Join us, Insiders, for another look through the busy world of film and TV. Jesse Whittock from the TV team here taking you into the weekend.
‘All Quiet’ Makes Noise At BAFTAs
Record-tying tally:Over to Zac Ntim, who was on hand as the BAFTA Film Awards nominations rolled in yesterday… Awards season is in full flow, and BAFTA unveiled an uncharacteristically fresh and forward-looking list of nominations for its 76th Film Awards on Thursday. Netflix’s German-language World War I drama All Quiet on the Western Frontleads the way with 14 nominations, including for Best Film, Director, and Adapted Screenplay. All Quiet’s haul equals the previous record set by Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for the most nominations for a non-English language film in BAFTA history. All Quiet also clocked the most BAFTA noms for an individual film since The King’s Speech in 2011, which had 14. Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees Of Inisherin and A24’s buzzy Everything Everywhere All at Once trail with 10 noms each. Other leading films include Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, which nabbed nine nominations, and Tár with five nods.
The Failmans: The standout snub was Steven Spielberg’s latest, The Fabelmans, which failed to harness its stateside awards momentum following Best Director and Best Picture Golden Globes wins, only clocking one BAFTA nom in Best Screenplay. Overall, past award heavyweights feature less. Iñárritu’s Bardo, for instance, is entirely absent after being longlisted for Best Film Not in the English Language, and James Cameron’s Avatar sequel only clocked two craft noms. For context, the first Avatar received eight noms. Instead, first-time nominees feature heavily across the board, with 14 of the 24 performance nominees receiving their first BAFTA nomination. Diverse talent also fared well in the acting categories, with Viola Davis nominated for Leading Actress for The Woman King alongside Danielle Deadwyler (Till) and Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once ). In the past, BAFTA’s acting noms have been the subject of controversy due to a lack of racial diversity, but BAFTA’s new CEO Jane Millichip said structural changes made to the Body’s voting rules have helped to promote “more diversity and breadth in the films” watched and nominated by BAFTA members. You can read the full interview with Millichip and BAFTA Executive Director Emma Baehr here.
Clarkson’s Bad Week
Amazon primed for break-up: “Incandescent” was how Jeremy Clarkson described his employer Amazon’s reaction to his infamous Sun column professing his hatred for Meghan Markle, which is now Britain’s most complained-about newspaper article of all time. You’d assume so, too. The streamer has been in business with Clarkson since 2015 but has so far publicly kept schtum over its response to the article. However, on Monday it emerged that Prime Video was likely to end the relationship once the upcoming seasons of The Grand Tour and Clarkson’s Farm air in 2024/25. The development came at almost exactly the same time Clarkson posted a lengthy “mea culpa with bells on” apology on Instagram for the article that some might feel came a little too late. “I really am sorry. All the way from the balls of my feet to the follicles on my head. This is me putting my hands up,” he wrote. Clarkson revealed he had apologized to Markle and her husband Prince Harry over Christmas, but this was refuted by the Sussexes. Their spokesperson said the email was addressed only to Harry and claimed Clarkson should address “his long standing pattern of writing articles that spread hate, dangerous conspiracy theories and misogyny.”
In flux: Confusion still remains over Amazon Studios’ plans. We have sources who say the streamer and Clarkson had already planned to call time when the current contract ends but with Clarkson’s Farm performing so well, a re-up could well have been in the pipeline. The situation remains in flux – sources close to Clarkson and at Grand Tour and Clarkson’s Farm maker Expectation are bemused by the reports of his cancellation and production is continuing.
Big decision for ITV: The pressure is also ramping up for ITV to take action, as Clarkson has presented the broadcaster’s prime-time game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? since 2018. After the column published in December, ITV content chief Kevin Lygo called the article “awful” but had stopped short of taking any meaningful action. However, ITV is in a similar situation to Amazon, with Clarkson’s current contract set to expire after filming the upcoming 39th season. That has led to increased pressure for ITV to drop Clarkson and Deadline’s revelation of a letter sent by CEO Carolyn McCall to a British MP saying there “is no place” for his comments on her channel has only added to the urgency. Was Clarkson not a big draw, you might not have seen such a publicly low-fi response to his misdemeanor, but The Grand Tour, Clarkson’s Farm and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? are bonafide hits, thanks in no small part to his legions of fans. The Clarkson Twittersphere is an ultra-toxic place right now, the latest battleground in the exhausting, never-ending global culture wars. More to come on this, for sure.
Italy Platforms Spacey
Back in the public eye: Next, to Mel Goodfellow in Italy… Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey returned to the public eye this week for a special – and controversial – honorary event organized by Italy’s National Cinema Museum in the northern Italian city of Turin. The event marked the star’s biggest public appearance in five years, since a string of sexual misconduct accusations in 2017 derailed his career. It took place just three days after he pleaded not guilty to a London courtroom via video-link to seven fresh charges of sexual assault. The actor landed in Turin with his manager Evan Lowenstein and an entourage of close friends and acquaintances. He praised the museum for having “the balls” to invite him as he accepted its Stella della Mole life-achievement award and also heaped praise on Lowenstein for steering him through difficult times. The actor then participated in Q&A style masterclass, regaling the audience with anecdotes from career highlights such as The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential, Seven, American Beauty and House of Cards.
