International Week in Review: Euro Soccer, Green Gables' Green Light, and Madonna's Nipple
European audiences went wild for soccer, Monte Carlo bowed to Game Of Thrones and Canada gave the greenlight to a new Anne of Green Gables. Rebekah Brooks was in the dock, Julian Assange lost his appeal and Lucy Lawless pleaded guilty. Oh and Madonna flashed fans at little T&A from Rome to Istanbul.
Here’s The Hollywood Reporter’s look at the media stories making headlines around the world this week.
PHOTOS: Casting the 2012 Euro Cup Movie
European audiences abandoned film and most other forms of entertainment to follow the bouncing ball as the Euro 2012 soccer championships kicked off. Euro 2012 matches dominated ratings across the continent, with ratings topping 70 - 80 percent for territories where the home team was playing.
More than 27 million Germany tuned in to watch their side beat the Netherlands 2-1 Wednesday night, while 8 million Dutch, an 83 percent share, commisorated with the losing side. In Spain on Thursday, soccer kicked the box office offside. While 16.7 million Spaniards watched their team trounce the Irish 4-0 on the night, Spanish movie theaters sold merely 45,000 tickets as box office slumped 50 percent from a week earlier.
In other soccer news, BSkyB dug deep to secure five of seven TV packages for the English Premier League. BSkyB agreed to pay $1.18 billion a year over three years for broadcast rights to the most valuable soccer competition in the world. British Telekom beat out Walt Disney-owned ESPN for the other two pakcages. The deals raised $4.7 billion for the EPL, some 70 percent more than expected.
But BSkyB investors didn’t like the move. Stock in the company, in which Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. holds the largest stake, dropped more than 6 percent after analysts suggested the soccer price tag was too high.
That didn’t stop others from dreaming of stock-and-soccer riches. British soccer club Manchester United, whose roster includes superstar Wayne Rooney, is reportely looking at an IPO in the U.S.. The team, which is controlled by Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcom Glazer, put off plans for a $1 billion IPO in Singapore last year, citing market volatility.
OLYMPICS ON GOAL, BOYLE’S OPENER PLANS
In that other big sports event this summer, the British government said this week it is on target and on, even under, budget for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The government said the Olympics budget remains at $14.4 billion, including nearly $740 million set aside for uncommited contingencies.
Those might include unwanted goat-nurse injuries during the opening ceremonies if Danny Boyle’s plans don’t come off. The Oscar-winning director, who is artistic director of this year’s opening ceremony, said the event would include: 12 horses, 10 chickens, nine geese, 70 sheep and a parade of nurses. The budget for the hourlong ceremony is set at $126 million.
GREENLIGHT FOR GREEN GABLES
Far from the sporting world, Breakthrough Entertainment announced plans for a new TV reboot of classic Canadian kids novel Anne of Green Gables. The last small screen version of the spunky red head from Prince Edward Island, Road to Avonlee, launched Sarah Polley’s career and was Canada's top-rated TV drama until a profit dispute led to a shutdown in 1999.
MATERIAL GIRL GOES BARE
Far less wholesome than Anne but no less successful worldwide, Madonna showed she still knows how to grab a headline when she flashed her right nipple to a crowd in Istanbul. The singer, 53, performed a strip tease for fans attending her concert in the Turkish city ending with Madonna pulling down her bra to briefly expose her right breast. She pulled a similar stunt in Rome, where she mooned the crowd. Earlier at a performance in Tel Aviv, Madonna courted controversy placing an image of a swastika on a picture of French National Front leader Marine Le Pen.
The Nazi references just kept coming this week, as Law & Order: SVU star Richard Belzer came under fire from the Anti-Defamation League after making a satirical Nazi salute on the red carpet of the Monte Carlo Television Festival. Belzer was in Monaco promoting Law & Order: SVU and said the gesture was meant as a joke and a reference to Charlie Chaplin’s Adolf Hitler spoof The Great Dictator. “I'm a Jewish comedian, and there's this new thing out, it's called satire, irony and historical reference,” Belzer said.
