International Insider: British Broadcasting Crisis; Oscar Roundup; Filmart/Qatar Dispatches; Fremantle Results
Good afternoon Insiders, here we are again and it’s Max Goldbart helming a busy week’s newsletter. Scroll down for the biggest news and analysis from team Deadline International, and sign up to the newsletter here.
British Broadcasting Crisis
Multiple fronts: I have been covering the BBC in depth for more than five years and never have I known it to be battling crises on so many fronts. Not content with the Gary Lineker row dominating front pages for days, the corporation has also found itself in hot water this week over local news strikes, Question Time host Fiona Bruce‘s remarks about Boris Johnson’s father, and accusations of “top-down toxicity” from its century-old choir, which is being axed. Struggling to keep track? Insider has done the legwork for you.
Lineker 1 – 0 BBC: First he was benched, then his actions were forcing the BBC into a lengthy and time-intensive review of its social media guidelines, and an apology never came. BBC Director General Tim Davie (pictured – right of Lineker) rushed back from a trip to Washington where he was discussing – yes, you heard correctly – impartial news to strike a deal with the Match of the Day host early Monday that will at least see Lineker return to his hosting duties this weekend. While Lineker thanked Davie and credited him for steering an “impossible job,” he didn’t say sorry (Reminder: Lineker was stood down by the BBC after a tweet comparing the language around the government’s asylum policy to Nazi Germany). He has agreed to stick to the current guidelines while the new ones are forged but was Twitter trigger-happy as ever once he’d picked his phone back up, tweeting about, amongst other things … the government’s asylum policy, and responding to nasty accusations from a Conservative MP. Criticism of the BBC over its handling of the matter has flooded in from all angles and sides of the political spectrum, focusing in the main on the BBC’s failure to remain impartial and cosiness with the government. Ofcom boss Melanie Dawes blamed “ambiguity” in the guidelines, a point laid bare by myself and Jake’s scoop Monday night that revealed the BBC was warned three years ago that it should create a separate set of guidelines for freelance presenters such as Lineker. Hammering the final nail into the coffin, Lineker’s long-time agent Jon Holmes wrote in the New Statesman that he “believed [Lineker] had a special agreement with Tim Davie to tweet about these issues.” Eyes are trained on Lineker’s Twitter account and the upcoming Match of the Day, while we hear rifts are rumbling on internally over the BBC’s handling of the matter. The issue is by no means put to bed.
Sticky picket: In amongst all the Lineker chaos, it would be easy to forget that BBC News local journalists were due to stage their biggest strike in 30 years this week. Reminders came swiftly during the 1,000-person strike Wednesday, which saw journalists across the country take to their respective picket lines and, in echoes of last weekend, some shows drop off air due to a lack of staff. The strikers were protesting against plans to make nearly 50 roles redundant as resources are shifted to online and multimedia production. The BBC’s fear is that this is just the first of many, and the National Union of Journalists has the upcoming King Charles Coronation and UK-hosted Eurovision in its sights, which, given their global reach, could prove calamitous if either falls short of a high quality stamp. Jason Horton, the BBC’s Director of Production for Local Services, said Wednesday was a “hard moment for everyone” and urged people to treat each other with “kindness and respect.”
No more, please no more: Yes there was more. The furore around Question Time host Fiona Bruce’s rushed defense of the former Prime Minister’s father Stanley Johnson after he was called a “wife beater” once again demonstrated the BBC’s tendency to dig itself into holes. Bruce was obliged to caution that Johnson had “not commented publicly” on accusations that he had broken his wife’s nose but also stated that “friends of his have said it was a one off.” In came a volley of criticism targeted at Bruce and the BBC for trivializing domestic violence, and Bruce was forced to step down from her ambassadorial role with leading charity Refuge. She part blamed a “social media storm, much of which mischaracterised what I said, and took the form of personal abuse directed at me.” A day later, the corporation was forced to defend itself from accusations of a “toxic culture from the DG down” in a letter protesting the closure of its 100-year-old choir, which carried multiple accusations against senior management. Dear oh dear. Here’s to a quieter week next week.
Oscars We Hardly Knew Ye
‘Everything Everywhere’ keeps ‘All Quiet’ quiet: Last week we featured Deadline awards guru Pete Hammond’s bold prediction that, in spite of several weeks of gong-scooping, Everything Everywhere All at Once would fall at the final Best Picture hurdle against Netflix’s All Quiet on the Western Front. Sadly, there was no such luck for the German pic, which would have become the first remake of a Best Picture movie to win the biggest prize in global cinema, but All Quiet did take home four awards, including the coveted International Feature prize. It was Everything Everywhere’s night, with the A24 romp taking the top prize, three of four acting categories and director for the Daniels (pictured), amongst others. The multiverse thriller’s success has attracted many a think piece this week – our very own Baz Bamigboye said it “did not warm me to the marrow of my being” – but Everything Everywhere’s victory is no doubt a win for diversity, and who didn’t have their cockles warmed by Ke Huy Quan’s Best Supporting Actor speech? Dry eyes there were none. Plenty more Deadline Oscar coverage over here, while Baz has been churning out Oscar columns like nobody’s business – and they can be found here.
