Wednesday, 31 March 2010


[20.20 - French Time] Not only remaking a cult Kiwi show already unsuccessfully remade twice is certainly not the best idea but things seem not to bode well for ABC's dramedy Scoundrels, an eight-episode series due to be aired this summer.

We knew ABC made a casting change three days into the shooting, replacing Neal McDonough (Medical Investigation, Desperate Housewives) by David James Elliott (JAG). But She Who Must Be Read, our dear Nikki Finke of, tells us why: love scenes. McDonough is a family man and a Catholic, and he has always made it clear that he won't do sex scenes. And ABC knew that, adds Nikki.

Scoundrels is the US version of Outrageous Fortune, a comedy/drama from New Zealand with a more than prestigious reputation. Shown in its country on TV3 since 2005, it is the longest-running local drama and a cult favourite there. Created by James Griffin and Rachel Lang, Outrageous Fortune is about Cheryl West (Robyn Malcolm), wife of a criminal sentenced to four years, who decides to move out her family of the crime business.

In the UK ITV remade the show as Honest (2008), with Amanda Redman - star of BBC's New Tricks. And Scoundrels is the second attempt by ABC to adapt Outrageous Fortune in the US after a pilot called Good Behavior (2008), with Catherine O'Hara.

Scoundrels stars Virginia Madsen as the family matriarch and McDonough was to play her husband (now played by Elliott).


[17.50 - French Time] ITV has announced three of the shows which will replace The Bill, axed last week after 27 years on screen.

- Monroe, a 6 X 60-minute medical drama written by Peter Bowker (Desperate Romantics, Occupation), is about the work of a hospital neurolosurgeon. It will be made by Mammoth Screen, the indie producer behind Bowker's adaptation of Wuthering Heights for ITV last year.

Peter Bowker's new drama focuses on its main character rather than an ensemble (like in other British medical dramas) and there will be dark humour. Bowker told The Guardian that he hoped Monroe would match House in dramatic intensity.

- The Oaks, a 5 X 60-minute paranormal drama, is the British remake of a 2008 unpicked pilot developed for American network Fox. It follows the lives of three families, in different time periods, who all occupy the same house haunted by restless spirits. The commission is the fruit of a 2008 deal between ITV Studios and Fox to identify properties on their respective slates that could be developed for the other’s home market. The original pilot featured Brit actress Sienna Guillory and Matthew Morrison pre-Glee.

- DCI Banks: Aftermath is a 2 x 60-minute pilot crime thriller adapted from the novels by author Peter Robinson and starring Stephen Tompkinson (Wild at Heart). Tompkinson will play Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, hero of Robinson's series of books. It is produced by Left Bank Pictures (Wallander).

Monday, 29 March 2010


[17.53 - French Time] IFTN (Irish Film & Television Network), reports that production of the new series of Primeval is under way in Ireland since last week.

Axed by ITV after series three for financial motives, Primeval was resurrected by an unexpected funding deal last september, for 13 new episodes split into series four and series five. According to IFTN, the new series are produced by Jim Bradley of Impossible Pictures and Rob Walpole for the Irish based Treasure Entertainment, with BBC America, ProSieben and UKTV as co-production partners.

Primeval, distributed by BBC Worldwide, is a major hit on BBC America and is one of the leading brands of the Corporation's commercial arm. The show, released on DVD by the Beeb through 2 Entertain, is sold to over 45 countries including Australia, America, Singapore and South Korea. Ironically, the costly programme emerged in 2007 as a rival of BBC's Doctor Who.

Primeval is also very popular in Germany, an enthusiasm which has certainly been decisive in this resurrection, and private channel ProSieben is a historic co-producer. Series one was also co-produced by French private channel M6, which aired it (digital channel NRJI2 airs the show since series two).

The new series will feature the return of stars from the previous series including Hannah Spearritt, Andrew Lee Potts, Ben Miller and Ben Mansfield. Irish actors joining the cast include Ciarán McMenamin and Ruth Kearney, who play new characters Matt and Jess respectively. But the nature of their characters is not specified.

Could McMenamin be Jason Flemyng's replacement as the new lead? Flemyng (Danny Quinn) is very busy and series four picks up several months after the cliffhanger of series three, which saw characters Danny, Connor and Abby stranded in different time periods.

Primeval series four (seven episodes) will air on ITV1 from 2011 with series five continuing on UKTV’s channel, Watch - as UKTV enter as a first-time investor and gets a first-run of the last six episodes in the 13-episode batch.

Saturday, 27 March 2010


[15.10 - French Time] Fox confirmed yesterday that 24 will end with its eighth season and that CTU agent Jack Bauer’s final day on the network will conclude on Monday, May 24.

