ITV Sets ‘The Big Audition’; Tony Jordan Albanian Mob Drama; Japan’s Nippon Launches AI Anchor – Global Briefs

British broadcaster ITV is to peel back the curtain of fame with its latest entertainment series, The Big Audition, produced by Warner Bros’ Twenty Twenty. The six-part show will follow a group of hopefuls trying to make it in a number of fields including chasing the lead role in a West End musical, aspiring TV presenters hoping to land their first on-screen role and, reminiscent of George Costanza in Seinfeld, make it as a hand model. The series was commissioned by ITV’s Head of Entertainment Siobhan Greene and ITV Assistant Commissioner Louise Major and is exec produced by Clair Breen, who has worked on America’s Got Talent and World of Dance. Greene said, “I have always loved auditions, but the chance to peel back the layers even further, and to do it in a fixed rig way, felt back to basics and I loved it from the moment I heard the pitch. I hope the audience at home will also lap up getting to see something they’ve only seen done on the big entertainment juggernauts, now done like this.”

Hustle and Life on Mars creator Tony Jordan has created a 12-part Gomorrah-esque drama for Eastern European broadcast group Antenna. The former EastEnders writer has created crime Besa, which will air on PRVA in Serbia, Planet TV in Slovenia and RTL in Croatia. It will tell the story of the Albanian mafia – one of the most secretive and most feared criminal networks in the world. Jordan has written the show with a team of local writers and it will be shot on location across south East Europe for a September debut. It’s unusual for a British writer and drama producer to make a show outside of the UK or U.S., but the deal was struck by Antenna Group Director Peter Smith, who previously ran NBCU International in the UK. “It is a great time for me to be working on this original European drama because there is definitely a growing interest from international audiences for high-end scripted content in other languages.  The story and its carefully crafted characters will have global appeal,” said Jordan.

The robots may be taking over the world after all and it’s not good news for television presenters. Japanese broadcaster Nippon is introducing its first android television anchor. The network is launching Erica Aoi on its daily news show Pon! on Thursday April 5. The robot was borne out of a project between Osaka University, Kyoto University, and the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International’s Japan Science and Technology Agency Strategic Basic Research Programs. In addition to her work on Pon!, she will appear in a segment on its digital trends show Chill TV and is expected to deliver the news in English across various online media. The announcement was made today by Hiroyuki Fukuda, Operating Officer and President of the Programming Division, Nippon TV, who said, “People are asking if artificial intelligence (AI) will take away the jobs of humans, especially now that it is 2018. We at Nippon TV, however, believe that when our employees’ creative outputs synergize with technologies, innovations in content creation come to life.”

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