Weekly International News Wrap: Wes Anderson in Cannes, Murdoch in the Dock and an Animated Ozzy
Wes Anderson booked his Cannes ticket for Moonrise Kingdom, Robert Redford set to take Sundance to London and The Artist's Oscar-winning star Jean Dujardin proved his staying power with sexy-follow up The Players. But teen sex drama Skins got flicked off British TV and the assorted, sordid scandals surrounding News Corp just got worse. Here’s The Hollywood Reporter’s look back at the media stories making headlines around the world this week.
"MOONRISE" OVER CANNES
Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom was tapped to open the 65th Cannes Film Festival, the second time in a row (following Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris) that an American director kicks off France’s premiere fest. It’ll be Anderson’s first Cannes visit but Moonrise is certain to meet the fest’s red carpet quotient with an all-star cast that includes Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton.
PARK CITY IN THE CITY, ROME TO ROAM?
In another first, Robert Redford this week announced the lineup for the inaugural Sundance London festival, bringing his Utah indie stalwart across the pond. The line-up for the 4-day event this April will include Julie Delpy’s Two Days In New York with Delpy and Chris Rock, glacier-melting documentary Chasing Ice directed by Jeff Orlowski and Josh Radnor’s Liberal Arts, starring writer director Radnor and Elizabeth Olsen.
No surprises in Rome, where former Warner Bros. Italia head Paolo Ferrari got the nod to take over as president of the International Rome Film Festival and is expected to appoint ex-Venice festival boss Marco Mueller as artistic director. But plans to push Rome’s dates back to late November to position the Italian fest between Toronto and Berlin look unlikely until 2013 at the earliest.
MORE MURDOCH MESS
The News Corp’s phone hacking scandal continues to deepen, and darken, with apparent suicide attempts this week by two unnamed senior journalists working for Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun daily tabloid newspaper. Sun parent company News International gave a curt “no comment” to media inquiries but with more than 20 current and former staff members under arrest in connection to the scandal – more is certain to emerge.
In other News Corp. scandal news, U.K. regulatory body Ofcom stepped up its investigation into James Murdoch, which will judge whether he is a “fit and proper” person to sit on the board of Brit pay-TV giant BSkyB given the hacking and corruption allegations against him and the company.
The FBI expanded its News Corp. corruption probe to Russia, looking into claims a local billboard company, formerly Murdoch-owned, bribed Russian officials to secure sign placement.
And Britain’s Press Complaints Commission announced it would shut down after 21 years following its failures during the phone-hacking imbroglio. The chairman of the commission promised the replacement body would be “ a robust, independent regulator with teeth".
DEUX DELIGHT FROM DUJARDIN
The Oscar-winning actor Jean Dujardin landed a one-two punch at the French box office when his latest feature, The Players, opened at number one, recording the second-best start for a film this year in the territory. Just behind it was The Artist, which has climbed back up the French charts after its post-Oscar re-release. The Players is a compilation of vignettes from seven different directors including The Artist helmer Michel Hazanavicius, all focusing on the central theme of infidelity. The film’s poster – featuring Dujardin with his head between a woman’s legs – caused a mini-scandal and was pulled by French authorities as anti-feminist.
SKIN-FLICKED, PRIMEVAL EVOLVES
Britain’s E4 cancelled its long-running teen drama Skins, saying the series, which has drawn the ire of parents groups for its depiction of teenage sex, would end after its upcoming seventh season in 2013.
ITV’s dinosaur action skein Primeval has no such worries. The predator sci-fi series is getting a Canadian spin-off, Primeval: New World, which will air on Canada’s Space cable channel. The Vampire Diaries actress Sara Canning and Niall Matter have been tapped to star with Britain’s Impossible Pictures and Canuck shingle Omni Film producing.
“SIR” HARVEY TO YOU, PAL
Harvey Weinstein was made an official knight of the French Legion of Honor in the wake of his successful Oscar campaign for Gallic feature The Artist. French president Nicolas Sarkozy took a pause from his election campaign to hang the medal on Weinstein, who just last week mixed it up in Franco politics with his very public condemnation of comments by right-wing politico Jean Marie Le Pen of Weinstein acquisition The Intouchables.
MARTIN NO SHOW TAKES MAGIC OUT OF GENIES
Canuck actress Andrea Martin got a cold reception from her home town after she dropped out of hosting Canada’s Genie Awards – the local Oscar equivalent – in Toronto to fly to L.A. and co-star in a CBS comedy pilot. Martin’s pay-day-over-patriotism move overshadowed the real news of the night: Quebec director Phillipe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar, which took Genies for best picture, best director and best adapted screenplay.
