Good afternoon Insider team, Max Goldbart here. It has been a wild ride of a week with Berlin drawing to a close. Read below for a good ol’ recap.
A Year At War
Commemorating: A year is a long time in anyone’s calendar but, for the people of Ukraine, the 12 months that have followed that dreadful day on February 24, 2022, must have felt like a lifetime. Commemorative programs dominated the schedules yesterday and today as the global community marks the anniversary of the full-scale Russian invasion by highlighting the plight of an embattled nation, and considering what’s to come. In the U.S., our political correspondent Ted Johnson had this handy rundown of all the major coverage from the news networks, which was preceded by Joe Biden’s surprise visit to Ukraine. “I’m here to show our unwavering support for the nation’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Biden said as he met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Marinsky Palace earlier this week. Today will be a day of reflection over a war that has led to the deaths of thousands of soldiers and ordinary civilians. The global film and TV industries have of course not been immune and Deadline has brought you coverage over the months of the twists and turns, most recently this Sean Penn and Aaron Kaufman interview on Zelenskyy doc Superpower by my colleague Matthew Carey. Cultural figures from the Ukrainian industry such as those behind the inspiring Ukrainian Content Club and many dissident filmmakers have worked around the clock to fly the flag for the local industry, which of course counts its President as one of its own. On multiple occasions, the world’s screen sector has responded in kind, while Russia has been frozen out of much of this global landscape. Mel’s deep dive with Ukrainian directors can be found here. As news bulletins around the world remind us of what has been, we turn to what is to come and how we can help.
TV Takes Over In Berlin
‘Brainwashing’ and ‘disaster zones’: The Berlinale Series Market was held this week, and it provided plenty of talking points: about the future of international television, the strategic direction of big U.S. companies and even how Dahmer star Evan Peters and The White Lotus nearly joined forces. The event kicked off with a panel of major distributors hosted by Jesse, in which Newen Connect distribution chief Rodolphe Buet warned of “the U.S. brainwash.” Rodolphe’s remarks set the tone for much of the chatter through the week. He is concerned there are too many Stateside and UK shows on local streaming services, but ITV Studios Managing Director of Distribution Ruth Berry countered that foreign-language shows are “far more accessible” than in the past as audiences now accept subtitled and dubbed shows. That was nowhere near the most explosive session of the market, however, which mainly took place at the cheerily-named Documentation Centre for Displacement, Expulsion and Reconciliation. That prize goes to Shades of Blue creator Adi Hasak, who called American TV “a disaster zone” and saved special ire for Disney, whose strategy around Star Wars series was described by the fiery Hasak as “making the same f***ing show all the time.” Ouch. The audience was enthralled by the outspoken showrunner, who is currently making shows in Europe and the Middle East. One panellist said later, “I didn’t want to be the boring one but I couldn’t match him.” Hasak is on to something, though. Much of the discussion on stage and in the fringes centered on whether the chaos in U.S. media circles and the threat of a writers’ strike would mean 2023 becomes a year of international creativity, as Americans look across the pond for replacement writers and work in Europe. Our full analysis can be read here.
‘Lotus’ plants Asian flag: The room was packed when I interviewed The White Lotus exec producer David Bernad Wednesday, who revealed many of writer-creator Mike White’s secrets and was on hand to guide the audience through one of the most critically-acclaimed shows of the past few years. However, the main talking points were the (almost) confirmation Season 3 will be set in Asia and the revelation that Evan Peters from Netflix’s Dahmer – Monster: the Jeffrey Dahmer Story was at one point set to play Ethan, the newly minted nerdy tech husband, whose role eventually went to Giri/Haji’s Will Sharpe. We can only imagine a parallel universe where Peters joined the famous Lotusverse.
And the winner is…: The winner of the first Berlinale Series Award, created in co-operation with Deadline, went to Disney+’s upcoming mafia drama The Good Mothers, a story about how three courageous women inside the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mafia secretly worked with a female prosecutor to bring down the criminal empire. The gong was handed out at a ceremony at the Zoo Palast on Wednesday night and the creative team were simply delighted. Special mention also went to Viaplay’s Arkitekten (The Architect). Frank Doelger’s buzzy eco-thriller drama The Swarm screened out of competition.
Spiel-Bear: Don’t be fooled though, there was still plenty to mull over in the film world at the start of the week. Steven Spielberg fever hit the German city hard as the legendary Jaws director cruised into town to receive the festival’s Honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement. Festivities began Tuesday morning as Spielberg arrived at a packed press conference where he answered questions from journalists and fans. The director was in a reflective mood, although he did share that he is mounting a “large production for HBO” based on Stanley Kubrick’s lost script Napoleon. You can watch the full speech here. Other big names in town included Matt Damon, who attended the press conference for his festival title Kiss The Future. During the presser, the actor-producer revealed he is in the early stages of development on a Ukraine war doc. On the business side, deals have been trickling in. Later in the week, Deadline revealed that Neon is in pole position to win North American rights to Nicolas Cage and Maika Monroe horror-thriller Longlegs — the first sizeable domestic deal of this year’s EFM. The pic also locked a series of key international deals. It’s been a ride.
