Wednesday, 30 September 2009


« Open the door, get on the floor. Everybody walk the dinosaur » (Was Not Was)

Speaking at the launch of the ambitious stripped drama Collision (due to be shown this autumn on ITV1) Peter Fincham - ITV director of television - said the recession meant broadcasters need to find creative solutions and “box clever and cut our cloth in different ways" - reports Kate McMahon on Broadcast. ITV hopes to follow the resurrection of Primeval with more innovative drama funding deals in order to optimize its reduced budget (

An unexpected deal resurrects Impossible Pictures' Primeval for 13 new episodes split into series 4 and series 5 for a return of the show in 2011. BBC Worldwide (distributor of the show and broadcaster in the US through BBC America) becomes the largest co-production partner. German private channel ProSieben, historic co-producer, is present more than ever: the popularity of the show in Germany has been decisive in this return from the dead. And UKTV enters as a first-time investor and gets a first-run of series 5.

ITV recommissions Primeval, three months after axing the show because of financial motives and the wish to focus on 9PM drama. U-turn? Er, not quite because in fact BBC Worldwide appears as the winner of this resurrection: Primeval is one of its leading brands, one its most successful drama exports - sold to over 45 countries including Australia, America, Singapore and South Korea. The corporation releases the show on DVD through 2 Entertain and Primeval is a major hit on BBC America - taking on a full co-production credit for the first time with series 4. Ironically, remember the costly Primeval emerged in 2007 as a rival of BBC's Doctor Who.

Co-creator of the show, Adrian Hodges is back as showrunner. Primeval moves to Dublin to contain the costs within the huge standards of the budget and special effects but the cast returns (Laila Rouass included?) And Impossible Pictures clearly wants to transform the UK series into a franchise. Tim Haines, the other mastermind of the show, recently told Digital Spy that the contracts for the Warner Brothers feature film version are about to be signed and that they are in negociations with Canadian partners for a US spin off series. According to Haines an animated series - Dublin, The Last Dinosaur? - should see the light too (

Now let's hope that ITV will commission a series 3 of The Fixer (distributed by BBC Worldwide) and a new series of Kingdom. By the way... if a show like Primeval can be resurrected after an abysmal series 3, where the hero and one major character die and its "mythology" explodes, then an unsung marvel like Five's Minder reinvention should easily be brought back. Provided you can sell Archie Dailey action figures or make a Reality TV companion show a la Real Hustle called Archie Dailey's Real Deals.

So, Primeval returns. In the 1970s someone believed a second season of Space: 1999 was a damn good idea.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


« Rule number three, I can't bring people back from the dead. It's not a pretty picture. I don't like doing it! » (Genie in Aladdin)

Neil Wilkes announces on Digital Spy that Primeval has been recommissioned for two more series under a new co-production deal between ITV and UKTV, three months after ITV axed the series! 13 new episodes will be split into series 4 and 5 ( Series 4 arrives in early 2011.

The deal involves BBC America and German private channel ProSieben. Andrew Lee Potts, Hannah Spearitt, Ben Miller and Jason Flemyng will return. UKTV's channel Watch gets a first run of series 5. BBC Worldwide stays distributor of Primeval, sold to over 45 countries.

Considering the quality level of series 3 the show should be renamed Waking the Dead...

See also:


[8.27 - French Time] According to the excellent Broadcast website, ITV's crime drama Lewis (shown as Inspector Lewis on PBS in the US) will now be watched in more than 120 territories around the world following recent sales by ITV Studios Global Entertainment (

This news arrives after the return of the wonderful comedy drama Doc Martin on ITV1 for an eagerly awaited series 4. Martin Clunes stars as Dr. Martin Ellingham, a London surgeon whose career collapses when he develops a blood phobia. He decides to become a GP in the small Cornish village of Portwenn. But if "Doc Martin" (as he's nicknamed) is a gifted doctor, he's totally grumpy and he resents the company of practically everything from human beings - except his aunt - to dogs.

Doc Martin returned on September 20 and triumphed of BBC One's Waking the Dead. The second episode of series 4 triumphed too with 7.2M v 6.2M for Waking (

Perhaps this and The X Factor rating bonanza (the French version started yesterday on digital channel W9) will come as a comfort for ITV, right in the middle of a terrible leadership crisis because of the difficulties encountered in the replacement process of executive chairman Michael Grade. Whoever may become its new boss (see updated candidate list here: ITV needs Peter Fincham (1). Fincham is the current ITV's director of television and has been rumored as a possible new Channel 4 chief executive..

The uncertainty over ITV's leadership could leave the company vulnerable to a takeover bid, according to a City analyst ( In a recent article I joked that Disney supremo Bob Iger should buy ITV because of the synergies with the shows of Gerry Anderson (

I was half-joking, actually. Our dear Nikki Finke seems to believe shopping season is open ( Regarding what happened to Marvel recently I humbly tend to agree.


Sunday, 27 September 2009


Let me do my Bruno Tonioli or my Craig Revel Horwood on this one: 3,4... "Don't remember my name - Fame!"

