Penguin Random House to Publish ‘Cleo & Cuquin’ Books – Variety

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One of the world’s leading trade publishers, Penguin Random House, will publish the children’s books series based on “Cleo & Cuquin,” a pre-school transmedia brand from Madrid-based Ánima Kitchent and Mexico’s Televisa.

The books will be released in Spain and Latin America by spring 2018. Also produced by Ánima Kitchent, but in co-production with Famosa, the audiovisual subsidiary of the toy maker Famosa, “Piny, Institute of New York” will count on U.K.’s ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVS GE) as licensing agent in the U.K., where Sony Pop is airing the series. “Piny” has already been broadcast in France (Gulli), Italy (Frisbee), Portugal (Disney Channel), Russia (Carousel TV) and Turkey (MCD Kidz).

Toy maker Clementoni will launch a line of “Cleo & Cuquin”-based toys in Spain in fall 2018 including puzzles, edukit toy cases and electronic games. Clementoni will support toy manufacturing giant Mattel, recently appointed global toy master for “Cleo & Cuquin,” a 52-episode seven-minutes TV show.

The new deal on “Cleo & Cuquin” marks the first time a Spanish company has established a licensing deal with a global toy master or a publisher such as Random House, according to Ánima Estudios CEO Víctor López who also commented that it on “Piny” it was “a great achievement” to have reached an agreement to join forces with ITV and Sony POP in the largest European market for licensing.”

Pre-school toon series “Cleo & Cuquin” is also co-produced by Barcelona-based Selecta Visión and the Moro Family’s company MAI. An adaptation of the legendary Spanish hit “Telerin Family,” a cartoon and daily jingle broadcast in which where six siblings tell children that it’s time to go to bed. It became a popular success in Spain and Mexico during the ’70s and ‘80s, coloring the now nostalgic childhood of a generation of newish parents and young grandparents.

The new brand will also include a bedtime app, web content and music video clips. Launched one year ago on the Famila Telerín’s YouTube channel, “Cleo & Cuquin’s” 17 music video clips have scored 600 million views and 1.5 million subscribers.

“Piny” re-creates the life in an unusual New York educational center which focuses on creativity, fashion and careers of the future. Series centers on Piny –the janitor’s daughter at this elite high school. A 52-episode toon TV show, “Piny” targets 6-8s.

A joint-venture founded by Latin American animation powerhouse Ánima Estudios with former executives at Spanish toon company Vodka Capital, Ánima Kitchent was launched in 2014.

In addition to Ánima Kitchent, the Spanish delegation attending this weekend’s 25th MipJunior under the umbrella Animation from Spain includes Baleuko, Ficción Producciones, Imira Ent., Motion Pictures, Pausoka Entertainment, Planeta Junior, Peekaboo Animation, Rokyn Animation, pubcasters TV3 and TVE, and Zinkia.

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Alibaba Pictures Expands Powers of Fan Luyuan – Variety

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Alibaba Pictures has expanded the powers of Fan Luyuan, who was appointed CEO two months ago. He is the company’s third leader in 15 months, and replaces Yu Yongfu, who was appointed last December.

Fan appears to have been granted all of the multiple powers that Yu accumulated. As well as the CEO title, he is set as executive director and chairman of the executive committee, chairman of the board, chairman of the nomination committee and member of the remuneration committee.

“In view of the group’s continuous business growth in line with its clear strategic direction, and the fact that Fan has demonstrated outstanding management and leadership capabilities along with his thorough understanding of the group’s strategy of building new infrastructure for the domestic movie industry since his appointment as the CEO, Yu decided to resign as chairman of the board in succession by Fan who, as chairman of the board and the CEO concurrently, will lead the group in accelerating its development and creating more value for the shareholders of the group,” Alibaba Pictures said in a statement.

Fan’s accumulation of so many job titles is in breach of Hong Kong Stock Exchange rules. But the company says it believes it has enough board diversity anyway.

Alibaba Pictures is the film-specific division within China’s Alibaba e-commerce giant. It has share listings in Hong Kong and Singapore that are separate from New York-listed Alibaba.

The company started out with a mission to invest in and produce films, and struck expensive deals with Wong Kar-wai and Peter Chan Ho-sun. It also bought a stake of undisclosed value in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners. However, in the last year, under the leadership of Yu, it has been reoriented to become much more of a technology and service platform for the domestic Chinese film industry. It includes the massive Tao Piao Piao online ticketing platform, but excludes Alibaba’s video streaming business Youku Tudou, which is operated under the parent company’s Alibaba Digital Entertainment umbrella.

