In this week’s jam-packed International TV Newswire, Variety catches you up on HBO’s first Danish original series “Kamikaze,” the first deal between ViacomCBS-owned broadcasters since the merger, David Tennant’s upcoming 80-day global circumnavigation, an un-scripted deal between Japan’s Nippon TV and the U.K.’s The Story Lab. Also on the mix: Eccho Rights’ newest global pickup from Sweden, U.K. Creative Content EIS Fund’s first investment, and the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize’s jury announcement.
HBO Europe Announces First Danish Original Series
For HBO it’s always been about quality, not quantity, so it’s no surprise that HBO Europe has enlisted an all-star team for its first Danish original series, “Kamikaze.” The series will be directed by “Borgen” director Annette K. Olesen and executive produced by Hanne Palmquist (“A Man Called Ove,” “Melencholia”), and Steve Matthews and Antony Root (“Tales of the City,” “Burning Bush”).
Based on the novel “Muleum” by Norwegian writer Erlend Loe, the series was adapted for TV by Johanne Algren (“Holiday”). It follows 18-year-old Julie, a young woman from an affluent family who seems to have it all, but is forced to reevaluate everything she considers important in life when her family dies in a plane crash, leaving her alone in a massive, empty house.
Commissioning a Danish original is a further indication of the network’s push, after launching new streaming services, into much needed local content in multiple European markets. In the few years, HBO Europe has announced and released new drama series set in Spain’s Basque Country (“Patria”), or produced out of Catalonia (Isabel Coixet’s “Foodie Love”) and Madrid (Álex de la Iglesia’s “30 Coins”), and across Scandinavia (Sweden’s “Gösta” and “Beartown” and Norway’s “Beforeigners”) and the Balkans (Croatia’s “Success”).
“Kamikaze” is backed by support from the Danish Film Institute and will begin shooting in Jan. 2020.
Australia’s Network 10, U.K.’s Channel 5
Australian broadcaster Network 10 and the U.K.’s Channel 5 have entered into a new primetime content initiative following the ViacomCBS merger which brought the two free-to-air networks under the same ownership umbrella. It’s the first collaboration between ViacomCBS-owned broadcasters since the merger. “Breathless,” the first series announced from the deal, is a four -hour mini-series to be produced by Fremantle. “EastEnders’” Charlie Brooks and “The Americans’” Brett Tucker will co-star in the story of a British couple looking to start over in Australia after an affair, unable to do so when a less-than-innocent nanny begins caring for their children. Series’ creator, Jason Herbison is executive producing for Fremantle with Greg Barnett as commissioning editor for Channel 5. Production will begin in Melbourne in early 2020.
David Tennant to Star as Phileas Fogg in “Around the World in 80 Days”
He’s been a devil, he’s been a villain, he’s been an Scrooge McDuck and he’s been The Doctor, now nerd-dom’s favorite leading man David Tennant will climb into a balloon and circumnavigate the globe as literature’s most famous explorer Phileas Fogg in the upcoming series adaptation of Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days.” The series is adapted by writers Ashley Pharoah (“Life on Mars”) and Caleb Ranson (“Child of Mine”) with Steve Barron (“The Durrells,” “Treasure Island”) lead directing and Charles Beeson (“The Mentalist,” “Supernatural”) lined up to direct a number of episodes. Simon Crawford Collins of Slim Film + Television and Lionel Uzan and Pascal Breton for Federation Ent. will executive produce.
Japan’s Nippon TV and U.K.’s The Story Lab Team on Unscripted
Leading Japanese broadcaster Nippon TV and U.K.-based global producer-distributor The Story Lab have announced a new co-development partnership which will see the two companies working hand-in-hand on the creation and development of non-scripted formats for international markets. The goal is to generate new, scalable formats that will work across several territories, with the two companies splitting distribution and management responsibilities. Recently, Nippon TV created popular series formats such as “Blackout” and “Mother, and Woman – My Life for My Children,” while The Story Lab produced on social experiment reality series “You Are Not A Loan” and the dating program “Undercover Twins.” According to the partners’, their first project will be announced soon.
Eccho Rights to Represent Sweden’s “Love Me” Internationally
Eccho Rights has closed a deal with Warner Bros. Intl. Television Production Sweden to represent Swedish dramedy “Love Me” on the international market. After premiering on Nent’s Scandinavia Viaplay SVOD service in October, the series has received critical acclaim and is now the best-ever performing drama on the platform. Popular Swedish actress Josephine Bornebusch (“Solsidan,” “Welcome to Sweden”) writes and directs as well as staring in the series alongside Sverrir Gudnason (Borg vs McEnroe) and Gustav Lindh (“Queen of Hearts”). The series follows Clara, a doctor struggling while looking for love, as well as her father and younger brother, each with love life issues of their own. Season 2 of “Love Me” was greenlit before the series even hit the streaming platform.
U.K. Creative Content EIS Fund Invests in Wonderhood Studios
Launched this summer by Calculus Capital and Stargrove Pictures in association with the British Film Institute (BFI), the U.K. Creative Content EIS Fund has announced that its first investment will go to Wonderhood Studios, created by former Channel 4 CEO David Abraham and his partners. The fund was launched after a report from the BFI called out a shortfall in independent finance for U.K. content companies to scale up. In 2019 Wonderhood’s TV Production arm received several commissions from the BBC and Channel 4. The company also acts an advertising agency supported by a third division which uses data-driven insights to predict audience behavior.
Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize Jury Announced
For the fourth year, Sweden’s Göteborg Film Festival TV Drama Vision sidebar will host the presentation of Nordisk Film & TV Fond’s TV Drama Screenplay Award of Kroner 200,000 ($22,000). A barometer for quality TV expected out of Scandinavia, the Nordisk Film & TV Fond cherry-picks the cream of premium and free to air TV series from region. This year’s jury includes famed actor Jakob Oftebro (“1864,” “Agent Hamilton,”), Swedish actor Moa Gammel (“Jordskott,”), Polish producer-director Dariusz Jabłoński (“The Pleasure Principle”) and journalist Cecilie Asker, cultural editor at Norway’s Aftenposten. Five projects will be considered for the award, with the entire cash prize going to the writers. Last year’s winners were Merja Aakko and Mika Ronkainen for the noirish Finnish procedural drama “All the Sins,” a deep dive into the hidden crimes in Finland Bible Belt.