“The presumption of innocence”: Spacey’s celebration raised eyebrows in the U.S. and the UK but was largely viewed as a success in Italy. Well-wishers flocked to the event, a special screening of American Beauty was sold-out and there was barely a whiff of controversy around the politics of his visit in Italian media. Museum director Domenico De Gaetano told Deadline that the invitation to Spacey had been made after the actor was found not liable last October in a $40M civil lawsuit brought by actor Anthony Rapp. “In Italy, we believe in the principle of the presumption of innocence. When the trial ended in New York and he was cleared, even if there were potentially other trials down the line, he was innocent,” he said. “I knew there might be some pushback and controversy, but this didn’t concern me. I was interested in cinema and Spacey as an actor. His personal life, especially given the fact he had just been absolved, was not of interest to us.” Spacey is still facing a sexual assault trial in the UK on 12 separate counts.
Fremantle’s $270M Bet
“On a mad one”: Jake and I went deep dive on American Idol maker Fremantle earlier this week, speaking to its top bosses and numerous sources about how the company fired up the M&A market by spending upwards of €250M ($270M) on 11 deals in less than two years. While some have been surprised by the strategy and the considerable financial outlay – “they’ve gone on a mad one,” was how one source put it – there’s a sense Fremantle might have made the right choices. Rivals are grudgingly accepting deals for the likes of Normal People maker Element Pictures and The Elon Musk Show producer 72 Films mean it’s “buying good talent,” even if there’s a premium being paid. Fremantle’s parent RTL set the production giant a revenue target of €3B by 2025, an increase of €1B. It’s a lofty goal, but Fremantle CEO Jennifer Mullin says the company is on course to achieve it. The spending hasn’t yet stopped, with Latin America and India next in the crosshairs. But whatever the future holds, RTL and its parent Bertelsmann say there’s no chance of a company sale, amid ongoing speculation. For more on that, and a lot more on this century-old production and distribution giant, read on.
Netanyahu Targets Israeli Creatives
“Worrying development”: Back to Mel for this report… Veteran Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power last December as the head of a hard-right coalition government, uniting religious and nationalist parties. Billed as Israel’s most right-wing government in the country’s near-75-year history, it has already started flexing its muscles in areas such as law and culture. Newly appointed Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar fired a first salvo this week against the country’s traditionally left-leaning film community when he threatened to remove clawback state funding from Israeli filmmaker David Wachsmann’s award-winning documentary Two Kids a Day . The work probes the country’s detention of Palestinian children in the West Bank. Zohar accused the film of painting Israeli soldiers in a bad light and said that under his watch the state would no longer fund documentaries critical of Israel or its army. “It is permissible to make any films you want within the law, but we don’t have to finance them,” he said. Israel has a strong tradition of filmmakers holding their government to account. Producer Yoav Roeh said the threat was a worrying development for freedom of expression and creativity in Israel. “Filmmakers will be afraid to spend state funds on films if the government can take it back after they’re completed, which will result in self-censorship,” he said.
🌶️ Hot One: HBO, The BBC and A24 are joining forces to adapt Yomi Adegoke’s The List for TV, as Max revealed.
🌶️ Another One: The Neverending Story scribe Michael Ende’s big-canvas novel Momo is getting the big-screen treatment. Andreas with this banger.
🌶️ And another One: Cristo Fernandez wrapped shooting on Mexican feature Sisters. Rosy Cordero had the scoop and a trailer.
🌡️ Mercury still rising: Cameras are rolling on Amy Winehouse biopic Back to Black. Justin Kroll had the update first.
🥵 Even Hotter still: Netflix is kicking on with a doc feature about the dramatic Euro 2020 final between England and Italy. A Max scoop.
🔥 Fireball: More Netflix news — Geek Girl will be its next young adult drama series, as per Jake’s story.
👩🏻💼 New job: For agent Rosalie Cimino, who became MD of Anonymous Federation.
🚪 Exit #1: Michael Porseryd is departing Nordic powerhouse SF Studios.
🚪 Exit #2: Fatima Salaria, leaving Fremantle label Naked after three years.
🚪 Exit #3: Antony Root is hanging up his commissioning clipboard and retiring from Warner Bros Discovery’s European originals unit.
💸 Well received: Warner Bros Discovery UK and Ireland is giving lower paid staff a £1,000 ($1,200) payment to ease the cost of living crisis. I broke this one.
😬 Sorry: The BBC apologized for muted attempts to challenge the views of a vaccine skeptic it platformed on a news program. Jake with this.
🇫🇷 Gallic style: Deals got done following last week’s French TV Screenings.
🗣️ Interview: Asia editor Liz Shackleton sat down with Disney APAC content chief Carol Choi for an exclusive chat.
👀 First look: France’s Déborah Lukumuena makes her English-language debut in Adura Onashile’s Sundance title Girl. Mel was first with it.
❌-rated: The BBC’s Wolves v Liverpool pre-match coverage was interrupted by a saucy prank that left everyone with red faces.
And finally… a goodbye to Piers Haggard, the British director and industry campaigner who passed away aged 83.