24 used to be an innovative show, with its "pseudo real-time" format and its split-screen borrowed to The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). But the fast-paced spy thriller starring Kiefer Sutherland was definitely four years past its date. The ultimate shark jump being the introduction of fictional country names which would have been acceptable in the days of the first seasons of Mission: Impossible but not now.

Interestingly the show started in November 2001, in the wake of terrible times it echoed and will finish in a world where what will certainly stay as 24's remarkable legacy, President David Palmer, is now a reality with President Barack Obama.

24 has a debt toward La Femme Nikita (1997-2001), the wrongfully underrated cable hit. Its first season owed a lot to the visual aspect of the Peta Wilson starrer and its paranoid climate. La Femme Nikita was adapted from Luc Besson's Nikita movie by Joel Surnow, who co-created 24 with Robert Cochran . The composer of 24, Sean Callery, worked on the USA show and the early designs of CTU resemble Rocco Matteo's Section One in LFN.

Kiefer Sutherland told Entertainment Weekly that producing a ninth season for another network, like NBC, was not an option because he and executive producer Howard Gordon were ready to move on. A jump to struggling NBC would have been anyway - to paraphrase the immortal words of Dr. Ian Malcolm - “the worst idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas”.

At the conclusion of Season Eight, 24 will have produced a total of 194 episodes (including 24: Redemption), making it one of the longest-running action show in television history. A movie is in the works, written by Billy Ray (the US movie adaptation of State of Play).

See also:

Friday, 26 March 2010


[20.24 - French Time] Digital Spy reports that American actress and pop culture icon Jane Badler, best known for her role as Diana in the original V (1983-1985), will join the cast of Aussie soap Neighbours next week.

Jane Badler moved to Australia more than 20 years ago after filming the revival of Mission: Impossible (1988-1990) Down Under. In Neighbours she will play Diana Marshall, a "super-bitch", says DS. Australian viewers will see her episodes in late june on Network Ten, and Brit viewers later in the year on Five.

Diana... again! The real deal.


[6.52 - French Time] France has now its own House/The Mentalist/Monk clone.

France's leading network TF1 tries hard to find successors to some of their long-running hits. In 2009 they axed Navarro, launched in 1989 and starring veteran actor Roger Hanin as a cop who is our cultural equivalent of Barnaby Jones. Julie Lescaut, another police procedural, exists since 1992 and was revamped in 2008.

US networks spend fortunes in development each year, ordering myriad of pilots in hope of finding one or two they will make into regular shows. French television, of course, cannot do that and when you're not pubcaster France Télévisions (with the licence fee money) or pay TV Canal Plus, then it leaves you only two options: buy a foreign format or clone it.

TF1 does both. It airs the French official version of Law & Order: CI and RIS Police scientifique, dubbed "The French CSI" is actually the official remake of an Italian format. The network also prepares its own adaptation of British hit Doc Martin. But sometimes they find their inspiration abroad without buying the format: the laughable L'Hôpital was a copycat of Grey's Anatomy and the costly soap Seconde chance was the French Ugly Betty.

TF1 knows how much French viewers adore eccentric, apparently annoying but genius American sleuths like House and The Mentalist. How could the network ignore that? TF1 airs them and they are primetime rating bonanzas. Now they try the formula with a 90' pilot, La Loi selon Bartoli (Bartoli's Law).

Parisian actor Stéphane Freiss is Paul Lawrence Bartoli, an iconoclast Juge d'instruction (an investigating judge in French criminal law system) whose oddball behaviour hides a razor-sharp mind and a sincere empathy. He teams up with a charming young single mother named Nadia Martinez (Alexia Barlier), his new temp archivist who has a degree in psychology and doubles as a singer in a band.

Bartoli also has a Moneypenniesque assistant (Sophie Le Tellier) and he hires a disgraced cop as a PI (Lionnel Astier). His contact in the police force, Cappa (Philippe Bas), has the custody of his young son in spite of the fact that he's a poker addict, thanks to an intervention of the judge.

Stéphane Freiss looks like Hugh Laurie in House and borrows a little to Simon Baker in The Mentalist. Paul Partoli is snarky disrespectful, doesn't care about hierarchy, lives in hotel rooms, loves good restaurants (he's French) and has a soft spot for his lovely new temp (he's French). He also has a mysterious past and someone spies him and sends him toy soldiers.

La loi selon Bartoli could be a nice departure from the usual TF1 procedurals if Freiss was not trying his best to channel Gregory House as much as possible. Too bad because the character has his good moments, like when he's introduced to the viewer on a tree, the bus scene or the scene with Cappa's kid. And the "monkish" running gag of the shoes almost reminds Columbo at its best.

There are some good dialogues, even funny lines but also terrible ones and the intrigue is average procedural material. The cast is excellent, Alexia Barlier (Fast Track: No limits, Kali) could be the French cousin of Monk's Sharona but the club singing finale was useless. The music is reminiscent of Doc Martin and kudos to the production for shooting in France (in Aix-en-Provence).

