An estimated $A1.7 billion hangs in the balance as Aussie commercial tv stations continue to dicker with ad agencies over new season’s rates on bulk deals. Agencies are accusing Seven and Nine webs of “inappropriate price rises in parlous economic conditions,” and a deadlock in negotiations has resulted. Impasse undoubtedly will affect the production industry as the debt-laden metro webs – which count on $A1.3 billion annually from ad revenue – watch their cashflow dwindle as the hype merchants play hard ball.
Exclusive access to CNN’s coverage of the war in the Persian Gulf saw ratings for the ailing Ten net rise substantially to 26.9 in Sydney at the outset of war, but Nine’s established news supremacy has allowed it to stay on top. Aussie Broadcasting Corp. has come under fire by some government ministers for bias and unprofessionalism in its coverage.
U.K. thesp Bob Peck (“Edge Of Darkness”) will headline Southern Star Xanadu/Zenith’s mini “China,” to start shooting mid- February. Series is about last year’s student uprising in China.
The 1991 Melbourne Intl. Lesbian & Gay Film Festival kicks off Feb. 1 and will showcase more than 80 titles. “Longtime Companion” opens the two-week event, part of Melbourne’s Mid-summer Arts Festival. Fest directors are film curator Pat Longmore and filmmaker Lawrence Johnston, whose pic “Night Out” also will screen.
U.S. mini “Small Sacrifices,” screening on the Seven web, was the highest-rating miniseries in 1990, per AGB: McNair Anderson. Seven had eight of the 10 minis for the year; overall average rating for all firstrun minis was 20, slightly up from 1988-89, but two points less than the average based on all firstruns since 1977. Oz minis overall have scored an average rating of 27, compared with 19 for foreign offerings.
Nine net has added “48 Hours” to its 1991 primetime lineup; Aussie audiences will be able to watch Dan Rather and company every Wednesday night.
Estacao Botafogo, Rio’s biggest arthouse circuit, has leased Paissandu and Cinema I theaters, two of the most traditional sites in town. The circuit now controls six screens in town, mostly dedicated to European and independent U.S. movies. Group, headed by Nelson Krumholz and Adhemar de Oliveira, also is involved in distribution.
Many new independent distributors are diversifying into the Brazilian market. Especially active among the new companies are Pandora Filmes, headed by Andre Sturm and Belas Artes Filmes, owned by Jean-Gabriel Albicoco and partially financed by France Cinema Diffusion with the aim of bringing the French cinema back to Brazilian screens.
“Wild Orchid” opened in Brazil to heavy criticism and many complaints about the way Brazilian society is portrayed. Pic was yanked after a few weeks.
Copenhagen broadcaster Kanal 2 has added anchors Jan Outzen and Karen Nyholm Moller. They will team with Jette Ludvigsen and Ole Stephensen on the Kanal 2 Report, a popular daily newsmagazine that has reached a level of notoriety through its deliberately biased approach to the news.
The third Danish Short Film & Video Festival is being held through Feb. 3 in Randers.
Producer Per Holst(“Pelle The Conqueror”) is producing director Jannik Johansen’s short pic “Et andet sted” (Another Place).
Leading Danish cable system, phone company KTAS, wants to activate viewers within six months to try out its Aktiv TV in the Valby area of Copenhagen. KTAS was inspired by Canadian cable system Videotron, which allows Canadian viewers to select different camera angles during sports games.
Statens Filmcensur, the national agency that rates movies for theatrical release in Denmark, has suggested that it become an advisory board that would issue parental guidelines for homevideo and tv, as well as theatrical films. Censors also want a new NC-18 rating for violent pics.
Copenhagen cinema Klaptraet, an arthouse that operates as a grind house on weekends, has begun screening kids’ pics during morning hours. Among the first films presented to the toddlers were “Miracle In Valby” and “Samson And Sally.”
The Danish premiere of “Air America,” scheduled for Jan. 25, was withdrawn by distribber Dansk Filmindustri because it contains a critical portrayal of the U.S. Army. Torben Villesen of Dansk Filmindustri says a premiere would be in bad taste because of the war in the Persian Gulf.
The Danish Red Cross is the beneficiary of the “Memphis Belle” gala premiere Jan. 28. Attending the show will be Prince Henrik and producer David Puttnam. The B-17 bomber standing in for the Memphis Belle is Sally B, owned by Dane Ellinor Sallingboe.
The Finnish Assn. of Video & Audio Producers estimates that about 2.5 million – one of every three – unrecorded imported videocassettes were sold in Finland in 1990 without a copyright charge. The charge is added to the price of blank cassettes to compensate producers for royalties lost through home taping.
Last fall, Finnish broadcasting company YLE made the historical decision to allow advertising between its programs. Starting next month, YLE will allow ads between the main newscast at 8:30 p.m. and the sports news. Next year, the Finnish tv system will be reorganized: Channels 1 and 2 will be cleared for YLE, and independent broadcast companies Mainos-Televisio and Kolmostelevisio will share the third national network.
The future of the Film Museum in Potsdam, financially threatened by reunification, has been assured. The state of Brandenburg will grant the museum 400,000 marks ($266,000) for the first half of 1991, said director Barbel Dalichow. As of July 1, the museum will become a part of the Babelsberg Film School and receive grants from both the city of Potsdam and the state of Brandenburg.
Producers Thomas and Steffen Kuchenreuther have been awarded the Bavarian Film Prize for “Malina,” directed by Werner Schroeter and toplining Isabelle Huppert. The film also has been tabbed for this year’s Cannes festival in the official section. Because of the war in the Persian Gulf, the Bavarian Film awards ceremony has been postponed until March 23.
