Warner Bros UK Gears Up For Creative Talent Initiative
Warner Bros UK
has recruited its first group of scholars, apprentices and trainees for the inaugural season of Warner Bros Creative Talent. The first selection will participate in the program to gain industry insight and work experience across Warner’s UK film, TV, games and theater operations. The initiative is part of Warner Bros’ long-term commitment to the UK’s creative industries. Among the first folks chosen to take part are students Rienkje Attoh, Sam Coleman and Sam Hughes who are receiving the first Prince William Scholarships supported by BAFTA and Warner Bros. Four others will work as camera trainees and sound trainees on Ron Howard’s Heart Of The Sea and Guy Ritchie’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. More information on the program is available here.

Hugh Bonneville Back As Ian Fletcher In BBC’s ‘W1A’
Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville will reprise his role as Ian Fletcher in a new BBC comedy, W1A. The show is a follow-up to BAFTA-winning comedy series Twenty Twelve, Hugh Bonnevillefrom BBC In-House Comedy. Shooting starts next month on the series that sees Fletcher, the ex-head of the Olympic Deliverance Commission, taking up his next big job – the (fictional) Head of Values at the BBC. His task is to clarify, define, or redefine the core purpose of the BBC across all its functions and to position it confidently for the future. In Twenty Twelve (available on iTunes in the U.S.), the network poked fun at the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics and here looks to be taking a shot at itself after the broadcaster suffered a string of PR scandals in the past year. But John Morton, who wrote the series, says: “It isn’t a demolition job on anybody or anything, and it isn’t one giant in-joke, and this isn’t a game of guessing who is supposed to be who. If it is satirical then it’s satirical about an environment, an ethos, and the absurdities of modern corporate life itself. The key principle is to operate at a level of reality just to the left or the right of fact, to create stories that haven’t actually happened but that could happen or might have happened.“ Says Mark Freeland, head of BBC In-House Comedy: “This is a kind of love letter to the BBC. But a letter that gets mislaid, because the remote computer system is not working.” Twenty Twelve’s Morton also directs the comedy that’s produced by that show’s Paul Schlesinger and executive produced by Jon Plowman. There will be an initial run of four 30-minute episodes to be screened in 2014 on BBC Two.

StudioCanal Buys Majority Stake In RED
Signaling a move into British TV production, France’s StudioCanal has taken a majority StudioCanal logostake in indie producer RED Production Company. RED’s credits include drama series Queer As Folk, Scott & Bailey and Last Tango In Halifax. StudioCanal said in a statement that it intends to build on RED’s success by developing new UK productions as well as facilitating ambitious international series. RED’s day-to-day operations and productions will continue to be led by Nicola Shindler alongside managing director Andrew Critchley.

FremantleMedia Launches Norway Operation
FremantleMedia has opened a production operation in Norway to be run by Petter Testmann-Koch, whose title will be Managing Director FremantleMedia Norge. In addition to setting up the office and building the production team, Testmann-Koch will FremantleMediaLogobe responsible for the overall day-to-day management of the operation and driving the strategic vision of the business. He will focus on developing quality content for the Norwegian market across all platforms, selling FremantleMedia formats in Norway and working closely with FremantleMedia’s International production, licensing and sales operations. Testmann-Koch joins from Nordisk Film TV where, as CCO and executive producer, he was responsible for development and production as well as co-managing format acquisitions and sales. He starts with Fremantle in the spring.

Portugal Is Latest Territory To Buy Keshet’s ‘Rising Star
Rising StarKeshet International has sold interactive singing competition series Rising Star to Portugal, where TVI will adapt it for the local market. It is set to launch in 2014. The hot Israeli format has also sold in the U.S. to ABC, the UK to ITV, and elsewhere. “Rising Star is clearly one step ahead of what is being done with talent shows worldwide. This is our first bet on such a powerful talent show format”, said Bruno Santos, TVI’s head of local programming.

Red Arrow International Taps Pair Of Execs
Red Arrow International has appointed Irina Ignatiew as Deputy MD, global scripted distribution, and Henrik Pabst as Deputy MD, global format & factual distribution. Ignatiew was previously SVP Sales, German & French Speaking Territories. Before joining Red Arrow in early 2012, Ignatiew held posts at Telepool, Tandem Communications and Lionsgate. Pabst was formerly in charge of acquiring distribution rights to entertainment programs for Red Arrow´s catalog, and for marketing the program portfolio in the UK, Scandinavia and Benelux. He has also worked at IMG Media. Red Arrow International packages, co-finances and co-produces international dramas that include Lilyhammer and also handles formats like Betty White´s Off Their Rockers, and ABC´s The Taste.

Zodiak Closes Asia Deals For ‘The Returned’
Zodiak Rights has concluded a series of Asian deals on supernatural hit The Returned. The series, which just won an International Emmy, is produced by Haut et Court for Canal Plus. Thailand’s True Vision Group picked up The Returned for its True Vision Series channel in what will be the first time it has aired a French drama. Hong Kong’s Now TV also made its first French drama acquisition with Zodiak. The Returned also sold to Taiwan’s public broadcaster PTS and to South Korea’s AXN. The drama had already sold in over 40 territories and is getting a U.S. remake.