Should La Loi selon Bartoli becomes a regular show (52' not 90', please) it would be the last place in France where you could find a Juge d'instruction, as French government is going to suppress this function.

Thursday, 25 March 2010


[17.36 - French Time] Some say that Avatar has changed the way films will be made. James Cameron's movie is certainly already changing cinema industry, as the future of Hollywoodland is engaged by a series of choices and decisions all linked to 3D.

Now Hollywood studios consider the conversion of their 2D upcoming blockbusters in 3D, not without skepticism from movie wizards Michael Bay and Cameron himself (, and search possible pop culture candidates or back catalogue products for future 3D franchises.

According to Variety, Sony plans a 3D Popeye( And Deadline New York's Mike Fleming reports that Buck Rogers, the fighter pilot who wakes up in the 25th Century, is being relaunched as a 3D screen hero 31 years after the cult TV adaptation starring Gil Gerard.

Interestingly, Variety writes in an excellent article that ticket prices for 3D pics are rising fast in the US, as exhibitors and distributors want to maximize their returns. A survey released Wednesday by Wall Street media analyst Richard Greenfield of BTIG indicates that some circuits are hiking ticket prices by as much as 26% in anticipation of the release of 3D animated film How to Train Your Dragon this Friday. "If consumers absorb the price increases without issue, we believe it bodes well for the pricing power of the movie exhibition industry," says the report.

ROBERT CULP (1930-2010)

[6.50 - French Time] American actor, scriptwriter and director Robert Culp has died yesterday in Hollywood, he was 79.

Culp caught the attention of US television viewers, early in what would become a rich and enduring career, with the Western series Trackdown (1957-1959). In an episode, Culp's character teamed up with a bounty hunter named Josh Randall. Randall, played by Steve McQueen, got his own spinoff (Wanted: Dead or Alive).

McQueen became an international superstar but Robert Culp contributed to write an important chapter of American TV History with I Spy (1965-1968), where he played Kelly Robinson. Robinson's partner Alexander Scott - played by comedian Bill Cosby - was black, at a time when the idea of an Afro-American president in the White House was not even a wildest dream. Not only I Spy was a groundbreaking show for this reason but it was also a very good show with realistic scripts - some of them written by Culp himself (including episode 1), an ultra cool theme by Earle Hagen and even exotic locations: Acapulco, Hong Kong, Madrid, etc.

Particularly popular in Quebec (it was dubbed in French-speaking language there), I Spy arrived in France only in 1987 and French audiences actually know Culp for his guest appearances in Columbo as the murderer. Some years later he brought back elegantly this popular archetypal figure in the fourth episode of Jake and the Fatman (1987-1992). Culp was so impressive in it that the character came back for revenge in 1991.

French TV viewers virtually ignore another major credit in Robert Culp's resume: The Greatest American Hero (1981-1986), because only the pilot was shown here. In this show William Katt was Ralph Hinkley, a teacher who's given a red superhero suit by aliens, and Culp was FBI agent Bill Maxwell.

His other television credits include roles in three classic Outer Limits episodes, and in series or miniseries like The Man from UNCLE, The Name of the Game, A man called Sloane, or The Key to Rebecca. Culp also worked in many movies like the famous Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), and directed the effective detective thriller Hickey & Boggs (1972), where he co-starred with Bill Cosby again.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


[6.30 - French Time] Since November we note the TV show casualties of the US Network season 2009-2010 in our Countdown to Oblivion feature (The list is updated when necessary):

- The Beautiful Life (CW)
- Southland (NBC)
- Eastwick (ABC)
- Hank (ABC)
- Dollhouse (Fox)
- Ugly Betty (ABC)
- Past Life (Fox)

- Scrubs (ABC) - OK, technically it's not a new 2009-2010 entry but Scrubs has been revamped this season. Anyway, according to actor/director Zach Braff (former star of the show) on his Facebook page: « "New Scrubs", "Scrubs 2.0", "Scrubs with new kids", "Scrubbier", "Scrubs without JD" is no more ». ABC has yet to officially announce its decision concerning the series.

We'll see in a couple of weeks what happens to FlashForward and V, both on the network. Expected in France on private network TF1, FlashForward will surface this summer on pay tv channel Canal Plus - according to

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


[17.18 - French Time] In the 1993 ABC miniseries Wild Palms, a drug called Mimezine allowed TV viewers to live on-screen action in their living room. Since James Cameron's Avatar allowed theater audiences to enter in scenes escaped from a video game cinematic, Hollywoodland jumps into the 3D bandwagon.

