week in review digest


Seghatchian new head of U.K. film fund

LONDON — U.K. producer Tanya Seghatchian, whose résumé includes co-producer credits on the first two "Harry Potter" movies, has been named head of the U.K. Film Council's development fund (HR 3/3). Seghatchian will replace Jenny Borgars, who has headed the £4 million ($7.8 million) lottery fund since 2000. The fund supports single-project script development, six slate-development companies and a number of script initiatives. Most recently, Seghatchian executive produced Francois Ozon's first English-language film, "Angel," which screened last month In Competition at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Par direct to video via Feola

Paramount Pictures has become the latest studio to set up a division dedicated to producing direct-to-video movies (HR 2/28). The division, yet to be named, will be run by Louis Feola, former president of what is now Universal Studios Home Entertainment. After leaving the helm of the video division in 1998, Feola launched a direct-to-video unit at Universal that has since seen the production of nearly 50 movies, including sequels to theatrical product "The Land Before Time," "American Pie" and "Beethoven." The new Paramount division will develop and produce sequels and prequels to, as well as remakes of, popular titles from the libraries of Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage, DreamWorks, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies as well as other Viacom brands.

Lionsgate has 'Tulia' locked up

Lionsgate has resurrected "Tulia," the long-gestating Tollin-Robbins project starring Halle Berry as a lawyer investigating an infamous Texas drug bust (HR 3/2). The producers are in negotiations with Carl Franklin to direct the feature. The film centers on the 1999 arrests of 46 black men in the impoverished town of Tulia, Texas — a sting effort where no money, drugs or illegal weapons were found on any of the suspects. Berry will portray the lead attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which intervened to free the citizens. The story is based on the book "Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town" by Nate Blakeslee.

Fees put Microsoft, EC at odds again

BRUSSELS — Microsoft faces further penalties over the fees it charges rivals, the European Commission said Thursday after sending a statement of objections to the software giant (HR 3/2). The commission — the European Union's antitrust authority — said that Microsoft has failed to change its behavior since it was fined €497 million ($657 million) three years ago for abusing its dominant position in the software market. In an escalation of its long-running battle with the U.S. firm, the EC said Microsoft imposed "unreasonable pricing" on certain patent licenses for its Windows operating system software. "The commission's current view is that there is no significant innovation in these protocols," EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said. "I am, therefore, again obliged to take formal measures to ensure that Microsoft complies with its obligations." In response, the firm said it had already submitted a pricing proposal to the EC last August and that an analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers on the proposed prices found they were at least 30% below the market rate for comparable technology.
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