GAME OF THRONES RULES MONACO
There was no controversy over the winners of the 52nd Monte Carlo festival, however. HBO took the top producer prize for Game of Thrones, while Woody Harrelson was named best actor for his role as campaign strategist Steve Schmidt in Game Change. Modern Family’s Christopher Lloyd and Steve Levitan were named best international producers of a comedy series for ABC’s Emmy-winning show.
Jason Priestley took best actor in a comedy series for his role in Call Me Fitz and 30 Rock star Tina Fey was named best. Mille Denisen was named best actress in a drama series for Danish show Rita.
BANFF LEARNS KORAN BY HEART
HBO added another trophy to its case in Canada at the Banff World Media Festival’s Rockie Awards. On Thursday night, the channel’s documentary Koran by Heart grabbed the Banff’s top grand jury prize. The doc from director Greg Barker also won for best kids and animation program in Banff for following three 10 year-old children in a competition to memorize sections of the Koran.
Other jury prizes in Banff include the best drama prize going to Lifetime’s Five, an anthology of films by directors like Demi Moore and Jennifer Aniston, while the best entertainment show was What If?, the Belgian comedy for VMMa from producer Shelter.
TRANSPORTER GETS BACK ON TRACK
In Toronto, the production-plagued Transporter series shoot got back on track this week with show-runners Brad Turner (24) and Tim Lea (Flashforward) jumping on board. Production on the 12-part action series, based on the Luc Besson movie franchise, was halted last October when series star Chris Vance was injured on-set.
TELVISA GETS GO-AHEAD
In Mexico, the joint venture between media giant Televisa and rival network TV Azteca's sister company Iusacel, has been given the official go-ahead. The $1.6 billion deal was initially nixed due to price-fixing concerns but, in a highly controversial decision, Mexico's antitrust regulator on Thursday conditionally approved the deal.
BROOKS APPEARS IN COURT
While over in the U.K., Rebekah Brooks appeared in court for the first time. got its official start date. The former CEO of News Corp.'s News International U.K. newspaper unit, has been charged with conspiracy related to the police investigation in the phone hacking scandal at News International. Brooks is now free on bail until her formal trail starts on June 22.
JULIAN ASSANGE LOSES APPEAL
The U.K. Supreme Court rejected an application from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to reopen his extradition case. Assange’s lawyers now can only appeal the decision at the European Court of Human Rights to avoid his extradition to Sweden where he would face rape charges.
ZHANG ZIYI SUES
On the other side of the globe, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Zhang Ziyi is taking two Chinese media outlets to court for libel over stories last month that alleged that she received $110 million over several years to have sex with suspended Chinese Politburo member Bo Xilai and other political leaders in China. The actress' lawyers argued that she suffered “immense grievance and distress” due to the stories, which she denied, it said. The lawsuit seeks unspecified libel damages and is asking for an injunction to stop the re-publication of the stories.
GOMORRAH HELMER ACCUSED OF MOB BRIBES
Italian director Matteo Garrone has so far kept quiet about accusations he illegally collaborated with Naples crime families while making his award-winning mafia drama Gomorrah. Gomorrah won Cannes’ Jury prize in 2008 as well as a Golden Globe nomination.
Oreste Spagnuolo, a former Camorra figure turned informant, claims Garrone paid protection money to mob bosses, including a $26,000 bribe to crime kingpin Alessandro Cirollo, to facilitate the shooting of the movie in the mafia-controlled Naples region.
LAWLESS PLEADS GUILTY
Lucy Lawless, however, has owned up. The Spartcus and Battlestar Galactica actress pleaded guilty Thursday in a New Zealand court to trespassing charges stemming from a Green Peace protest she took part in earlier this year. Last February, Lawless and six other activists climbed aboard a 174-foot drilling tower and camped there for four days to prevent it from being deployed for an oil drilling expedition in the Arctic. Lawless faces a maximum sentence of three years, but does not anticipate receiving jail time because she is a first-time offender.
FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY
And finally, the cult British comedy show The Comic Strip Presents will return to U.K. sets for a one-off anniversary performance. Brit PayTV platform UKTV has commissioned a fresh one-off episode for its channel Gold to commermorate the 30th anniversary of the series. The cast of the original series included Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, who went on to create Absolutely Fabulous.