In today’s Global Bulletin, BAFTA prepares online sessions for several top 2021 TV nominees; Modern Films picks up global rights to “Lady Boss”; Mise En Scéne Company adds “Anchorage” to its Marché du Film slate; Abacus Media Rights will distribute “The Masked Dancer U.K.” abroad; Amazon launches miniTV in India and sets “Sherni” premiere date; Head Gear and Big Wave Productions make key hires in the U.K.; Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson gets animated in Sky Kids’ “Dodo”; Strawberry Blond opens offices in Glasgow; and MTV U.K. partners with The Open University on a digital series for promising alumni.
Jodie Comer, Steve McQueen, Hayley Squires and Waleed Zuaiter are a few of the stars headlining BAFTA’s The Television Sessions 2021, an annual event series — held online for the second year in a row — featuring BAFTA-nominated shows and talent, organized in partnership with TCL. Taking place May 18 through June 4, the five panels include writer: drama with McQueen and Lucy Prebble; director: factual with Xavier Alford (“Locked in: Breaking the Silence – Storyville”), James Bluemel (“Once Upon a Time in Iraq”), Teresa Griffiths and Lee Miller (“A Life on the Front Line”), and Deeyah Khan (“America’s War on Abortion – Exposure”); the visual world of “Small Axe” with McQueen, Chris Dickens, JoJo Williams and Jacqueline Durran; leading actress with Comer (“Killing Eve”) and Squires (“Adult Material”); and leading actor with Zuaiter (“Baghdad Central”) and Shaun Parkes (“Small Axe”).
Modern Films has acquired Laura Fairrie’s “Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story,” and will distribute the film in U.K. and Irish cinemas with an accompanying Live Event Cinema preview. Produced by John Battsek and Passion Pictures with AGC Studios, CNN Films and BBC Arts, “Lady Boss” is a behind-the-scenes look at the barrier-breaking career of novelist Jackie Collins, set to world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 10. After the New York premiere, a series of “Lady Boss” Live Event screenings will be held in cinemas across the U.K. with a full theatrical release in the U.K. and Ireland on July 2.
U.K. sales agent Mise En Scéne Company (MSC), launched at November’s AFM, has secured global sales rights to actor Scott Monahan’s (“Love Shot”) directorial debut, “Anchorage,” and will bring the film to Cannes’ Marché du Film as part of its larger slate. Written by Monahan’s “Love Shot” co-star Dakota Loesch, “Anchorage” follows two brothers who are transporting a trunk full of opioids from Florida to Alaska. They’re thrown off course after a reactionary act of violence in a California desert. World premiere and festival dates for the film are set to be announced in the coming weeks.
According to Loesch, “Creating this film was a way for us to process how the opioid epidemic has affected our lives and the lives of people around us.”
Abacus Media Rights, the international distributor outside the U.K. for “The Masked Singer U.K.,” has now secured the same rights to the show’s sister series, “The Masked Dancer U.K.” The series will be made available to broadcasters in late spring, and is produced by Bandicoot Scotland — an Argonon group company. Presenter Joel Dommett hosts with a celebrity judge panel that includes “Strictly Come Dancing” professional Oti Mabuse, broadcaster Jonathan Ross, TV presenter Davina McCall and stand-up comedian Mo Gilligan.
For the first time anywhere, Amazon has launched its miniTV service in India. A free, advertising-supported streaming service, miniTV features a curated catalog of web series, comedy shows, tech news and more — all available through the Amazon.in storefront app. By integrating the player, Amazon has created a single location for its customers to shop, make payments and access the video content. The app is currently available on Android devices, and will be available on iOS and mobile web in the coming months.
Amazon Prime Video’s original Hindi film “Sherni” will launch on the streaming service next month as a direct-to-stream Amazon Original Movie. Starring Vidya Balan (“Kahaani”), “Sherni” is directed by Amit Masurkar and produced by T-Series and Abundantia Entertainment. The film follows a forest officer searching for her life’s true calling while working to maintain a peaceful balance between humanity and the animal kingdom. Balan is joined by an impressive ensemble cast, including Sharat Saxena (“Fanaa”), Mukul Chadda (“Bicchoo Ka Khel”), Vijay Raaz (“Delhi Belly”), Ila Arun (“Welcome to Sajjanpur”), Brijendra Kala (“Paan Singh Tomar”) and Neeraj Kabi (“Sacred Games”).
U.K. film financing group Head Gear has appointed Daniel Negret as its new COO, taking the reigns from departing executive Tom Harberd. In the role, Negret will lead daily operations, including production finance and strategy, business development, and legal and business affairs. Negret returns to Head Gear, where he worked from 2016 to 2018, from Ingenious Media, where he was an investment manager working on films such as “Possessor,” “Séance” and upcoming “Keyhole Garden.”
Factual production shingle Big Wave Productions has appointed Kristie McLure as its new managing director, taking over for company founder Sarah Cunliffe, who will shift to the role of founder and CEO. Additionally, creators Mark Woodward and Emma Ross have been promoted to creative directors at Big Wave, working closely with McLure and Cunliffe.
McLure was previously managing director at Pioneer Productions and drove the company’s expansion in scope and scale from 2012-16 while setting up its L.A. offices. Her impressive resume includes credits on “In the Womb,” “Tsunami: Wave That Shook the World,” “Hindenburg: The Untold Story” and “Journey to the Edge of the Universe.”
Former “The Voice U.K.” judge and Kaiser Chiefs singer-songwriter Ricky Wilson will narrate “Dodo,” a new cartoon series starring Dylan Llewellyn (“Derry Girls”) and headed to Sky Kids in June. A comedy program for pre-teen audiences, “Dodo” follows on 11-year-old Joe Connolly through his everyday school life. Based on the popular YouTube series “Not the End of the World” from Jack Bennett, the series is produced by animation label Wildseed Studios. Other casting includes comedian Mark Watson, Connor Swindells (“Sex Education”), Ellie Kendrick (“Game of Thrones”), Kadiff Kirwan (“Fleabag”) and Frankie Fox (“Small Axe”).
Upstart U.K. production house Strawberry Blond has set up new offices in Glasgow, headed by producer Hannah Smith. Smith, who worked in the Scottish office, seeks to build a new team that scores commissions in entertainment, features, and kids and youth series. Strawberry Blond was launched three years ago, and Smith recently secured her fifth series commission from CBBC for “The Playlist.” She also oversees “The Live Lounge Show” for BBC Four and produces More 4’s “The Great British Dig.”
ViacomCBS Networks International’s (VCNI) Velocity UK and Sky Media have closed a new content partnership between MTV U.K. and The Open University (OU) in partnership with Jump and Havas Media to produce “Generation Change: Ones to Watch” — a four-part digital series destined for MTV’s linear channels and social/VoD platforms. Fronted by musician and comedian Munya Chawawa, the program will spotlight standout OU students making positive change in the world.