Longtime writing partners Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran (Birds Of A Feather) are developing a new version of classic British comedy The New Statesman. The original starred the late Rik Mayall as pompous politician Alan B’Stard, and ran on ITV from 1987-1992. A satire of the Conservative government, the show won the Best Comedy Series BAFTA in 1991. Marks and Gran’s LocomoTV is working with Richard Johns and Rupert Jermyn’s Corona TV to develop The B’Stard Legacy which will feature Alan’s long-lost son Arron B’Stard who has been “quietly building an international business and media empire,” the partners say. Mayall passed away in 2014. FremantleMedia has a first look option to distribute any titles originated by LocomoTV and hold a 25% stake in Corona.

Venice Film Fest
The Venice Film Festival has established the first-ever competition for films made in Virtual Reality. The VR section will debut during the 74th edition of the Lido event which runs August 30-Sepember 9 this year. Venice Virtual Reality will present up to a maximum of 18 VR films. A jury of 5 leading creatives will award the following 3 prizes: Best VR film, Grand VR Jury Prize, Best VR Creativity Award. The world’s oldest film festival last year inaugurated a new VR Theatre and screened a series of experimental short films, including the world premiere presentation of the first feature-length VR film, Jesus VR.

Amid the ongoing diplomatic tension between China and South Korea over Seoul’s decision to deploy the THAAD anti-missile defense system, Korean films are reportedly facing a boycott at next month’s Beijing International Film Festival. Citing unnamed sources, the Yonhap News Agency says that some movies from Korea were invited to the fest, “but the screening plan has been scrapped by the Chinese authorities,” according to one person. Relations between Beijing and Seoul have become increasingly strained in the past year. Ahead of the THAAD deployment there were reports (some conflicting) that Middle Kingdom gatekeepers had placed restrictions on Korean entertainment and entertainers in response to the talks surrounding the anti-missile defense system. Last month, Chinese state media warned Korean retail and entertainment giant Lotte Group that it was “playing with fire that could inflame regional relations.” Lotte is Korea’s fifth-biggest conglomerate and also owns a golf course which was being eyed at the time for the deployment of the U.S.’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. Yonhap noted this week that local actor Ha Jung-woo’s plans to star in a Chinese movie with Zhang Ziyi have been called off and blockbuster pic Train To Busan has yet to premiere in China despite being sold there last year.

The BFI has appointed Gaylene Gould as Head of Cinemas and Events at BFI Southbank. In the newly-created role, Gould will lead the program at the UK’s national cinematheque, driving audience development, business planning and a unique public program of film and television screenings and events. Gould joins with over 20 years of cross art form programming experience and has consulted on projects most recently for The Tate, The National Theatre, The Independent Cinema Office, Barbican, RSC and the BFI’s Black Star blockbuster project. Her previous roles have included Creative Director of Film Club, Head of Programme at The Bernie Grant Arts Centre, National Project Manager for BFI season Black World (2006), Project Director at Arts Council England and programming and events roles at the Toronto International Film Festival, Hot Docs and Africa at the Pictures Film Festival.