As Mike Fleming remarks in an excellent piece on Deadline New York, « the chance to charge higher ticket prices has every Hollywood studio rushing to retrofit their 2D spectacles into 3D ». Fleming mentions movies like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Gulliver’s Travels and The Hobbit as candidates for conversion.

But now James Cameron and Michael Bay (the Transformers franchise) express skepticism about 3D conversions, concerned there is an imminent future of cheesy-looking 3D that will damage the momentum created by Avatar.

Read this really interesting story here:


[10.50 - French Time] Soon after an ecstatic press launch in Cardiff and an impressive new trailer comes again the big question about Doctor Who series five: how will the BBC budget cuts affect the Beeb's most profitable franchise?

And profitable it is: according to BBC Worldwide (the Corporation's commercial arm), Doctor Who has sold to over 50 territories worldwide and was a top five selling programme in 2009. There have been 3.3 million DVD sales to date, and more than 7 million action figures have been sold.

« Budget cuts are tough: I don't like them, but they force you to be creative. You've seen that trailer. Does it look like we've had a budget cut? » said new showrunner Steven Moffat to BBC News. But it would be difficult to draw conclusions about the new series's production values from a single trailer, as lavish as that trailer can be.

Doctor Who returns on April 3 in the UK (on BBC One), preceded for British viewers by the first episode of Ashes to Ashes third and final series on Good Friday. What a pleasant Easter weekend it will be...


[6.00 - French Time] According to Variety, The Blind Side will go straight to VOD in Sweden, despite its Academy Award for Sandra Bullock.

In France Warner Brothers didn't release the movie in theaters because of Football (as opposed to what is called Soccer in the US), which commercially prevents French audiences to watch the movie on a big screen. This typical American sport sells not very well in local cinemas and, like in Sweden, the film is available in VOD.

We'll see if the movie where Robert De Niro must play American Football coach Vince Lombardi follows the same road on overseas markets.

Monday, 22 March 2010


[16.50 - French Time] France's leading network TF1 knows how much French viewers love eccentric, apparently annoying but uber genius US sleuths like House and The Mentalist. Actually TF1 airs them and they are primetime rating bonanzas.

Now the network tries the formula with a French fiction, La loi selon Bartoli (Bartoli's Law). Parisian actor Stéphane Freiss is Bartoli, an iconoclast Juge d'instruction (an investigating judge in French criminal law system) whose eccentric behaviour hides a razor-sharp mind.

In the promos Freiss looks like a clone of Hugh Laurie and Simon Baker. And French media already compare him to Gregory House or Columbo.

TF1 will air a 90-minute pilot this thursday.


[9.40 - French Time] The Guardian gives us today a great interview/portrait of Shine Group boss Elisabeth Murdoch, one of the most brilliant personalities in contemporary TV business.

Shine, owner of Kudos Film and Television (Spooks, Hustle, Law & Order UK) since 2006, is now the biggest super-indie in the UK


The Sport Relief 2010 weekend, which took place from Friday 19th to Sunday 21st March, began with a great television Friday night on BBC One and BBC Two.

Sport Relief is the biennial fundraising event from Comic Relief, in association with BBC Sport. Hosted by Gary Lineker, Christine Bleakley, Davina McCall, Richard Hammond, Claudia Winkleman, Fearne Cotton, James Corden and Patrick Kielty, Sport Relief 2010 has raised more than £31m for charity so far.

The star-studded Friday telethon delivered entertaining moments of television for great causes: A Question of Sport Relief, a special segment of Walk on the Wild Side (« Alan! Alan! Alan! »), Match of the Day meets Masterchef, and comedian Rufus Hound (Let's Dance for Sport Relief 2010 winner) did his now famous rendition of Cheryl Cole's Fight for this Love.

After an episode of Hustle one month ago, Dragon's Den stars Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne, proved once again that they have humour and added a great dose of courage to it, competing in front of three of the Strictly Come Dancing judges. Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood would fit perfectly in Dragon's Den.

James Corden did his Smithy routine and impersonator duo Jon Culshaw-Debra Stephenson (The Impressions Show) hosted a very special edition of The One Show. Gene Hunt and his team investigated the case of the missing Ryder Cup for an Ashes to Ashes special with many guest stars, including Sir Michael Parkinson, Paul Daniels and Daley Thompson (« Is that Tom Selleck? »). And Hunt's Audi Quattro paid a tribute to General Lee (The Dukes of Hazzard).

Celebrities took on a number of challenges in earlier efforts. Among them, legendary comedian Eddie Izzard and his 43 marathons in 51 days ( or Christine Bleakley's cross-Channel water-ski.

There were many touching moments during the evening. One of the most moving was certainly the story of Dennis and Audrey, an elderly couple together for more than 60 years. Audrey now has Alzheimer's and her husband is her carer. They are an inspiration to all of us.

