BBC Worldwide Appoints Interim CEO
As the BBC regroups amid its ongoing crises, a game of management musical chairs is playing out. Paul Dempsey will take over as interim CEO of BBC Worldwide beginning next month. Dempsey, who is currently managing director for consumer products at BBCW, will oversee the division until Tim Davie takes over as CEO in March. Davie became interim director general of the BBC when George Entwistle resigned earlier this month, but had previously been named to follow outgoing BBCW CEO John Smith who leaves in December. Tony Hall is to become the official BBC director general in March. Dempsey joined BBCW in 1998 as UK sales director and has since held posts that include managing director of BBC Audiobooks and director of BBCW’s audio & music business.
New TV Series Will Continue The Saga Of ‘The Devil’s Playground’
Fred Schepisi will serve as consultant on a six-part TV drama which will be a sequel to The Devil’s Playground, his 1976 semi-autobiographical film set in a Catholic seminary in 1953. Australia’s Foxtel has commissioned the series which will be produced by Matchbox Pictures. NBCUniversal International, which owns a stake in Matchbox and has a first-look deal with the company, will represent the project internationally. Executive producer Penny Chapman tells Deadline Return To The Devil’s Playground will be set in 1988 and will follow the character played by Simon Burke 35 years later. Burke made his debut as a 13-year-old student in the original film and will return for the TV series which sees the boy now a psychiatrist who serves as a counselor to some of the priests in the Catholic Church. “It’s a psychological thriller about sexual repression in an era when reports of sexual abuse by priests were starting to emerge,” she said. As with elsewhere these days, the subject is highly topical in Australia as the government has announced a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse by the church and secular institutions. Chapman says she’s assembling a team of directors and the scripts are being written by Blake Ayshford (who’s also the showrunner), Lore director Cate Shortland, Tommy Murphy and Alice Addison. Shooting is due to start next June. – Don Groves.
Ovation Picks Up British ‘Scapegoat’
Ovation has acquired two-hour TV movie The Scapegoat from Content Television with plans to air in the U.S. on January 22. Matthew Rhys stars in the adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1952-set novel. He plays a down-on-his-luck school teacher who meets his doppelgänger in a bar and the next day literally steps into the man’s life replete a young wife, two mistresses, a morphine-abusing mother, a precocious daughter, a crumbling stately home and a nearly bankrupt business. Alice Orr-Ewing, Andrew Scott (Sherlock), Jodhi May (Emma), Sylvie Testud (La Vie En Rose), Sheridan Smith (Quartet) and Dame Eileen Atkins (Cold Mountain) also star. Written and directed by Charles Sturridge, The Scapegoat was produced by London-based Island Pictures. Producers are Sarah Beardsall and Dominic Minghella .
Dubai To Roll Out Red Carpet For ‘Life Of Pi,’ ‘Sapphires’
The Dubai International Film Festival will host 161 features during its 9th edition which runs December 9-16. Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi will open the fest and Wayne Blair’s The Sapphires will handle closing duties. Among other high-profile films to screen are Hitchcock with Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren; Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away in 3D; Michael Haneke’s Amour; Feng Xiaogang’s World War II epic Back To 1942 with Tim Robbins and Adrien Brody and Haiffa Al Mansour’s Venice selection Wadjda, the first film to be made by a Saudi Arabian woman. Egyptian actor Mahmoud Abdul Aziz and British director Michael Apted will both receive Lifetime Achievement Awards. The festival also announced today that talent on the ground will include Cate Blanchett, Colin Firth, Frieda Pinto, Rooney Mara, Kirsten Davis and Cuba Gooding Jr.