Panned by critics, the 2009 version of Alan Parker's Fame (MGM) makes a $10M weekend ( In June, your humble servant wrote: « In a world where Simon Cowell is king, I guess it was inevitable but this is not an excuse ». But please Mr Cowell, do accept my apologies - because produced by the mogul behind the Got Talent franchise the movie would have been a hit.

The original Fame was a masterpiece, the subsequent TV series (1982-1987) was one of the great shows of the 1980s. Gene Anthony Ray (Leroy Johnson in the movie and the series) made me like the Art of dance, I could watch the sequences with Desdemona and the Mozart sonata during hours. In 2003, an ill-fated attempt morphed Fame into a reality TV programme produced for NBC by legendary choreographer, actress and director Debbie Allen (who played Lydia Grant in the original movie and in the TV series). Debbie Allen stars in the 2009 movie but not as Lydia.

What now? Fame - The Animated series? One month before my consternation learning that there was a movie remake of Fame coming, I wrote about Fox's new TV series Glee (sorry for the indulgent self quotes): « Glee, on Fox, is fresh air in this rather bleak coming network season. The trailer and clips recall The Kids from Fame with plenty of humor, singing and musical talent, and rythm ». Fox has just ordered a full season of Glee (

P.S.: I did not mention Fame LA? Really?

See also:

Saturday, 26 September 2009


Do you know that there's a musical version of The Little House on The Prairie? This is not a joke... At first I thought it was, my daughter adores the song from Planet of the Apes - The musical, from this episode of The Simpsons (« I hate every ape I see. From chimpan-a to chimpan-zee »).

The music of Little House on The Praire: The Musical is written by Rachel Portman and the show features Melissa Gilbert - formerly Laura in the television series. To be perfectly honest this offers me a fantastic pretext to talk about a man who has written a brilliant review on this musical adaptation of a favourite of many TV viewers, Mr David Spencer (

David Spencer has worked as composer-lyricist, lyricist-librettist, and book author. He's also a critic and renowned musical theatre teacher at two prestigious training grounds. David is currently completing negotiations to musicalize Russell T. Davies’ Casanova and since September 15 he has a class called Writing the Musical Theatre Libretto, a class not only for the aspiring librettist, but for any person desiring insight into the craft (

David Spencer is the Webmaster and principal NY drama critic of the theatrical website Aisle Say ( - now in its 15th season. He's a gentleman and a man of high culture and great taste.


Every lucid observer and specialist has the notion that the 2009-2010 Primetime network season has all the ingredients to become the worst season in many, many years. But as Nikki Finke would say, be afraid, be very afraid.

Right after the announcement of the first casualty of the fall season, CW's The Beautiful Life (, comes the news that the new V without Kenneth Johnson, creator of the original mini-series in the 1980s, will go on hiatus after only four episodes ( The show, which premieres on ABC in November is meant to come back on March after the hiatus. But rumours declare the 2009 version of V dead.

This happens after a temporary "creative hiatus" and the fact that producers of the "reboot" were considering the appearances of actors from the original version (or maybe they could call Heather Locklear). And the promo shown this week didn't help to convince your humble servant of the interest of this "reinvention" of one of the greatest chapter in the History of US television.

See also:


French cinema journalist François Justamand, chief editor of La Gazette du doublage - the most important website about French-speaking dubbing, publishes this week on the blog of La Gazette an interesting piece about the dubbing of Gerry Anderson's cult classic Thunderbirds (1965-1966) and particularly of its two spin-off United Artists feature films: Thunderbirds are go! (1966) and Thunderbirds 6 (1968).

The series was dubbed by a company called SOFI. SOFI was the quasi-exclusive dubbing contractor of ITC, only The Baron was dubbed by Jean-Paul Blondeau and some titles like Space 1999 were dubbed in Montreal. Lady Penelope had of course the voice of Sylvia Anderson in English but was dubbed in French by Lily Baron, French voice of Tara King in The Avengers (excepted in The Forget-Me-Knot episode).

In the first feature film, dubbed at SPS, Penelope had the voice of Sylviane Mathieu (Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair and Jill St John in Diamonds are Forever). But the movie has been re-dubbed in 2004 for a DVD release in a box set including Thunderbirds 6, never dubbed in the sixties because not released in France at the time.

Details on the blog of La Gazette (in French):

Friday, 25 September 2009


In the Hollywoodland jungle, the mighty Hollywoodland jungle, will Leo the Lion finally sleep? I've several times expressed my skepticism through comments on Nikki Finke's website after reading recent optimistic stories about the struggling studio.

But now it seems that Kimberly Shaw's famous line before the explosion of the 1416, Melrose Place (« It's not what it looks like... It's worse ») applies to the MGM situation, according to a piece from She Who Must Be Read written yesterday (

During a conference between MGM and its bondholders (in the present case I love this word... "Bondholders") Leo's masters asked the latter $20 million in short-term cash flow to cover overhead, and an additional $150 million to get through the end of year and continue funding its projects, and to start Peter Jackson's The Hobbit. But apparently the bondholders answered something like "er, well, thanks... but no thanks" (and we can suppose this is the pre-watershed version).

