Welcome news from the Film Council, which has at last got around to inviting a distributor — Nigel Green of Entertainment — and an exhibitor — Steve Knibbs of UCI — to join its board of directors. Both are excellent choices. These will be the first two new members to be announced since the Film Council was set up two-and-half years ago under the chairmanship of Alan Parker. To date, the 15-strong board of industry bigwigs has been heavily weighted toward production interests. It’s no coincidence that Parker is set to announce Nov. 5 the next phase of Film Council strategy, which is expected to shift the emphasis towards financing and distribution. Green and Knibbs will replace retiring board members Colin Leventhal and Charles Denton.
Millionaire Knight heads for Hollywood
Steve Knight, writer of the Stephen Frears thriller “Dirty Pretty Things,” is a man of many parts. As well as famously co-creating the TV quiz “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and writing sketches for comedian Jasper Carrott, he also pens speeches for leading Labour Party solons including deputy prime minister John Prescott and environment minister Margaret Beckett, even on occasions PM Tony Blair. The 43-year-old Brit is now taking his talents to Hollywood. He has been commissioned by Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz’s Bedford Falls to write a screenplay about the legendary Indian chief Sitting Bull, based on the true story of his relationship with a female artist who painted his portrait toward the end of his life. Knight is also in talks to develop a U.S. TV series with “some very good American drama creators.” But he hasn’t abandoned Britain — he’s currently finishing his second screenplay, “Eastern Promises,” for Celador and BBC Films.
Fragile revisits Wilde
Barnaby Thompson and Uri Fruchtmann’s Fragile Films (soon to be merged into Ealing Studios) is planning a third Oscar Wilde movie. After Oliver Parker’s versions of “An Ideal Husband” and “The Importance of Being Earnest,” the company has commissioned Peter Morgan to write a screenplay based on Wilde’s novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” about a man who remains permanently youthful while a portrait of himself ages in his attic.
London’s secret screenings
The London Screenings, which takes place this week, may have been reduced to a shadow of its former self by the boycott of the big sales companies, but it’s not quite dead yet. The official list of films screening in London includes about 70 titles, most of them extremely minor. But there are also two significant private screenings not listed — HanWay is planning a cast-and-crew showing Oct. 29 of Mike Barker’s “To Kill a King” (if the print arrives in time), and the Beyond Intl. is unveiling Oct. 30 the hot Oz comedy “Crackerjack.” Both screenings reflect dissatisfaction by the sellers about the slots being offered by Mifed. These screenings will mostly be attended by London-based buyers, but some distribs are flying in on their way to Milan.
At Mifed, U.S. buyers will zero in on the screening of Alex de la Iglesia’s “800 Bullets” from TF1, and are hoping to see footage of Wong Kar-Wai’s “2046” from Fortissimo and Francois Ozon’s “The Swimming Pool” from Celluloid Dreams. The entire U.S. contingent will fly straight from Milan to Copenhagen for the Nov. 7 premiere of Lone Scherfig’s English-lingo pic “Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself.” Pic opens in Denmark that weekend, but sales company Trust is refusing to screen it at Mifed in order to keep it pristine for the Berlin fest next February.