See also:

Friday, 19 March 2010


[21.15 - French Time] Great news for "Beautiful drama" addicts. NBC has picked up daytime drama Days of our Lives for its 45th season, keeping the long-running soap opera on the network through the 2010-2011 television season.

NBC Entertainment chairman Marc Graboff said DOOL has shown year-to-year increases in key female demographics and remains both relevant and fresh creatively. And while soaps are enduring tough times, cancelled in favour of less expensive daytime programmes, the renewal of NBC's last remaining soap is definitely a solace for the amateurs of the genre.

Last year Guiding Light and As the World Turns were cancelled by CBS after decades on the air. But Stefano DiMera has files on NBC's bosses and a peacock can't beat "The Phoenix".


[7.55 - French Time] The BBC has confirmed that the awaited third and final series of Ashes to Ashes will start on Friday 2nd April at 9pm.

But before his big return the Gene genie will appear in a sketch for Sport Relief, the charity event from Comic Relief in association with BBC Sport.

Sports relief airs tonight on BBC One from 7pm.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


[21.20 - French Time] Matt Smith will return as The Doctor for a sixth series of Doctor Who in 2011, preceded by a Christmas special for this year - written by showrunner Steven Moffat.

Filming of series five wraps this Saturday ahead of transmission on BBC One at Easter. Shooting of the special and the 13-episode series six will begin early July in Cardiff (

The first episode of the Matt Smith/Steven Moffat era will be aired on April 3 at a time when both British television fiction and the BBC are at the parting of the ways. Increasing pressure on budgets weighs on dramas, with the Beeb and its commercial rival ITV struggling to maintain the quality of their respectives drama outputs in a rough economic climate.

Not only British indie production sector complains about budget cuts made by the Corporation, not only major BBC hits like Hustle now appear affected by these cuts, but the future of the BBC itself (with its commercial branch BBC Worldwide) is among the debates of the upcoming general election in the UK.

Doctor Who is the Beeb's flagship franchise and we'll see very soon if BBC drama budget cuts impact in some way or another the awaited fifth series. « I’ve now seen four or five episodes of the new Doctor Who and it’s bigger and better than ever, » said Ben Stephenson, the BBC’s controller of drama, to The Daily Telegraph in January. « The minute that those cuts affect how it looks then I agree that there’s something we need to do. » (1)

The show and its stars, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan will begin a UK tour later this month in order to introduce Eleventh Doctor and his companion to fans.


Update (March 19): New trailer, thanks to Digital Spy (


[9.50 - French Time] Broadcast reports that indie producer Kudos Film and Television (Spooks, Hustle) is considering making a drama in Colombia.

The industry-wide exodus of UK drama overseas has accelerated in the past 12 months because of budget pressures. Kudos has landed a commission for a new BBC One series, Outcasts, which will be shot in South Africa.

Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group, owner of Kudos Film and Television since 2006, is now the biggest super-indie in the UK.

See also:

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


[17.50 - French Time] Astonishing news on Deadline New York, the NY version of Nikki Finke's Warner Bros. prepares a movie adaptation of... 77 Sunset Strip!

Developed from a character created by Roy Huggins (The Fugitive) 77 Sunset Strip ran from 1958 to 1964 on ABC and was produced by Warner Brothers. Efrem Zimbalist, Jr and Roger Smith were two Los Angeles private eyes who had an office at 77 Sunset Strip, near a club where Gerald "Kookie" Kookson III (played by Edd Byrnes) worked as a valet parking attendant. Kookie often helped the detectives on their cases.

As Mike Fleming recalls in his piece for Deadline, 77 Sunset Strip was in its time the epitome of cool. The show is a classic - like its catchy theme song - and Fleming reports that the movie will be directed by Greg Berlanti.

If it becomes a box office hit be prepared for a Hawaiian Eye feature film with Taylor Lautner as Tom Lopaka and for a movie remake of Crime Story by Michael Mann. I can't wait.

My name is Sam Tyler. I had an accident, and I woke up in...


[15.20 - French Time] James Marsters will guest as Steve McGarrett's nemesis in the pilot for the 2010 Hawaii Five-O.

The new Five-O stars Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight, Three Rivers) in the role played by Jack Lord in the original series, aired from 1968 to 1980 on CBS. McGarrett was the boss of a Hawaii State Police elite squad and was only accountable to the Governor.

The classic show is updated for CBS by golden writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (the Transformers franchise, M:I III, Star Trek) and CSI: NY executive producer Peter Lenkov.

In January your humble servant wrote that a character like the recurring archvillain Wo Fat (played by Khigh Dheigh) seems unconceivable today in our politically correct world. And Marsters is very good but can he make a convincing big chinese agent?

A 24 type terrorist mastermind, maybe?

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


[9.30 - French Time] Interesting interview with Philip Glenister, aka DCI Gene Hunt, by Richard Vine on the Guardian website .

