Good afternoon Insiders, Max Goldbart penning the newsletter this week in what has been a (surprise, surprise) hugely busy week in the world of international TV and film. We really should stop qualifying that. Read on. And sign up for our weekly Insider here.
Bill the Media: It’s been a long time coming but the UK government finally unveiled its draft Media Bill to revamp public broadcasting for the digital age Wednesday, which should come into law later this year barring any more swift changes of government (you never know). Most of the Bill is comprised of policies contained in a landmark White Paper from last year but they are eye-catching: regulation of streamers that could see Netflix et al fined £250,000 ($308,000) if they break harmful material rules or fail to subtitle their shows, prominence for the pubcasters on modern TVs and relaxed quotas for the likes of the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Reminder: the previous Media Bill is enshrined in an act passed 20 years ago, so it’s not like this isn’t overdue. With arch PSB sceptic Nadine Dorries no longer in post, absent from the Bill was the sale of Channel 4, replaced instead by confirmation of plans to allow the network to own the rights to its shows for the first time in its 40-year history. What a result.
BBC Launches Social Media Review & Reveals Who Will Oversee It
Bringing streamers in line: Following years of lobbying, the streamers active in the UK will now have to abide by the same rules as the local broadcasters in terms of harmful material, all of which will be governed by media regulator Ofcom. Lobbyists have argued for some time that these deep-pocketed U.S. giants take advantage of the UK’s thriving skills sector, tax breaks and talent, and there is therefore no reason why Ofcom shouldn’t slap them on the wrist for misbehaving. While the optics of the move are solid, one media expert Deadline spoke with felt it is mostly symbolic. The vast majority of these streamer shows would be unlikely to breach Ofcom’s code and a £250,000 fine is not exactly big potatoes. The source suggested a show like Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why may have fallen foul due to its graphic depictions of suicide and sexual assault but it is arguably just as harmful as programing airing after 9pm on the BBC or Channel 4. On subtitling, the streamers are in many instances ahead of the game on this, said the expert. Nonetheless, with prominence laws finally set to come into being, the resounding response to the Media Bill was a positive one, albeit with an “about bloody time” edge to it.
Nicely Frazed: Writing exclusively for Deadline, new Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, who replaced Dorries’ successor Michelle Donelan last month, set out her reasoning for some of the changes, in her first big op-ed since taking on the role. Coming from a Conservative Party that has at times been no friend to the UK PSBs, Frazer struck a remarkably conciliatory tone, as she posited: “If we want our public service broadcasters to continue holding their own in 10, 20, 50 years time, we need a rulebook that allows them to innovate and compete.” Lucy’s full op-ed can be found here.
No Longer A Wild Bunch
Good … Fellas?: The French sales powerhouse formerly known as Wild Bunch International (WBI), or TFSPFKAWBI for short, has sought inspiration from 1990 mobster classic to rebrand as Goodfellas. The move marked the final act in WBI’s departure from the Wild Bunch Group and it will now operate as an independent sales and production company. The WBI team, which bid farewell to its original name at a Paris bash in January, had its heart set on Goodfellas back then but had reached out to Martin Scorsese before announcing the new banner. The original Wild Bunch team headed by Vincent Maraval and Brahim Chioua has been synonymous with Cannes since the company’s launch in the early 2000s. Aside from its 11 Palme d’Or winners, including Farenheit 9/11, 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days, Blue Is The Warmest Colour and Titane, the company has stirred up the Cannes Croisette over the years with titles such as Irréversible and Welcome To New York. And with their current slate including Maïwenn’s’ Jeanne Du Barry and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Monster, expectations are high the outfit will be out in full force under the Goodfellas moniker at the upcoming edition.
Bad Week For BFI
A “systemically racist” organization: It’s been a week to forget for the British Film Institute. On Monday, our latest investigation found that the BFI had been called “systemically racist” by its own Head of Inclusion. The Institute, which funds some of the nation’s biggest films including Aftersun and Rye Lane, is now making changes to its complaints procedures and has committed to continued anti-racism soul-searching after Faisal A Qureshi, a scriptwriter, producer, and researcher, whose credits include Leaving Neverland and Four Lions, went on record for the first time to detail his experience. Jake’s full report can be found here, detailing, amongst other things, Qureshi’s claim that he was told that filmmakers of color can have traumatic experiences when dealing with the institute, that the highest number of funding complaints to the BFI over the past three years concerned racial discrimination and that the Institute recently engaged an external consultancy to review its complaints handling processes. BFI CEO Ben Roberts (pictured) has promised change but that didn’t stop diversity figurehead Marcus Ryder renewing a call for an industry-wide anti-racism body, which he revealed to us had been in the works earlier this year. According to Ryder, who is heavily involved with the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, Ofcom chaired a meeting about the proposal in January, inviting major UK broadcasters and entertainment trade unions.
