In today’s Global Bulletin, “Celebrity Game Face” gets Middle East version; Sophia Loren to get Legend Award; BritBox launches in South Africa; UKTV announces diversity and inclusion writing programs; Fiona Campbell appointed as chair of the Royal Television Society Northern Ireland center; BBC expands documentary slate with Greta Thunberg film; “Assassin’s Creed” game to get physical locations in Saudi Arabia; France Television licenses “The 1% Club” from BBC Studios; and the Far East Film Festival and Sydney Film Festival reveal new dates.
A Middle East version of NBCUniversal Formats’ hit comedy gameshow “Celebrity Game Face” is launching in a weekly primetime slot on Abu Dhabi TV and the ADtv app, the first international series adaptation of the show.
The show is being produced by In Media Plus (“Arab Idol”) and is hosted by Egyptian comedian Shaimaa Seif. The 13-part series will see local celebrities from all over the Middle East and North Africa region including the U.A.E., Kuwait, Lebanon and Egypt, take part in a variety of trivia games and physical challenges.
The original U.S. version was created by Critical Content and is executive produced by Jenny Daly, president, Critical Content. The U.S. series is also hosted and executive produced by Kevin Hart for E!.
BBC Studios’ and ITV’s joint streaming venture BritBox will launch in South Africa in the second half of 2021. This is the fifth global territory launch for the service after the U.S. and Canada, the U.K. and Australia.
The BritBox global rollout plan will see the service expand to 25 territories.
Sophia Loren will be feted by the Los Angeles-Italia Film Fashion and Art Festival, the annual pre-Oscars event, with its L.A., Italia Legend Award.
The iconic Italian actress who recently burst out of semi-retirement to play Madame Rosa, a former prostitute and Holocaust survivor, in “The Life Ahead,” directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, is considered an Academy Awards contender after making the BAFTA longlist. Loren won an Oscar in 1962 for her role in Vittorio De Sica’s “La Ciociara,” plus an honorary Oscar in 1991.
As part of the tribute to Loren, 30 years after her honorary Oscar, “The Life Ahead,” which is a Netflix Original film produced by Italy’s Palomar, will open the fest which is being held online this year due to the pandemic, said L.A. Italia founder and producer Pascal Vicedomini. The festival will also feature a retrospective of Loren’s work.
Loren will be presented the award by Italian-American actor Armand Assante. The 16th edition of Los Angeles, Italia, will run April 18-24. – Nick Vivarelli
BBC Studios-owned U.K. broadcaster UKTV has teamed with entertainment agency Triforce Creative Network‘s WriterSlam platform and diversity and inclusion organization DandI to identify and commission six scripts from underrepresented voices. Four of these will be produced and broadcast on the Dave channel, with the potential to go on to a full series commission.
In addition, UKTV is working with Comedy 50:50, an initiative to address gender imbalance in comedy, to fund 10 treatments for half-hour comedies for either the Dave or Gold channels. It is looking to commission at least three full scripts from those, with a view to extend one or more projects into a series commission.
The U.K.’s Royal Television Society (RTS) has appointed BBC Three controller Fiona Campbell to the position of chair of the RTS Northern Ireland center, where she will lead committee members including from the BBC, UTV, Sky, Northern Ireland Screen, Belfast Met Film and TV School and Queens University Belfast. In addition, she will head up the planning, facilitation and production of both physical and virtual events for the region’s membership.
Campbell succeeds Vikkie Taggart, director of operations at Stellify Media.
BBC One and BBC iPlayer, and PBS have commissioned “Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World,” a series which follows environmental activist Greta Thunberg as she seeks to raise awareness of accelerating climate change.
Other commissions announced by Clare Sillery, head of commissioning, documentaries, BBC, include “Football’s Darkest Secret,” about historical child abuse in English football, directed by BAFTA-winner Daniel Gordon “(Hillsborough”); autism documentary “Our Family and Autism”; “Our International NHS,” where historian and presenter David Olusoga celebrates the immigrant workforce that has been the backbone of the U.K.’s National Health Service; “Bad Influencer,” which will unlock the rise and fall of Belle Gibson, one of Instagram’s first super-influencers: and gambling addiction documentary “Gambling – When Our Fun Stopped.”
Sport and brand licensing agency WildBrain CPLG has struck a deal with Osool Entertainment to develop location-based entertainment attractions for the blockbuster video game franchise, “Assassin’s Creed.” Brokered by WildBrain CPLG MENA on behalf of Ubisoft, the agreement will see Osool Entertainment create three new “Assassin’s Creed” indoor attractions in Saudi Arabia.
Scheduled to open in spring 2021, the “Assassin’s Creed” attractions will be situated within Osool Entertainment’s indoor Fizz Adventure parks and consist of a branded parkour course including a rope and ninja course.
French public broadcaster France Television is licensing the format “The 1% Club” from BBC Studios. The format tests how the brain works through a series of questions that often lead to extremely entertaining answers.
BBC Studios France will produce for France 2.
Film festivals around the world continue to adjust their dates in response to the latest status of the coronavirus outbreak and to anticipated vaccine deployments. Other date changes are reactions to the shifts made by other festivals. The Far East Film Festival in Italy’s Udine, one of the leading showcases for Asian cinema, announced a shift from its usual late April slot to June 11-19, 2021. After a delayed and fully digital edition last year, Udine says that this year’s 23rd edition of the festival will return to in-person audiences and also include an online presence. The Sydney Film Festival, normally held in mid-June, is also on the move. Its 68th edition will take place Aug. 18-29, 2021. “The shift will allow the Festival to continue to include films from major international festivals (in addition to Australia’s best new feature films and documentaries!) in a year of date fluctuations around the world due to COVID-19,” organizers said. – Patrick Frater