One of Nikki's sources used the B word (Bankruptcy). Itte missa est? Not quite for the moment as MGM now has to formally to ask for forbearance, and its bondholders to formally respond. But should it happen the king of the jungle would lose the jewel of its crown: the 007 franchise. What new home for Bond then? Sony, behind the two Daniel Craig movies before the implosion of the partnership with MGM (1), or 20th Century Fox - distributor of Die Another Day in 2002?

Many eminent analysts hope for a restructuring of MGM. But why? For more remakes in the wake of Fame (2), Red Dawn or Poltergeist? In February I wrote: « We all love the MGM brand, we owe Leo part of our interest for cinema. But with all the respect due to these three letters, today's MGM means the Bournish Bond franchise, the library and remakes of glorious MGM entries (Rollerball, The Taking of Pelham 123... Please watch the originals first!) »


« So you lived to die another day... » (James Bond)

See also:

(2) +,0,5583318.story

Thursday, 24 September 2009


SPECTRE is back in the game and for James Bond the stakes are personal.

Normally your humble servant doesn't give a damn about that kind of material and in fact I've missed the bus of its release in 2007 but, as you know, I'm an avid reader of Quantum of Bond - one of the blogs of French cinema journalist and author Philippe Lombard. And last week he has written a piece about that gem: Shamelady. Shamelady is not your average "fan film". It's a true short movie with a lot of work, incredible production values for such a format, a surprising showcase of talent at different levels and an elegant tribute to 007.

When James Bond (Serge Rotelli) is sent to France in order to buy information about a terrorist organization to the shadowy Mangin (Philippe Lombard... Yes, the one named above), the transaction turns into a shoot'em up and an unexpected ghost from 007's past resurfaces: SPECTRE. James must neutralize the sinister industrialist Jacques Descarpes (Luc Le Clech), number 2 of SPECTRE, in a casino game at the beautiful seaside resort of Luc-sur-mer. He is assisted for this mission by Joan Jansen (Alice Suzan), an agent from MI6, but he's intrigued by the mysterious Anna Raykova (Irina Bogomolova).

Shamelady is directed by Eric Saussine, written by Eric Saussine, Pierre Rodiac and Frédérique Remy, and produced by Eric Saussine, Frédérique Remy and George Kaplan for Constellation Studios. Serge Rotelli is really good as James Bond (he's dubbed by actor and dubbing artist Benoît Grimmiaux). And Luc Le Clech is a revelation as Descarpes, with a formidable acting presence.

The short film has it all: a professional direction, a script which is a treat for 007 enthusiasts, great locations, an Aston Martin DB5, classy wardrobe, an impressive "Binderian" credit sequence, etc. Of course Shamelady has some minor defects but the result is astonishing for a short, almost like an answer to this question puzzling many Bond fans: what if James Bond was a television series? If 007 was a TV show Shamelady would match the production standards of an ITC series (The Persuaders, not Jason King).

Constellation Studios regularly produces pleasant shorts such as the "Audiardesque" Picnic (2009) and Bluff (2009). Both with the talented gang behind Shamelady, including our fellow journalist Philippe Lombard - at ease in front of a camera. Your humble servant couldn't do that, unless the guys make a Nero Wolfe short.

Interview with the filmmakers:
Quantum of Bond (In French):


[7.40 AM - French Time] In case you, dear loyal readers, ask yourselves why there's not so much cinema covered in this humble blog these days, the following news may give you a notion why.

According to Michael Fleming in Variety, Mattel's famous Barbie doll will soon have her live action feature film ( A Mattel's Masters of the Universe live action movie is in the pipeline, there is a recurring rumour (joke?) about a Viewmaster movie, and majors are scanning every toy and game franchises to morph them into blockbusters. No doubt that our dear Canadian friend Furious D will not have to wait too long for his awaited adaptation of Hungry Hungry Hippos by Lars von Trier (

Laurence Mark (Julie & Julia) will produce for Universal. The idea is that a live action version is a logical step after 16 (rather well-made) animated direct-to-video movies but is it really necessary? Honestly? Nah, seriously? Like if Beverly Hills Chihuahua was not enough.

To be perfectly fair I'm not in the targeted demographic (laughs). But it must be a dream, soon I'll wake up and see Mr Potato Head saying to me "Good Morning" like Patrick Duffy in that infamous Dallas episode.

See also:

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


The CW network has confirmed that Heather Locklear will return as the iconic Amanda Woodward in the 2009 version of Melrose Place.

In May I wrote: « So if the new Melrose is as camp as the original the hopes are high and if the all "Young, bold, beautiful and restless" - hey, it's the CW - cast fails they can bring back iconic Heather Locklear to save the show ».