Respected producer Zhang Qiang, who joined from state-controlled China Film Corp., led the company soon after Alibaba acquired ChinaVision in 2014, until he resigned in June 2016.

Fan is one of the architects of cashless payment system Alipay and the Yu’e Bao fintech giant. He joined Alibaba Pictures in January 2016.

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Eva Green Says Harvey Weinstein ‘Behaved Inappropriately… I had to Push Him Off’ (EXCLUSIVE) – Variety

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Eva Green says she was left “shocked and disgusted” by an incident in which she alleges Harvey Weinstein made an inappropriate advance. Green’s mother talked about her daughter’s experience with Weinstein in a French radio interview yesterday, Friday, and having not spoken about it before, Green has now broken her silence.

In a statement issue to Variety she said that the incident with Weinstein took place in Paris during a business meeting and that she had to push off the disgraced Hollywood producer. She added that she had wanted to maintain her privacy but after hearing the stories other women have come forward with regarding Weinstein, wanted to speak out.

Eva Green’s statement in full: “I wish to address comments made by my mother in a recent interview regarding Harvey Weinstein.  I met him for a business meeting in Paris at which he behaved inappropriately and I had to push him off. I got away without it going further, but the experience left me shocked and disgusted.

“I have not discussed this before because I wanted to maintain my privacy, but I understand it is important to do so as I hear about other women’s experiences.  Women are often condemned when they speak out and their personal reputations tarnished by association.

“I salute the great bravery of the women who have come forward. We should recognise that this sort of behaviour exists everywhere and is not unique to the entertainment industry. The exploitation of power is ubiquitous. This behaviour is unacceptable and needs to be eliminated.”

Green starred in “Sin City” with which Weinstein was involved. She has also starred in Bond film “Casino Royale,” and the Showtime series “Penny Dreadful.” She is currently working on Tim Burton’s live-action adaptation of “Dumbo.”

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‘A Man Shouldn’t Be Condemned by a Vigilante System’ – Variety

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Oliver Stone responded to a question about the Harvey Weinstein scandal at the Busan International Film Festival on Thursday, saying “it’s not easy” for the former Hollywood mogul.

“I’m a believer that you wait until this thing gets to trial,” the controversial U.S. film director said. “I believe a man shouldn’t be condemned by a vigilante system. It’s not easy what he’s going through either. He was a rival and I never did business with him. I’ve heard horror stories on everyone in the business. So, I’m not going to comment on that. I’ll wait and see, which is the right thing to do.”

He also weighed in on ongoing tensions between North Korea and the U.S., declaring, “The U.S. government must accept that North Korea has nuclear weapons.”

Admitting that he rarely agrees with the U.S. government, Stone called for the Trump government to accept the status quo as it now is, and negotiate with the Kim Jong-un regime, rather than bluster against it. “We must get China and Russia around the table. Or else this thing will not end well,” Stone said.

The U.S. government position has recently appeared to be divided over North Korea. President Donald Trump has threatened military action as North Korea has conducted nuclear and missile tests. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has advocated diplomacy.

Stone is president of the festival’s New Currents competition jury, but chose to make the Korean political situation a personal one. “My wife is Korean, Her family went through the Korean War.”

“The only alternative to repression is expression,” said Stone, after explaining that South Korean governments have a track record of being tough and uncompromising.

The Busan festival was born in 1995 in reaction to years of heavy censorship and curbs on freedom of expression. Following that period, South Korean cinema has flourished, coming to dominate its booming box  office and winning numerous major prizes on the international festival scene.

“Korean cinema is the best in the world. It is much more interesting than American cinema,” said Stone. “Korean cinema has stood out for me for its choreography, its action, gangster style. Its actors are always naturalistic, however ridiculous they are asked to be.”

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James Murdoch Survives Shareholder Protest at Sky, Remains Chairman – Variety

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Sky Reports Results, ‘Game of Thrones’ its most-watched series ever

Sky promised to engage with shareholders after a significant number opposed the re-election of James Murdoch as chairman. Murdoch survived the scare, which came from shareholders concerned about a potential conflict of interest as 21st Century Fox continues to pursue a deal for the piece of Sky it does not already own. Murdoch is CEO of Fox.

