Simon Cox Heads Acquisitions For Endemol Shine International; Edinburgh TV Fest Adds To Schedule: Global Briefs

Endemol Shine International, the newly combined distribution entity of global TV giant Endemol Shine Group, has appointed Simon Cox as Head of Acquisitions. Cox most recently was Investment Manager at Ingenious Media, where he was responsible for deals on such scripted productions as ITV’s The Frankenstein Chronicles and Channel 4’s Coalition. He is also a former longtime BBC Worldwide executive. Cox will be responsible for implementing ESI’s global third-party scripted and nonscripted acquisition strategy including managing the company’s first-look deals with such indies as Shoebox TV, Ecosse Films and Origin Pictures. ESI’s third-party acquisitions already include Home And Away, My Kitchen Rules, Hot In Cleveland and the upcoming Dark Matter and Frankenstein Chronicles.

The Edinburgh International Television Festival has added further sessions to its schedule for the 40th anniversary edition this summer. In addition to the previously announced MacTaggart Lecture, which will be delivered by Armando Iannucci, they include a a one-on-one interview with John Whittingdale, the UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Also joining the proceedings is ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee and Paul Buccierim President of A&E and History, both of whom be interviewed as part of the U.S. Gamechangers section. The Edinburgh TV Festival runs August 26-28.

Germany’s has unveiled a quartet of films it acquired during the Cannes Film Market. The increasingly aggressive indie is known for buying a mix of award-level features and commercial fare. From IM Global, SquareOne picked up 50 Shades Of Black, the spoof comedy starring Marlon Wayans; from Altitude Film Sales, it took dystopian zombie thriller She Who Brings Gifts, starring Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine; via a deal with Bloom, SquareOne will release dance drama High Strung; and from FBO and Woestijnvis, it has taken Belgian helmer Erik Van Looy’s The PM, a psychological thriller in which the Prime Minister of Belgium is kidnapped.

Last month, Amazon greenlighted four new animated pilots and two live-action pilots for kids. A release date for the six pilots now has been set for June 26. They will become available on Amazon Amazon Studios 4Instant Video in the UK, Germany and the U.S. on that day. The animated pilots are The Adventures Of Knickerbock Teetertop, Lost In Oz, Lily The Unicorn and Bear In Underwear. The live-action titles are A History Of Radness and The Kicks. The roster hails from such creative talent as David Babcock (Brothers & Sisters), Andrew Green (Hannah Montana), Adam Wilson and Melanie Wilson LaBracio (Marvel Universe Live), the Jim Henson Company and Bureau of Magic (Smallville).

The 2015 American Film Market has unveiled several new initiatives ahead of this year’s event, including the addition of two new conferences: The AFM China Conference and the AFM Festival Conference. Also, AFM and Cinando are providing all registered participants with a one-year, full access subscription to the Cinando web and apps. The AFM China Conference, set for November 6, will present leaders from all sectors of China’s film industry as they explore and reveal how producing, marketing and distributing in China differs from the West. The AFM Festival Conference on November 9 will provide a thorough understanding of how to work with and position festivals in a film’s production and marketing strategy. The AFM will run November 4-11 at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel.

Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific has acquired Setanta Sports Asia Limited, a premium sports channel specializing in rugby. Reaching more than 42M homes across 16 countries, Setanta airs rugby league and union events from the Northern and Southern hemispheres and just renewed South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby rights for five years, plus Super Rugby. Other key programming includes European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, National Rugby League, Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12. The play helps build Discovery’s scale in Asia. The company also owns a controlling stake in Eurosport and recently acquired exclusive rights to the Champions League for Singapore. It will similarly look to fortify Setanta’s leadership as a must-have sports channel across Asia.

The Moët British Independent Film Awards has set a new board of directors using a model it plans to employ for the coming years: filmmakers, abifa distributor and an expert in a field other than film. Advertising executive Laurence Green has been named Chairman, with writer-director Amma Asante, producer Claire Jones, Raindance Film Festival founder Elliot Grove and Lionsgate CEO Zygi Kamasa rounding out the group. They will serve fixed terms, with the distributor slot rotating regularly. The moves come following the departure of long-standing and admired directors of the British Independent Film Awards, Johanna von Fischer and Tessa Collinson, at the end of last year. Amy Gustin and Deena Wallace, appointed as new directors of BIFA this year, also are on the board. The 2015 ceremony will be held December 6 in London.

Applications are now open for the BFI’s Unlocking Film Heritage Digitisation Fund. Holders of important British film and television items can apply for funding to digitize original film materials. This is the third round of funding made available from a £5M, three-year National Lottery fund aimed at digitizing 10,000 titles. At this stage, £1.5M is available, with the maximum grant per application set at £100K. The deadline for submission is August 21.

Sonar Entertainment has added a pair of executives to its global sales team. Axel Boehm joins the company as SVP International Sales, overseeing Sonar’s EMEA sales team. Territories for which he is directly responsible include Germany, Scandinavia, Benelux, Spain and Portugal. Patrick Phelan has been named VP International Sales, handling Central and Eastern Europe, Russia & CIS, the Middle East and Israel. Boehm joins from Red Arrow International GmbH, Unterfoehring/Germany, where he has held several positions since 2005.  Phelan was with StudioCanal TV (fka Tandem Communications), where he had been Senior Sales Manager since 2009.

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