Task Force assemble: Jake’s investigation came in a week that should have been all about the Skills Task Force, a body forged from a BFI review that is aiming to tackle major skills shortages across UK TV and film. Helmed by former Amazon Europe boss Georgia Brown, the Force is made up of 20 delegates from the world of streaming, U.S. studios, broadcasting and training bodies. The work begins now to tackle an issue that the BFI has previously said would require an additional £104M ($127M) and 20,000 full-time jobs to solve due to the influx of projects that have moved to the UK over the past few years. Capping off a frustrating week for the BFI, Bectu accused the Institute of a “disappointing snub” for leaving the union off the initial delegates list. The BFI, which has now handed over the Task Force reins to Brown and her deputy John McVay, has stressed that Bectu will be involved in the future and union head Philippa Childs was “pleased to confirm we have been invited to the next Task Force meeting.” Roll on the weekend.
Cannes Hots Up
Scorsese confirmed: After months of speculation, the Cannes Film Festival confirmed Friday morning that Martin Scorsese’s Killers of The Flower Moon will get its world premiere on the Croisette on Saturday May 20. Deadline first broke the news last summer that the pic would likely head to the Riviera, followed by a theatrical run. The festival has yet to confirm whether the pic will play in Competition, but Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro are confirmed to attend. Elsewhere on the not-so-quiet Cannes front, we also confirmed this week that Wes Anderson’s latest, Asteroid City, will play the festival, and Delegate General Thierry Frémaux revealed that Cannes has renewed its short film competition partnership with TikTok for a second year. The festival is “happy” with the partnership and “the human relationship” it has forged with the social media platform, Fremaux said. As Melanie explained in a comprehensive piece here, Frémaux’s comments came just days after France joined a growing list of countries banning the app on government-issued devices due to security concerns, alongside the U.S., UK, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, and Canada. The inaugural 2022 edition of the TikTok competition was also marred by controversy when French-Cambodian documentarian Rithy Panh resigned as President of the Jury, complaining of interference from the China-owned app. Panh returned a few days later after receiving written assurances that the choices of the jury would be respected. Away from the Croisette, Andreas had the scoop on how Warner Bros. plans to position the much-anticipated Dune sequel, confirming that it will not debut on the Lido in Venice. But a loss for Venice is a potential gain for, say, the New York Film Festival, which runs from late September, a date that would allow the film to complete extensive VFX work and also makes sense for its early-November global launch date.
BBC Hit In The Coffers
Death by 1,000 (hours of) cuts: Another bad week for the embattled BBC, which revealed Thursday via the Annual Plan that it will be cutting 1,000 hours of TV shows per year as it targets £400M ($500M) worth of annual savings by 2027/28. Ouch. This means in reality a near-£100M annual budget cut for originals, revealed Jake, and the work has already begun. Director General Tim Davie’s ‘fewer, bigger, better’ approach has led to a review of mid-budget shows that are not cutting through as much as commissioners would like, sources told Deadline. Cancelations will likely be announced soon. The first post-Annual Plan show to be revealed to be going was BBC family comedy Ghosts, although this was unconnected to the 1,000 hours decision. Ghosts has been an outsized family comedy hit for the BBC, a rarity in today’s fragmented viewing era, and will be missed by millions. Next up for the BBC is the John Hardie-penned review into social media guidance following the Gary Lineker palava and the independent commissioner’s verdict on the appointment of Chair Richard Sharp, both of which will keep the corporation in the spotlight a little while longer at least. On Monday, former Director General John Birt poked his head above the parapet to say Sharp’s appointment “should not stand” following the Boris Johnson loan debacle.
🌶️ Hot One: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Squid Game’s Hoyeon are set for Na Hong-Jin thriller Hope.
🌶️ Another One: Starz and Channel 4 greenlit psychological thriller The Couple Next Door with Eleanor Tomlinson and Sam Heughan.
🌶️ A third: Following the cancellation of Britannia, Vertigo Films is producing The Dirty Squad about corruption within the Metropolitan Police.
🏪 Setting up shop: Fulwell 73 with its first UK label – a partnership with Blowing LA EP Sheldon Lazarus.
🏆 Awards latest: Kate Winslet took the top prize at the RTS Awards.
⛺ Festival latest: None other than Stanley Tucci is special guest for this year’s Sands International Film Festival.
💰 In the money: Thai TV and film-makers, following a doubling of the cap on the nation’s production incentive.
🚪 Exiting: Berlinale co-head Mariette Rissenbeek, who will step down as Executive Director after next year’s fest.
📊 Ratings: The Last of Us became Sky’s most-watched U.S. debut finale of all time on Sky.
🍿 Box office: Nancy and Anthony analyzed how John Wick: Chapter 4 made it to Russia.
And finally… Thoughts to the family of beloved UK TV presenter Paul O’Grady, who died unexpectedly Tuesday evening aged 67. O’Grady was an iconic presenter of multiple TV shows while he also brought UK drag into the mainstream in the pre-RuPaul era with his Lily Savage act. Tributes flooded in and the BBC and ITV will be airing tribute programing across the weekend. More here.
Mel Goodfellow and Zac Ntim contributed to this week’s Insider.
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