week in review digest


EU nations won't back libel limits

BRUSSELS — European Union governments have thrown out plans to restrict "libel shopping," the practice of suing broadcasters and journalists in countries with the harshest laws (HR 5/17). EU government officials said Wednesday that they are unable to back proposals drafted by the European Parliament that would have ensured broadcasters and journalists accused of libel could be sued only in the country of their media's main audience. The decision comes after four years of EU negotiations on civil liability aimed at simplifying cross-border litigation cases. The parliament plans ran into heavy fire amid fears that new rules could affect free speech and make libel shopping easier.

Red Envelope, Magnolia join to catch 'Foe'

CANNES — Magnolia Pictures and Red Envelope Entertainment have jointly acquired all North American rights to writer-director David Mackenzie's "Hallam Foe" (HR 5/16). The movie stars Jamie Bell, Sophia Myles and Ciaran Hinds. A 2008 release is planned. Bell plays the titular Hallam Foe, whose knack for voyeurism reveals his darkest fears and his most peculiar desires. Driven to expose the true cause of his mother's death, he instead finds himself searching the rooftops of the city of Edinburgh for love.

Nguyen upped to sr. vp at Warners Int'l

Jack Nguyen has been upped to senior vp operations at Warner Bros. Pictures International, where he will report to executive vp operations and finance Angelina Speare (HR 5/17). "Jack has wide-ranging experience with our operations throughout the world and has helped build our growing business in the area of Asian local production and distribution," Speare said. Nguyen has been with WBI since 1990.

Tromel getting creative for Loonland

MUNICH — Damien Tromel has been tapped as the new head of creative affairs and development for Munich-based kids television producer TV-Loonland, the company said last week (HR 5/17). A company spokesman said that the position has effectively been vacant for two years while Loonland has concentrated on buying and distributing such products as the animated series "Transformers" and "My Little Pony."

Grade positive despite ad downturn

LONDON — ITV executive chairman Michael Grade on Thursday said that Britain's leading commercial broadcaster expects half-year advertising revenue to be down 5.7% across the group, but noted that the U.K. advertising market is "slowly improving" (HR 5/18). In a statement issued to the London Stock Exchange, the company said advertising at its core channel ITV1 was down 9.6% for the six months through the end of June, but predicted a more positive outlook for the rest of the year. "I'm encouraged by the progress we've made so far this year, but there is still a great deal more to do," Grade said. "We are taking steps to stabilize our core business and ensure future growth by reviewing the best allocation of our current resources." He also said that income levels have been hit by the suspension of ITV's call-in quiz shows. Grade, who joined ITV in January, was formerly chairman of the BBC.