The third and last series of Ashes to Ashes is due to start later this month on BBC One.

Fire up the Quattro!

Update (15.30 - French Time):


[7.21 - French Time] A review about an excellent book from Berg Publishers (the publisher which gave us the essential Visions of England).

And for our French blog a DVD review with a lot of crocodiles inside - some of the reptile kind, some not!

Thanks for your interest, your trust, your fidelity and your patience.

Saturday, 13 March 2010


[11.00 - French Time] How would Dr. Ian Malcolm put it: "The worst idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas". Rumours give the likely to be cancelled Fox flagship show 24 jumping to NBC.

The network and 20th Century Fox Television appear ready to end the long-running hit starring Kiefer Sutherland after this season, the show's eighth ( And when James Hibberd asked Angela Bromstad, president of primetime entertainment at NBC and Universal Media Studios, if she would rule out 24 as a fit for NBC she answered « I wouldn't rule it out. I wouldn't think it's likely, but I wouldn't rule it out » (

The single thought of the troubled NBC picking up 24 looks preposterous regarding a season in hell epitomized by the Jay Leno primetime experience. As the excellent Robert Seidman points out on the TV by the Numbers website, « NBC needs to find its own hits rather than riding someone else’s long-in-tooth retreads into the ground » (

Then come the economics of the show and the economics in general but honestly 24 is four years past its date. Far more interesting would be a revitalization through a blockbuster movie (which seems in the pipeline).

Imagine Jack Bauer on NBC, forcing suspects to watch The Marriage Ref. Or a crossover between 24 and 30 Rock called 24 Rock, with Bauer replacing Jack Donaghy for a day. David Letterman would adore.

See also:

Thursday, 11 March 2010


[21.28 - French Time] BSkyB drama commissioning editor Elaine Pyke told Broadcast’s TV Drama Forum that 13-part returning drama series were her main priority now as she attempts to broaden the broadcaster’s drama output beyond one-off coups such as Skellig (adapted from a book by David Almond) or short serials like Martina Cole's The Take.

At Sky Elaine Pyke was responsible for commissioning a live action adaptation from Terry Pratchett's Discworld franchise for the first time. Filmed and transmitted in HD, the first of the adapted books was event drama Terry Pratchett's Hogfather (2006). It was the highest rating non sports multi-channel commission ever securing an audience of over 2.5m. But Pyke considers 13-episode returning shows are what will really establish Sky drama.

At a time when the BBC and its commercial rival ITV are struggling to maintain the quality of their respectives drama outputs in a rough economic climate and under the scrutiny of British indie production sector, BSkyB's affirmed ambitions are rather interesting news.


[6.50 - French Time] SyFy will air its two-part miniseries based on classic comic strip character The Phantom in June.

This "re-imagined" version of the comic book is produced by Muse Entertainment and distributed by RHI Entertainment. The three-hour miniseries stars Ryan Carnes as the son of the original Phantom. Shot in Montreal, New York and Costa Rica, it is written by Daniel Knauf and Charles H. Knauf and directed by Paolo Barzman.

Created by Lee Falk (father of Mandrake The Magician) for a daily newspaper strip in 1936, The Phantom is the heir of a line of crimefighters that originated in 1536, when the father of British sailor Christopher Walker was murdered during a pirate attack. Washed ashore on a beach of the fictional African country of Bengalla, Christopher swore to dedicate his life to the destruction of piracy, greed, cruelty and injustice, with his sons and their sons set to follow him.

He became The Phantom, "The Ghost who walks", believed to be immortal thanks to his successors. The latest Phantom, who rides a great white horse named Hero, lives in the "Skull Cave" (like his ancestors) and he's helped by the loyal Bandar and a faithful savage wolf called Devil. Diana Palmer is his fiancée.

The Phantom is one of these comic book characters historically less favoured by cinema and TV than the properties of giants DC and Marvel, and which find a new commercial interest with the box office triumphs of Batman and Iron Man. But unfortunately, from what is shown in the trailer of the new miniseries, this Phantom seems to get the treatment given by RHI and SyFi (then Sci-Fi) to poor Flash Gordon in the 2007 television series.

And the new costume is, how to put it, a sacrilege. Your humble servant's favourite adaptation remains the 1996 movie starring Billy Zane.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


[13.35 - French Time] If you missed Lenora Crichlow in Material Girl, BBC Three will give you another try with Dappers, a comedy/drama pilot starring the Being Human actress and written by Catherine Johnson (Mamma Mia!)

Crichlow plays Ashley, a single mother living in Bristol. Ashley has a young daughter called Angel and is best friends with another young mother, called Faye (played by Ty Glaser) - hence the title "Dappers", which means best mates in Bristolian.

Coincidentally there's a character named Marco, like in Material Girl. Let's hope this is not a curse or something.

