International Update

The Lamb family has bought back Sydney radio station 2UE from Kerry Packer, owner of the Nine Network. The price paid by the Lambs’ Broadcast Investments is reported to be $A4.75 million ($3.7 million). Forced by cross-ownership regulations to divest, Packer had reacquired the station when he got control of Bond Media’s assets for $A400 million ($308 million) last June. The Lambs had sold it to Packer in 1985 for $A20 million (then $15.2 million), who sold it to Alan Bond two years later as part of the media package that included the Nine Network.

A potential 63,000 viewers have been added to the Sydney ratings area now that Nielsen is including nursing homes, retirement villages and jails. Sydney now is considered to have more than 3.6 million people with regular access to tv.

In response to the current recessionary climate and the moribund state of Aussie video rentals, Roadshow Home Video has reduced its list prices on May and June releases. Top price of $A115 ($88) will be $A99 ($76); $A105 ($80) tag will drop to $A89 ($63). In a circular to vid retailers, m.d. Milt Barlow says incentives, not cutbacks, are needed for the industry to grow.

The Aussie Film Finance Corp. is negotiating investment in Michael Pattinson’s “Secrets,” which will be produced with New Zealand’s Avalon TV Center. Nadine Garner, Noah Taylor and Danii Minogue (following in her sister Kylie’s footsteps) will headline. Pattinson is producing, and Beyond Films will rep internationally.

First of this year’s offerings from the FFC 1991 film fund – which will underpin five films over the next 12 months – will be “The Great Pretender” from David Elfick, who is directing and co-producing with John Winter and Nina Stevenson. Lensing begins June 10.

The Australasian Film & Video Security Office, the Motion Picture Export Assn. of America’s watchdog here, has brought action against Melbourne video chain Video Research & Marketing/Cinema World for importing various titles without the license of the copyright owners. Titles included “Die Hard” and “Lethal Weapon.”

Canada

David Keith, Shannon Tweed, Christopher Plummer and Joseph Bottoms headline thriller pic “Delusions,” shooting in Niagara Falls via Toronto’s Norstar Entertainment. Ron Oliver scripted and directs.

“Northwood” teen series, co-produced in Vancouver by indies Soapbox Prods. and Primedia, renewed for 16 episodes by Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Previous five episodes aired this season.

The 10,000-member Alliance of Canadian Cinema & Television, which reps actors, scripters and broadcast journalists and announcers, established a new division, the Writers Guild of Canada. Radio Bureau of Canada changed its name to Radio Marketing Bureau.

Some people at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. fear their newest boss might not be on their side when the crunch comes. John Crispo, latest appointee to the CBC board, described the state-owned broadcaster just days before his appointment as a “lousy, left-wing, liberal pinko network.” The radio arm wasn’t spared his wrath either. “I call them Radio Iraq.” Crispo, a prof at the U. of Toronto, was picked by Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Chile

Filmmaker Alexandro Jodorowsky returned to his native Chile for the first time in 38 years to launch his novel “The Seven Tongued Parrot,” which he hopes to shoot as a film in Chile.

Ignacio Aliaga has been named director of the Oct. 12 to 20 Vina del Mar Film Festival, replacing Leo Kocking.

Denmark

After 2 1/2 years in operation, ad-subsidized network TV-2 has a debt of $156 million. Communication minister Torben Rechendorff states that TV-2 is operating within its budget and that the debt has been planned and sanctioned.

New m.d. at the Danish Film Institute Bo Christensen and industrialist Asger Aamund are working on a plan to establish a foundation to support film production.

Producer Per Holst is handling several new features this year. Shooting on the thriller “The Hideaway,” helmed by Niels Graabol, has started. Also in production are animated feature “Hugo,” helmed by Flemming Quist Moller. In addition, “The Pain Of Love,” a romantic drama by veteran helmer Nils Malros, is being filmed.

New Zealand

New features by Peter Jackson (“Bad Taste,” “Meet The Feebles”) and David Blyth, a Kiwi helmer who recently made “Red Blooded American Girl,” have been given the green light by the N.Z. Film Commission. They’re part of a four-picture package involving a total investment of about $7 million.

The N.Z. Writers Guild hosted the annual conference of the Intl. Affiliation of Writers Guilds in Wellington April 21 to 26. Notables attending included George Kirgo, president of American Writers Guild West; story consultant and tv writer Del Reisman; and Australian film writer David Williamson. Repping Canada’s Sardec were Jean Pierre Plant and Yves Le Gare.

Per Andre Graham, president, Video Assn. of New Zealand, the homevid industry is turning around after “dramatic, catastrophic” changes in 1990. Graham said returns for the first three months of 1991 were ahead of the same months a year ago.

Spain

Ambitious local tv series “Una Gloria Nacional,” helmed by Jaime de Arminan, is into its second week of lensing in Madrid. The nostalgic drama deals with an aging actor trying to make a comeback. Item toplines Paco Rabal, with Analia Gade, Juan Luis Galiardo and Monica Randall rounding out the cast. Filming will take 10 to 12 months, and will be done in Portugal, northern Spain and Madrid.

Photography began this week on new local feature “El Dia Que Naci Yo” (The Day I Was Born). Film features popular Spanish signer Isabel Pantoja, in both her second pic and second collaboration with Ion Producciones. Victor Manuel stars. Item is directed by Pedro Olea and scripted by Jaime de Arminan. In contrast to Pantoja’s first film, “Yo Soy Esa,” which capitalized on her musical talent, this new love story calls for her to strut her stuff as an actress.

