International Newswire: Discovery’s David Zaslav Named as Mipcom Personality of the Year

David Zaslav CEO Discovery Communications
AP Images for Discovery Communications

In today’s International Newswire, TV conference Mipcom honors Discovery chief David Zaslav; London Film Festival unveils its Industry Program; Amazon adds PBS shows and classical music to its U.K. channels service; and PBS and the BBC unveil the cast of “Press,” Mike Bartlett’s series about two rival newspapers.

Following in the footsteps of Leslie Moonves, Jeffrey Katzenberg and, last year, Shonda Rhimes, Discovery Communications’ president-CEO David Zaslav will be honored at October’s Mipcom trade fair and conference, where he will also deliver a Media Mastermind keynote address on Oct. 18.

Zaslav will join other speakers such as HBO chairman-CEO Richard Plepler, who will receive the Variety Vanguard Award, chef-TV host Gordon Ramsay, and National Geographic’s Courteney Monroe, Domingo Corral at Spain’s Movistar+, and Facebook’s Ricky Van Even.

Few will be able to talk across such a broad agenda as Zaslav, however. If one of his achievements at Discovery, where he has served as CEO since 2007, is to have ramped up Discovery’s international business revenues tenfold to more than $1 billion plus a year, another is to have diversified in content genres and formats, driving into sports with the purchase of Eurosport and into OTT with streaming apps.

With Discovery stock having taken a battering over recent years, Zaslav is near sure to talk up the growth potential of the purchase of Scripps Networks Interactive, digital and international as Discovery sets out, as he said in a statement thanking Mipcom for the honor, to “nourish super-fan audiences across every screen and service around the world.”

The 61st BFI London Film Festival, which runs Oct.4-15, has unveiled its industry program. Guests include Oscar-winners like producer Iain Canning (“The King’s Speech”), costume designer Jenny Beavan (“Mad Max: Fury Road”) and VFX supervisor Sara Bennett (“Ex Machina”), and the CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Dawn Hudson.

Other speakers include Ben Roberts, director of the BFI Film Fund, Daniel Battsek, director of Film4, and Rose Garnett, director of BBC Films, who will discuss their respective strategies for supporting films and filmmakers.

Other topics being debated include a look at how films can secure stars without their financing in place; how to improve the diversity of crews; how to encourage more women to enter the VFX industry; how to attract the 16-30s audience; the art of costume design; and the likely impact of Brexit.

Amazon Video has added PBS America On Demand and Stingray Classica to its Amazon Channels lineup in the U.K.

Shows available on the PBS service include series by filmmaker Ken Burns, such as “The Civil War,” – the most watched TV series on American public television – and the Oscar-nominated feature documentary “Last Days in Vietnam.” Burn’s back catalog of historical films will also be available, including “Prohibition,” “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” and “The Dust Bowl.”

Stingray Classica is devoted to classical music, offering a wide range of ballets, operas and classical concerts. It features performances from the top orchestras and ballet companies in the world, like the Berlin Philharmonic, and the productions are filmed in renowned venues, such as Sheldonian Theater in Oxford, the Teatro alla Scalla, the San Francisco Opera House, and London’s Royal Opera House.

PBS’ Masterpiece and the BBC have unveiled the cast of “Press,” Mike Bartlett’s drama series about two competing newspapers.

Charlotte Riley (“Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell”) will play the deputy news editor of broadsheet The Herald, and Ben Chaplin (“The Thin Red Line”) will play the editor of tabloid newspaper The Post, while Priyanga Burford (“London Spy”) will play The Herald’s editor.

Paapa Essiedu will play The Post’s newest reporter and Shane Zaza its news editor, while Ellie Kendrick (“Game of Thrones”) will be a junior reporter, Al Weaver (“The Hollow Crown”) an investigative journalist, and Brendan Cowell (“Game of Thrones”) The Herald’s news editor. They will be joined by David Suchet (“Poirot”), who will play the chairman and CEO of Worldwide News, owner of The Post.

“Press” will be directed by Tom Vaughan (“Victoria,” “Doctor Foster”) and produced by Paul Gilbert (“Humans”).

As Latin America moves into higher-end limited series, France’s Canal Plus Group is ramping up its telenovela offering. It is launching a new channel, Novelas TV, France’s first 100% telenovela specialty channel, which will tap novelas from the likes of Telemundo, Televisa, Globo and TV Azteca.

Launching Sept. 26 as part of the Essential Family package on Canal Plus, Novelas TV follows up on the large success of the same-titled channel in French-speaking Africa, where it forms part of Les Bouquets Canal Plus. It will also target the diaspora market in France as Canal Plus frames ever more clearly-delineated niche channels, such as a Polar Plus, focusing on crime thrillers, for ever more fragmenting audiences.