BBC Comedies Vie For Commissions At Salford Sitcom Showcase
The BBC is taking a shot at remaking It Takes A Village, the 2010 ABC pilot by Casey Johnson & David Windsor that starred Leah Remini. Whether the UK version actually goes forward, however, will be in the hands of a live studio audience next month. For the second year in a row, the BBC is testing a crop of potential shows in front of a live audience at the Salford Sitcom Showcase, a three-day event during which six comedy pilots are performed onstage to a packed house as execs take notes. The first edition spawned commissions for family sitcoms Citizen Khan, which BBC One just picked up for a second season, and Hebburn which debuted on BBC Two this month. On deck at this year’s showcase with It Takes A Village are the battling-neighbors show 1987, from Sherlock producers Beryl and Sue Vertue; Just Us, about a couple forced to downsize from London that’s exec produced by Don Taffner for DLT Entertainment and stars Downton Abbey‘s Samantha Bond; The Gatekeeper, from exec producers Gareth Edwards and Saurabh Kakkar about a 40-ish man who works the nightshift as a security guard; the Pete Thornton exec produced Chain Gang about life in a Bristol coffee bar and family show Homeboys from exec producer Mario Stylianides for Lucky Giant. This year, the Salford Showcase runs from Nov 21-23.

Everybody In The Pool: ‘Celebrity Splash’ To ITV
Last week, Fox ordered a two-hour special celebrity diving competition reality show, Stars In Danger: High Diving, based on a format owned by Banijay International. Earlier in October, ABC ordered Celebrity Splash straight to series. That show is based on Eyeworks’ Dutch format Sterren Springen which sees celebs perform dives from dizzying heights after being trained by a professional diving instructor. Now, the UK’s ITV has commissioned Splash! based on the the same Dutch format. Two Four Television is producing for ITV with Olympic Bronze medal winner Tom Daley to feature in the show. All of the pool action comes as Banijay International has requested a court injunction against Eyeworks on the grounds of copyright infringement. Banijay and sister company Brainpool, producer of the original Stars In Danger, say their dispute stems from “approximately 100 similarities” between Celebrity Splash and Stars in Danger. The companies have requested Eyeworks ceases producing and distributing Celebrity Splash and that Eyeworks indemnify them for the damages suffered as a result of the alleged infringement and confusion in the market.

HBO Go Coming To Subscribers In Hong Kong
HBO Asia plans to launch the internet streaming service HBO GO on Hong Kong-based Now TV in the first quarter of 2013. HBO GO on Now TV will allow subscribers to watch HBO programming 12 hours after it debuts in the U.S. across multiple devices including laptops, tablets and smartphones. Now TV will be the first broadcaster in Asia to offer HBO GO. It will be free to Now’s HBO Max Pak Premium subscribers.

Joe Nocera Questions Mark Thompson’s NYT Appointment
New York Times
reporter Joe Nocera is the latest employee to question the wisdom of bringing former BBC director general Mark Thompson aboard as CEO. Thompson has repeatedly attempted to distance himself from the ongoing scandal at the BBC over allegations of child sex abuse against late host Jimmy Savile and an in-house investigative report into Savile that was shelved while Thompson was still at his post. Last week, Times ombudsman Margaret Sullivan suggested it was “worth considering whether (Thompson) is the right person for the job.” Now, Nocera writes that although Thompson’s “tenure as the BBC’s boss included an international expansion and strong digital growth, two areas where The Times could use his skills,” he adds, “Since early October, all anybody has asked about Thompson are those two most damning of questions: what did he know, and when did he know it?” On the question of whether the BBC participated in a cover-up of Savile’s doings, Nocera writes, “Plainly, the answer is yes” and suggests that Thompson appears “willfully ignorant, and it makes you wonder what kind of an organization the BBC was when Thompson was running it… It also makes you wonder what kind of chief executive he’d be at The Times.

Australia’s Ten Closes Deal to Sell Eye Corp; U.S. And UK Subsidiaries On Sales Block
Outdoor Media Operations is looking to unload the U.S. and UK outdoor advertising businesses owned by Australian-based Eye Corp. after closing a deal to buy the company from the Ten Network. OMO paid $A98M ($101.7M) cash and will stump up a further $15 million in three years’ time. Eye U.S.A. supplies ads in shopping centers and Eye UK focuses on ads in airports. Ten was forced to accept a lower price after initially aiming to sell Eye Corp. to OMO, owned by private equity firm Champs, for about $145 million. Ten, which incurred a loss of $12.9 million in the year ending August 31 and is retrenching more than 100 staffers in news and production, will use the proceeds to reduce debt. Separately, fund manager Perpetual has reduced its stake in Ten to less than 9% after selling stock worth about 2%. That leaves billionaire Bruce Gordon, who also owns regional broadcaster WIN, as Ten’s largest investor with 10.2%. – Don Groves.

Medusa Home Video To Warner Bros. Italy
Warner Bros. Entertainment Italy has acquired Medusa Home Video, the home video division of production and distribution outfit Medusa Film which is part of Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset. Founded in 1995, Medusa Home Video’s DVD and Blu-ray library includes about 3,000 new release and catalog titles, such as La Dolce Vita, The Departed, The Pursuit Of Happiness and The Lord Of the Rings franchise. Medusa Home Video will be incorporated into the operations of Warner Bros.’ Milan-based Home Entertainment Group Italy.