The original Melrose Place ran from 1992 to 1999 on Fox and was a spin-off of the original Beverly Hills, 90210. Both were creations of Darren Star and were produced by television mogul Aaron Spelling, who made a brilliant comeback with 90210 after the cancellation of the emblematic Dynasty in 1989. After a bland first season, Spelling dropped two Melrose cast members, called Heather Locklear (T.J. Hooker, Dynasty) to play the über bitch Amanda and transformed the show into a steamy primetime supersoap with the most improbable intrigues.

And it worked beyond expectations, the original Melrose Place is remembered by its fans - count me in - as the ultimate "guilty pleasure" (why "guilty"? I love junk food anyway) in the History of Television. Personal favourite scene: when Kimberly Shaw (Marcia Cross before Desperate Housewives) blows up the apartment complex of the 1416, Melrose Place - best TV line ever: « It's not what it looks like... It's worse ».

Actually the return of Amanda in the new Melrose Place is absolutely not a surprise. Most of the original cast is due to appear and everybody, from the producers to the network and fans of the original, was wishing that long before the disappointing ratings of the 2009 show. The real big coup would be a guest appearance of Marcia Cross but she's under contract with Desperate.

Imagine, Bree Van de Kamp blows up Wisteria Lane (« It's not what it should look like... It's worse ») and Cross is free to leave the impro league to go back where she belongs. Welcome back, Cutter... Humble tips to the Powers that be: Melrose Place is not Gossip Girl or 90210 (what's next on CW? Cruel Intentions 2009?) Second tip: if the ratings really sink what about a crossover with Chuck? The reluctant spy is a neighbour, after all.

Monday, 21 September 2009


Your humble servant is ill and I cannot do better than the fantastic "Baseball bat" coverage of the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards by Nikki Finke on

The ceremony was hosted by the talented and funny Neil Patrick Harris (How I met your Mother).


Nominated: Big Love, Breaking Bad, Damages, Dexter, House, Lost, Mad Men.

Cable vs nets (House, Lost). Cable wins with Mad Men (AMC) but where is True Blood? House is basically Hugh Laurie telling dry jokes and upsetting people, if you want to watch a show about a grumpy misanthropist but lovable doctor watch Doc Martin with Martin Clunes.

And I've stopped watching Lost during Season 2, I hope the writers of FlashForward know where they're going... for their future viewers, I mean. The problem with these "serialized" shows is that they seem to be written during shooting.


Nominated: 30 Rock, Entourage, Family Guy, Flight of the Conchords, How I met your mother, Weeds.

30 Rock wins. I've tried to watch Entourage once and the tagline of this show should be: "30 minutes of your life are a terrible thing to waste". It's Seinfeld with private jokes strictly for Hollywoodland insiders (Hi, Nikki!) 30 Rock targets a wider audience, gets me indulgent laughs sometimes and there is Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin.


Nominated: Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad, Michael C. Hall for Dexter, Hugh Laurie for House, Gabriel Byrne for In Treatment, Jon Hamm for Mad Men and Simon Baker for The Mentalist.

Like last year, Bryan Cranston wins for Breaking Bad. It's Deja Vu All Over Again, as remarks Nikki in her title.


Nominated: Sally Field for Brothers and Sisters, Glenn Close for Damages, Mariska Hargitay for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Holly Hunter for Saving Grace, Kyra Sedgwick for The Closer, Elizabeth Moss for Mad Men.

Like last year, Glenn Close wins for Damages. « Great actress, great choice, great show » writes Nikki Finke, giving us a clue of who could play She Who Must Be Read, if they ever do a biopic. Glenn Close would be fantastic even reading the CNBC ticker but I find the show overestimated.


Nominated: William Shatner for Boston Legal, Christian Clemenson for Boston Legal, Aaron Paul for Breaking Bad, Michael Emerson for Lost, John Slattery for Mad Men, William Hurt for Damages.

Michael Emerson wins for Lost. I hope Stephen Tobolowsky will be nominated for Glee next year.


Nominated: Rose Byrne for Damages, Hope Davis for In Treatment, Chandra Wilson for Grey's Anatomy, Sandra Oh for Grey's Anatomy, Dianne Wiest for In Treatment, Cherry Jones for 24.

Cherry Jones wins for 24. With no disrespect for Cherry Jones I don't watch 24 anymore since season 4. Grey's Anatomy is Scrubs without humour.


Nominated: Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock, Tony Shalhoub for Monk, Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory, Steve Carell for The Office (US), Charlie Sheen for Two and a Half Men, Jermaine Clement for Flight of the Conchords.

Like previous year (!) Alec Baldwin wins for 30 Rock. « Potential movie leading man who never achieved superstar status, who used to be hot and now isn't, is enough of a sad story that his peers want to reward him » writes Nikki Finke. Ouch! Superstars come and go, actors last and Baldwin is an actor.


Nominated: Tina Fey for 30 Rock, Christina Applegate for Samantha Who?, Julia Louis-Dreyfus for The New Adventures of Old Christine, Sarah Silverman for The Sarah Silverman Program, Toni Colette for United States of Tara.