Shareholders took issue with Murdoch, and with director pay at pay-TV company Sky’s AGM, which took place today, Wednesday.

“The Board notes the significant vote against… the Directors’ Remuneration Report, and… the re-election of James Murdoch, and will continue to engage with shareholders to understand their views as part of its ongoing programme of engagement,” the company said.

Almost 22% of all shareholders opposed Murdoch, and 48.5% of independent shareholders.

Fox’s $15 billion bid for Sky is currently with U.K. competition watchdogs. Having been approved at an E.U. level and in other territories, it has faced numerous delays and hurdles in the U.K.

The Sky AGM came as the company reported strong first quarter results, with 161,000 new customers and a 5% uptick in revenue of £3.3 billion ($4.3 billion). The company launched new streaming services in Spain and Switzerland in the quarter.

In terms of programming, Sky said “Riviera” became its most-watched original series ever in period, and “Game of Thrones” the most-watched series ever on Sky.

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Atrium, Howard Stringer’s OTT Drama Development Club, Recruits New Members – Variety

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Atrium, the high-end drama venture set up by former Sony chairman Howard Stringer and DRG, has recruited a raft of members. Orange in France, Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, and Asian streaming service Iflix are among the new companies coming on board.

Atrium was set up by Stringer and U.K.-based distributor DRG as a way for OTT and pay-TV operators to jointly fund and commission high-end scripted series for their platforms and territories.

DRG is owned by the Modern Times Group, and MTG’s streaming service Viaplay was the first Atrium member. Sky New Zealand, Antenna in Greece, Yes in Israel, and NewFilm in Russia have also now signed up to the club.

Each will contribute funding to projects and take the rights for their country. DRG will handle sales outside of the member territories for the drama series Atrium greenlights.

“We thought we had hit on a good idea when we launched the business and it’s great to know that so many respected companies appear to agree – especially when all of these were on our wish list for membership,” said DRG’s Jeremy Fox, who is CEO of Atrium. “Getting everybody together in Cannes [at Mipcom next week] will prove a major milestone for our fast-growing business and allow us to demonstrate just what club membership means.”

Atrium is designed as a way for platforms to collectively fund premium drama, giving them original series that allow them to compete with U.S. streaming giants Netflix and Amazon.

“As the market for scripted series becomes increasingly competitive, and in an environment where global players have seemingly bottomless pockets, it is interesting to be aligned with like-minded services within a structure which could represent a substantive alternative to acquiring compelling new content,” said Alix Goldschmidt, VP, director of acquisitions, France & International, Orange Content.

When Atrium was unveiled at MipTV in April, it announced a three-strong slate: “The Eagle Has Landed” (pictured), a moon-landing series from Stephen Kronish (“24”); “Fandorin,” an adaptation of the Boris Akunin detective novels; and “Saigon,” a series set in Vietnam and spanning 50 years of its history, including the war with the U.S. More projects will be announced at Mipcom.

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Singapore Media Festival to Add VR Conference, Animation Events – Variety

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A one-day conference about virtual reality is the highlight among new events being added to the fourth edition of the Singapore Media Festival. The series of events run from Nov. 23 to Dec 3, with the VR conference on Nov. 29.

The VR conference will span subjects including the use of VR in entertainment and immersive technology in business. Key speakers include Allen Foo, CEO of China’s Ultimate Creators Create Virtual Reality, Jacqui Hocking, MD of Vision Strategy Storytelling, and Alexandre Regeffe from consultancy Neotopy. The conference will be complemented by a two-day convention Creators X SMF Ignite.

With VR, digital streaming and other challenges to the theatrical film business, the SMF will also include a Future of Cinema forum, organized with Canadian filmmaker and creative director of EyeSteelFilm, Sandra Rodriguez, and Australian filmmaker Aaron Wilson.

Mainstay event, the Singapore International Film Festival announced that Oscar-winning Indian film maker Shekhar Kapur will head the jury of its Asian feature film competition. Other jurors include Iranian-American screenwriter and film director, Ana Lily Amirpour; Hong Kong-Australian filmmaker Clara Law, and Locarno Festival’s head of programming, Mark Peranson This year’s Southeast Asian Short Film Jury will be headed by the Tokyo International Film Festival selector Kenji Ishizaka.