Canadian voters proved they weren’t too nationalistic, though, picking American Viggo Mortensen best actor for playing Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method and French actress Vanessa Paradis for her lead performance in Jean-Marc Vallee's Cafe de Flore.
"BYARI", "DEOOL" BOLLYWOOD BEST
The drama Byari from Indian director Suveeram, about the plight of girls being mistreated in a small Muslim community, won the best film honor at India’s 59th National Film Awards this week, sharing the top prize with Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni’s political drama Deool. Both films were shot in two of India’s minority languages. Byari is the first-ever film made in the Beary language spoken in coastal Kannada region of southern India, while Deool’s dialogue is in Marathi, a language common in the central and western areas of the country.
Lars von Trier's Melancholia may have been snubbed at the Oscars but Danish film critics gave the end-of-the-world drama its top honor, the Bodil, for best film. It’s the seventh time von Trier has won the prize and the second year in a row, following his win for Antichrist last year.
"POTTER" SNUB ON BRIT FEMME PLAYERS LIST
Harry Potter star Emma Watson was one of the few glaring omissions on this year’s list of 50 female power players in the British media industry. Other notable snubs included Brit actresses Kate Beckinsale, Emily Watson, Rachel Weisz and Emily Blunt.
Talent that made the cut included Helena Bonham Carter, Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Kate Winslet, Maggie Smith and Tilda Swinton along with behind-the-camera power players, among them Shine Group founder Elisabeth Murdoch, BBC Films creative director Christine Langan and Denise O'Donaghue, managing director of ITV Studios.
CRISIS? WHAT CRISIS?
More sunny results from European media giants, with Germany’s Axel Springer Verlag booking another record year (sales up 10 per cent, profits 16 per cent stronger) and outgoing CEO Gerhard Zeiler saying goodbye to broadcast behemoth RTL Group with a 9 per cent jump in annual profits to just over $1 billion (€795 million).
Brit broadcasters had reason to cheer, as the TV advertising market there jumped 16 per cent, helped by a generous injection of ad cash from Google, which spent $8.2 million on TV ads in the U.K. last year.
And while cord cutting continues to plague cable TV operators in the U.S., European cablers gathered at annual industry confab the Cable Congress in Brussels this week toasted another record year, with cable revenues across Europe up 7 percent to $26 billion.
E1, DISCOVERY AND MGM GO EUROPE
Canada’s Entertainment One has drawn up plans to expand its European TV operations, pledging to direct a greater portion of the $300 million it plans to invest annually in TV projects originating from Europe. eOne Television International president Peter Emerson will relocate to the group’s London office and look to “actively work with U.K. and European production companies on the development and production of new television projects – across all genres.”
Discovery has also located Europe on the map, taking a 20 per cent stake in French pay TV firm Televista, which specializes in female lifestyle channels. Under the deal, Discovery will supply programming to Televista as well as strategic advise on how to grow its digital terrestrial TV (DTT) operations in France. The deal fits in with Discovery’s overall European ambitions. The group has launched a series of free-to-air channels across Western Europe over the last three years to complement its core pay TV business.
And MGM inked a distribution deal in Portugal with Zon Lusomundo and one in the Middle East with Gulf Film co-founder Selim Ramia for theatrical and home video rights in the respective territories for all MGM-originated product such as the new James Bond film Skyfall and Peter Jackson’s two upcoming Hobbit films.
JAPAN IN A DAY
Ridley Scott this week revealed more details about his Japan in a Day project that he is planning as a collaboration between Fuji TV and his Scott Free production shingle.
The project will see Fuji TV distribute 200 cameras to people in the disaster-affected areas of Japan’s northeast coastline, to make a record of their lives on March 11, 2012, the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and beginning of the nuclear crisis at Fukushima.
The best videos, will be edited together in the style of Kevin Macdonald’s Life in a Day feature, which Scott Free topper Ridley and Tony Scott produced.
THE RETURN OF POTTER AND THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS
Fans of J.K. Rowling will finally get their Hogwarts fix next month, with the much-delayed launch of Pottermore, an online community dedicated to all things Harry Potter. The site opened to 1 million beta users last year but missed its scheduled official launch date last October. But this week, Rowling’s official blog said Pottermore would launch for real in April.
And fans of Ozzy Osbourne will get a dose of the foul-mouthed father figure with a new cartoon being produced by Canada’s Cuppa Coffee Studios. The 20-episode animated series, The F’n Osbournes, will be shopped around to international broadcasters at MIP-TV in Cannes next month. The Osbourne cartoon is pitched as a even-more dysfunctional version of The Simpsons and is expected to feature wife Sharon Osbourne, daughter Kelly and son Jack.