U.S. Filmmakers Lend Support To Iceland’s Film Industry
In early November, Iceland’s government announced plans to cut funding to the Icelandic Film Centre by about 40%. The news was met with upset within the industry, especially given that film production turnover has grown 248% since 2010, according to industry reports. That was driven by a number of Hollywood pics that shot locally including Flag_of_IcelandOblivion, Prometheus and The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and HBO’s Games Of Thrones. Film trade orgs have said the effect of the cuts would hurt the local economy and result in 200 job losses. The country’s film bodies have now received a statement of support signed by filmmakers including Clint Eastwood, Darren Aronofsky and Terrence Malick. “We, the undersigned, have had the great pleasure of working on one or more film projects in Iceland,” the statement reads. “In our view, the Icelandic film professionals we’ve worked with are of the highest standard. The expertise that they bring to the table – not only as filmmakers but as invaluable advisors on Icelandic practices, customs and locations – has brought immeasurable benefits to the work that we do. We stand with them, and with the entire film community in Iceland, in their efforts to maintain the current levels of government support for filmmaking, and thus we urge the Icelandic government to reconsider their current plans to cut the budget of the Icelandic Film Fund.”

MTV Preps ‘Ex On The Beach’ For Spring UK Bow
MTV has commissioned reality series Ex On The Beach, which is set to premiere in the UK in the spring. It then will roll out across MTV’s international network, excluding the U.S. The series is produced for MTV UK by Whizz Kid Entertainment and was shot on location in southern Europe. It sees eight single MTV logo-cmen and women invited to enjoy a luxury vacation in the belief they are being set up for a holiday romance. Instead, as MTV cameras watch, ex-boyfriends and girlfriends of cast members arrive unexpectedly. Each ex will have a different motive for appearing, from winning their partner back to exacting revenge after a breakup. Ex On The Beach is exec produced by Steve Regan, Lisa Chapman and Suzanne Readwin.

‘Omar’ Named Best Feature At Asia Pacific Screen Awards
OmarThe Asia Pacific Screen Awards were held in Brisbane, Australia, last night with a who’s who of Oscar contenders taking home prizes. Director Hany Abu-Assad’s Palestinian Oscar entry Omar won Best Feature Film. Best Documentary went to Joshua Oppenhemier’s The Act Of Killing, which is on the Oscar docu shortlist. Best Director was Anthony Chen for Singapore’s Oscar entry Ilo Ilo. Ritesh Batra scooped the Best Screenplay honor for The Lunchbox, the Indian film that caused a stir when it was not selected as that country’s Oscar entry. Lu Yue was cited for Best Cinematography for China’s Oscar entry Back To 1942, directed by Feng Xiaogang. The acting prizes went to Lee Byung-hun in Korea’s Masquerade and to Zhang Ziyi for Wong Kar Wai’s Hong Kong Oscar entry The Grandmaster. The Best Animated Feature, Koo! Kin-Dza-Dza, is from Russia and directed by Georgi Daneliya, and Best Children’s Feature Film was Juvenile Offender from Korea’s Kang Yi-kwan.

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Liberty Global In Talks With Leading Dutch Cabler Ziggo
Continuing its push for European cable properties, John Malone’s Liberty Global has revived talks with Dutch group Ziggo. In March, Liberty acquired a stake in the operator for $810M. Ziggo is the Netherlands’ biggest cable company that serves around 3M households. It rejected a full takeover bid earlier this year but now says it is “currently in discussions with Liberty Global regarding a potential offer for the company.” Liberty already is in the Dutch cable TV business via its subsidiary UPC, the territory’s second-largest provider. Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Matthijs van Leijenhorst told Bloomberg that “A merging of UPC and Ziggo makes perfect sense, and if you look at the synergies, they are perfect.” Liberty Global earlier this year acquired the UK’s Virgin Media and tried to buy Germany’s Kabel Deutschland but was outbid by Vodafone. Of a potential Ziggo acquisition, the Dutch company noted today, “There is no certainty that any agreement can be reached or that any offer will ultimately be made.”

WestEnd Films Hires Fabien Westerhoff To Lead International Sales
UK-based sales and finance outfit WestEnd Films has appointed Fabien Westerhoff as head of international sales. The France-born exec joins from HanWay Films. He has also previously worked with The Co-Production Office, Onoma International and as a consultant to Paris-based Funny Balloons. Westerhoff will join WestEnd managing director Eve Shoukroun to lead the company’s sales team as part of a drive to grow its international slate. The slate includes Ralph Fiennes’ The Invisible Woman; David Gordon Green’s Joe and Manglehorn; Yuval Adler’s Bethlehem, the Oscar entry from Israel; Michael Winterbottom’s The Face Of An Angel, starring Daniel Bruhl and Kate Beckinsale; The Silent Storm, starring Andrea Riseborough and Damian Lewis; and Stephen Herek’s The Great Gilly Hopkins, in association with Picturehouse.

ITV Orders Serial-Killer Drama ‘Chasing Shadows’
ITV has commissioned four part series Chasing Shadows from in-house producer ITV Studios. The drama centers on the work of a missing persons field unit charged with tracking down serial killers who prey on impressionable and vulnerable people. Rob Williams (DCI Banks) is creator. Chasing Shadows will be produced by the ITV Studios drama team headed by Francis Hopkinson (Lucan, Wallander), who also will exec produce. Rob Bullock will produce the drama and Christopher Menaul (Ripper Street) will direct the first two-part hourlong story. Production is due to begin in southeast England in February.

Quiz Show ‘Break The Safe’ Will Return To BBC One
Break the SafeBBC One is bringing back Break The Safe, the Saturday night quiz show produced by FremantleMedia UK’s Thames Scotland. The seven-part series will see three pairs battle it out to win up to £100,000. The three couples take part in a question-and-answer session to determine which will be the last standing who will ultimately attempt to ‘break the safe’ containing £100,000 – but how much one pair plays for depends on how much money they earn throughout the various rounds. It first aired in July and was BBC One’s highest-rated entertainment show of the summer. Executive producers are Suzy Lamb and Sarah Thompson-Woolley for Thames and Alan Tyler for the BBC.

Globosat Picks Up Keshet’s ‘Prisoners Of War’, ‘Deal With It’
Prisoners of WarBrazil’s Globosat has taken a pair of very different shows from Israel’s Keshet International. The Latin American company acquired Seasons 1 and 2 of Prisoners Of War, the original Israeli drama created by Gideon Raff which is the basis for Homeland; and it also bought Deal With It. Both shows will bow in 2014. Prisoners Of War has been optioned for local adaptions in Russia, Turkey, Colombia and Mexico. The original series has been sold in more than 20 territories. Deal With It sees people secretly dared to pull a prank on their unwitting companions with absolutely no time to prepare. The TBS show is based on a Keshet format and is produced by Howie Mandel’s Alevy Productions, Roy Bank’s Banca Studio and Keshet Broadcasting.