. Jung’s clients include Mike Sussman, co-creator of TNT’s Perception, Sang Kim, writer/producer of The Walking Dead and Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum. In September CAPE, in partnership with NBCUniversal, hosted the 12th Annual New Writers Awards. Other executives and artists on CAPE’s Council of Advisors and Board of Directors include Ang Lee, John Woo, Dean Devlin, David Henry Hwang, Lou Diamond Phillips, B.D. Wong, Janet Yang, and Teddy Zee.
Foxtel Launches Mobile Service Foxtel Go
Australia’s biggest TV platform Foxtel today launched Foxtel Go, enabling subscribers to watch 21 live channels including A&E, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Sky News, Disney and Fox Sports on iPads. The mobile service also includes hundreds of catch-up episodes of series such as The Walking Dead, Gossip Girl, Magic City, Vampire Diaries, Gravity Falls, Spooks and Haven. The initiative is part of Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein’s strategy to introduce new services to reduce churn and to grow pay TV penetration from 34% to 50% over the next five years. “The TV landscape has changed, viewers are not just watching TV in the living room, they’re watching TV on the way to work, at the beach or in another room of the house,” he said. “Foxtel Go is the biggest thing we’ve launched since digital and (the PVR) iQ.”- Don Groves.
The acquisition of a majority stake in UK producer Left Bank Pictures brings Sony Pictures Television‘s British portfolio to four companies. Left Bank’s TV series include the Kenneth Branagh-starring Wallander, in partnership with the BBC, Sky drama Mad Dogs and the Sky/HBO Cinemax action series Strike Back. It’s also active in the feature sector, with credits that include the Luc Besson-directed The Lady and soccer drama The Damned United, which Sony Pictures Classics released in the U.S. Left Bank founders Andy Harries and Marigo Kehoe will remain at the company’s London office with Harries now reporting to SPT president of international production, Andrea Wong. SPT will also distribute Left Bank’s TV content and will have a first-look option on features. SPT is already entrenched in the UK via Gogglebox Entertainment, Victory Television and Silver River.
Sony Pictures Television is upping its stake in Indian TV group Multi Screen Media. SPT will acquire a further 32% of shares in MSM from Grandway Global Holdings and Atlas Equifin in a transaction valued at $271M. Subject to government approval, the deal will see SPT’s interest in MSM jump to a little over 94%. MSM operates TV networks in India with channels that include Sony Entertainment Television; premium movie and events channel MAX; Hindi entertainment channel SAB; PIX, which airs Hollywood films; music channel MIX and sports channel SIX.
Upcoming contemporary thriller series Hannibal will be broadcast on Sony Pictures Television’s AXN networks in 18 languages across 63 countries. Production is expected to start in late July on the 13-episodes that trace the early relationship of Thomas Harris’s legendary character, Hannibal Lecter, and his patient, a young FBI criminal profiler. Hugh Dancy is playing the FBI agent. Gaumont International Television is producing in association with SPT Networks. Bryan Fuller exec produces and David Slade directs. NBC has already picked up the series to air mid-season with a near day-and-date release set across AXN’s footprint.
Five-time Emmy® Award-winning producer Corin Nelson has been named executive producer of Queen Latifah‘s new syndicated talk show from Flavor Unit Entertainment, Overbrook Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television. The multi-topic daytime series, covering everything under the umbrella of entertainment, is expected to launch in the fall of 2013.
“Given Queen Latifah’s profile, stature and accomplishments, it was vital for us to find someone who complemented such a tremendous talent to helm this show,” said Holly Jacobs, executive vice president, U.S. reality and syndicated programming, Sony Pictures Television. “We knew the diversity of Corin’s experience in daytime and late night, her collaborative spirit, tremendous creative chops and passion for the medium made her a perfect match.
Just ahead of next month’s MIP TV market, Sony Pictures Television has added to its international production and distribution business by taking a majority stake in UK indie producer Silver River. Silver River works across a wide range of genres with programs on such UK channels as BBC1, ITV1 and Channel 4. Its current slate includes documentary Elizabeth Taylor – Queen Of Diamonds which explores the late legend’s life through jewelry and fashion. SPT’s distribution arm, which will now rep Silver River programs and formats internationally, will launch Elizabeth Taylor and other titles including anti-cosmetic surgery show Say No To The Knife at MIP in April. Silver River’s Daisy Goodwin will continue as president of the London-based company and now reports to SPT’s president of international production Andrea Wong. The addition of Silver River marks SPT’s 3rd UK production venture alongside Gogglebox Entertainment and Victory Television.
In other Sony news, SPT Networks has announced the launch of a dedicated film channel for the UK. The Sony Movie Channel will debut in the spring with contemporary library features and TV movies from Sony Pictures as well as other studios and indie distributors. The channel will be carried on pay-TV Sky’s basic package.
Sony Pictures Television and Spanish-language giant Televisa have signed an exclusive first-look co-production deal for scripted, unscripted and telenovela formats. Under the pact, SPT will get a first-look at all of Televisa’s scripted and unscripted formats for potential co-production worldwide, excluding the U.S. and Latin America. In turn, Televisa will get a first look at SPT scripted formats for co-production opportunities in Spain. The two companies will co-produce any new program that comes out of the partnership. This is not the first time SPT and Televisa have been in business together. In 2008, Televisa gave SPT International a 13-episode order for scripted series Los Simuladores (The Pretenders).
‘Arthur Christmas’ Slays ‘Em In The UK
Sony Pictures Animation and Aardman’s Arthur Christmas jumped to the top of the UK box office this weekend – in its fourth week of release. This bit of holiday magic came courtesy of a £1.9 million weekend take for a cume of £11.5 million. The film has been holding steady in second place since it bowed on November 11 and this weekend faced off against Happy Feet Two for the family audience. Largely positive notices and the British voice cast — including James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton — have no doubt been a local draw. Sony Pictures Releasing UK’s Peter Taylor said: “Opening a movie at No. 1 in such a competitive market as the UK is difficult enough, but to reach the top of the chart in the fourth week of release is almost unprecedented. We are all delighted.”
Tom Hooper Decides Against 3D For ‘Les Miserables’
Although director Tom Hooper flirted with the idea of filming the new movie version of the hit stage musical Les Miserables in 3D, the Oscar-winning helmer of The King’s Speech has decided to stick with 2D. Hooper told the BBC he had been “very tempted” to use 3D but worried that some audiences might “physically struggle” with the format. Not to worry, purists. “I can definitely announce it’s good old-fashioned 2D,” Hooper said at the British Independent Film Awards. “I wanted to make a film that would touch everyone. I believe the story is so strong, 3D is not essential.” Hooper added that the casting of Eponine and Cosette would be announced soon. “I’ve never done a film where big star actors are as obsessed with being in it as this.” Starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Javert,
Sony Pictures Television has come aboard as a distribution partner on House Of Cards, the Kevin Spacey-starring political drama series that Netflix landed in a high-profile deal back in March. Beau Willimon (The Ides Of March) wrote the pilot, which is being directed by David Fincher, who also is an executive producer; Willimon will be the showrunner on the series. Robin Wright co-stars. Sony TV will handle worldwide distribution on the Media Right Capital project, including in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Spain after Netflix transmits the series in those areas.