BAFTA Can’t Catch A Break
All Quiet on the diversity front: It already feels an age ago but, in the week that the Berlin Film Festival started winding down, one movie from Germany was capturing all the headlines: Edward Berger’s Netflix smash All Quiet on the Western Front, which took home seven BAFTAs – a record for a film not in the English language. Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis scooped four, including Best Actor for Austin Butler, and Cate Blanchett deservedly took Best Actress for Tár but it was a disappointing night for multiverse thriller Everything Everywhere All At Once, which only won in the Editing category. The snub for Everything Everywhere, which was mostly made up of an Asian American cast, preceded a wave of criticism over the ethnic makeup of the BAFTA winners, with #BaftaSoWhite trending instantly following a picture of the winners featuring just one Black person: presenter Alison Hammond. Viola Davis lost out to Cate Blanchett and Daryl McCormack, the son of a white Irish mother and Black American father, fell behind Austin Butler for Leading Actor. BAFTA declined to comment but the controversy looks set to rumble on. The awards show itself was met with mixed reviews. It was the first to audaciously attempt a live segment, took place in a new Southbank home and host Richard E. Grant – while cracking some good jokes – was a touch wacky for some. We’ve not even touched on Ariana DeBose’s rogue Angela Bassett rap. Much to mull over for next year as new CEO Jane Millichip beds in, while the TV Awards are set to take place in May.
Spotlighting the Big Smoke: No rest for the wicked here at Deadline and myself and my TV colleagues will be zipping round London all of next week to cover the TV Screenings, the annual sales house get-together which has this year ballooned in size to include more than two dozen distributors. Founders including Banijay Rights, All3Media International and eOne have been joined by a wealth of smaller and non-UK distributors, while BBC Studios has relocated its annual Liverpool Showcase down south to the capital. Program screenings, parties and networking events will be the order of the week, major deals will be struck and there will be much discussion of the wider landscape. Hopefully by now you’ve had a chance to read our London TV Screenings mini mag but if you’ve somehow been too busy, you can click here to eyeball Jesse’s rundown of the premium docs market or here to learn how the global cost-of-living crisis is impacting TV distribution. Keep an eye on our coverage from the Big Smoke as we bring you the latest from an event that has, some argue, become the second most important in the annual TV calendar behind Mipcom Cannes. Stay tuned.
Viewers Flock To ‘Clarkson’s Farm’
All publicity is good publicity: Anger at Jeremy Clarkson over his controversial Meghan Markle column in The Sun spilled into the public domain for weeks but that hasn’t stopped people flocking to the latest season of Prime Video’s Clarkson’s Farm. Jake brought news Thursday that the former Top Gear host’s program has become the most watched original streamer show in the UK since the country’s ratings body started collecting data for the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Disney+, with 4.3M watching the premiere solely on TV sets, according to Barb. Clarkson’s Farm beat the mega budget Lord of the Rings premiere by more than 1M, the ratings body said. Following the conclusion of next year’s third season, Amazon is likely to stop working with Clarkson after he claimed Markle should be made to “parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain,” a callback to a Game of Thrones scene. When it comes to Farm ratings, however, it appears all publicity is good publicity.
His Name In Neom Lights
A Borg challenge: Wayne Borg is not one to say no to a challenge. This week’s International Disruptors tells the fascinating story of how the industry stalwart has led the charge setting up the media efforts of Neom, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious futuristic city that is the beating heart behind the country’s efforts to diversify its infrastructure. The region, which recently introduced a tax rebate and whose Red Sea Film Festival is growing in stature, is one of the most fascinating to follow for film and TV at present and there is so much activity taking place. “To be part of the Neom vision and the scale of the ambition was something I just sort of jumped at,” Wayne tells Diana. Dive deeper.
🌶️ Hot One: Netflix re-upped its overall deal with Dark creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese.
🌶️ Another One: Korean novel Sad Tropic is being adapted in the U.S. by Seoul Street and Astro-Nomical Entertainment, per Anthony D’Alessandro across the pond.
🌶️ Hot, hot, hot: Peacock has greenlit a ‘non-monogamous’ dating format in which fluid couples and singletons explore their sexuality on an island from UK label Naked. Oo er.
🏆 Awards latest: CBC drama ‘The Porter’ leads the Canadian Screen Award noms.
🖼️ Casting: Walking Dead star Steven Ogg boarded BBC sequel Boiling Point, which is heating up.
🎤 Host: Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham will take charge of the BBC’s Eurovision coverage.
⚽ Footbaaaaalllll: Sherwood creator James Graham’s next project is a West End play starring Joseph Fiennes as England football (soccer) manager Gareth Southgate.
💩 Stool sample: Schitt’s Creek icon Eugene Levy gets up close and personal with an elephant in Apple TV+’s The Reluctant Traveler. He dished the dirt earlier this week.
⛺ Festivals: Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival will return after a year off.
↔️ Substitution: Barry Keoghan and Christopher Abbott replace Paul Mescal and Tom Burke in the Mubi-backed Bring Them Down.
🖊️ Signed: Unions, industry bodies and governments agreed a landmark entertainment workers’ rights framework following crunch talks. Jesse with this one.
👚 Uniform: BBC News presenters have been told to adopt a more “sweaty, dirty” look in a bid to regain trust.
🍿 Box office: Donkey favorite EO passed the $1M mark.
🎥 Trail: For Milky Way, Greek drama series from former short Palme d’Or winner Vasilis Kekatos.
And finally… Your weekly dose of Breaking Baz brings you a plethora of thoughts and scoops from our very own Mr Bamigboye, including his latest sit-down with Barbara Broccoli, some home truths about the Oscars Till snub and a fresh TV project from StudioCanal. You know you want to.
Zac Ntim and Jesse Whittock contributed to this week’s Insider