Thursday, 29 July 2010


[22.07 - French Time] Trailer of the live-action version of Yogi Bear, the animated TV classic from Hanna-Barbera.

If you think you've seen it all with Beverly Hills Chihuahua...

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

MAURY CHAYKIN (1949-2010)

[17.11 - French Time] Veteran actor Maury Chaykin died in Toronto early Tuesday, on his 61st birthday.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to a Canadian mother and an American father, Maury Chaykin studied drama at the State University of New York in Buffalo. He moved to Toronto to join the theatre scene in the mid-1970s and stayed in this city for the rest of his life. With more than 120 credits, Chaykin appeared in such movies as Dance With Wolves, Sommersby, My Cousin Vinny, The Mask of Zorro, The Art of War or A life less ordinary. He was also a familiar face of the work from film director Atom Egoyan.

On the TV side, Maury Chaykin will remain known for his definitive portrayal of heavyweight detective genius Nero Wolfe in the essential adaptations of Rex Stout's novels: The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2000) and A Nero Wolfe Mystery, the subsequent A&E series (2001-2002). Both co-starred Timothy Hutton as Wolfe's assistant Archie Goodwin.

Chaykin appeared in numerous TV series: La Femme Nikita, Due South, Stargate SG1, Entourage, etc. Since 2008 he co-starred in Canadian sitcom Less Than Kind. In an April interview for Canadian television, Maury Chaykin said he didn't consider "character actor" a negative label. He was one of those actors whose presence illuminates a movie or a television series and he will be missed.


[9.18 - French Time] ABC Entertainment group president Steve McPherson resigned yesterday. The programming exec is replaced by ABC Family President Paul Lee.

Prior to joining ABC Family in April 2004, British Paul Lee was CEO and founder of BBC America. Lee rebuilt ABC Family and must now rebuild the mothership network after a lousy year for its scripted series. A year epitomized by the predictable demise of high concept Lost wannabe FlashForward.

Things are not better for ABC's summer original shows like Scoundrels, an eight-episode dramedy based on Outrageous Fortune - a hit drama from New Zealand ( Not only remaking a cult Kiwi show already unsuccessfully remade twice is certainly not the best idea but Scoundrels's male lead Neal McDonough exited the show three days into the filming (

We'll see how this management shakeup impacts ABC's upcoming slate for 2010-2011. With its new shows like the hyped No Ordinary Family (which looks like a live-action The Incredibles meets Heroes), or a returning show like the struggling unnecessary remake of Kenneth Johnson's classic V.

Monday, 26 July 2010


The premiere of Sherlock, from Doctor Who alumni Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, was watched by more than 7 million viewers yesterday on BBC One. With such talented and prestigious masterminds this 21st century update of Sherlock Holmes was eagerly awaited since the project announcement - and as heavily promoted.

« One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small »
(Jefferson Airplane)

The 3 X 90-minute series from Steven Moffat's Hartswood Films for BBC Wales (with US pubcaster PBS's Masterpiece) is the most recent Sherlock Holmes adaptation after the actioner starring Robert Downey Jr. Arthur Conan Doyle's characters have been "regenerated" long before the word "reinvention" became a cliché: in 1976, Holmes met Freud in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) was a prototype of the Harry Potter movies. Anthony Higgins played a very "doctoresque" Sherlock in the TV pilot Sherlock Holmes returns (1993). And in Murder Rooms (2000-2001), Ian Richardson was Dr Joseph Bell, the man who partly inspired Doyle.

Moffat and Gatiss' Sherlock Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, has a website, sends texts and uses nicotine patches. Doctor John Watson (Martin Freeman) is an Afghanistan war veteran who has a blog and starts his collaboration with Holmes as a flatmate. MePhone, a smartphone service, is of a great help for them in the 21st century London and the duo is frequently mistaken for a gay couple.

Filmed in London and Cardiff, Sherlock uses the fast-motion busy London street shots standardized by Russell T. Davies for Who, plus a gimmick which quickly becomes annoying: on-screen text and graphics show phone messages and even Sherlock's deduction - morphing the scenes into a credit card ad. « I'm a consulting detective. I'm the only one in the world. I invented the job » says Holmes, but in a world where the same episodes of Monk or Diagnosis Murder are aired a gazillion times the line sounds surrealistic.

We assume that nobody will channel Jeremy Brett's quintessential portrayal of Sherlock Holmes (in the glorious Granada TV series), nevertheless Cumberbatch is excellent as the arrogant and thrill seeker techno-sleuth. Martin Freeman is pleasantly surprising as Watson, played with a great nuance and sensibility. The reliable Rupert Graves plays a likeable DI Lestrade, Una Stubbs is an ideal Mrs Hudson and co-creator Mark Gatiss is Colonel Black of Clone... er, someone important to Holmes.

