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Amazon Japan Checks in to Sono Sion’s ‘Tokyo Vampire Hotel’

1 hour ago

Maverick Japanese director, Sono Sion will make his Amazon Original series debut this summer with “Tokyo Vampire Hotel.” All 9 episodes will be available to binge watch on Amazon Prime Japan from June 19, 2017.

The series is Sono’s first based completely on an original screenplay, and tells the story of humanity battling against a vampire tribe. It stars actress Kaho, taking on her first full-scale action role; Shinnosuke Mitsushima; Ami Tomite, a young actress who is mentored by Sono; Yumi Adachi; and Megumi Kagurazaka, the director’s wife.

Production was in the Nikkatsu studios in Japan, and also various locations in Transylvania, Romania, including Dracula’s Castle and the Salina Turda salt mines.

The show was developed and produced with Nikkatsu Corporation, with the screenplay written by Jun Tsugita, Manabu Ikarimoto. Tomohiro Kubo, Daisuke Matsuo serve as directors and screenwriters of two episodes.

“Our focus is to work with the content creators to be innovative and deliver a »


- Patrick Frater

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‘Happy Days’ Star Erin Moran Dies at 56

4 hours ago

Erin Moran, best known for playing Joanie Cunningham on the 1970s sitcom “Happy Days,” has died. She was 56.

According to TMZ, Moran’s body was found unresponsive Saturday afternoon by authorities in Indiana. The cause of death is unknown.

The California-born actress, who also starred in the “Happy Days” spinoff “Joanie Loves Chachi,” had fallen on hard times in recent years. She was reportedly kicked out of her trailer park home in Indiana because of her hard-partying ways.

Henry Winkler, who starred opposite Moran as The Fonz in ABC’s iconic series, tweeted: “Oh Erin…now you will finally have the peace you wanted so badly here on earth. Rest In It serenely now…too soon.”

Oh Erin… now you will finally have the peace you wanted so badly here on earth …Rest In It serenely now.. too soon

Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) April 23, 2017

Moran was just 14 when she signed on to play Ron Howard’s sister »


- Stuart Oldham

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Series Mania: Viaplay-Backed Cold War Thriller ‘M.A.D.’ Unveiled at European Co-Production Forum

7 hours ago

Paris  — Denmark’s contribution to the European Co-production Forum at 2017’s Series Mania came in the form of the Cold War era political thriller M.A.D, short for Mutually Assured Destruction. The show is being produced by Arena Films with backing from Viaplay, the Modern Times Group’s Svod service available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and the Baltic countries. Viaplay offers unlimited rental streaming packages with access to high-end TV, film and sports.

Representing the project in Paris were producer and co-creator Ulrik Bolt Jørgensen and lead-writer and co-creator Michael Soussan. Soussan, having worked at the United Nations, CNN, and contributed to many major news publications in the U.S., recently had his 2008 book “Backstabbing for Beginners” adapted into a feature film starring Ben Kingsley and Theo James. It is due out this fall.

Throughout the Cold War the phrase “Mutually Assured Destruction” referred to the idea that any conflict between nuclear powers would not »


- Jamie Lang

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‘Your Honor’ Tops 2017’s Series Mania

7 hours ago

Already the subject of a U.S. remake deal, Israeli series “Your Honor,” created by Shlomo Mashiach and Ron Ninio, took the top Grand Jury Prize Saturday night at Paris’ 8th Series Mania, one of the most important TV festivals in Europe.

A tightly-wound series, “Your Honor” tracks an upstanding magistrate’s desperate – and increasingly illegal – attempts to protect his son from Israeli mob vengeance. The top plaudit was granted by a jury headed by “The Leftovers’” show-runner Damon Lindelof that praised “Your Honor” for its “surprising and provocative examination of judgement in modern-day Israel. anchored by riveting performances.”