Jordi Garcia Candau, general director of RTVE, the Spanish television staterun web, appeared April 24 before the Parliamentary Committee on Communications for RTVE to defend Joan Ramon Mainat, the Barcelona regional programming director for TVE. Mainat was fired for his part in the April 5 airing of a fake broadcast on Mikhail Gorbachev’s death (VARIETY, April 22). Candau called Mainat one of the best people on the TVE team, but he admitted that Ramon Colom (national TVE director) and Enric Sopena (regional TVE director) had no choice but to fire Mainat for his lack of good judgment in this particular case. Nonetheless, Candau said TVE hoped to bring Mainat back to the web.

According to the local I Video-grafico Simposio (Video Symposium) held in Madrid last week, the homevideo sector in Spain registered a turnover of 31 million pesetas ($300,000) for 1990. Invoicing was divided into 25 million pesetas ($240,000 million) for rentals and 6 million ($50,000) for sales.

Private web Antenna 3’s radio program “Supergracia,” a sports talkshow presented by flamboyant commentator Jose Maria Garcia, has scored the largest nightime audience over the last year. Statistics were quoted by private company ICP/Research, which also revealed that Antenna 3’s morning news broadcast, “El Primero de la Manana,” presented by Spanish favorite Antonio Herrero, rated the highest number of listeners for morning newscasts.

In town to sit on jury of Madrid’s Imagfic Film Fest are Lina Wertmuller, Pierre Spengler, Guy Hamilton, Mai Zetterling, Ana Mariscal and Manuel Bandera. Fest opened April 19 and concluded April 27. Apart from the official fantasy/sci-fi section, the festival planned tributes to Brian De Palma, Ulrike Ottinger, Troma, the brat pack and the late Jim Henson.

Sweden

Since December 1990, about 25 small Swedish video and film companies have gone bankrupt. Recession means fewer industrial companies are ordering films, the recently started channel TV-4 has made drastic cuts in its quota of external productions. Swedish Television also is cutting back on commissioned product.

Production has started on “The Road To Kim,” directed by tv vet Lars Egler in his feature debut. Cast includes Lis Nilheim, Lena Dahlman, Stefan Sauk and Marie Richardson.

Sandrews last week brought Norwegian director Eva Isaksen and her young stars Havard Bakke and Helle Beck Figenschow to Stockholm to talk to the press about youth thriller “Death At Oslo C.” The film, one of Norway’s biggest b.o. successes, opens in Stockholm May 3.

U.K

Comet, one of the U.K.’s biggest electrical retail chains, has won the first round of its High Court action against BSkyB. Comet alleged that last year’s merger of BSB and Sky breached a contract signed by Comet for the sale of BSB satellite receiving equipment. The judge agreed and awarded Comet an interim payment of £ 185,000 ($314,000). Remainder of Comet’s $17 million claim will be assessed at another hearing. BSkyB is to appeal.

Since August 1987, Britain’s commercial tv nets have commissioned 3,300 hours of new programs worth more than £ 316 million ($537 million) from indie producers. Provisional figures show that last year about 17% of new production hours on ITV – excluding news, current affairs and weather programs – came from indie sources. Figures do not include repeats or acquisitions. Target for all U.K. broadcasters is 25% indie material by 1995.

The BBC is to shed 720 jobs from its network tv division as part of its planned saving of £ 25 million ($42.5 million) a year by 1993. BBC already has cut 100 jobs in news and current affairs and 114 in engineering. Corporation employs 25,000 people.

Yorkshire TV has sold toprated daytime soap “Emmerdale” to 20 PBS stations in the U.S. Show, which recounts the trials and tribulations of a farming community in the north of England, will bow June 3.

Guinness Mahon, the London-based merchant bank that has built a significant niche in the film and tv business, is set to report losses of about £ 35 million ($60 million) for the six months ended March 31. Last year, the bank reported 12-month losses of £ 7.5 million ($13 million). The bank, which is mainly owned by the Bank of Yokohama, is set to raise $85 million by a rights issue.

The value of advertising on European tv could double by the end of the decade, according to a report by Zenith, the U.K’s largest media buyer. Zenith, a subsid of Saatchi & Saatchi, predicts that tv will take away advertising from other media and that by the year 2000 as much as $27.5 billion will be spent on the small screen.

Tyne Tees TV has reported pretax profits for the year ended Dec. 31,1990, of £ 8 million ($10 million), down from £ 7 million ($12 million) the year before. Increased exchequer levy (up 58% to nearly $5 million) and the costs associated with its franchise defense ($3 million) contributed to the shortfall. Gross revenues were down to £ 62 million from £ 69 million, but trading profits were marginally up, from £ 6.9 to £ 7.1 million.

The list of “protected” national sporting events – including international cricket matches, major horse races and soccer cup games – that are available by law to the majority of the British population via network tv, has been shortened. Now, cable and satellite tv services may bid for exclusive coverage of such events as the Commonwealth Games, Wimbledon tennis (excluding the finals) and the Oxford vs. Cambridge boat race. Pay-per-view companies and subscription-based satellite services have been eager to bid for major events as a way of wooing new audiences.

“Gone With The Wind,” distributed by London-based UIP, has completed a six-month run at the October Theater in Moscow. The MGM classic, restored by Turner Entertainment, has been seen by 880,000 people since its gala premiere last Oct. 19. One-hundred prints are now in circulation elsewhere in the Soviet Union.

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