Toni Colette wins for United States of Tara. « I can't believe that Showtime won an Emmy. And without holding hostage the voters' firstborn or Chihuahua » snarks Nikki Finke so hilariously - I love the Chihuahua joke, is it a reference to ABC? I don't know United States of Tara but Nikki is absolutely right, Toni Collette is an excellent reason to watch something where she's in.


Nominated: Kevin Dillon for Entourage, Tracy Morgan for 30 Rock, Neil Patrick Harris for How I met your Mother, Rainn Wilson for The Office (US), Jon Cryer for Two and a Half Men, Jack McBrayer for 30 Rock.

Jon Cryer wins for Two and a Half Men. I like this show and Cryer is good in it but Harris deserved to win.


Nominated: Jane Krakowski for 30 Rock, Kristin Chenoweth for Pushing Daisies, Kristen Wiig for Saturday Night Live, Amy Poehler for Saturday Night Live, Vanessa Williams for Ugly Betty, Elizabeth Perkins for Weeds.

Kristin Chenoweth wins for Pushing Daisies. A great show terribly missed.


The Daily Show with Jon Stewart wins in Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series. The classy 2008 BBC adaptation of Dickens' Little Dorrit wins in Outstanding miniseries vs Generation Kill - We should tell voters that Brit TV is more than period/costume drama. Grey Gardens ( wins in Outstanding Made for Television Movie. Brendan Gleeson wins in Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for Into the Storm (2009) vs Sir Ian McKellen, or Kenneth Brannagh for the boring Wallander. Etc.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


I'm currently enjoying the deliciously sweet effects of constant weather changes on my nose and my throat. No, it's not Stephen King's super flu. Actually I've stopped reading King in the beginning of the nineties.

Allow me to use this break out of my coma to mention a great tribute to Scottish writer Troy Kennedy-Martin (who died yesterday) written by Frank Collins on Cathode Ray Tube:

Thank you for your messages, your interest, your fidelity and your trust.

Friday, 11 September 2009


[14.17 - French Time] The Saint is back! No not our Saint Bernie (Lomax), patron saint of the remakes and "reinventions", but Simon Templar.

According to the excellent Broadcast website, Canadian independent production company Brightlight Pictures - based in Vancouver - is about to resurrect the character in a pilot for a new television series of The Saint. Scottish actor Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible II, Heist) is lined up to star as "the infamous Simon Templar". Kate McMahon, of Broadcast, explains that an American broadcaster is yet to be formally attached to the project, but is expected to be revealed soon. ( Could it be the anglophile NBC?

Simon Templar (initials ST, hence the nickname "The Saint") is of course the suave modern knight-errant, defender of damsels in distress and amateur sleuth created by novelist Leslie Charteris. He's always ready to challenge high profile criminals, spies, or whoever can act be a pretext for a life of action, danger and seduction. The most famous screen Saint is Roger Moore in the long-running ITC television series (from 1962 to 1969) but George Sanders portrayed Templar in six movies between 1938 and 1941. Even French action star Jean Marais played The Saint in the painful Le Saint prend l'affut (1966).

Ian Ogilvy starred in the wrongfully underestimated Return of the Saint, a 1978 ITC series. The Saint came back in a terrible one-hour pilot with Australian actor Andrew Clarke in 1987. Two years later an international co-production resurrected the character for TV with Simon Dutton as Simon Templar. Dutton seemed a good choice and the title theme of this version - composed by Serge Franklin - is one of the coolest TV themes ever written. The premiere episode, written by screenwriter and novelist extraordinary Anthony Horowitz, was great... But to qualify the rest of a total waste would be a polite euphemism. Nothing compared to the 1997 movie starring Val Kilmer, though.

In 2008, a two-hour backdoor pilot project for another television series surfaced with James Purefoy (Rome) atttached as Simon Templar but nothing occured and Purefoy finally starred in The Philanthropist for NBC. The bar is high for Brightlight Pictures and this new version of The Saint, after almost 30 years of creative vacuum for the character. Dougray Scott must not succeed Val Kilmer but Roger Moore and Ian Ogilvy. The real questions are: can a character so dated in the first part of the 20th century be updated and can a studio in Canada double for one or more of the international playgrounds of Simon Templar?

Otherwise the accountants would hail havoc. The Philanthropist was shot mainly in South Africa but The Saint with James Purefoy was meant to be shot in Germany and Australia. Anyway unless of a miracle the best playground for Simon Templar now is Heaven.

Thursday, 10 September 2009


Birthday cakes, Our Man in Austria, Nikki Finke in top shape. Ingrid... The Nobody does it Better edition (« Makes me feel sad for the rest »).


Cathode Ray Tube (, the quintessence of British Pop culture blogs - I don't remember who said that - is two years old. In april I wrote that Frank Collins is an erudite specialist of Doctor Who but Frank is actually a specialist of so many subjects... If you're not a regular reader already just visit Cathode Ray Tube and enjoy. Happy Birthday.

