Global Showbiz: Australia, Poland, Thailand

Gena Rowlands Barred From Australian Movie
Gena Rowlands has been bumped from the Australian film Last Dance because of restrictions on casting of foreign talent, the Australian reports. The 81-year-old actress was to have played a Holocaust survivor of German and Jewish origin who is taken hostage in her apartment by a radical Palestinian (Underbelly‘s Firass Dirani). Under Australian union guidelines, a local production must obtain 30% foreign investment if it hires foreign actors although that rule apparently did not apply to Last Dance because of its less than A$2.5million budget. Terence Hammond wrote the screenplay with Rowlands in mind and she rehearsed for months. The decision by the actors union comes weeks after it bowed to pressure and allowed Richard E. Grant to star in The Kath and Kim Fillum now shooting in Melbourne. The barring of Rowlands has raised the ire of the production industry and placed pressure on the actress who replaced her, Julia Blake, weeks before filming was to begin.

Animal Logic Wins Contract For Lego Movie
Sydney and Fox Studios-based Animal Logic, which worked on both Happy Feet movies and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, will make the Lego movie for Warner Bros, according to Encore and the Herald Sun. New South Wales Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Stoner said the government helped secure the Lego project against strong competition from the US and Canada. The production is expected to contribute $48 million to the local economy and employ more than 200 people. The movie is to be written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who also teamed on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street. Dan Lin and Roy Lee are producing. Lego’s Jill Wilfert is exec producer.

Endemol, Canal+ Poland Partner On Scripted Series
Endemol has closed a deal to produced a scripted local adaptation of the crime thriller Penoza in Poland. Canal+ Poland has commissioned an eight-episode first run that Endemol Poland will produce. Originally created by Endemol’s NL Film and produced by Alain de Levita, Penoza is currently in production on its second season in the Netherlands on KRO channel NED3. The show launched on NED2 in September 2010 and increased the channel’s timeslot average by 55%. The Canal+ Poland deal with Endemol marks their initial partnership in the territory. Endemol will continue to market Penoza as a scripted format in additional territories. Penoza‘s storyline centers on Carmen, whose husband is murdered while doing business with organized crime. She doesn’t trust the police to deliver justice and protect her children so takes matters into her own hands.

Many Thai Film Locations Unaffected By Floods
Despite flooding in Bangkok over the last few weeks, many productions are up and running in provincial destinations unaffected by the floods. “We have about 8 or 9 productions filming or getting ready to start production,” said Wanasiri Morakul, director of the Department of Tourism’s Thailand Film Office. Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand’s main gateway remains open and is operating normally. Bangkok’s Don Meaung Airport is closed but the domestic airlines based there have moved to Suvarnabhumi. Additionally the main commercial and financial center of Bangkok remains unobstructed by flooding and is expected to continue to be dry. Filming locations in central provinces such as Kanchanaburi, Pattaya and Hua Hin have also not been affected by floods. Southern provinces unaffected by flooding include Phuket, Krabi, Sarathani, Ko Samui, Hat Yai, Phang-Nga and Ko Chang. Filmmakers are also busy in the northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Sukothai. No cost permits for filming in Thailand’s national parks and on goverment agency land has been extended into 2012. Morakul also said that during reconstruction hotel accommodations will offer great values inn Bangkok and in the provinces. Morakul urged film makers to contact the Thailand Film Office directly with concerns.

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