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Discovery consolidates top management, BBC launches virtual MIPCOM showcase, Korean factual producer Buzz rebrands as UniK, Audible commissions “High Strangeness,” Jed Mercurio’s “Bloodlands” scores pre-sales, and Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” gets postponed to 2021.

Discovery has streamlined leadership roles across its Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) operations.

James Gibbons’ role will now encompass the Nordic markets in addition to the U.K., and he becomes GM U.K. and Nordics. The Nordic markets are being unified under the leadership of Nicklas Norrby, and he will now report directly into Gibbons. Benelux will be unified with Germany under the leadership of GM Germany and Benelux Susanne Aigner, while Spain and France are clubbed together under the leadership of GM Iberia and France, Antonio Ruiz. Jamie Cooke will take on a new combined role for Russia, CEEMCA, MEA and PayTV, and will continue to cover maternity leave for Victoria Davies. Leah Hooper takes the role of SVP D2C growth and strategy international, and Espen Skoland is named SVP communications for EMEA.

“We are working systematically to rationalize our operation and find synergies and efficiencies across our EMEA business,” said Kasia Kieli, president and MD of EMEA. “We have come a long way over the years and with this restructuring we have defined a clear path towards a leaner operating model, where we utilize the best competence across markets. By combining knowhow and leveraging our scale, we will be able to streamline decision making and operate with greater speed and focus towards future business opportunities.”

Piotr Korycki, CEO of Polish network TVN, has stepped down. Kieli will now lead the network herself.

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Courtesy of BBC Studios

VIRTUAL MARKET

BBC Studios will launch a new, virtual destination, BBC Studio Connect, that will host its premium content catalog across formats during the MIPCOM period. It is one of several companies that decided to skip the physical market due to coronavirus concerns.

Content featured on the site will include: a “The Pursuit of Love” masterclass where writer, director and star Emily Mortimer is joined by Lily James, Andrew Scott, Dominic West and Emily Beecham to talk about the adaptation of the best-selling novel; Steve McQueen discussing his film anthology “Small Axe”; a look at the new “Top Gear” series; and a discussion around crime drama “The Diplomat.

In addition, the site will also feature Richard Dormer and Lara Rossi joining lead writer and executive producer Simon Allen and executive producer Richard Stokes to reveal how they have brought “The Watch, inspired by the characters from Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld, to the screen; and director Andrew Haigh and Jo McClellan, BBC commissioning editor, drama talking about See-Saw’s drama “The North Water, starring Colin Farrell and Jack O’Connell.

The site opens on Sept. 28 for three weeks.

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Courtesy of UniK Studios

RELAUNCH

South Korean indie factual producer Buzz Media has relaunched as UniK Studios, to help drive more international co-productions. UniK is backed by Paan Media Holdings, known for BBC co-production “Wild Weather.

Cecillia Park, managing director, UniK Studios, said: “Korea is now very much open for business when it comes to filming and collaborations, so we are actively looking for new partners and projects across the world. Our ambition is to build on our co-production experience to extend our global reach, whether independently or through international co-productions with other production companies, and whether in traditional or cross-format content.”

UniK Studios is headed by Changsoo Lee and cofounder K.D. Kim.

Korea’s exports of cultural content are increasing every year, reaching $9.55 billion in 2019, according to government figures.

COMMISSION

Amazon‘s audiobook and podcast platform Audible has commissioned an original eight-episode series “High Strangeness, produced by CPL Productions, a Red Arrow Studios company. It will bow in the U.S. and U.K. Oct. 8.

“High Strangeness” stars Sophie McShera (“Downton Abbey”) as a frustrated paranormal researcher who is reluctantly thrown together with Adam James (“I May Destroy You”), an uptight American agent, and the mis-matched duo soon discover that they’re humanity’s only defense against malign ultra-terrestrials.

The series is written and created by BAFTA and Emmy award-winning writer Will Maclean (“Tracey Breaks The News”) developed and produced by Arabella McGuigan (“Brief Encounters”) and directed by Paul Murphy (“Cuckoo”).

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Hat Trick International

PRE-SALES

“Bloodlands, the first drama series from newly formed production company Hat Trick Mercurio Television (HTM) from “Line of Duty” creator Jed Mercurio, has been pre-sold to SBS Australia, VRT Belgium, C-More Scandinavia, NPO Netherlands, TV2 Norway and TV4 Sweden. As announced last week AMC Networks’ streaming service Acorn TV has secured the series for the U.S. and Canada.

The series stars James Nesbitt (“The Missing”), is created by Chris Brandon and executive produced by Mercurio, directed by Pete Travis (“Omagh”) and produced by Christopher Hall (“The Durrells”).

Sarah Tong, director of sales, Hat Trick International said: “We are continuing to find strong demand for new, high-end drama from our international clients. With its strong creative credentials, both in front of and behind the camera, “Bloodlands” is an intense and thrilling series which will have wide appeal globally.”

POSTPONEMENT

The National Theater’s acclaimed production of “The Ocean at the End of the Lane, due to transfer to London’s West End this year, after premiering at the Dorfman Theater in 2019, will now move only in 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Based on the best-selling novel by Neil Gaiman (“American Gods”), adapted by Joel Horwood and directed by Katy Rudd, the production will now open at London’s Duke of York’s Theater in 2021, with previews beginning from Oct. 23.

“Whilst government recently made the welcome announcement that performances can resume indoors, they can do so only with social distancing,” the National Theater said in a statement. “Performances of ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ from Oct. 31, 2020 – Feb. 6, 2021 have been cancelled.”