We also wish a happy birthday to BrontëBlog (, the indispensable reference on the life and work of the Brontë family. We mentioned them recently about ITV1's great adaptation of Wuthering Heights with Tom Hardy (now my favourite Heathcliff after Timothy Dalton). BrontëBlog is four years old this week.


Quantum of Bond ( is back after a short summer break. The blog of cinema journalist Philippe Lombard - author of major books on The Pink Panther or OSS 117 - covers the 007 franchise through anecdotes (Universal Exports, "Churchill's head", stunts...), photos, ads, magazine covers, items of the journalist's own collection and many details about the universe of 007.

And this month Philippe brings back some interesting photo material from Bregenz (Austria), one of the locations of Quantum of Solace. The blog is in French but begins to earn a deserved recognition amongst English-speaking James Bond aficionados.


Nikki Finke is busy keeping the higher standards we are used to with her brand new, formerly Deadline Hollywood Daily ( But she found some little time between her exclusive news about the birth of DC Entertainment ( to take care of a young lady working on the promotion of The Good Wife, the new CBS show starring Julianna Margulies.

Perhaps this young lady didn't know who Nikki is but it seems that her job of the moment consists in offering $20 Amazon gift certificates to journalists just to consider mentioning the show ( Except that the Canterbury's Law DVD box set costs $20.99 on Amazon. Life is unfair.

See also:

Monday, 7 September 2009


Special thanks to Elke SCHUBERT (action concept) and Stephan PEYERL

Is Hermann Joha the last hope of German television fiction? After enjoying a fine summer with Lasko - Die Faust Gottes (the incredible new show of his company, action concept) the man who has revolutionized tv series in his country by bringing action of a blockbuster scale every week, triumphs with episode 200 of his flagship series: Alarm for Cobra 11 (Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizeï).

Action concept, the production company created and helmed by Hermann Joha, made History on German television in 1996 when Joha took over from another company the destiny of Cobra 11, a new pedestrian cop show (where he was working on the stunts) and made it a genre in its own respect, delivering Lethal Weapon, James Bond and Die Hard every week. But the key of the success of Hermann Joha is not action, it is high octane original action sequences cleverly integrated inside solid scripts, with great acting talents, experimented directors, superb locations and great music.

13 years later Alarm for Cobra 11 is the most successful series of Germany's private TV, almost an institution. And last thursday, RTL viewers were blessed with the opening 90-minute special of season 26, Das Ende der Welt, also episode 200 of Cobra. Erdogan Atalay, the German Bruce Willis, is still on duty as Semir Gerkhan (Atalay is in the show almost since the beginning) and Tom Beck is Ben Jäger, Gerkhan's partner since 2008.

We'll not spoil the (excellent) story for our readers outside Germany but note that the TV movie opens with an elegant tribute to Moonraker and Live and let die. Paul Frielinghaus (from public TV's iconic "Krimi" Ein Fall für Zweï), famous German comedian Oliver Pocher - hilarious as a cross between Leo Getz of Lethal Weapon and The Lone Gunmen of X Files, presenter Collien Fernandes and Juliette Menke (from hit soap Alles was zählt) guest star.

Das Ende der Welt, preceded on August 31 by a preview in a drive-in cinema of Cologne with more than 1000 guests (1), captivated 5.14 Million viewers. That's more than House M.D. two days earlier, a solace in a country where viewers tend to favor US shows, and the highest number since March 2007 for Cobra 11. The rating of 23.5% in the target group (age 14-49) of the show is the highest since April 2005.

And, like it was not enough, Lasko - Die Faust Gottes is nominated in the category "Best Series" for the most prestigious Deutscher Filmpreis.

See also: (In German) (In German)

(1) Among them the stars of episode 200, former Cobra 11 stars such as René Steinke and Mark Keller, and many others like Sven Martinek (Der Clown, another milestone action concept production) or Wolke Hegenbarth, the star of Mein Leben & Ich - the cult German adaptation of My So-Called Life.

(C) Thierry Attard

Friday, 4 September 2009


France has very complicated relationships with Doctor Who, relationships which would deserve a whole behind-the-scenes book.

French viewers know only a ridiculously little portion of the classic series: some Tom Baker episodes dubbed and shown on sunday in an early morning kid show at the end of the 1980s. "Doctor, who?" almost became a recurring joke in France, one of the countries in the world which has not its local Sesame Street version, until the 2005 revival helmed by Russell T. Davies.

France 4, owned by the France Télévisions public service, a channel of the then fledging digital terrestrial free offer, began to show the new Doctor Who with a dubbing made in French-speaking Belgium (for financial motives). The dubbing of the show would deserve a whole chapter in the book about the relationships between France and Who. Suffice to say that after two heavily criticized years of the French dubbing, your humble servant came aboard on series 3 as consultant. Circumstances unfortunately made that I didn't work on series 4 ( - In French).

In this Internet era, the notoriety of Doctor Who is since series 1 quite established in France. And the wonderful folks of Beans On Toast (, the first French-speaking information source about the Whoniverse, widely contribute to the phenomenon. In the past they gave news about the delays of the dubbing of series 4 caused by a strike of Belgian dubbing artists and, most of all, delivered a complete and exclusive coverage about a major issue around the release in France of series 3 on DVD: the absence of a track with the original English-speaking dialogues.