Fully-financed by Israel’s Yes, the Israeli broadcaster and leading pay TV platform whose hit series “Fauda” is a worldwide Netflix pick-up, “Your Honor’s” U.S. format rights have been optioned for a North America-based remake with King Size Productions and Scripted World producing the remake with CBS Studios. Peter Moffat (“The Night Of,” “Undercover »


- John Hopewell and Jamie Lang

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Pascal Breton’s Federation Entertainment Develops U.S. Remake of ‘The Bureau,’ ‘Joan of Arc’ Series (Exclusive)

8 hours ago

Pascal Breton’s European indie studio and production company Federation Entertainment is developing a U.S. remake of Eric Rochant’s hit spy thriller “The Bureau,” and a series adaptation of iconic French heroine Joan of Arc.

Federation Entertainment is teaming with Alex Berger and Eric Rochant’s banner The Oligarchs Productions, which is also the producer of the original series.

The Bureau” stars Matthieu Kassovitz (“Munich”) as a member of the French Secret Service’s clandestine branch who returns to his home base after a six-year mission in Damascus. The show has been sold worldwide.

The series has been a hit in English-language markets. In the U.S. and Canada, “The Bureau” launched in June 2016 on iTunes and ranked within the Top Five, while in the U.K. it rolled out on Amazon Prime.

Greenlit by French pay TV channel Canal Plus for a fourth season, “The Bureau” earned strong reviews for its realistic depiction of »


- Elsa Keslassy

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10 Trends in the International TV Business

8 hours ago

Paris — Variety held its first-ever TV Summit Europe in Paris on Thursday. At it keynote speakers and panelists’ analyzed their own strategies  in a vibrant, complex international TV market. Below, sometimes pulling in reflections by senior industry figures and creators outside the Summit, are 10 observe cutting-edge trends:

1.The Split

“Distribution will go through mobile and telecom [companies], that, the way they are shaping the convergent world, are key partners. The only way to build scale in the game is to partner with these telcos,” said Dominique Delport, chairman, Vivendi Content (pictured), in a spirited keynote conversation at Variety TV Summit Europe, explaining why Vivendi, the France-based communications group, has rebuilt as a premium content creator-producer. Increasingly, series look to split two ways: Those that can build decisive brand and subscriber driven value for telecoms, digital platforms and big pay TV platforms; and the rest. This explains why Vivendi, despite being Europe’s second biggest pay TV operator, has »


- John Hopewell and Jamie Lang

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Series Mania: Sean Bean in ‘Broken,’ Jimmy McGovern on British TV

9 hours ago

Paris — Ed Stark he is not. In BBC1’s upcoming primetime drama “Broken,” Sean Bean plays Father Michael, a Catholic priest in North-West England, struggling with his inner demons, seeking atonement for his sins of youth, shy, retiring, nervously playing with his hands when confronted with a problem. Of an evening, he goes down the bingo, listens to the BBC shipping forecast about Dover, White and Sole, or sings “Chattanooga Choo Choo” to his bedridden, dying mother.

In its first two episodes, world premiered at Series Mania in its main competition, Bean is only once seen as a man of action, running down the street, because he’s late for a parish meeting. His immediate reaction to his parishioners’ problems – and they are legion: Unemployment, and uncaring welfare state and police malpractice, just to mention three in Ep.1 and Ep. 2. – is to scratch his temple and play nervously with his hands. In »


- John Hopewell

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‘Feud’s’ Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange on Recreating Bette Davis and Joan Crawford

11 hours ago

The riveting performances by Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in FX’s “Feud” have shown the deeper story of two Hollywood legends. The show’s cast and producers, led by Ryan Murphy, reunited for a screening of the season one finale and a panel to talk about how the idea of making the show scared everyone at first.

Murphy praised the leading ladies, saying, “Jessica and Susan lean into their fears. It was intimidating to recreate these huge icons.” Sarandon said that after being approached to play Davis in various projects, “Feud” was “the scariest right thing” in which to finally tackle playing the Hollywood legend.

