Chinese director Wu Tianming died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack at his home in Beijing. Wu, known as the “Godfather of the Fifth Generation” directed several films in the 1970s and ’80s that helped reshape Chinese cinema including 1986’s Old Well and 1995’s award winner King Of Masks. He got his professional start at Xi’an Film Studios as an apprentice to Cui Wei and eventually took over the studio in the late 1970s, over the next decade-plus helped guide the careers of such noted Chinese filmmakers as Huang Jianxin, Tian Zhuangzhuang, Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. His last directing job was 2003’s Gadfly, a 20-part TV miniseries based on the E.L. Voynich novel.
Stellan Skarsgard has been cast in the lead role of Abi Morgan’s new BBC series River. Morgan, who has scripted features including Shame, The Iron Lady and the upcoming Suffragette, won an Emmy last year for writing the now cancelled BBC series The Hour. River reteams her with the BBC for a six-part series she created. Kudos is producing. The drama centers on John River (Skarsgard), a brilliant police officer who walks a professional tightrope between a pathology so extreme he risks permanent dismissal, and a healthy state of mind that would cure him of his gift. The series is due to air in 2015.
Also at the BBC, Ben Chaplin, Downton Abbey‘s Joanne Froggatt and Silent Witness‘ Emilia Fox have been confirmed to join drama showcase The Secrets. The strand is a series of five stand-alone films that highlights new writing talent. It’s made by Working Title TV for BBC One. The above are joining a host of British names that includes Olivia Colman, Alison Steadman, Ashley Walters, Helen Baxendale and Sarah Solemani. BAFTA-winning director Dominic Savage will helm the five films, each of which starts with one incident and then follows five different stories stemming from the event. Episode one is by Elinor Cook and stars Frogatt, Chaplin and Fox; episode two is by Nick Payne and stars Colman, Steadman and Steve Oram; and Ben Ockrent’s third episode stars Baxendale, Anthony Welsh and Paige Meade. Payne also wrote episode four with Savage; it stars Walters. Episode five is by and stars Solemani. Shooting is currently underway in London for air later this year. Executive producers are Juliette Howell, Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan for Working Title, and Lucy Richer for the BBC. The producer is Guy Heeley.
Aidan Turner (The Hobbit Trilogy) is to star as Ross Poldark in Debbie Horsfield’s adaptation of Winston Graham’s Poldark. The eight-part period saga will be produced by Mammoth Screen for BBC One. Ed Bazalgette (The Guilty, Endeavour) is directing the story that starts in 1783 with Britain in the grip of a chilling recession. Poldark returns from the Revolutionary War in America to his beloved Cornwall only to find his world in ruins: his father is dead, the family mine has long since closed, his house is wrecked and his sweetheart is pledged to marry his cousin. Eliza Mellor produces with Debbie Horsfield, Rebecca Keane, Karen Thrussell and Damien Timmer exec producing for Mammoth Screen and Polly Hill for the BBC. Shooting starts in April in Cornwall and Bristol for air in 2015. The BBC previously adapted the first four books of the Poldark novels in 1975.
In further BBC news, the cast has been set for eight-part series The Interceptor. David Gyasi (Cloud Atlas) will lead the drama alongside Jo Joyner (EastEnders), Trevor Eve (Death Comes To Pemberley), Robert Lonsdale (From Here To Eternity), Ewan Stewart (Titanic), Lorraine Ashbourne (The Selfish Giant), Anna Skellern (Heading Out), Gary Beadle (EastEnders) and Lee Boardman (Da Vinci’s Demons). Created by Tony Saint and directed by Farren Blackburn, The Interceptor follows a top secret, state-of-the-art law enforcement team whose mission is to hunt down some of Britain’s most dangerous criminals. BBC Drama Production and BBC Worldwide Productions are co-producing for BBC One. Patrick Schweitzer is producer and executive producer is Sarah Brown. Shooting starts next month in London with broadcast set for the fall.
Maurice Lévy, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, will give a keynote address at upcoming Mip-TV market. The event takes place in Cannes from April 7-10. Publicis is the world’s third largest advertising and communications group. Lévy’s speech will be titled “The Future of Content Is Digital,” and will discuss the common challenges faced by TV and advertising including content creation, retaining viewer attention and building and monetizing an audience. Lévy’s keynote takes place on the eve of Mip’s first MIP Digital Fronts which will include showcases by founding partners YouTube and Maker Studios as well as presentations by creators and studios including Fox Digital Studio, Vuguru, Smokebomb, What’s Trending, Pemberley Digital, Hoodlum, Jimmy Lee and SXM Productions.