Endemol Shine UK has added entertainment and factual producer Sharp Jack TV as a new label inside the group. Ex-ITV Studios Creative Heads Elliot Johnson and Amanda Wilson, who founded the company in 2011, are joining ESUK as Joint Managing Directors of Sharp Jack. Credits include series Four Heads, Scorchio and Queer As Pop with two pilots currently in production: dating show Always The Bridesmaid for TLC UK, and social experiment Raised By The Village for RTÉ One. Prior to ITV Studios, Wilson set up and ran Tinderbox Television and also headed the BBC team that developed and formatted Strictly Come Dancing. Johnson started his career in the music industry producing videos for Bjork, Massive Attack and Smashing Pumpkins as well as programming for the BBC including Top Of The Pops, Bowie At The Beeb and Glastonbury. He joined Tinderbox before he and Wilson moved to run development at ITV Studios.
The BBC today has committed its biggest investment in a generation to children’s services. An additional £34M ($44M) has been earmarked across the next three years to enable the broadcaster to “reinvent how it serves its youngest audience.” BBC Director-General Tony Hall made the announcement today, saying that BBC Children’s will continue to spend an overwhelming majority of its budget on the CBeebies and CBBC TV channels. Those will be enhanced by a significant increase in the online budget for kids as a reflection of how their content consumption shifts. (And, as a means to step up the competition with outlets like Amazon and Netflix.) Hall said today, “We’re making BBC Children’s fit for the future, maintaining our world-class channels whilst enhancing our online offer to meet the needs of the next generation.” Alice Webb, Director of BBC Children’s, added, “Our audience is rapidly changing and now more than ever we need to keep up. We’re home to the most popular kids TV channels in the UK, but as our audience increasingly move online it’s our job to stay relevant, inspiring and engaging them on whichever platform they choose.”
Shares in China’s Tencent Holdings plunged on Tuesday after Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily published a commentary labeling the company’s role-playing mobile game King Of Glory as “poison” for kids. The media and technology behemoth closed at HK$269.20 on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, equating to a roughly $14B stock slide for Asia’s second biggest company, whose valuation is $333B. Increasingly active in the entertainment business, Tencent remains up 42% this year. King Of Glory (aka Honour Of Kings), has over 200M players who are predominantly based in China which is the world’s largest gaming market (witness the local success of the Warcraft movie). The drop comes one day after Tencent said it would limit play time for some younger users who, it’s been complained by parents and teachers, were becoming addicted to the game, Reuters reported. The People’s Daily wrote that addictive games are a threat to society which spread “negative energy.” Per China State Television, the People’s Daily, in another commentary, allowed that the “game is not evil by nature” and that coordinated efforts are necessary from the government and the developer. According to The South China Morning Post, Tencent responded on its official WeChat account today that the design of the game complies with government regulations, and that it will take on its social responsibility accordingly. A Morningstar analyst told Bloomberg today’s slam from the PROC shouldn’t have a longterm effect on Tencent’s revenues. “The demand is there and people will continue to play Tencent’s video games, so I don’t think the impact will be significant,” the person said.
Ten films have been shortlisted for the European Parliament’s Lux Film Prize, “shining a spotlight on the diversity of European cinema and its importance in building social and cultural values.” Among the finalists are Robin Campillo’s Cannes’ Jury Grand Prize winner 120 Beats Per Minute and Label Europa Cinemas laureate A Ciambra from Jonas Carpignano. From Berlin Silver Bear winner Aki Kaurismaki, The Other Side Of Hope is on the list, as is Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov’s Edinburgh International Feature winner Glory. Rounding out the titles in contention are: Heartstone by Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson; King Of The Belgians from Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth; Sami Blood from Amanda Kernell; Summer 1993 by Carla Simón; The Last Family from Jan P Matuszyński; and Cannes Un Certain Regard title Western by Valeska Grisebach. Of the 10 films, three will land in the Venice Days section of the Lido fest in September with a winner chosen from among the trio.
Cilla – The Musical, a stage adaptation of the ITV miniseries based on the early life of Cilla Black, has found its lead. Kara Lily Hayworth has been chosen to star following weeks of open auditions around the UK. Penned by Philomena co-scripter Jeff Pope, the musical will open in Black’s hometown Liverpool on September 7 ahead of a nationwide tour. The story follows the extraordinary life of the ordinary teenage girl from Liverpool, and her rocky, yet remarkable, rise to fame. Black, who died in 2015, was an international singing star by the age of 25 and went on to be a household fixture as the host of such TV series as Blind Date and Surprise Surprise. The score will include her greatest hits: “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” “Alfie” and “Something Tells Me,” alongside a backdrop of Beatles tunes and American influences. Cilla – The Musical is produced by Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield, and directed by Kenwright and Bob Tomson.