Dappers, due to air on BBC Three this spring, is a Mammoth Screen production for BBC Wales.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


[10.50 - French Time] Read on The Blind side is a huge box office hit in the US and Sandra Bullock won an Academy award (Best Actress) but Warner Brothers will not release the football drama in French theaters.

Apparently, it's Football (as opposed to what is called Soccer in the US) which commercially prevents French audiences to watch the movie on a big screen, as this typical American sport sells not very well in local cinemas. The film is already available in VOD. (In French)


[6.00 - French Time] Daniel Garrett reports for ATV Network that actor Martin Clunes has confirmed that his ITV hit comedy/drama Doc Martin will return for a fifth series in 2011.

Clunes is of course 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. Series 4 aired last Autumn on ITV1 with strong ratings against Waking the Dead or an adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma starring Romola Garai.

After Germany (Doktor Martin) and Spain (Doctor Mateo), France will have its own version of the show's format, adapted by Ego Productions for TF1. The French Doc Martin will star Thierry Lhermitte and will be shot in April and this summer in Brittany.

TF1 already airs Paris Enquêtes criminelles, the French Law & Order: CI.

Monday, 8 March 2010


[6.50 - French Time] Thank God the great Nikki Finke did her usual "Live-Snarking" magic on her site,, which spared us to watch another borefest telecast. That's why Nikki is the best at her job, should I "live-blog" the Academy Awards I'd jump from my second floor before the end of the show.

Talented Austrian actor Christoph Waltz gets a deserved Best Supporting Actor for Inglorious Basterds. Let's hope that Hollywoodland will not stick him into the villain gig, for we can't tell if Y & R will still exist in ten years and French and Brit actors need work too.

Animated Feature goes to Up, which also wins Best Music for Michael Giacchino. The Weary Kind (from Crazy Heart) gets Original Song. JJ Abrams' Star Trek wins Makeup - Makeup! Nikki is right when she says that Star Trek should have been nominated for Best Picture.

Precious wins Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Mo'Nique. « A win for diversity in Hollywood », writes our dear She Who Must Be Read about Adapted Screenplay. Well, it would have been a TRIUMPH for diversity in Hollywood if the charming Gabourey Sidibe had won Best Actress for her groundbreaking performance in the movie. Movies like Precious help to keep some little faith in this industry, but unfortunately Sidibe lost to Sandra Bullock.

Argentinian movie El Secreto de Sus Ojos wins Best Foreign Language Film and beats French favourite A Prophet. Jeff Bridges is Best Actor for Crazy Heart.

Anyway this year's ceremony was all clichéed by the duel between ex-spouses Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and James Cameron (Avatar). The Hurt Locker wins Best Director, Best Picture, Best original Screenplay and Best Editing (plus the two awards for Sound). Avatar gets Best Art Direction, Cinematography and of course Visual Effects (« Seriously, if Avatar hadn't won this category, Jim Cameron could go home right now » writes Nikki!)

In December your humble servant wrote: « The video game industry makes more money than Hollywoodland. With Avatar it's as if you plunged into the cinematics of a VG and contemporary moviegoers love VGs (moviemakers too and sometimes too much). But is it still cinema? » Nikki Finke thinks Avatar "changed the way Hollywood makes movies" (

Yes, there will be more 3D films and even more franchises. Will the Smurfs movie or the film adaptation of Gilligan's Island be "3Dised"? I Can't wait.

Everything considered, methinks Academy voters did a rather balanced job this year. I was expecting a Blue Man Group concert, you know.

Friday, 5 March 2010


Broadcast reports that the BBC intends to redeploy £400m in content spend, in the wake of the "Putting Quality First" strategic review proposals.

The money will be freed up from axing programmes which don't fit five content priorities determined in the 79-page document: "The best journalism in the world", "Inspiring knowledge, music and culture", "Ambitious UK drama and comedy", "Outstanding children’s content" and "Events that bring communities and the nation together".

The Corporation refuses to identify which programmes could be axed. Property, food and makeover series are among the possibilities evoked.

Thursday, 4 March 2010


[14.30 - French Time] Broadcast reports that Carnival Films, owned by NBC Universal, is adding to the budgets for two major dramas the company is producing for ITV: Downton Abbey and series 2 of Whitechapel.

Described as a new Upstairs, Downstairs, Downton Abbey is set in an Edwardian country house in 1912 and portrays the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them. The 1 x 90-minute and 6 x 60-minute series is created and written by Oscar-winning writer and actor Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park). Downton Abbey stars Dame Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, Hugh Bonneville (Lost in Austen) and Elizabeth McGovern (

Ironically, the prestige drama is considered as ITV's answer to the BBC's upcoming revival of Upstairs, Downstairs ( - the original ran on ITV from 1971 to 1975. According to Broadcast, ITV is thought to be contributing about £700,000 an hour but Carnival is topping up the budget in order to push it to £1m per episode, based on estimated international sales for the period drama.