Three years ago Steven Moffat wrote Jekyll, a genius modern take on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but Sherlock is the British answer to The Mentalist with a touch of Doctor Who. Why not? Contemporary US crime procedural exports like the CBS hit, Castle, the CSI franchise, or even a "medical procedural" like House, owe a big debt to Doyle's creations. The new Sherlock Holmes just "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow".

Plenty of crime procedurals are in the pipelines of British television these days. Crime pays, Moriarty must be a television industry executive.

Friday, 23 July 2010


[19.28 - French Time] Nellie Andreeva,'s TV editor, reports that British actress Indira Varma (Torchwood, Rome) will join the regular cast of Fox's Human Target for its second season.

She will play Ilsa (Ilsa!) a "sophisticated, sexy, driven and witty widow", a female counterpart to unorthodox and secretive bodyguard Christopher Chance (Mark Valley). Surprisingly renewed in spite of its low ratings and a limited interest, Human Target is adapted from a DC comic book by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino where Christopher Chance was a private eye/bodyguard. Chance literally endorsed the appearance and personality of his clients to protect them.

This is not the first TV adaptation of the comic. In the nineties the team behind The Flash tried for ABC with Rick Springfield as Christopher Chance. But even with the always credible Mark Valley (who served during the Gulf War) as its lead the 2010 version misses the essential: Christopher Chance no longer assumes the identity of his clients.

In the UK Indira Varma was recently on BBC One's Luther, where she was totally miscast. Maybe Human Target's producers wish to spice things up with the arrival of the talented actress.


[14.37 - French Time] Filming has begun on the seventh series of Hustle.

Original cast members Adrian Lester (Mickey 'Bricks' Stone), Robert Glenister (Ash Morgan) and Robert Vaughn (Albert Stroller) return. Kelly Adams and Matt Di Angelo, onboard since the fifth series of BBC One's hit show, are back too as brother and sister duo Emma and Sean Kennedy.

Series five brought Hustle back on tracks with brilliance after two awfully forgettable series and a pause of almost two years. Series six relocated the con artist drama to Birmingham in order to contain production costs and receive welcome subventions, thanks to a deal with Screen West Midlands. But what could have been narratively interesting became very quickly a weakness, the gang's playground remaining firmly set in London.

Some local taxpayers considered that the £400,000 invested for the relocation of Hustle did not contribute to the promotion of Birmingham and West Midlands ( To which a spokeswoman of Screen WM answered that Hustle would bring £1.2m into the region’s economy. This year Suzie Norton, CEO of Screen West Midlands, explains that Hustle's return means further employment opportunities for local crew and an extra boost for the local economy.

And series seven includes an episode set in Birmingham. But will it be enough to erase that "Monty Berman/ITC" feeling of the previous series and its shots of the Gherkin and Westminster almost screaming "Hey, we're in London". Six-episode Hustle series six clearly suffered from budget issues, with three hits, two misses and an average finale, for a show whose concept should remain the absolute antithesis to the idea of budget shortage.

Scriptwriter Chris Bucknall, who wrote an elegant Mission: Impossible caper episode last year, is back. Other episodes are written by Chris Lang, James Payne and of course Hustle supremo Tony Jordan. Hustle is a Kudos Film and Television production in association with Red Planet Pictures for the BBC (with the support of Screen WM).

In February we wrote: « Should Hustle series 7 be shot in South Africa that would even not surprise in these recession times ». Outcasts, a Kudos drama due to be aired by BBC One, is filmed there but Hustle stays in Birmingham (with some sequences shot in London). Budgets cuts unfortunately begin to show in recent BBC dramas.

Thursday, 22 July 2010


[12.27 - French Time] Broadcast's Lisa Campbell reports that the BBC is holding talks with Idris Elba's agent in the US about a second series of Luther.

However, the talented Idris Elba being a rightfully busy man in Hollywood, he would be back only in two specials if he's not available for a full 6 X 60-minute series. With Neil Cross (Spooks) as creator/writer and former The Wire star Elba as its lead, the BBC crime drama launched in May inspired the highest expectations. But the result was a succession of clichés and a waste of talent and time.

Campbell recalls that the first episode secured an audience of 5.76 million (24.2%) on BBC One and BBC HD in its 9pm slot but that the show lost viewers over the series, down to 4.18 million (18.5%) halfway through its run, and ended with 3.69 million (15.8%).

