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Sam Mendes’ Theatre Arts Fund has raised £1.6 million ($2 million) to support out-of-work theater professionals across the U.K. by offering quick and easy access to a £1000 ($1,276) grant. Although the fund has supported 1,600 freelancers so far, it’s a far cry from the nearly 4,000 applications it received in just one week.

Launched July 6, the fund was established with a £500,000 ($637,000) donation from Netflix, and has since received another £85,000 ($100,800) in donations from public and industry donors via the online donation platform Enthuse. The rest of the $2 million total came from various organizations such as The Estate of Sir Peter and Lady Suanders which joined Netflix as a headline supporter, as well as The Mackintosh Foundation, Eileen Davidson Productions, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and the Linbury Trust and others.

After recognizing generous support from high-profile individuals such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne, Colin Firth, Tom Hiddleston, Edgar Wright, Michaela Coel, Emma Thompson, Mark Strong, and many others, today’s statement points out: “Despite this generous level of support thus far, the fund can still only provide grants to a fraction of those in urgent need of financial support.”

“Until details of how the welcomed £1.57 billion ($2 billion) investment package from the government will be shared and until the industry has a date that theaters can reopen again without social distancing in place, thousands of talented workers remain with no income stream,” the statement finishes.

 

PLATFORM

 

After three years in the highly competitive Spanish marketplace, Sky will shutter operations for its OTT service in the territory on Sept 1. Several local papers referred to Sky as the first victim of the streaming wars in Spain.

With most major global platforms now firmly entrenched in the country — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and HBO España — and stiff competition from local broadcasters with OTT services of their own, such as Movistar Plus, Atresmedia and Mediaset, as well as independent platforms such as the massively popular Filmin, SkyEspaña never really managed to take off.

“After an internal review, we have taken the difficult decision to cease operations in Spain. The platform will not be operation from Sept. 1,” reads a statement from the company, which assures customers their already paid for accounts will operate until that time, although content will be thinner as several contracts come to and end and August 10.

 

APPOINTMENTS

 

Kate Llewellyn-Jones has been appointed new CEO of Beyond International’s (BYI) new London-based distribution business Beyond Rights, after the merger between Beyond Distribution and TCB Media Rights under Beyond International CEO and managing director Mikael Borglund.

Llewellyn-Jones will oversee the merging of the companies, which also include Beyond’s offices in Dublin and Sydney, resulting in a catalog of more than 7,500 hours of unscripted, documentary, scripted drama, kids programming and format content. Among the key titles included are “Love It or List It,” “Mythbusters” and the “Border Patrol” franchise.

Beyond also announced today that Beyond Distribution general manager Michael Murphy will remain with the group in an executive director role, working alongside Borglund on BeyondTNC, another new joint venture between Beyond Entertainment and U.K.-U.S. based TNC Media.

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Kate Llewellyn-Jones, Mikael Borglund Beyond International

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BBC Studios and UKTV have appointed current head of acquisitions Melanie Rumani to the newly created role of global head of acquisitions after combining the remit of the acquisition teams at the two companies.

Based at UKTV’s London headquarters, Rumani will fulfil her responsibilities under the leadership of Adrian Wills, general manager of global acquisitions for BBC Studios and drama-lifestyle for UKTV.

Rumani has been with BBC Studios for 14 years, and in her role as head of acquisitions, sourced content for 40 networks and platforms. She also helped launch new networks in multiple territories including BBC Earth, BBC Brit and BBC First.

 

DOCUMENTARY

 

France Télévisions Group has commissioned leading French factual company Pernel Media to produce “Julius Caesar and the War of the Gauls,” a two-hour TV documentary special about Caesar’s conquest of much of Western Europe.

Set to air in primetime for the French broadcaster, it has also pre-sold to an undisclosed broadcaster in the U.S. and Histoire TV in France. Samuel Kissous will executive produce for Pernel Media with production set to begin later this summer.

Challenging popular public thinking formed over centuries in which Caesar’s own writings where the primary first-hand record of reference, the show will use archaeological and historical research to reveal more about the Gallic people and their fight back against Roman invasion.