Lange commented on playing Joan Crawford: “Joan was a great mystery. She created ‘Joan Crawford,’ a character she played as a collaboration between her and MGM and she played it for fifty years. What fascinated me about her was not playing the role of »


- Diane Gordon

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Donald Trump to Hold Rally Same Night as White House Correspondents Dinner

11 hours ago

In a counter-programming twist, president Donald Trump has scheduled a Pennsylvania rally the same night as the White House Correspondents Dinner.

“Next Saturday night I will be holding a Big rally in Pennsylvania. Look forward to it!” he tweeted on Saturday.

Trump had previously announced that he would skip the annual event in Washington D.C., breaking a long tradition of the president dining with, and often getting roasted by, the media. The White House staff also will forgo the event.

The dinner, hosted by the White House Correspondents’ Association, is set for April 29 at the Washington Hilton. Hasan Minhaj, correspondent for “The Daily Show,” will be the featured entertainer.

Jeff Mason, president of the Whca, said in a statement, “We will be celebrating the First Amendment at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner next week, and we look forward to doing just that.”

Next Saturday night I will be holding a Big rally in Pennsylvania. Look »


- Stuart Oldham

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Modern Times Group Draws Record Sales, Strong Operating Profits in First Quarter

11 hours ago

Modern Times Group punched record sales and a 15% increase in operating profits during the first quarter of this year, bolstered by its big push into premium content as well as its thriving streaming platforms Viaplay and Viafree.

Operative profits reached Sek 183 million ($20 million) while net sales were up 11% to Sek 4.2 billion ($4.7 billion) and earnings before interest and taxes rose by 22%. It was the third consecutive quarter with organic sales growth of more than 5%.

Mtg has been ramping up investments in both linear and streamed entertainment products. The company for instance launched Viafree in Sweden, Norway and Denmark last year. The video streaming service is dedicated to Mtg’s content from free-to-air channels and original productions exclusive to Viafree.

Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, Mtg’s president and CEO, said the group’s development and production roster included 50 drama series. Viaplay just commissioned its first original Icelandic show, “Stella Blómkvist,” a thriller which will be directed by “Trapped” helmer Óskar »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Series Mania: Belgium’s Wrong Men Productions Prepares ‘The Alert’

17 hours ago

Paris — In a show of the gathering diversification  of European TV drama production, sixteen series were pitched at Series Mania’s European Co-production Forum, – series which stretch across time and sentiment, from ancient Rome to 2025 Paris, from Antarctica to medieval Europe. But few of the series are rooted as firmly in today’s zeitgeist as Wrong Men’s whistle blowing thriller “The Alert.”

Representing the series, producer Benoit Roland and writers Johan Massez and Vincent Vanneste pitched the series to a crowded auditorium looking to secure international deals, “broadcasters mainly but we have room for co-producers as well.”

Wrong Men describe itself as a company specializing in arthouse features like 2015’s “Prejudice,” shorts such as last year’s “Partner”, and political documentaries like “Wrong Elements,” an official selection for screening at Cannes in 2016. With “The Alert,” the company looks to take its first steps into the world of television. “I live in my time and obviously TV »


- Jamie Lang

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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: 12 Things We Learned at Tribeca Fest Premiere

17 hours ago

Do something. Stay awake. Beware of morons. Those are the deeper messages expressed in Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which bows April 26.

Stars Elisabeth Moss, Alexis Bledel, Yvonne Strahovski, Joseph Fiennes, Ann Dowd, Samira Wiley and other cast members, showrunner Bruce Miller, director Reed Morano and exec producer Warren Littlefield gathered Friday night for the premiere screening and panel at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Here are 12 things we learned from the conversation about the series that presents a chilling look at an America where women are enslaved as breeding machines for a totalitarian regime dubbed Gilead.

Atwood makes a cameo in the first episode as a menacing aunt who delivers quite a slap to Moss’ Offred. Moss insisted that the blow look authentic. “She didn’t want to and then she really got into it,” Moss said. Moss was convinced that she needed to do the show by »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Series Mania: Lagardere’s Atlantique, Spain’s Portocabo Co-Develop TV Drama ‘Hierro’ with Movistar Plus, Arte France

19 hours ago

In a co-production deal announced at the 8th Series Mania Festival, Lagardere’s Atlantique Productions is teaming with Spanish production company Portocabo to develop thriller TV series “Hierro,” a best project award winner at Berlinale’s 2015 CoPro Series.

