Bonjour, Insiders. Jesse Whittock with you as another busy week in entertainment land draws to a close. Max and I were in Lille France for Series Mania for most of it, where encountered everything from Hollywood stars to raging rioters. Read on and sign up for the newsletter here.
Mania On The Streets
Thou doth protest too much: Across France, civil unrest has been breaking out all week as anger over heavy-handed pension reforms bubbles over. Delegates walking the quiet, chilly streets of Lille for Series Mania this week were caught up in the chaos (Deadline’s International TV Co-Editors included), as protestors attempted to storm the purple carpet and rioters burned refuse piles in the backstreets. Attendees took it all in good spirits and broadly chose to focus on the screen content, not the fresh graffiti adorning windows and flaming trashcans warming the roads. President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension reforms are also upsetting France’s film and TV stars. More than 300 leading figures, including Juliette Binoche and Camille Cottin, are backing a petition against the plan to raise retirement age from 62 to 64.
Joy to the world: However, the unsettling backdrop didn’t stop the annual Series Mania confab from once again delivering a week of high-end debate, producer meetings and parties. A highlight pour moi was sitting down with Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy for an onstage interview about her life and career. She sagely noted Westworld had seemingly gone from “sci-fi to documentary film” as the real world turned progressively darker and the show’s themes became more contemporary, and hinted at what a fifth season might have looked like (HBO pulled the plug on the show last year). Sounds like the rise of AI through ChatGPT and other apps would have informed the plot.
Dialogue heavy: Throughout the week, the likes of Amazon, HBO, Sky Studios, Disney+, Paramount+ and Netflix showcased their latest slates and discussed hot button topics like the potential of a U.S. writers’ strike, talent shortages and making money from global streaming. During yesterday’s final day track Lille Dialogues, the bosses of French networks France Télévisions and TF1 both said making shows of real importance to French citizens was the way traditional networks can set themselves apart from the streamers, while Beta MD Moritz von Kruedener said the industry should “become a bit more Scandinavian” in its approach to funding shows. A full compilation of stories from the event can be found here.
And the nominations are…: The BAFTA TV Award nominations were out this week, with BBC dramas This is Going to Hurt and The Responder leading the pack. Both landed six nods, including Leading Actor for stars Ben Whishaw and Martin Freeman. Their competition includes Gary Oldman (for Slow Horses) and Cillian Murphy (for Peaky Blinders), both of whom gained their first nominations in the category. Overall, the BBC has a total of 81 nominations, putting it comfortably ahead of its nearest rival Channel 4, which has 33 nominations. Netflix scooped 24 nominations, while Apple TV+ was behind with 15. The full list of nominees can be found here.
Race issues: Awards remain a lightning rod for race issues, and as BAFTA trumpeted the number of older women nominated for this year’s awards, Jake reported a steep decline in recognition for people of color – down from 40% of nominees last year to 24%. BAFTA CEO Jane Millichip said the representation of older actresses such as Imelda Staunton was a “really impressive result,” but the organization was forced to clarify she wasn’t addressing diversity, which considers ethnicity and social status, in her comments. All of those up for Best Actress are white. BAFTA Deputy Chair Sara Putt later said the awards were “a barometer of what’s going on in the industry” but would use the data from this year’s nominations to inform thinking in the coming year. Comedians Romesh Ranganathan and Rob Beckett will host the BAFTA TV Awards at the Royal Festival Hall in London on May 14.
Heretic believes in co-pros: Diana’s latest International Disruptors article features the Greek producer behind the Palme D’Or winning flick Triangle of Sadness, the 2022 black comedy from Robin Östlund. She sat down with Heretic’s Giorgios Karnavas after he landed back in Europe after a whirlwind trip to LA for Oscars, where the film was up for Best Picture. Karnavas reflected on how his 10-year-old company has evolved and talked up the opportunity for transatlantic co-productions. “It seems like Hollywood is finally coming to the realization that firstly, there is a lot of talent here and, secondly, there are people who know how to put projects together and finance them with soft money,” he told Diana. You said it, Giorgios. Go deeper here.
Aussie Crime Rules
‘Last King’ crowned: Our new Global Breakouts strand is well and truly established now, and the latest title to come under the microscope is Paramount+’s Australian drama Last King of the Cross – think The Godfather with an Antipodean accent. Max wrote about the unusual partnership series exec producer Mark Fennessy struck up with the real life ‘Last King’, John Ibrahim, to get the show made. A few weeks back, Mark told me stories of controversial figures are rarely made while the person at their center is still alive, but Ibrahim is no usual man and wanted his tale out there. His is the story of the son of a Lebanese-Australian family who became one of Sydney’s most powerful nightclub bosses, and whose name is forever tied to the city’s murky underworld despite having no convictions. Max heard how producer Helium navigated tough Australian Covid rules, unexpected tropical rains and last-minute cast changes to create a series that is now Paramount+ Australia’s most successful original show and is selling internationally. Full story here.
BBC’s Distinctive Desires
Taste for U.S. in question: Every few years, the BBC’s rivals will accuse the UK public network of too frequently dipping into the U.S. market for shows such as Superman & Lois in a bid to drive up ratings. ITV was revealed to have taken on that role this week, saying its PSB rival had “dramatically increased” the number of Stateside titles it’s acquired over the past six years. In its submission to a BBC review by media regulator Ofcom, ITV said this “sits uncomfortably” with the BBC’s remit to be “distinctive and take risks,” and blamed the BBC for pushing up prices by bidding for hot Stateside shows. Ofcom agreed, at least in part, telling the BBC it must explain how acquiring overseas content rather than commissioning British stuff supports the principle of “distinctiveness” and engages different audiences. The BBC is hamstrung in how far it can go with acquired programs as its publicly-funded model means most of its £3.8BN ($4.7BN) content budget must go on UK TV and film. More here.
🌶️ Hot One: The BBC is lining up a “spiritual successor” to Peaky Blinders in Dope Girls.
🌶️ Another One: Shooting began on romantic drama Take My Hand in Australia, per Andreas’ scoop.
🌶️ One more: The unlikely trio of David Tennant, Danny Dyer and Aidan Turner are featuring in Disney+ series Rivals. Max and Denise broke this one.
🙍♂️Exiting: A Spy Among Friends exec producer Patrick Spence from ITV Studios, as Jake revealed today.
✂️ Cuts: Around 25 roles will go at BBC Children’s and Education department, Max revealed.
💼 Legal case: Producer Amy Williams filed a breach of contract suit against the filmmakers behind indie drama Jacir. Zac had the skinny.
💃🏽 ‘Llama a Mi Agente!’: Eva Longoria will direct and produce a Spanish-language Call My Agent! remake.