The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain has sent a stern letter to BBC Director General Tony Hall to introduce the national minimum wage for writers on its so-called “shadow scheme” for long-running series. The letter is in response to reports from members that the pay they receive is about the equivalent of £2-£3 ($3.06-$4.60) an hour for the program that covers soaps EastEnders and Holby City and series Doctors and Casualty. The shadow schemes see writers — often experienced and with agents and professional credits — paid a single fee of £1,000 to produce up to three drafts of a spec script over three months. The WGGB says that when the work is turned in, there is no guarantee of a commission. Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett described the current system as “displaying severe shortcomings” and representing a “grotesque unfairness.” He added that the schemes were “insulting to writers of proven ability.” He called on the BBC to increase the script fee to £2,814. The national minimum wage is wage is £6.70. “We’re proud of our work training and supporting writers through these schemes which have been successful in helping writers to secure commissions on our shows,” A BBC spokesperson told Deadline. “We don’t accept the figures cited in the letter, but we had already scheduled to meet the Writers’ Guild at the end of this month for a further discussion about how these schemes operate, and we will discuss the issues they raise then.”
Increasing its international footprint, London-based content distributor DRG, part of the Nice Entertainment Group, is opening a Los Angeles branch. The new outpost will work with broadcasters and producers in America to acquire high-end factual and scripted shows. Joining the U.S. team is newly appointed SVP of North America Scott Kirkpatrick, previously with Marvista Entertainment. DRG also has two West Coast based consultants: Crispin Leyser, who manages the development of the scripted format side of the business, and Hayley Babcock, who is responsible for nonscripted format sales and the acquisition of factual programming in the region. DRG has a range of scripted formats already in development in the U.S. from its Scandinavian and UK producers and has acquired a number of factual series such as American Genius, Metropolis and The Jesus Code. Its portfolio includes Danny Boyle’s Babylon, cult comedy Plebs and comedy drama Doc Martin, which is getting a U.S. remake via Marta Kauffman and Electus. The L.A. move follows the opening of departments in Paris and Stockholm.
FremantleMedia has appointed Paula Cavalcanti, as CEO of FremantleMedia Brazil. The former TV Bandeirantes executive will be responsible for the overall management of the day-to-day operation of FremantleMedia Brazil and will focus on the development and production of programming for broadcasters across all platforms, working closely with FremantleMedia’s global production, licensing and sales operations. While at TV Bandeirantes, Cavalcanti led the production of all original productions across news, sport and entertainment programming including MasterChef Brazil and Still Standing. Prior to her role at the Bandeirantes, Cavalcanti also served as Production Director for SBT and Endemol Brazil, where she developed and produced shows including Deal Or No Deal on SBT.
ITV Studios’ factual division, Shiver, has been commissioned by ITV to produce Land Of The Midnight Sun, a three-part documentary series following Alexander Armstrong on an epic 8,000-mile journey around the Arctic. Alexander’s voyage will begin in Scandinavia, before he heads westward into Iceland and Greenland, through Canada and Alaska and finishes on the international date line. ITV Studios Global Entertainment also has brokered a deal with Transworld for Armstrong to write a book describing the journey. Publication will accompany the TV series, which will air later this year.