Channel 4 picks up Alliance’s ‘Hitler’

C4 topper 'choosy' with acquisitions; mini made cut

LONDON — Terrestrial web Channel 4 has bought “Hitler — Rise of Evil,” the Alliance Atlantis miniseries starring Robert Carlyle and tracing Hitler’s route to power, for a likely fall bow.

C4 CEO Mark Thompson, speaking to media writers at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch, said the quality of material available at this year’s L.A. Screenings was higher than a year ago, especially in drama. But with greater investment in homegrown drama and entertainment, C4 was becoming more selective in what it bought.

“My view about U.S. acquisitions is that we should be very choosy,” he said. “Rather than large-scale output deals, we should buy the shows that work for us.”

Thompson also reflected on some of the big changes made since he took over at C4 15 months ago.

He has cut costs, restored the web to profitability and reversed several policies spearheaded by his predecessor Michael Jackson, now a senior exec at Universal Television in the U.S.

One of Thompson’s most controversial decisions was axing C4’s highly regarded feature film arm, FilmFour, as a stand-alone production and distribution entity.

He defended the web’s new feature film policy and claimed its annual budget of £10 million ($14 million) was not a budget cut.

And in remarks likely to anger Blighty’s movie community, he said the problem was not lack of coin but a dearth of decent ideas.

He said: “It is not as if there are piles of fantastic screenplays gathering dust. The struggle is finding the right projects. We’re investing as much as we always did and the same as the BBC invests in feature films.

“We stopped making films like ‘East Is East,’ ‘Trainspotting’ and ‘Shallow Grave,’ but we’re starting to make them again.”