See also:

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


[14.56 - French Time] Ten weeks of principal photography have begun on supernatural drama The Oaks (working title), a new five-part series from ITV Studios.

Mentioned in March as one of the three shows which will replace The Bill on ITV1, The Oaks is the British remake of a 2008 unpicked pilot developed for American network Fox. It follows three different families living in the same house in the 1960’s, 1980’s and present day. These families are linked by the spirit of the 1960’s family’s daughter, who died in mysterious circumstances.

The Oaks 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, written by David Schulner, featured British actress Sienna Guillory and a pre-Glee Matthew Morrison. This new drama is the first commission to come from the collaboration between ITV Studios and Fox and is written by Stephen Greenhorn.

Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, ER) and Jodie Whittaker star alongside Dean Andrews (Ashes to Ashes), Shelley Conn, Elliot Cowan, Denis Lawson, etc. Kate Bartlett, Kate Lewis and Stephen Greenhorn exec produce and Chrissy Skinns produces. The 5 x 60 min series is directed by James Kent and filmed on location around London.

See also:

Sunday, 18 July 2010


[13.37 - French Time] Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's update (enough with that "reimagining" thing) of Sherlock Holmes arrives next sunday on BBC One.

Last February we asked if Sherlock would be the British answer to Monk and The Mentalist with a zest of Doctor Who. Digital Spy has a teaser trailer of the series premiere and The Guardian has an article including a Mark Gatiss interview.

See also:

Thursday, 15 July 2010


[18.22 - French Time] Deadline New York's Mike Fleming reports that novelist Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009), has been hired to script of the incoming Dark Shadows movie adaptation of the 60s daytime serial directed by Tim Burton and starring (who else?) Johnny Depp.

Originally an atypical gothic soap opera - imagine Y&R with vampires, werewolves or ghosts - Dark Shadows (1966-1971) was created and produced by Dan Curtis. This ABC daytime drama was centered around the wealthy Collins family (living in their Collinwood mansion) and its most popular character was vampire Barnabas Collins, played by Canadian actor Jonathan Frid.

The soap jumped to the big screen with two MGM movies: House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971). In 1991, NBC and Dan Curtis tried to revive Dark Shadows with Brit actor Ben Cross as Collins - but the primetime show didn't last more than 12 episodes. In 2004, the then-WB network ordered a pilot for a new and younger Dark Shadows but the show was never picked up.

The Tim Burton movie, starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas, is due to begin production in January 2011. Depp’s company Infinitum Nihil and GK Films are producing for Warner Bros. John August (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) was the first scriptwriter to work on the project.

And unfortunately we still cannot imagine Depp as Barnabas Collins.

See also:


[6.05 - French Time] Sky goes on investing in original quality drama content with Sky1's second Martina Cole adaptation, The Runaway, which will air next year.

Following the success of The Take, The Runaway is based on the bestselling author's 1997 novel. It follows young runaway Cathy Connor as she is adopted by Desrae, a transvestite, and reunited with her childhood sweetheart Eamonn. Chosen during her second year at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Joanna Vanderham makes her professional acting debut as Cathy.

Scottish actor Alan Cumming (The Good Wife) takes his first British television role in 15 years as Desrae and Jack O'Connell (Skins, Harry Brown) is Eamonn. The Runaway also stars Max Irons, Burn Gorman (Torchwood), Ken Stott and Keith Allen.

Like Martina Cole's The Take, The Runaway is produced by Company Pictures - whose magnificent The Silence airs this week on BBC One - and Warner Sisters. The 6 X 60-minute drama is adapted by Allan Cubitt and directed by David Richards. Filming is currently underway in South Africa where 1960s Soho has been recreated.

See also:

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


This weekend BBC Two will celebrate BBC Films, the feature filmmaking arm of the Beeb, by screening three television premieres of movies from this company.

A special weekend starting on Saturday 17 July will see BBC Two broadcast the UK TV premieres of Is Anybody There? (2008), Eastern Promises (2007) and The Damned United (2009). This marks the official launch of BBC Two as the new principal home for BBC Films.

- David Cronenberg's highly acclaimed thriller Eastern Promises is a tale from the dark underworld of London's Russian mob, starring Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts. In March, Deadline London's editor Tim Adler reported that a sequel is in the pipeline (

- Is Anybody There? is a bittersweet tale of an unusual friendship: Seaside England in the 80's, a young boy living in the retirement home run by his parents discovers that Clarence (Michael Caine), the latest resident, is a retired magician (

- The Damned United tells the story of Brian Clough's legendary 44 days stint as manager of Leeds United, starring Michael Sheen as Clough, Timothy Spall as Peter Taylor, and Colm Meaney as archrival, Don Revie. About Brian Clough we recommend you Clough, the magnificent ITV Sport documentary ( .