Now Beans on Toast announces that France Télévisions Distribution, the subsidiary of France Télévisions holding the rights of the show on DVD from series 1 to 4, has suspended the release of series 4 DVD box in France. The impact of the French-only series 3 DVD release on their sales is without any doubt a parameter in the evaluation of the situation by FTD. Beans on Toast recall that the sale number of the first three series went from 700 to a little more than 1000 copies.

The economic argument would be fully acceptable (especially in these times of recession) if the treatment of Doctor Who by France Télévisions Distribution was not already so minimalist: no extra features, which would be understandable regarding the ratio between costs engaged and the market segment targeted, but - maybe more embarassing - no special episodes. Worse: DVDs of Torchwood, the spin-off of Doctor Who, are published in France by a great company called Koba Films Vidéo (whose DVDs are often reviewed on the French version of this blog), which manages to get extra features for a reasonable sale price regarding the quality of their DVD boxes. Actually DVD critics, specialist and fans even considered Torchwood series 1 DVD box set as a magnificent answer to the policy of France Télévisions with Doctor Who.

FTD has not taken any final decision about series 4, explains Beans on Toast. Perhaps they're testing how much fans really want to buy it before releasing a product whose future at France Télévisions looks rather bleak at the moment. French digital terrestrial private channel NRJ12 has shown a big interest for the series distributed by BBC Worldwide this year, buying shows like Hustle (previously on M6) and Primeval. Many French fans wish that Koba Films Vidéo buys the DVD rights of the next series of Doctor Who. Koba has a very good reputation and many BBC entries in its catalog.

Beans On Toast prepares an action to show France Télévisions the importance of French-speaking fandom of Doctor Who. We'll follow this story with the highest interest.


Here comes the brand new Deadline Hollywood Daily, now, with a classy new look. Congratulations to Nikki Finke.

« FRIDAY AM: Successful transition! Deadline Hollywood's new look is now live on the newly branded site which will become the home page for all the coverage of the business of entertainment and media. The old url of will automatically send you to the new home page. Most, but not all, of the site's new features are ready, and those that aren't will be coming soon (some as quickly as later today). Immediate editorial plans include a Deadline New York executive editor (followed by correspondents in other cities around the world), a streamlined version of Deadline Hollywood for Blackberry and iPhone, Premium content, and other cool stuff. Enjoy! » (

See also:

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


Preceded by an edition of the celebrity version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? featuring Zoe Lucker (Footballer Wives) - for The Caron Keating Foundation - and John Suchet for a charity called for Dementia (1), The Fixer returned yesterday evening on ITV1 for its awaited series 2.

The opener of an intense two-parter was the most-watched programme during the hour, interesting 3.83m viewers ( The Fixer beats a rerun of real-life documentary series Traffic Cops on BBC One ( Last year the premiere of the show produced by Kudos (Spooks, Hustle) for ITV, and distributed by BBC Worldwide, made an impressive 6.2m.

Ex-special forces John Mercer, played by Andrew Buchan (Party Animals, Cranford, and soon Garrow's Law), is an assassin for the government. His job: to kill criminals the law cannot apprehend. He receives his orders for the mysterious, cynical and almost thuggish Lenny Douglas (the great Scottish actor Peter Mullan) and teams reluctantly with disgraced ex-copper Rose Chamberlin (Tamzin Outhwaite) and former petty thief Calum McKenzie (Jody Latham, far better actor than Hell's Kitchen candidate) - who shares a flat with him in a housing estate (Aylesbury Estate, in the South East of London).

This unlikely partnership (imagine the employees of Wernham Hogg in The Office played straight) comes back for six new episodes of the best Brit show of the moment, a dark, hyper-realistic spy/crime drama with a social sub-text - Ken Loach meets the obscure side of The Equalizer, the series with Edward Woodward. Actually The Fixer, created by Ben Richards, is reminiscent of another "Woodwardian" classic: Callan (1967-1972) (2), the uncompromising spy show. And Calum is an obvious tribute to the character of Lonely, played by Russell Hunter.

« You're police or what? » asks a young lady in distress. « Not the kind you've ever met », answers Mercer, who targets a ruthless street gang trafficking drugs but also children. And this time it's more than personal, as the situation reminds him of his own tragedy when he "sanctioned" his uncle and his aunt for because the former abused of John's sister Jess (Liz White, revealed by Life on Mars) without any intervention of the latter. « Kids should just be happy, shouldn't they? They should be safe and they should be secure ».

Rose is the Femme fatale turned mother figure of a dysfunctional family where Lenny provides the snark, Callum the comic relief and John the action, in the shadow of their respective personal tragedies. Phil Davis and Rob Jarvis guest starred in this episode written by Ben Richards and directed by Sam Miller.

