Good afternoon Insiders and it’s Max Goldbart here with your weekly dose of the biggest headlines across the film and TV world.
Highway To The Palais
Need for speed: Tom Cruise will bring some star power to Cannes Film Festival this year when he heads to the Riviera to premiere his upcoming movie Top Gun: Maverick. Rumored for a while, Deadline’s Mike Fleming Junior had the exclusive on the details this week, revealing that the film will debut in Cannes on May 18, with Cruise taking part in an in-conversation event on the same day before receiving a special tribute ahead of the screening.
The King’s in town: Deadline also revealed this week another high-profile title that is set to bow at Cannes: Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic Elvis. The movie stars Austin Butler as the King of Rock and Roll, with Tom Hanks as his manager Colonel Tom Parker. The French festival will unveil its full line-up on April 14 and the draw of these huge movies will certainly add some extra edge. One to keep watching.
In mourning: Hard to believe it’s been almost a month since Russia invaded Ukraine and the war continues to bring tragic news every day, much of it relating to the media world. Early this week saw the devastating passing of Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrewski and freelance consultant Oleksandra Kuvshynova when their vehicle was struck by incoming fire near the capital Kyiv and confirmation came in yesterday that revered Ukrainian actress Oksana Shvets (pictured) had been killed in a Russian rocket attack on a residential building. The world is in mourning and our thoughts go out to the families of those killed.
RT revoked: Meanwhile in the world of “media sanctions,” UK media regulator Ofcom took the unsurprising move of revoking Russian news channel RT’s licence to broadcast in the nation. After probing 29 breaches of its code, Ofcom’s separate investigation into RT’s licence holder raised serious concerns of its links to the Kremlin and the new censorship law in the nation that outlaws criticism of the invasion. All eyes on Putin and the heroic news journalists based in Russia who could become a swift target for retaliation.
Read this: As we all know, not all Russians support this dreadful war. One high-profile Russian filmmaker, who chose to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, penned a guest column for Deadline this week in which they spoke of the pain of being silenced in Russia or facing prison sentences. “Russia, not for the first time in its history, is entering a new era of pro-government propaganda in cinema, and an industry entirely controlled by the state,” writes our columnist. Take a few minutes out your day and read on for more. And if you want to go deeper, Diana Lodderhose brought news of Ukraine-born producer Alexander Rodnyansky’s response to Russian demands for his work to be removed from the “cultural agenda.” The war is being fought on many fronts…
Rebel rebel: The BAFTA Film Awards were held in London on Sunday, returning to a live in-person ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall after last year’s hybrid event. Rebel Wilson hosted for the first time and brought some welcome colorful humor to the proceedings, even if a few gags fell flat. A lot of crafts love for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune kicked off the evening, followed by wins for Jane Campion’s The Power Of The Dog in both Best Director and Best Film. As was the case with many of the night’s big winners, Campion was a no-show, having attended the DGAs the day before in LA., although she created her fair share of controversy. Will Smith was named Best Actor for King Richard — scoring the prize off of his first nomination — but was also not present.
After parties: At a string of boozy after parties we heard some grousing about the show, with attendees mixed on how the event went down, but all agreed that Dame Shirley Bassey’s rousing performance of Diamonds Are Forever was something that they will remember, forever. Following the ceremony, there were indeed parties aplenty with revelers hopping from one soirée to the next in Mayfair and then with many landing at the Chiltern Firehouse for Netflix’s jam-packed affair, which ran into the very wee hours of the morning. Now, onto the Oscars.
Rough diamond: Disappointing news for the UK TV industry’s continued push to improve its representation this week with the annual Diamond diversity stats showing poor progress in the sector’s upper echelons. Disability representation in senior roles, an area of major focus, has fallen every year bar one for the past five years and representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people at the top remains below national average. A collective howl of frustration was let out by the people overseeing the change. “It’s a challenge to celebrate when five years on from our first report, the vast majority of our industry’s power-brokers are still from such a narrow range of backgrounds,” said report organizer Deborah Williams. Later, I spoke with His Dark Materials writer Jack Thorne, one of the people leading the charge on improving disability representation, about his setting of best practice standards on BBC feature Then Barbara Met Alan (pictured).
Arabian activity: Major Starzplay news Thursday brought to you by Nancy as a consortium led by Emirates-based technology and investment group e& agreed to acquire a majority equity stake in SVoD and streaming platform Starzplay Arabia. The region is trying to do more in the film and TV space and this latest move sees e&’s E-Vision and Abu Dhabi-based investment and holding company ADQ take approximately 57% of the Middle East and North Africa service provider based on a post-money valuation of $420M. Read on.
Netflix’s UK Charm Offensive
Sienna’s in town: Things are finally returning to normal and the mood was buzzy at this week’s swanky Netflix showcase do in London’s Victoria, attended by yours truly. A wealth of upcoming content was shown to a crowd of journalists, TV bods and Netflix UK commissioners, the latter of whom are swelling in number. A-lister Sienna Miller was present alongside director S.J. Clarkson to promote Anatomy of a Scandal, a big-budget drama in which Miller plays a woman whose life is turned upside down when her politician husband (Rupert Friend) becomes embroiled in a sex scandal. Miller was in a jovial mood and talked getting into character, working with S.J. and gave her thoughts on the real-life British government. They weren’t very positive.
🌶️ Hot one of the week: Meg Ryan is directing a feature adaptation of Sally Franson’s A Lady’s Guide To Selling Out for Netflix.
🌶️ Another one: We brought news of Queen’s Gambit co-creator Allan Scott’s next project, a crossover drama with Millionaire Matchmaker exec Patti Stanger and Kissing Booth producer Andrew Cole-Bulgin.
🌶️ Another one??: Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal and mastermind Jho Low are to be spotlighted in a feature doc, with filming starting in London this week.
🚚 On the move: Producer Tina Wagner joined Leonine Entertainment subsidiary Odeon Entertainment as MD in a restructure, which saw Odeon rebrand to Madame Zheng Production. Andreas had the scoop.
🍿 Box office: From today, a range of U.S. theaters will screen Ukrainian director Oles Sanin’s 2014 feature The Guide. Proceeds will go to relief efforts for the war-ravaged country. Jill Goldsmith had the story.
🎥 Casting latest: NCIS: New Orleans star CCH Pounder, The Crown’s Jason Watkins and Harry Potter’s Fiona Shaw have joined the cast of Amazon’s Neil Gaiman adaptation Anansi Boys.
🏪 Setting Up Shop: Vijay Subramaniam, the former Amazon India and Disney India exec, has kickstarted independent venture 29SeptemberWorks.
🖼️ First Look: Apple TV+ unveiled release date and first-look image for The Essex Serpent, which features Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston.
Tom Grater and Nancy Tartaglione contributed to this week’s International Insider.