Developed with leading Spanish paybox Movistar Plus and French network Arte France, the “Hierro” deal, unveiled Thursday at Paris’ Series Mania, marks an early co-development initiative between France and Spain for a TV series.

Previous Lagardere connections with Spain in terms of international TV fiction projects include Lucie Borleteau’s thriller “Cannabis,” a co-production by Tonie Marshall’s Tabo Tabo Films, Spain’s Arcadia Motion Pictures and Arte France, warmly received on its world premiere at Series Mania’s 2016 edition, handled for international by Lagardere Studios.

A eight 52-minute drama, “Hierro” is set on the volcanic island of El Hierro, the most southerly of Spain’s Canary Islands. There, a hidden corpse with signs of having been brutally murdered »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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Series Mania: Mediapro’s Javier Mendez, Ran Tellem Talking ‘The Head’

19 hours ago

Paris — Spain’s Mediapro Group has been making waves with its drive into premium international TV content for some time now, co-producing “The Young Pope,” of which Season 2 is currently set to shoot next year, acquiring a stake in Daniel Burman’s Burman Office, teaming with Finnish pubcaster Yle for Nordic Noir “The Paradise” and “El futbol no es asi,” with DirecTV. Javier Mendez’s contents director and Ran Tellem, Mediapro head of international content development, were in Paris this week for the Series Mania European Co-Production Forum, looking to contact potential partners for their new English-language survival thriller “The Head.”

Already boarded as a co-producer is Patrick Nebout’s Swedish production company Dramacorp, a joint venture with Germany’s Beta Film.

The series, which featured an impressive multimedia presentation at Tuesday’s Co-pro Forum pitching sessions, draws inspiration from enclosed space thrillers like “Alien” but will itself remain terrestrial. Taking »


- Jamie Lang

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Series Mania: Julianna Margulies Reflects on Her Career, George Clooney’s Set Etiquette, Politics

19 hours ago

Paris — Julianna Margulies was in Paris this week as a key note speaker at the 8th Series Mania.

She wasn’t pulling any punches in talking politics and was quick to defend the arts, advocate for victims of gun violence, and take a swing at the White House.

On protecting the arts: “What we have to remember is that what we are left with, our history as a people, is the arts. It’s so important in America now with the threat of arts funding being cut.”

She was cautious concerning what the future may bring. “Journalists are having to raise money to get paid to report truthfully. This is a frightening moment where our core values as human beings are being challenged.”

It was not all gloom and doom, however, as the actress noted that this is also a time of opportunity. “The beauty is the energy it’s created to overcome that. We »


- Jamie Lang

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Variety TV Critics Discuss Graphic Depictions of Rape and Suicide in Netflix’s ‘13 Reasons Why’

21 April 2017 4:21 PM, PDT

Few shows have prompted as much conversation as “13 Reasons Why” — which seems to be part of the point of the Netflix show. It’s almost infinitely discussable, given the weightiness of the show’s topics and the varied ways in which the show met the challenges of depicting them well. It’s caused its share of controversy, but “13 Reasons Why” has also met with a number of positive responses from critics and viewers — and according to Twitter, it’s the most tweeted show of 2017.

Variety’s TV critics, Sonia Saraiya and Maureen Ryan, found themselves with lots to say about the show — but beware, this conversation touches on a number of plot points from the first season of the show. Spoilers ahead. 

Sonia Saraiya: Mo, I just finished “13 Reasons Why,” and I am messed up. That was a doozy of an ending. It might be one of the hardest things I’ve seen on television, actually »


- Sonia Saraiya and Maureen Ryan

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TV News Roundup: ‘Supergirl’ Star Melissa Benoist Cast in Event Series ‘Waco’

21 April 2017 2:51 PM, PDT

In today’s roundup, Melissa Benoist and Julia Garner have been cast in Paramount Network’s “Waco,” while The CW has released a video previewing a musical performance on “Riverdale.”

