news digest


'Labyrinth,' del Toro ace Mexico's Ariels

MEXICO CITY — Guillermo del Toro's anti-fascist fable "Pan's Labyrinth" swept the 49th edition of the Ariel Awards, winning nine of Mexico's top film prizes, including best picture and director. "Labyrinth," a Mexico-Spain co-production, was the favorite going in to Tuesday evening's ceremony at Mexico City's Palace of Fine Arts. Nominated for 12 Ariels, it also received awards for Maribel Verdu as best actress, cinematography, art direction, original score, makeup, costume design and special effects. Other multiple winners were Francisco Vargas' feature debut, "El Violin" (The Violin), and Juan Carlos Rulfo's docu "En el Hoyo" (In the Pit). A complete list of winners can be found at

Finance cap latest blow to U.K. film biz

LONDON — U.K. film producers were hit with a second tax clampdown in as many weeks Wednesday when the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown delivered his annual budget speech to the House of Commons. The issued policy documents contain a new ruling that puts a cap on the amount of money producers can raise under Enterprise Investment Schemes at £2 million ($3.9 million) per year. The previous EIS limit was £8 million ($15.7 million) a year. Such EIS structures have been a focus of interest for producers searching for tax-efficient plans to attract investors to film production here after recent tax clampdowns (HR 3/2).

Volland upped at Warners Int'l

Lance Volland has been named senior vp publicity at Warner Bros. Pictures International and will lead the international publicity department for the studio. He will head the creating and overseeing of all aspects of publicity campaigns for WBPI's international feature film releases. Volland's broadened responsibilities include supervising all publicity materials as well as junkets, film festivals, local production publicity, media promotions and tie-ins, trade publicity, awards campaigns and publicity strategies and directives to all overseas offices.

Veterans get COO stripes at Discovery

Discovery Communications veterans Doug Coblens and Lori McFarling have been named to newly created COO posts at the company. Coblens has been named COO at Discovery Channel and the Science Channel, reporting to president and GM Jane Root. McFarling has been named COO at Animal Planet and Discovery Kids Media, reporting to president and GM Marjorie Kaplan. Created as part of Discovery's recent restructure, the COOs will manage the overall network business strategy as the GMs assume increased creative responsibilities for their brands.

Stern tapped vp prod'n at Lifetime TV

Julie Stern has been named vp production at Lifetime Television, where she will continue to be responsible for physical production of the network's reality series and pilots, including the series "Lisa Williams: Life Among the Dead" and "Gay, Straight or Taken?" and the pilots "How to Look Good Naked" and "Hello Goodbye."

Marshall joins Williams for TV Land pilot

TV Land is reuniting "Laverne & Shirley" stars and real-life friends Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams. The cable network is set to announce during its upfront presentation Friday in New York that it is developing a scripted pilot titled "Penny and Cindy," which is described as a buddy comedy. Gay Rosenthal Prods. is producing the project. Jim Vallely ("Golden Girls," "Arrested Development") is the writer and executive producer.