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


[15.12 - French Time] Former "Spook" Rupert Penry Jones returns to BBC One for a new six-part legal drama series from Criminal Justice creator Peter Moffat, a former barrister.

Co-starring Criminal Justice 2's Maxine Peake, Silk will follow two young defence barristers applying for "silk" – the chance to become QCs (Queen's Counsels) with the attendant silken robes.

The filming of this new drama starts this month.


[July 12, 22.49 - French Time] Genevieve Barr in a brilliant performance. And leaving Primeval is the best thing that could happen to Douglas Henshall, who adds another gem in his resume after the beautiful Collision.

[July 13] Eighteen-year-old Amelia Edwards (Genevieve Barr) has recently been fitted with a cochlear implant, enabling her to hear, and she's undergoing intensive speech therapy to learn to hear for the first time. She breaks free from her protective parents (Gina McKee and Hugh Bonneville) and stays with her party-loving cousins, homicide detective uncle, Jim (Douglas Henshall) and aunt, Maggie (Dervla Kirwan).

Amelia struggles both to accept that she has a place in the hearing world and to live a teenager life. But when she witnesses the hit and run murder of a policewoman her options brutally narrow. Things get even more complicated when she identifies a police officer as one of the killers and must tell what she saw to her uncle, who investigates the case. The situation puts her life in danger and jeopardizes the family as Jim's job in the force could be in the balance.

The Silence is a 4 X 60-minute drama "stripped" this week on BBC One from Monday to Thursday. Directed by Dearbhla Walsh (The Tudors), it's the first British project for Australian writer Fiona Seres. The series, produced by Company Pictures (Shameless), is set in Bristol but was actually filmed in Dublin with former Primeval star Douglas Henshall as another hard-working copper torn between his case and his personal life - after ITV1's Collision.

Henshall leads a stellar cast but the shiniest star of The Silence is 23-year old Genevieve Barr in her first major role, where she shows a promising talent. Born severely deaf in both ears, Barr had to learn to sign for the role and couldn't wear her hearing aids on set because she had to wear the prop cochlear implant of her character. She got the role while she was on the Teach First scheme, teaching in a challenging inner London secondary school.

If the premise is far from original, the premiere is interesting enough to want more and Genevieve Barr is a stunning revelation. Her duo with the always reliable Douglas Henshall recalls the character tandem of ITV's three-part drama Murderland (starring Robbie Coltrane). The script is sensitive and the direction clever. The only reserve for now comes from the format as the idea to strip a drama on four or five consecutive nights becomes more a scheduling gimmick than an event and weighs on the content.

Sunday, 11 July 2010


[21.47 - French Time] Masked Scheduler is an anonymous TV industry insider who muses on network television business in a blog called... Masked Scheduler, always read with the highest interest.

We know that he's a scheduling exec at Fox and that he worked for NBC. Today he tells us that this weekend he watched the pilot of The Event ("with the entire masked family"). The Event is a conspiracy thriller drama which starts this fall on NBC, another "high concept show" because the predictable demise of FlashForward on ABC didn't vaccine the Peacock.

And judging from the trailer the network absolutely didn't need Jack Bauer's antics. « All I'm going to say is we never learn. This really is a funny funny business, » concludes Masked Scheduler in his today's blog.

Friday, 9 July 2010


[18.39 - French Time] The excellent Tim Adler, editor of Deadline London (the UK operation of Nikki Finke's, reports that Gillian Anderson will play opposite Rowan Atkinson in the sequel of Johnny English.

According to Tim, the former X Files star will be agent Pamela Head in Johnny English Reborn. The character of the hapless incompetent British spy played by Atkinson originated in a series of ads for Barclaycard made by the BMP DDP advertising agency in the nineties. But in the 17 ads of the six-year series the agent's name was "Richard Latham". And his partner, Bough, was played by Henry Naylor.

The first Johnny English (2003), directed by Peter Howitt, grossed a total $161 million theatrically worldwide and only cost $40 million to make. This James Bond parody was co-written by two 007 scribes, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, with William Davies. In June Deadline London reported that Daniel Kaluuya would play Rowan Atkinson’s fellow secret agent in the sequel.

