News’ Publishing Co. Valued at $10.2B by Australian Broker
After News Corp. splits in two next year, the publishing company will be worth $A10.2B assuming it’s debt-free, according to Australian broker CBA. That’s a much higher valuation than earlier estimates due to the $2B acquisition of Australia’s Consolidated Media Holdings, which gives News full ownership of Fox Sports channels and boosts its stake in pay-TV platform Foxtel. The publishing company, which will house Foxtel, its 61% stake in and 44% of Sky New Zealand, will derive 75% of its pre-tax earnings from Australia, the broker said. It predicts Foxtel and Fox Sports will account for 46% of that unit’s pre-tax earnings in fiscal 2014, with newspapers and HarperCollins contributing 37%. CBA expects News to focus on lifting U.S. investors’ awareness of the non-publishing assets’ strong cash flow, probably involving a global roadshow next year. It values the entertainment company at $54.6B with an earnings margin of around 21%, close to Disney’s but much lower than Discovery’s. It assumes News’ net debt of $5.4B will be shouldered by the entertainment arm. -Don Groves

Lebanon Takes Issue With Its Image In ‘Homeland
Lebanon is considering legal action against the award-winning American TV series Homeland for its portrayal of Beirut as a city riven with terrorists. In the second episode of the second season of the CIA thriller, shown on the UK’s Channel 4, millions of viewers watched the protagonists hunt terrorists through the narrow, dirty and dangerous streets of Beirut. But Lebanon’s minister of tourism Fady Abboud expressed outrage at the “serious misrepresentation” of the city, which once was considered the Paris of the Middle East. “I raised this at the cabinet meeting and the president asked the minister for justice and the minister of communications to see what can be done.” Abboud added “I am calling on all young Lebanese adults to do what they need to do; to write blogs, to call the BBC and CNN to try to raise awareness that Beirut is not a city of Kalashnikov and war.” In the show, Claire Danes’ character continuously dons the hijab, but women in the part of Beirut where the scene is set are more often seen in skin-tight jeans, bouffant hairdoes and Jimmy Choos. Abbout urges Lebanese “youths to splice images of the war-torn Hamra of Homeland with the real street.”

Joe Wright To Make London Stage Directing Debut In 2013
London’s West End is lining up some big names for next year. Helen Mirren will revisit the role of Queen Elizabeth II in Stephen Daldry’s The Audience beginning February; Sam Mendes just cast the lead for his take on Charlie And The Chocolate Factory which begins previews in May; Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw hit the boards in March for John Logan’s Peter And Alice followed by Daniel Radcliffe in Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple Of Inishmaan and Jude Law will play Henry V in late 2013. This week, it was announced that Atonement and Anna Karenina (and Brad Pitt’s Chanel No. 5 ad) director Joe Wright will make his London stage debut next year. He’ll helm A Season In The Congo at the Young Vic in the summer. The play, about Congo’s first independence leader, will star Chiwetel Ejiofor in his first theater role since winning the 2008 Olivier for Othello. Before The Congo, Wright is teeing up Arthur Wing Pinero’s Trelawny Of The Wells at the Donmar Warehouse for a February-April run. Wright told The Guardian he decided to make “a concerted effort” to do theater this year after making five films in eight years and is eager to do more “unless the plays are a complete disaster, and then I’ll go back to Working Title with my tail between my legs.” Also helming at the Young Vic this year is Rufus Norris whose first feature, Broken, opened Critics Week in Cannes in May. He’ll direct Feast, the story of three Nigerian sisters separated on their way to a family dinner.

Warner Bros’ Josh Berger To Chair Chickenshed
Warner Bros UK, Ireland and Spain chief Josh Berger has added a new feather to his cap so to speak. He’s been appointed non-executive chairman of Chickenshed, a 38-year-old theater company/charity based in London. The group brings people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities together to create stage works and operates three nationally accredited education courses and has outposts throughout England and in Russia. Berger, an American by birth, was recently named a Commander of the British Empire and previously served as VP of The American Friends of Chickenshed, set up to encourage US and international support for the charity. Chickenshed has performed at the Royal Opera House, The Royal Albert Hall, the Edinburgh Festival and 10 Downing Street. Its performers have appeared in more than 40 TV programs and DVDs. Supporters have included Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, Kenneth Branagh and Jeremy Irons.

ITV’s The Audience Goes To Canada
ITV Studios Global Entertainment has signed a new Canadian deal for format The Audience. Created by indie production house The Garden, the format has been commissioned by Corus Entertainment’s W Network in Canada. Production company Force Four Entertainment will develop the 6 part series to air in 2013. Each episode features a person faced with a life-changing decision who opens their life to a group of 50 ordinary people who follow them constantly for a week, and draw on their collective life experience to solve the problem. The Audience has also been launched in Denmark and is in production in France. The format has also been sold in The Netherlands.