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Southern Cross plants Neame to lead Carnival

Beeb vet to start Jan. 1

SYDNEY — Australia’s Southern Cross Broadcasting said Wednesday that its U.K. arm is taking a controlling stake in British producer Carnival Films and confirmed that it’s poached the BBC’s Gareth Neame as Carnival’s managing director.

Neame, head of drama commissioning for independents at the Beeb, where he brought in “Spooks” (“MI5” in the U.S.) and “State of Play,” will join Carnival on Jan. 1.

Carnival founder Brian Eastman will stay on as chairman and will work with Neame on an increased range of international drama projects, according to Southern Cross.

Carnival’s efforts include terrorist drama “The Grid,” a collaboration with Fox and the BBC; “Rosemary and Thyme”; “Bugs”; and “Poirot.”

SCB’s Southern Star Entertainment U.K. is progressively upping its stake from 40% to 75% for an initial payment of £2.4 million ($4.4 million) and a further $2.2 million in four years.

Neame will become a shareholder in Carnival.

Southern Star Entertainment Australia chief exec Hugh Marks said he hopes Eastman will stay on for many years, but described Neame’s hiring as part of a succession plan.

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