Over To Asia
Chinese democracy: Our Asia expert Liz Shackleton and hotshot correspondent Mel Goodfellow spent last week covering events in Hong Kong and Qatar respectively. Rarely has there been such a buzz around Asian content and the broader Asian TV and film industry – Netflix, for one, is splashing the cash there – and Liz’s various dispatches from Hong Kong Filmart were focused on some positive noises around China at an event that often acts as an Asian-focused bridge between Berlin and Cannes. Sales agents were welcoming the return of in-person meetings with buyers from mainland China, for the first time in three years, many of whom had made a last-minute decision to travel to Hong Kong following the removal of Covid restrictions on both sides of the border, while a number of distributors told Liz they’re feeling optimistic about the changing of the guard at the China Film Bureau. Meanwhile, we sat down with MakerVille CEO Lofai Lo to talk about the Hong Kong media group’s push into movie and premium TV, while CJ ENM’s Jerry Ko dove deep into Past Lives (pictured), A24’s latest buzzy romance that could soon take the world by storm.
Doha dispatch: Mel had this report from Qatar… The ninth edition of Doha Film Institute’s Qumra talent incubator event unfolded in downtown Doha this week, with emerging filmmakers and established professionals hothousing projects and networking against the backdrop of former FIFA World Cup fan hub venues. Remember them? The event had a distinctly British feel in its first physical edition in three-years due to the pandemic hiatus. Four of its so-called Qumra Masters, who give a masterclass and help mentor projects, hailed from the UK in the shape of directors Lynne Ramsay and Michael Winterbottom, writer Christopher Hampton and producer David Parfitt. They were joined by Dune costume drama Jacqueline West, who whetted appetites for Martin Scorsese’s Killers Of The Flower Moon when she revealed its star Leo DiCaprio had declared the work a “masterpiece” to her over lunch ahead of the Doha trip. The event gathered 44 film and series projects in various formats and stages of production, including Cannes hopefuls such as Atlas Mountains; theatre troupe road movie Backstage by Tunisian duo Afef Ben Mahmoud and Khalil Benkirane; girl power drama Tiger Stripes by Malaysian director Amanda Nell Eu; and documentary Bye Bye Tiberias by Lina Soualem, exploring the female history of her family hailing from the Galilee through the trajectory of mother, Succession actress Hiam Abbass.
Taking Up The (Fre) Mantle
Splurge paying off: RTL’s annual results made for good reading for the German headquartered conglomerate Thursday, helped in no small part by a bumper year for Fremantle. Revenues and profits were up 21% and 15% respectively at the American Gods and Got Talent outfit, which bought eight companies and struck many a talent deal throughout 2022. RTL said “significant investment” is to come across all genres as Fremantle continues to inch towards its ambitious €3B ($3.2M) 2025 target – a target that gets banded around in industry chatter more than your average, that’s for sure. A reminder: Deadline’s January investigation revealed Fremantle had splurged €250M on buying labels in the past two years, snapping up the likes of Normal People (pictured) producer Element Pictures, Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story indie 72 Films and Italian producer Lux Vide. Said splurge seems to be paying off. Not content with being outshone, Fremantle rival Banijay, the world’s largest independent TV production group, also showed impressive revenue and EBITDA increases this week in its first full-year results since the $2.2B Endemol Shine Group takeover. Jake’s round-up is here.
Raine on ‘Rye Lane’: Peckham in South London is famously home to everyone’s favourite Deadline cover star John Boyega, and the town is about to gain a whole load more notoriety as Searchlight prepares to launch its latest romcom Rye Lane, starring Industry’s David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah. Following a solid Sundance debut, the pic drops today in UK cinemas and will be given a straight-to-streaming Hulu release in the U.S. in a fortnight. Rye Lane has been generating serious buzz (our reviewer Anna Smith called it a “sunny, irreverent take on life and love”) so it felt a good time for Zac to sit down with debut filmmaker Raine Allen-Miller for a natter about the influence Small Axe filmmaker Steve McQueen has had on her work, and Searchlight’s plan to skip US theaters and drop the film straight on Hulu. Dive in.
🌶️ Hot One: Channel 4 has expanded the Taskmaster universe with a mega six-season renewal and junior version.
🌶️ Another One: Kit Connor (Heartstopper) horror One of Us added multiple cast, per Andreas.
🌶️ A further One: Prime Video UK boarded a duo of true crime series – one on infamous Moors Murderer Ian Brady.
🏪 Setting up shop: Former Viacom International Studios exec Oliver Wright and Objective Media Group, per Jesse’s scoop.
🏆 Awards latest: Banff World Media Festival Grand Prize Jury and Rockie nominations were unveiled.
🏆 More awards: The BFI and BAFTA set 2023 cohort for the BFI Flare x BAFTA mentoring scheme.
🎤 New host klaxon: Alison Hammond, iconic This Morning host, has taken the Great British Bake Off reins.
❌ Canceled: Amazon Prime Video’s Three Pines after just one season.
🎥 Casting about: Viaplay has found its Inspector Rebus, and Sir Ian Rankin is keeping it Rankin.
🤝🏾 Done deal: Idris Elba and Mo Abudu forged a TV and film partnership in Africa to “empower” local talent.
🐻 Bear in the woods: UK adventurer Grylls has unveiled an original slate for recent acquisition Outdoors.com.
💔 Tax break: Qualifying threshold for the UK’s world-renowned film and TV tax credit has remained at £1M, paired with a small real-terms increase.
🍿 Box office: As its 25-year anniversary rolls around, James Cameron’s Titanic is getting another China re-release.
And finally… Thoughts this week go out to the family of Leslie Hardcastle, the former Controller of the British Film Institute’s National Film Theatre, who has died aged 96. Former colleague Robin Baker, the Head Curator at the BFI, described him as a “remarkable man of many hats.” Read more about Leslie’s life here.
Mel Goodfellow contributed to this week’s Insider.