Afternoon Insiders. A week is a long time in TV and film, and it’s also a long time in politics. Max Goldbart here and we’ve got you covered on all three. Read on.
Bye Bye Boris
All over in 36 hours: Few in Britain’s London politics bubble would have predicted that the scandal to bring down PM Boris Johnson would involve a little known Deputy Chief Whip called Chris Pincher, but that is exactly what transpired this week. Within a colossal 36 hours that rocked the UK political landscape, Johnson went from feeling vaguely safe after an almost-year-long-stretch of scandals to resigning in disgrace on the steps of his 10 Downing Street home. At times it was almost impossible to keep up (although the BBC and Sky coverage did a fantastic job), as minister after minister resigned in protest at Johnson’s handling of the Pincher scandal and a more general feeling of disarray, sparked by the departure of major cabinet beasts Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid, both of whom will now likely run to replace him. The media was of course in overdrive and UK TV channels on Wednesday and Thursday provided wall-to-wall coverage of the chaos, per my analysis of the media reaction and consequences for the broadcasting sector. Yesterday, the BBC extended its flagship Today program by nearly an hour (something that simply never happens), while clearing much of the day’s TV schedules for news coverage. Every household had the news on.
Next steps: After losing the support of almost the entirety of his party, Johnson raised eyebrows further when announcing he would stay on in an interim capacity for a likely three-month period while a new leader is chosen. Many had assumed he would be gone by now but he was able to assemble a temporary cabinet to oversee the job, much of which will be quiet during the UK’s summer recess. Following that recess, one of any number of candidates could be victorious, with a long list including Deputy PM Dominic Raab, Sunak, Javid, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss all set to jostle. Such was the ridiculousness of the whole situation that two wildcard candidates, Suella Braverman and Steve Baker, announced they were running live on air prior to Johnson resigning.
What about TV land?: Bosses at the BBC and Channel 4 were likely breathing quiet sighs of relief as the chaos may have ramifications for the future of broadcasting in this country, in a positive sense. Johnson’s departure will almost certainly spell the end of firebrand Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries’ tenure and, with that, the UK’s public broadcasters will be hoping they can reverse some of the more damaging moves she has overseen during her short but nonetheless memorable tenure. The next fortnight was due to see both the BBC licence fee review kicked off, which could see the end of the corporation’s financial backbone from 2027, and Channel 4 privatization debated in parliament. Both could now be delayed until a new Culture Secretary is in charge and, if that person is more sympathetic to the BBC and Channel 4’s causes, they could be reversed. On Channel 4, it should be remembered that 96% of respondents to the government’s own consultation on privatization called it a bad idea, and a poll this week found the issue bottom of Conservative voters’ priority list. Deadline will be watching next moves closely.
Karlovy Vary Wraps
On the ground: Diana Lodderhose here on the ground alongside Melanie Goodfellow in the Czech Republic where the 56th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival kicked off with a bang last Friday. The festival opened with Italian relationship drama Superheroes, from director Paolo Genovese, with a vibrant opening ceremony featuring a well-choreographed dance number. The packed theatre in the Hotel Thermal was a welcome return to the norm for international delegates.
Ukrainian focus: Elsewhere, Ray Donovan actor Liev Schreiber, who has Ukrainian roots stemming from his maternal grandfather, was in Karlovy Vary for the first time since 2004 to talk about his BlueCheck Ukraine initiative, a network that vests humanitarian aid organizations for Ukraine as well as acting as a financial conduit to transmit donations. Speaking to a room of journalists, Schreiber said he “struggled” with the calls to boycott Russian art but urged people to “be very careful about the media coming out of Russia.” Ukraine was, unsurprisingly, a big subject at Karlovy Vary this week. The festival this year hosted Ukraine’s Odesa International Film Festival’s Works-In-Progress section, as that fest is unable to be staged in its home country. Ukrainian delegates at the event vowed to keep the country’s cinema sector alive in spite of the ongoing Russian invasion. Melanie had the story here.
