The UK’s Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund has set the winners of the inaugural Betty Box and Peter Rogers Comedy Writing Programme. Awarded in partnership with Big Talk Productions and LOCO London Comedy Film Festival, the winners were selected from over 600 applications and will receive £10K to support a six-month period of script development for their feature screenplay or TV sitcom pilot. The recipients are Christine Robertson, Laura Kirwan-Ashman, Meryl O’Rourke and Sasha Collington. Big Talk will guide them while the CTBF and LOCO will work closely with them to provide professional support; highlighting opportunities for networking and the next steps of their careers. The program culminates in a live read of the completed scripts in May. The awards are given in honor of Betty Box and Peter Rogers, producers of the Doctor and Carry On series. The CTBF is a charity that supports people working behind the scenes in cinema, film and television. It has also identified an additional six writers who with the winners above form The Betty and Peter List; 10 of the most exciting un-produced comedy writers that emerged from the application process. The full list is here.
In another casualty of the conSVOD battle in Australia, streaming service Presto is due to shutter on January 31 next year. Presto, which launched in March 2014, was previously half-owned by News Corp’s Foxtel, and by Seven West Media. Seven West has sold its share to Foxtel and Foxtel has made the decision to close, the companies said without providing a reason, according to reports. Beginning in December, Presto subscribers will have access to Foxtel Play. That leaves Netflix, which had 1.9M subs as of June, and Stan, part-owned by Fairfax Media and Seven rival Nine, which has 332K. In April this year, SVOD service Quickflix entered voluntary administration and has now been sold to U.S. entrepreneur Erik Pence via special purpose vehicle Karma Media for $1M.
TrustNordisk has found a suitor for Saara Cantell’s Devil’s Bride in several overseas territories with Global Media Distribution taking multiple rights. The Heartbeats helmer’s film recounts the true story of the most widespread and systematic witch hunt in Scandinavian history. In 1666, 16 women were convicted of being in league with the devil — seven of them were executed. Tuulia Eloranta, Magnus Krepper and Claes Malmberg star in Devil’s Bride. Among the territories sold to Global Media are North America, the UK, Australia, Japan, Korea, France, Italy, Spain and Russia.
CBS Studios International has set a multi-season licensing agreement with FOX Networks Group Iberia for the exclusive basic pay-TV rights in Spain and Portugal to new series Bull and MacGyver, along with the exclusive basic TV rights in Spain for new midseason series Doubt starring Katherine Heigl. The pact also extends FNG Iberia’s licensing rights to CSI, CSI: Miami, Hawaii Five-0 and NCIS: Los Angeles. Jury doctor series Bull and retool MacGyver recently debuted as the top new dramas of the season in the U.S.