Carnival Films must also top up the budget for series 2 of ITV's three-part thriller hit Whitechapel (most-watched new British drama series for 2009) after ITV reduced it because of recession. Carnival's move is based on international sales for Whitechapel II, currently filming in East London to be aired this autumn. The shooting of Downton Abbey starts this month.

NBC Universal is very active in the British television industry, with Carnival Films (bought in 2008) and the newly created Working Title Television, the television division of Working Title Films - owned by the American media conglomerate. It will be interesting to watch the activities of both companies this year.


See also:


EXCLUSIVE: [9.10 - French Time] The five-day recording session of the French-speaking version of The End of Time 1 & 2, the Doctor Who special marking David Tennant's departure, ended this week in Brussels at the Belgian studios of Dubbing Brothers.

Belgian actor and dubbing artist David Manet told Ten's last lines under the direction of artistic director David Macaluso. Very appreciated by French-speaking Doctor Who fans, Manet was the voice of The Doctor since the Christopher Eccleston days.

Interestingly, David Tennant's first lines were actually told by Fred Haugness, who was very good but decision makers decided to keep David Manet for the first season with Tennant. And Manet succeeded brilliantly in making his dubbing acting evolving with the new star of the show.

In the beginning of new Doctor Who, French-speaking fans were more than unsatisfied with the dubbing, done in Belgium for financial motives. David Macaluso's efforts to convince those involved in the corporate decisions that Who is not an ordinary programme lead to a consulting work with your humble servant for series 3 (at Macaluso's initiative).

A new era has started with the specials and the arrival of two permanent authors for French dialogues, Chantal Bugalski and François Dubuc (who worked on The State Within). Only The Next Doctor, adapted by Dubuc, has been shown in France for the moment and fans were impressed by both the adaptation and the direction - with a special mention for the choice of David Morrissey's voice.

François Dubuc is the author of French dialogues for The End of Time 1 & 2 and therefore had the delicate task to write the first lines of Eleven, played by Matt Smith. And these lines were told on March 2 by experimented Belgian stage actor and dubbing artist Marc Weiss. Weiss, also theatre director, is one of the founders of Panach'Club, a theatre company ( - In French).

David Macaluso told us that the recording of David Manet's last lines was a moving moment. Some fans will regret Manet but Marc Weiss is truly an excellent choice for Matt Smith's Doctor.

En Français:

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


[14.55 - French Time] Beeb Director-general Mark Thompson unveiled today to his staff the BBC strategy review, "Putting Quality First". Thompson's proposals to the BBC Trust, the Corporation's governing body, arrive in a delicate political climate for the United Kingdom - with general election coming in a few months.

The proposals were actually leaked to The Times on Friday ( and widely commented, particularly the possibility that the BBC could cut its foreign acquisitions budget ( and the fate of digital radio station BBC 6 Music. Radio and Web are deeply impacted by the review.

Besides the BBC 6 Music situation and among the many measures in this 79-page document, Mark Thompson also recommends the closure of teen offerings BBC Switch (a radio/TV brand) and website Blast. Teen audience targets are de facto left to Channel 4 and other broadcasters, but there will be a big focus on children, with CBBC and CBeebies - both praised for the quality of their programmes.

On the fiction front, BBC One is meant to continue delivering "authentic popular drama" up to the Beeb's reputation of originality and excellence. But this commitment comes during a period where indie producers are complaining about BBC budget cuts. BBC Two will get an extra £25m to spend from 2013 with emphasis on "state-of-the-nation" drama and "riskier" comedy. BBC Three remains a sort of laboratory for innovative dramas.

BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm, will look to move away from physical media (such as magazines) in the UK, and to refocus its operations more internationally. BBCW will also ensure that two-thirds of revenues are generated outside the UK by 2015.

"Putting Quality First" is basically perceived by many British observers and commenters as the downsizing of a media behemoth and a political attempt to show the Conservative Party that the BBC doesn’t need government intervention to get its house in order.

See also:


[5.45 - French Time] Sir Ian McKellen will play Bond villain Auric Goldfinger in a new radio adaptation of Ian Fleming's Goldfinger for BBC Radio 4.

He'll star opposite Toby Stephens as James Bond and Rosamund Pike as Pussy Galore. Both Pike and Stephens were in the 2002 Bond movie Die another day.

Radio 4 recently aired an adaptation of Craig Murray's book Murder in Samarkand starring David Tennant (

Goldfinger will air on BBC Radio 4 on April 3.

See also:

Monday, 1 March 2010


Power outage this morning. We'll be back ASAP.

Thanks for your patience and your fidelity.