« Calum, not only are you not the organ grinder, you're not even the monkey, not even the bell the monkey jingles. You're just a flea under its collar. So do not tell me what I can and cannot do, OK? » (Lenny)

Interview of Andrew Buchan:

See also:

(1) - Please read

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Great advert for digital terrestrial TV service Freeview+ by independent advertising and PR agency Beattie McGuinness Bungay (BMB), with Alan Whicker, Amanda Holden, Piers Morgan, Katie Price and other recognizable faces.

Voiced by Justin Lee Collins and illustrated with the theme from The Professionals by Laurie Johnson. But why Piers Morgan doesn't drive a Nissan Almera?


So The Walt Disney Company buys Marvel Entertainment in a stock and cash transaction for approximately $4 billion. Marvel, of course, is the home of some of the most prestigious and profitable comic book characters such as Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men or Iron Man.

Well, all things considered the news that Marvel is bought by bigger is not really a surprise. The continuing expansion of the comic book publisher, licensor and movie studio is built mostly on movies these days, the super hero genre being Hollywoodland's ultimate cash cow (is there a cow super hero, by the way?) As your humble servant wrote in a comment on Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily (1), Marvel is arrived at a point where some kids believe comic books are licensed products of the movies adapted from Marvel's portfolio of characters. And movies are expensive to produce and to market, especially super hero blockbusters with all their fx fest.

Then what? Warner Brothers is the happy owner of DC Comics (Batman, Superman, The Justice League and so many others...) Remain Twentieth Century Fox and Disney, that will be the mouse. The synergy is obvious: « This transaction combines Marvel's strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney's creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories » explains Robert Iger, President and CEO of Disney.

The motives of Disney are brilliantly analysed by our Canadian friend Furious D on his blog: they need more than Pixar, the Dreamworks deal and tween magnets for their own sake and they are going back to the development strategy from the Michael Eisner era ( And they take a big piece of the sup hero Hollywood cake. For the complete saga of the spider-eating mouse, read Nikki Finke's DHD, as Nikki wrote yesterday no less than 11 updates ( about the facts and the impact of the news on existing deals on current Marvel movie franchises and theme park licensing.

« Did Disney overpay for Marvel? » asks Nikki (see her 6th Update). Strictly on paper maybe, but judging by my nephews' interest about everything beginning by "Spider" and finishing by "Man" Iger's move is definitely smart. Now Disney catches categories which would die rather than watching High School Musical 3 and were not attracted by the latest animated entries of the corporation, even when devised by Pixar. « Just look at Spider-Man and Iron Man films. This is a great fit. But we obviously know Disney has a lot of products that are more girl-skewed than boy. And we'd like the opportunity to go after boys more aggressively » said Robert Iger - who must know my nephews - to CNBC.

Indeed Furious D is right when he writes: « Disney's clout could get the company [Marvel] back in the mass-market publishing business again, but, and this is a Kirstie Alley size but, I don't think they're interested in doing that ». It's all about celluloid, not paper: Iron Man sequels, Captain America, The Avengers, Thor, and many more were in the pipeline before the Disney/Marvel deal. Your servant is curious to see how these last three will fare beyond their domestic territory, particularly Thor and Cap. And I don't do geek but (oops, sorry Nikki) The Hoff made a better Nick Fury than Samuel L. Jackson.

The most interesting in the acquisition of Marvel by Disney is that Disney is shopping. « Because everyone knows that Eisner, when he ran Disney, had to be pushed kicking and screaming to make acquisitions like ABC. (Believing that Disney did best when it grew its businesses organically.) But Iger, first with Pixar, and now Marvel, is showing himself to be the boldest Big Media CEO » writes Nikki Finke (2). What's next for Disney? Humble tip to Mr Iger: try ITV, they have all these wonderful Supermarionation shows (Stingray, Thunderbirds, etc) Imagine: The Jonas Brothers in a Stingray live-action movie, Demi Lovato singing the Captain Scarlet theme song... The synergies are infinite.

Update [16.26 - French Time]: Nikki Finke writes about the scope of the synergy with Marvel ( and investigates the relationships between Disney and Universal regarding theme parks after the deal (

Update 2 [17.00 - French Time]: An interesting piece by Steven Zeitchik for Risky Biz ( In the perspective of Nikki's articles and this one it is clear that an active if not agressive worldwide relaunch of Marvel Entertainment's publishing branch would contribute to help Disney to get a faster return on investment.

Update 3: Exclusive Behind-The-Scenes of Disney-Marvel deal on DHD ( Nikki Finke reminds me this line of Perry White in Superman II: « Relax; if I know Lois Lane, she'll not only come back with a Pulitzer Prize story, but a one-on-one interview with the hydrogen bomb titled "What Makes Me Tick" ». But Supe is a DC property.

(2) Those interested by the period that shaped the modern Disney, with the rise of Michael Eisner, may try to find a fascinating book by John Taylor called Storming the Magic Kingdom: Wall Street, the Raiders and the Battle for Disney (Ballantine Books, 1988). One of the 15 books always on my desk.