Helmer Renen Schorr attended the Greek preem of his first feature, “Late Summer Blues,” at the first screening of Israeli films in Athens this month. Especially popular was Orna Ben Dor-Niv’s docu “Because Of That War,” which featured a Holocaust survivor from Thessaloniki. Attendance was sparse mid-week because of student demonstrations sparked by the murder of a teacher in the western Greek city of Patras.
Pantellis Voulgaris’ “Quiet Days In August” has been selected for competition in the Berlin Film Fest. Produced by Voulgaris and Kineton and toplining Aleka Paizi, Thanassis Vengos and Themis Bazaka, “Quiet Days In August” will be publicized in Berlin by Voula Georgakakou and Elly Petrides.
The first two episodes of “Twin Peaks” scored record ratings for a tv series on Silvio Berlusconi’s private web Canale 5. Some 11 million Italians have taken to the series like a fish to a percolator. Second episode commanded a hefty 34.4% audience share. But aren’t Berlusconi’s people worried that the identity of Laura Palmer’s assassin will be revealed by someone who knows the ending? Graffiti with the name of the killer already has appeared in one northern Italian town, signed “Hardcore RAI Fans.” The press office says network execs are toying with the idea of using another ending.
Italy will have more representation at the Berlin Film Festival this year. Among films preselected for fest are “The House Of Smiles” by Marco Ferrari, “The Condemnation” by Marco Bellocchio and “Ultra” by Rocky Tognazzi. “The Voyage Of Captain Fracassa” by Ettore Scola will close the festival. Film production in Italy for 1990 totaled 119 pictures, said the Italian Motion Picture Assn. That’s two more than last year and five fewer than in 1988. Total investment for 1990 was 335 billion lire ($291 million).
More fest news: Mystfest (thrillers and mysteries) is moving from Cattolica, where the past 11 editions have been held, to Viareggio June 22 to 29. Fest director Giorgio Gosetti said the format of the fest will remain unaltered.
Gianni Amelio’s “Open Doors” and Antonio Monda’s “December” have been selected for the Miami Film Festival.
Action in the Persian Gulf has stimulated action of a different kind for Sky Entertainment’s pay-tv service. Interest in the channel’s continuous news service (CNN via the U.S.) boomed, producing a 35% increase in inquiries from new subscribers in the first four days of the war. (Sky has been on the air for eight months; it reported having about 25,000 subscribers in the Auckland region in October.)
New Zealand’s foremost tv production company, South Pacific Pictures, kicked off a telefilm co-prod with HTV Wales Jan. 27. Rugby pic “Old Scores” is being filmed in both countries. Director is HTV’s head of drama, Alan Clayton. SPP’s Don Reynolds produces.
Sales of the country’s top sell-through vid title, “The Good The Bad And The Rugby,” have reached $NZ1 million.
Record retailer HMV group has sold its N.Z. business to Brash Holdings of Australia for a reported $NZ10 million.
Shooting on kidpic “The Polar Bear King” begins Feb. 18 under Norwegian director Ola Solum. Pic is the first project of the Northern Lights Film & TV Prod. Co., formed last June by Briton Robert Watts, Swedes Goran Lindstrom and Johnny Steen and Norwegians Erik Borge and Axel Helgeland.
Kjell Grede’s “Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg” was voted best Swedish film of 1990 by the Swedish Film Critics Assn. The film also was voted best film of the year by colleagues in Norway. The film will compete in Berlin and is the Swedish hope for an Oscar-nomination for best foreign film.
Norwegian minister of culture, former singer Ase Kleveland, had to cancel her trip to the Gothenburg Film Festival (Jan. 25 to Feb. 3), where she was to given the opening speech. The reason for the cancellation was procedures for the funeral of Norway’s King Olav.
Independent producer Jo Manuel has struck a deal with Showtime for a half-hour pilot comedy show for U.S. cable. Manuel’s new company, Jo Manuel Prods., lensed “London Funnies” at the studios of London Weekend TV. Pete McCarthy and David Baddiel topline.
Alan Sapper, long-serving general secretary of the technicians’ union ACTT, is retiring. Sapper has been involved in negotiations with the government aimed at reviving production in the U.K.
George Walker, who recently sold Goldcrest Film & TV to its management and is mulling a proposed buyout of his film and tv facilities business, is about to be called before the High Court in London. Grand Met, the food, brewing and leisure group from which Walker recently bought a chain of bookmaking shops, is seeking payment of a final installment of £ 50 million ($100 million). Walker, who recently negotiated a moratorium on interest payments on debts of more than £ 1 billion ($2 billion), has stepped down as chairman of Brent Walker in favor of Lord Kindersley. Kindersley is thought to be more banker-friendly than the volatile and head-strong Walker, who keeps his post as chief executive at the company.
Rival United Cinemas Intl., owned by Paramount and MCA/Universal, plans to open five multiplexes in the U.K., Ireland and Germany in the next year.
Elizabeth Greenspan, former director of antipiracy operations for the Motion Picture Assn. of America, has launched a media legal consultancy in London.
Media Intl. Corp. (Mico), a new Japanese consortium dedicated to the entertainment software business, is to co-produce miniseries “Iran” with Consolidated Prods. In addition to co-financing the program, which tells the story of Iran at the time of the fall of the shah and the hostage crisis, Mico will have distribution rights in all Asian territories. It is the first deal that fast-expanding Consolidated has worked with a Japanese partner.