Johnny English Reborn is due to begin filming in September. Unfortunately it seems that comedian/actor Ben Miller (Primeval), who played Bough in the original movie, will not return. (Barclaycard ad)


[14.33 - French Time] The BBC has announced that Sherlock, the "reimagining" of Sherlock Holmes by Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat and actor, screenwriter and novelist Mark Gatiss, will be aired during Week 30 (24-30 July).
Benedict Cumberbatch is Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman is John Watson in this 3 X 90-minute series produced by Moffat's Hartswood Films for BBC Wales. Beryl Vertue, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss exec produce. Piers Wenger is executive producer for the BBC and Sue Vertue (Steven Moffat's wife) produces.

Last May, Broadcast revealed that the Beeb dumped all the footage from the original 60-minute version of Sherlock (which costed an estimated £800,000) after deciding to turn the drama into a 3 x 90-minute series. Footage couldn't be re-used because of the story arc, the complexity of the script and the introduction of new characters, explained an insider to the website. To which a BBC spokeswoman said the original commission was always intended as a pilot.

Anyway it can always make a nice DVD bonus. We'll see to what extent Sherlock is affected by the budget cuts which weighed on Hustle, Spooks or even Doctor Who's fifth series. And if Steven Moffat's contribution to this reinvention of Arthur Conan Doyle's characters matches the genius of his work on Jekyll.


[Updated][10.46 - French Time] Digital Spy, quoting The Daily Record, writes that ITV has reportedly ordered a fifth series of Lewis (Inspector Lewis in the US).

The detective drama, a sequel to Inspector Morse produced by ITV Studios, stars Kevin Whately in the title role and Laurence Fox.

Whately's Robbie Lewis started his TV career in 1987, as the sidekick of Morse, played by John Thaw. The two characters were created by Colin Dexter for his Inspector Morse novel series.

Update (13.45 - French Time): ITV commissioning team confirms that four new episodes will go into production this month (

Monday, 5 July 2010


[22.07 - French Time] ITV1's Identity is another British answer to the tiresome overdose of US network police procedurals after the terrible Luther on BBC One two months ago. And this is Keeley Hawes's first post-Ashes to Ashes drama series.

Identity, a six-part detective drama, is about a London elite police unit formed to combat the explosion of identity-related crimes. The Identity Unit's founder and boss is DSI Martha Lawson (Hawes). Lawson is forced to hire DI John Bloom (Aidan Gillen), an irreverent and secretive former undercover cop.

In the premiere they investigate the case of an ex-Iraq serviceman framed from an hit and run he didn't commit and apparently the man is victim of a methodical identity fraud. Like Luther's lead, Identity's male star was in The Wire - the Everest of originality according to some elitist TV buffs. Like Idris Elba, Aidan Gillen is a maverick cop with a shadowy side but at least DI Bloom can behave and doesn't break things.

This series created by Ed Whitmore (Waking the Dead) is an attempt to follow the wake of CBS's crime franchises CSI or Criminal Minds but with the visual feel of Kudos's Spooks. Of course the fact that Keeley Hawes was herself a "Spook" before meeting Gene Hunt in purgatory and the double life of John Bloom strengthen the impression that DSI Lawson will have a meeting in Freemasons'Hall. So you can't confuse Hawes's character with Alex Drake.

Credit must be given to producer Lachlan MacKinnon, Australian director Brendan Maher and Swedish director of photography Jan Jonaeus for filming in London, with all the constraints that this choice can imply - particularly in these days of budget cuts. But the premiere is another average cop drama and the characters, with the exception of Bloom at the end, are nothing more than their jobs. Better than Luther, though.

Identity is an ITV Studios production for ITV1.


[17.16 - French Time] BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, published today its Annual Review for 2009/10.

BBCW reported operating profits up 36.5% to £145.2m and record revenue of £1.07bn, helped by strong performances from its international TV channel business, its brands including as usual Top Gear and Doctor Who, and DVD sales.

A strong overseas format business helped sales from Content & Production increase by 10.7% and profits increase by 4.8%, with titles like Dancing with the Stars, the international version of Strictly Come Dancing. DWTS entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful reality television format

2entertain, the DVD distributor fully owned by BBC Worldwide since March, contributed £38.2m in profit of Worldwide's Home Entertainment (DVDs, audio and music content). Top-selling titles in the United Kingdom for 2009/10 were Sir David Attenborough’s Life, both Gavin & Stacey's third series and its complete collection, Only Fools and Horses - The Complete Collection and Clarkson Duel.

BBC Worldwide's top five programme brands around the world were Top Gear, Life, Planet Earth, Being Erica and Doctor Who.