Fundamental Films has cast Chinese actor Francis Ng (The Mission) in the action-adventure pic Warrior’s Gate. The award-winning character actor Ng joins Dave Bautista, Mark Zhao, NiNi, Uriah Shelton, and Sienna Guillory in the film directed by Matthias Hoene from a script by Luc Besson and Robert Kamen. Fundamental and EuropaCorp are co-producing Warrior’s Gate with Fundamental backing and Europa on international sales. The partners have previously worked together on launching Brick Mansions, Lucy and Taken 3 into the Chinese market. The next five years will see the companies partner development and release of a number of French-Chinese co-productions, including Besson’s graphic-novel adaptation Valerian and the upcoming Transporter reboot.
MTG’s free-TV channel TV3 and online streaming service Viaplay are set to co-produce Black Widows (working title), an original drama series to shoot this summer. The series will premiere in Sweden, Norway and Denmark in 2016 with Peter Stormare (Chocolat) starring. The eight one hour-episodes are an adaption of the 2013 Finnish drama Black Widows, the country’s most successful drama series ever. A mix of crime and relationship drama, it will also feature three Scandinavian actresses who are yet to be unveiled. Black Widows is a collaboration between MTG TV in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark and MTG’s pan-Nordic streaming service Viaplay.
The UK’s Channel4 is launching a new service to showcase the best foreign-language drama series from around the world. With the working title 4World Drama, the offering will launch free and on-demand to all UK viewers this fall. The launch will capitalize on growing demand for premium foreign-language drama among British viewers, who generally head to BBC Four to catch subtitled fare. More than 500 hours of drama will be exclusively available for box-set viewing on VOD service All 4 and a selection of the best from 4World Drama’s lineup will also be premiered on Channel 4’s free-to-air channel, More 4. Channel4 is partnered with Global Series Network for the service. The parties also plan to roll out World Drama in a number of other TV markets.
ITV has ordered Billy Connolly’s Tracks Across America, a three part factual series that sees the Scottish comedian and actor travel across the U.S. by train. Produced by 7 Wonder, Tracks Across America follows Connolly’s 2011 series Route 66. For the new series, he will visit 28 states and cover 8,000 miles, beginning and ending the travelogue in New York. Director is Mike Reilly and producer is Michelle Crowther. Executive Producer for 7 Wonder is Steve Condie.
Canada’s CBC has fired marquee host Evan Solomon after the Toronto Star reported he was taking secret commissions payments related to art sales involving people he dealt with as a host. “I regret to inform you that CBC News has ended its relationship with Evan Solomon,” executive Jennifer McGuire said in a brief statement issued late Tuesday, a day after the Star presented its findings to the network. Solomon, 47, was the Ottawa-based host of Power And Politics on TV and The House on CBC radio, and had been touted as a possible replacement for retiring newsman Peter Mansbridge on The National. In at least one case, Solomon took commissions in excess of $300,000 and did not disclose to the buyer that he was being paid finder fees. Among people for whom Solomon brokered the sale of paintings are Jim Balsillie, co-founder of Research In Motion (BlackBerry) and Mark Carney, former Bank of Canada governor and current governor of the Bank of England.