Other novelties include the choice of Indonesia as the SMF’s first country in focus. Top Indonesian TV executive Chairul Tanjung, founder of Indonesian broadcasting companies, Trans TV and City Corp, will be presented an outstanding contribution award on Nov. 30.

The Asia Television Forum section will introduce an Animation Pitch session, organized in partnership with India’s Green Gold Animation. Shortlisted participants will pitch to a panel of industry veterans, with the winner take home a $2,500 cash award, as well as guidance and mentorship worth $16,500.

 

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StoryFirst Takes Control of Pinewood Television

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Peter Gerwe’s StoryFirst has bought Pinewood-Shepperton Studios out of their joint-venture production company, Pinewood Television. The company was set up in early 2016 as a producer of high-end TV drama for the international market. StoryFirst will now rename the business.

Helen Gregory, the co-creator and co-executive producer of Shondaland/ABC series “The Catch,” runs Pinewood Television and will stay put, as will co-production executive Christian Wikander, who joined in August 2016 from Swedish pubcaster SVT, where he was head of drama. Board members Gerwe, Michael Grade, and Premila Hoon will all also remain in place.

Pinewood Group Chairman Paul Golding said the company was moving away from developing new content but would remain in film and TV financing. “We wish StoryFirst every success in the next stage of the company’s development,” he said. “In the meantime, Pinewood will continue to finance independent screen-based content rather than developing new material.”

Pinewood Television was a partner with Benedict Cumberbatch’s SunnyMarch production company on the BBC and PBS one-off drama “The Child in Time” (pictured), which was broadcast Sunday on BBC One. Pinewood is also a co-producer on SVT’s “Jordskott” and upcoming Viaplay original “Conspiracy of Silence,” and has a six-project pact with Sony’s action and adventure channel AXN.

“The business is flourishing and is well on its way to being a major player in scripted television drama,” said Gerwe, the U.S. entrepreneur who founded StoryFirst. “Helen and her team will continue to build the company. StoryFirst intends to make additional investments in the growing slate of exciting high-end TV drama projects under the new banner.”

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Academy Awards: Saawan is Pakistan Foreign Language Oscar Choice

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Academy Awards: Saawan is Pakistan Foreign

Courtesy of Kalakar Films

Saawan,” a suspense drama set in the remote deserts, has been selected as Pakistan’s contender for the foreign-language Oscars race. The selection was announced by the Pakistan Academy Selection Committee.

Based on real events that highlight societal injustices and the failure of the feudal justice system, the film is directed and lensed by veteran film and TV director Farhan Alam. It was written and produced by U.S.-based physician Mashood Qadri, through production company Kalakar Films.

According to the producers’ online synopsis “Sawaan” is “the story of a handicapped 9-year old boy, abandoned in a desolate valley in the mountains of Balochistan. The boy is rejected by his father, intimidated by society, harassed by friends and left alone in a valley in the scorching heat to die, due to his disability. Strengthened by memories and dreams of the love of his mother, he begins a perilous journey back to his family in the main city.”

The film picked up awards at the Madrid International Film Festival, the Social World Film Festival and other events.

Other tech credits go to Indian film editor Aseem Sinha and a music score by U.S.-based Amir Isilah, making for what the producers describe is a product of co-operation between Bollywood, Hollywood and the Pakistani film industry.

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Netflix, Orange Renew and Expand International Deal

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Netflix has renewed its deal with France’s leading telco group Orange to be distributed on Orange TV customers in France.

Expanding on the initial deal, which was signed upon Netflix’s launch in France, the streaming service will now be made available in 29 countries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, where the Orange Group is present. Orange previously distributed Netflix in France and Spain.

This strategic partnership will enable Orange’s subscribers to gain access to Netflix’s licensed and original TV series, movies, stand up comedies, documentaries, and children’s programs.

“We aim to offer the best content to our customers.” notes Stéphane Richard, chairman and CEO at Orange. “That is why we were the first to distribute Netflix in France, back in October 2014, and this new agreement allows us to strengthen our ambition at an international level.”

Netflix’s slate of shows include “Stranger Things,” “Orange is the New Black,” “House of Cards” The Crown,” as well as “13 Reasons Why” and “Narcos.”

Netflix will be offered to Orange Poland customers in the coming months as part of its TV offers. Other launches will follow in 2018.

Netflix is distributed by all the other major telco companies in France, including SFR, Free, and Bouygues.

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