“Bruised” Geoffrey Rush & more: Melanie also sat down with actor Geoffrey Rush, who was in town to collect the festival’s Crystal Globe For Outstanding Artistic Contribution. It marked the Aussie’ actor’s first high-profile outing in four years, since he began a defamation lawsuit against Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph following a report that he had acted inappropriately towards an actress. “It was bruising for everyone involved,” Rush said. Read the full story here. And don’t miss our sit-down with director Jake Paltrow about his feature film June Zero, which was screening at the festival this week. You can read the interview here and our critic Anna Smith’s review here.
50 Up For Woody Allen
“A sort of poisonous romantic thriller”: More details emerged this week on what will be ever-controversial director Woody Allen’s 50th movie. “A sort of poisonous romantic thriller” was how Allen described the as-yet-untitled French feature, which he compared to 2005’s Match Point. Film will shoot in Paris with an all-French cast and the interview was conducted by French Sunday paper Le Journal du Dimanche. Allen is a fan of the nation, having shot Midnight in Paris there before being engulfed in scandal over the past decade. He first teased the French feature in a conversation with Alec Baldwin of all people last month, which was livestreamed on Instagram.
108 Robot Playgrounds
Animation nation: Interesting M&A scoop from Andreas on Wednesday as UK production and distribution outfit 108 Media picked up a majority stake in a Singaporean animation studio, Robot Playground Media. The company is run by Ervin Han and Bernard Toh, two in-demand creatives who have made shows for Disney, Netflix and Singapore MediaCorp’s first animated primetime series. Animation is a lucrative business and the move is reflective of just how global the genre has become. In the UK, the BBC is tripling spend in the genre and seeking a “British version of The Simpsons.”
Brushing aside the big guns: Fascinating debut piece from our new Asia expert Liz Shackleton, who brought news of Malaysian historical action movie Mat Kilau: Kebangkitan Pahlawan becoming the nation’s highest-grossing local film of all time. Despite competing for audiences with Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World Dominion and Minions: The Rise Of Gru, Syamsul Yusof’s pic grossed $11.97m (RM53m), beating the four-year-old record set by the same director’s Munafik 2. Local film critic Zaim Yusoff told South China Morning Post the film’s success is due to its portrayal of Mat Kilau as a “relatable heroic figure,” although it isn’t without controversy, with others labelling its an ethnonationalism film” for depicting Malay characters as heroes and Chinese and Indians playing villains.
🌶️ Hot one: Big one from Andreas on Samuel Goldwyn Films’ deal with Italy’s Iervolino & Lady Bacardi Entertainment for U.S. distribution rights to Tell It Like a Woman. Pic features Taraji P. Henson, Jennifer Hudson, Cara Delevingne, Eva Longoria and Jacqueline Fernandez.
🌶️ Another one: Our Baz had the scoop on The Batman star Barry Keoghan and Peaky Blinders’ Brian Gleeson joining the mega-anticipated final season of Netflix’s Top Boy.
🌶️ Damn it’s hot: The BBC is to tell the definitive story of Shamima Begum, who left the UK to join ISIS in 2015 and has been trying to return since 2019, via a landmark doc and 10-part podcast.
🏪 Setting up shop: Canal+ Head of Fiction Fabrice De La Patellière launched production outfit 2e Bureau with Studiocanal. Melanie had this one.
🍿Box Office: Nancy’s round-up had Minions: The Rise of Gru continuing its dastardly ways to propel the Despicable Me franchise beyond the global $4B mark.
🌍 Big hire: Disney has created an international content strategy role for former Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution exec Kristen Finney, who will oversee strategy across EMEA, LatAm, Asia Pacific and India
🤝 Signed up: Quadruple BAFTA-winning Stath Lets Flats creator Jamie Demetriou is partnering with BBC Studios on a co-development and co-production deal. More Stath please.
🖼️ Casting: Two major Netflix international casting scoops this week on Deadline as Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson joins the One Day David Nicholls’ adaptation and Unorthodox lead Shira Haas boards the streamer’s mind-bending Bodies alongside Stephen Graham.
🎑 Festival latest: Brad Pitt-starrer Bullet Train will kick off the 75th Locarno Film Festival.