Australia’s Nine Entertainment Seeks $700 Million U.S. Debt Facility
Nine Entertainment Co. CEO David Gyngell and advisers UBS are approaching U.S. lenders this week to set up a $700 million debt facility as part of the company’s recapitalization. Standard & Poor’s has given the proposed raising a preliminary BB credit rating with a stable outlook. According to local media, the ratings agency has given Nine the same rating for a separate $700 million senior secured term loan it aims to arrange in Australia. Existing creditors are due to meet on January 21 to approve a $3.4 billion debt-for-equity swap that will result in U.S. hedge funds Apollo Global Management and Oaktree Capital emerge as the controlling shareholders, replacing previous owner CVC Asia Pacific. Nine posted a $972 million loss in 2011-12, mostly due to asset write-downs, but the network saw a ratings resurgence last year, finishing No. 1 in prime-time in the key demos 25-54, 18-49 and 16-39 in the five capital cities, driven by The Voice, The Block and Big Brother. The new owners reportedly are planning an IPO within 18 months, which S&P said could lead to an improvement in its rating. –Don Groves
Mora’s ‘Sound Of Spying’ To Spoof Cold War, Hollywood’s Black List
John Apicella is playing Winston Churchill and John Jack Rodgers is Noel Coward in The Sound Of Spying, Philippe Mora’s experimental 3D musical about the Cold War and the Hollywood black list. Mora’s screenplay is based on unclassified FBI documents and other U.S. government files. Polish composer Adrian Konarski has written 12 songs, including titles “I Loved Kim Philby”, “This Stage Has No Curtain”, “Sexual Deviates”, “Bloodlands”, “The Lavender Menace” and “There’s No Business Like Spybusiness”, with lyrics by Mora. Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven‘s Rena Riffel will play Litzi Friedman, Philby’s first love who got him involved in Russian intelligence, and other roles including Guy Burgess, J. Edgar Hoover, Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, Harry Truman, Joseph Stalin and Joseph McCarthy are being cast. Apicella and Rodgers, exec director of the Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theatre – Los Angeles, have filmed scenes in L.A. and the six-month shoot will also encompass filming in London, Berlin, possibly Moscow and Oz. The 3D supervisor is Dave Gregory. Mora’s Hard Drive Pictures is producing, with Barry Krost as executive producer. Mora tells Deadline he will pitch the project to distributors when he has a rough cut, with Needle & Associates as sales consultant. – Don Groves
‘Doctor Who’ Gets eBook Series For 50th Anniversary
Penguin’s Puffin imprint is partnering with BBC Worldwide to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who via a series of ebook short stories. The books will be penned by different well-known children’s fiction authors and will each be based on one of the eleven regenerations of the Doctor starting with the William Hartnell version who debuted in the sci-fi series in 1963. The first book, to be released on January 23, will be written by Artemis Fowl series author Eoin Colfer. It will be set in London in 1900 and deal with a “missing hand,” according to BBC Worldwide. The 11 short stories will be published together in paperback form in November. Along with the books, the Royal Mail recently said it will commemorate the show with stamps featuring all of the Doctors. Head writer Steven Moffat also recently said there will be “tremendous surprises” this year with relation to the anniversary and promised, “We’re going to take over television.”
Cineworld Gets Bump Thanks To Bond
The UK’s Cineworld, the nation’s second largest exhibition group, saw revenues jump 2.4% with box office up 3.9% in preliminary results for the year ended December 27, 2012. Although summer events like the Queen’s Jubilee, the Olympics and the Euro Cup tournament were a drag on box office, the full year was weighted in the fourth quarter enjoying a boost from Skyfall which is the first film to ever pass the £100M mark in British theaters. Last month, the company acquired arthouse exhibitor Picturehouse and added new screens in 2012 to start 2013 with 878 screens at 101 sites across the UK.