Casting

Supergirl” star Melissa Benoist and “Grandma” star Julia Garner have been cast as leads opposite Michael Shannon and Tyler Kitsch in Paramount Network’s “Waco.” The six-part television series will be part of Paramount Network’s inaugural lineup to premiere in January 2018. It is based on the true story of the 51-day Texas standoff between the FBI, the Atf, and the Branch Davidian religious sect, and portrays the events leading up to and during the siege from the perspectives of several people involved on both sides of the confrontation. Benoist plays Rachel Koresh, the legal wife of Branch Davidian leader David Koresh (Kitsch), while Garner plays Michelle Jones, Rachel’s younger sister who has a child by Koresh.

Robert Costa has been named as the new »


- Erin Nyren

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Zdf Enterprises, Belladonna Productions Team For ‘Genesis’ (Exclusive)

21 April 2017 2:32 PM, PDT

Paris — Rene Bastian’s New York-based Belladonna Productions, producer of Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games Us” and Abel Ferrara’s “Welcome to New York,” is teaming with Germany’s Zdf Enterprises, the expanding commercial arm of the German broadcast network, to develop “Genesis,” an English-language sci-fi thriller.

“Genesis” is created by Narina Jabari, a young Canadian scientist-turned-screenwriter. Zdfe is handling sales rights to the series.

A film company with a distinguished pedigree, Belladonna moved into TV series production with the Sundance Channel-aired “Hap & Leonard,” now in its second season, executive produced by Belladonna principal Linda Moran. For Zdfe, “Genesis” represents one of its earliest series in English and linkup with a U.S. production company as Zdfe acquires world sales rights not only to Zdf drama but third-party productions drawn from Europe and beyond.

“Genesis” also joins a fast-growing cannon of sci-fi drama – think “Stranger Things,” “Westworld,” “Humans” – as the genre returns towards the mainstream, diversifies »


- John Hopewell and Jamie Lang

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Power of Women New York Honorees Dig Deep for Worthy Causes

21 April 2017 2:20 PM, PDT

Audra McDonald captured the spirit at Variety’s fourth annual Power of Women New York luncheon when she told the crowd: “This feels like good church.”

McDonald was honored along with Jessica Chastain, Chelsea Clinton, Blake Lively, Gayle King, and Shari Redstone for their efforts on behalf of a range of philanthropic causes. The Friday afternoon event at Cipriani 42nd Street also honored Tina Knowles Lawson with the Community Commerce Impact Award.

Chastain was honored for her work with Planned Parenthood, an organization that she relied on for birth control services before she became a big-screen star. Access to affordable reproductive health care “makes it possible for a woman to have the equal opportunity of her male counterparts of having jurisdiction over her body, her life and her health,” she said.

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson got a big round of applause for her courage in pursuing a sexual harassment lawsuit that led to the ouster »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ Is Most Tweeted About Show of 2017 (Exclusive)

21 April 2017 1:38 PM, PDT

Netflix doesn’t release ratings, but thanks to Twitter, we now have a sense of the popularity of “13 Reasons Why” — the streaming giant’s latest series is officially the most tweeted about show of 2017, thus far.

“13 Reasons Why” has amassed more than 11 million tweets since its launch on Mar. 30, according to Twitter data exclusively obtained by Variety.

The teen series, based on the YA novel of the same name, revolves around the suicide of a high school girl, Hannah, played by newcomer Katherine Langford, who co-stars with Dylan Minnette. The show is executive produced by multi-hyphenate superstar Selena Gomez, who happens to be the most-followed person on Instagram.

The Twitter boom has resulted in drastic growth for the cast members’ personal accounts. Christian Navarro, who plays Tony, had a mere 625 followers when the show premiered on Mar. 30 — now he has more than 85,000, marking a 13,263% jump. Likewise, Alisha Boe, who plays Jessica, jumped »


- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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