Banijay Group has set drama veteran Takis Candilis as Head of Scripted. In the newly-created role, Paris-based Candilis will be directly in charge of Banijay’s scripted production company in France and will oversee the entire scripted production business for the Banijay Group which recently merged with Zodiak Media. Candilis is an experienced drama producer and exec whose credits include Navarro, L’Instit and Quai No. 1. He became Head of Drama at leading French commercial broadcaster TF1 in 1999, and added the title of General Assistant Director of TF1 Production in 2002. He later joined Lagardère Entertainment where he was responsible for production output, in particular scripted; and launching the company’s expansion into international drama production.

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ITV Studios
In other French TV news, Franck Firmin-Guion, previously CEO of the production outfit ALP, has been appointed President, ITV Studios France. The exec will lead ITV Studios’ next phase of growth with a particular focus on exploiting ITVS’ and ITV-owned Talpa’s catalogue of large-scale entertainment formats, along with building on the label’s first steps into scripted. ITVS will henceforth be Talpa’s production partner in France. Firmion-Guion’s previous credits include local versions of Wife Swap and So You Think You Can Dance, along with Survivor and Fort Boyard. Sébastien Petiot is also joining from ALP as COO. The news follows the recent departure of former ITV Studios Managing Director, Francois Florentiny.

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Huayi
China’s Huayi Brothers Media and eSports company Hero Entertainment have disclosed an investment by the former of $288M for a 20% stake in Hero. Hero was recently listed on China’s National Equities Exchange and Quotation market and primarily develops and manages eSports game products as well as organizing and promoting mobile e-sports competitions. The company will work with Huayi in several areas, including films and TV shows as well as eSports games. Huayi has a right of first refusal on adapting any of the games. Huayi is one of China’s leading entertainment companies which has a substantial deal with STX for 12-15 projects per year and is forming a production partnership with Joe and Anthony Russo. Huayi’s equity investment in Hero actually dates back to November 2015, and made Huayi Hero’s second largest shareholder. The agreement, details of which were disclosed today, runs through December 31, 2018 with Hero committing to a goal of net profit for 2016 of at least 500M yuan ($75M) and rising by 20% each of the following years. Other investors include Sequoia Capita and Dalian Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin’s son, Wang Sicong.

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Image Nation Abu Dhabi is due to begin production on three new feature films with each to be shot in the UAE and Oman. They will all be exec produced by Majid Al Ansari, director of Zinzana, Netflix’s first UAE acquisition. The first to go ahead is feel-good comedy On Borrowed Time which starts shooting this month. It will be followed by body-switch comedy Rashid & Rajib in November; and Scales, a dark mermaid drama in early 2017. The films are backed by Image Nation in an effort to help build the local entertainment industry and contribute to the economic development of the region. Image Nation chair Mohammed Al Mubarak says, “All three of these productions will continue our course of creating compelling entertainment at a Hollywood standard, while reflecting the experiences and locations of the Middle East”.