news digest


National Geographic TV expands

National Geographic Television, the TV and documentary production arm of the National Geographic Society, said Tuesday that it has opened offices in Los Angeles and New York "as a result of a significant and sustained increase in production." NGT added that it is "aggressively expanding production capabilities" to meet the needs of the National Geographic Channels along with such third-party broadcasters as PBS and other networks. In addition, Nina Weinstein has been named vp West Coast production and will head the Los Angeles office. She was with Discovery Production Group. Kim Woodard heads the New York office. Woodard has worked on programs for National Geographic Channel, PBS and the History Channel.

SPHE sets mobile 'Casino' game

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is launching a game for mobile phones based on "Casino Royale," the latest film in the James Bond franchise that stars Daniel Craig. The game will be the biggest such venture from SPHE, available on most major carriers and the studio's Web site. The game loosely follows the story of the film; wallpaper and ringtones from "Casino" also are available via SPHE.

Weinstein Books has 'Cures' for Lam novels

NEW YORK — Weinstein Books has acquired U.S. rights to Vincent Lam's medical school novel "Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures" and a untitled Lam novel that will feature one of the main characters from "Cures." A Canadian best-seller, "Cures" follows the personal and professional lives of four young medical students. It will be published by Weinstein domestically next fall, with the sequel set for a 2008 release. Weinstein Books CEO Rob Weisbach said a feature film version is a possibility. Weisbach negotiated the deal with Christy Fletcher of Fletcher & Parry acting on behalf of Lam and Anne McDermid & Associates in Canada.

Lucas set for S.F. Film Society award

The San Francisco Film Society will honor George Lucas with its one-time-only Irving "Bud" Levin Award at the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival, which runs April 26-May 10. Named after the founder of the fest, the Levin award will recognize Lucas for his deep appreciation for movies as an art form, his flair for innovation and entrepreneurship, and his spirit of adventure and passion for community. The award will be presented to the producer-director at Film Society Awards Night on May 3 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel with the black-tie fund-raiser benefiting the Film Society's Education Program.

Engelman reps AMPAS makeup branch

Leonard Engelman has been elected governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' newly created makeup branch. His term begins immediately, as the size of the Academy's board increases to 43. The new branch reps 120 makeup artists and hairstylists, who were categorized as members at large. Engleman's credits include "Moonstruck," "The Accidental Tourist" and "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."