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Save Twickenham Film Studios

March 5th, 2012

(from Tales from the Cutting Room Floor):

News broke last week that justified my skepticism about the recent claim that we are in a golden era for British film – London’s Twickenham Film Studios has gone into administration and is up for sale. After 99 years making movies, it looks likely that it will be knocked down and the site redeveloped into luxury flats.  On hearing  this I was close to tears. Twickenham is the studio with which I have the longest relationship. I first worked there back in 1995 on a long-forgotten TV series called Frontiers, and I’ve had reason to pass through their gates pretty much every year since.  Apart from anything else they’ve done the sound mix  on three of my short films – and I want to return their kindness. At the end of this post I’m going to ask you to sign an online petition calling for a stay of execution.

We at Production Wizard are also urging you to sign the petition, Save Twickenham Film Studios.


Posted in: International - Film & TV news, WizzyLeaks

Elisabeth Murdoch earns seat on News Corp board

February 25th, 2011

Rupert Murdoch bought his daughter Elisabeth’s television production company Shine – makers of MasterChef and Merlin – for £415m on Monday, paving the way for her to take a place on the board of his News Corp media empire.

The deal had been widely anticipated and will enable Ms Murdoch to internationally expand the company she founded in 2001. Shine, which also makes The Tudors, has grown into one of the production powerhouses of the British television sector. As well as making their own television programmes, they also own a handful of other production companies within the UK, including Kudos Film & Television, Princess Productions and Dragonfly.

In 2009 The Shine Group reported revenues of £258m, with projected revenues of £400m in 2010.


Posted in: International - Film & TV news

CNN Snap Up Piers Morgan. The PMA Network At Summer Party.

July 16th, 2010

piersmorganThe former Daily Mirror editor, Piers Morgan, is reportedly poised to replace veteran talk show host Larry King on American news channel CNN. According to The Sun newspaper, Morgan has signed a £5.5m, four-year deal with CNN to replace King. This follows reports in the US media that NBC had agreed to share Morgan with CNN, clearing the way for negotiations to begin. Morgan is contracted to NBC as a judge on America’s Got Talent. CNN has been losing a ratings war with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and it is hoped that Morgan can gain ground on the competing news channel.

King, aged 76, announced his retirement last month and a host of rivals, many of them better recognised in America, were in the running to replace him on his nightly interview slot. They included American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and CBS News presenter Katie Couric. King was even reported saying he wouldn’t recognise Piers Morgan “if he saw him walking down the street”.

larrykingMorgan, 45, who recently celebrated his marriage to Daily Telegraph journalist Celia Walden, is believed to have impressed CNN executives with his bold and direct interviewing style. Talks were complicated by Morgan’s commitments to NBC. His NBC contract prevented him from taking on extra work that clashed with the show, but this has now reportedly been resolved.

Back in the UK, the BBC announced this week that Gwyneth Williams has been appointed controller of BBC Radio 4 and Radio 7. Ms Williams was, until recently, director of the BBC World Service’s English programming. She will replace Mark Damazer, who is moving on after six years to become head of St Peter’s College Oxford. Her most pressing issue is likely to be the succession process on the station’s biggest show, Today. BBC political editor, Nick Robinson, has been tipped for a permanent presenting role on the programme.

img_4409And finally, some of the industry’s leading production managers gathered on Wednesday evening in Notting Hill for the PMA (Production Manager’s Association) summer party. Sponsored by Production Wizard, the members made the most of what seems to be left of the English summer and were able to relax and converse over champagne and canapés.

The PMA provides invaluable information and support for its Members, regular social events, workshops and training courses. “Within the Film and Television Industry the Association provides a unique network for both freelance and permanently employed Production Managers.”

For photographs from the evening visit our News section and Facebook page:

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Posted in: International - Film & TV news, The Weekly Wizard

BSkyB buy Virgin Media Television

June 4th, 2010
Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation

It was confirmed today that the much-anticipated sale of the Virgin Media Television portfolio of channels to BSkyB has been agreed. The £160m deal will create a multichannel powerhouse, combining the likes of Living and Bravo with Sky 1.

Jeremy Darroch, BSkyB chief executive, called Virgin Media Television “an attractive investment opportunity which complements our existing content business and delivers strategic and financial benefits”.

Sky will pay £105m up front on completion of the deal, with the remainder to follow completion of the regulatory process. The acquisition will need to be cleared by competition regulators in the UK and Ireland, reports The Guardian suggest.

Content from Sky’s basic and premium channels and the VMTV services will be available through Virgin Media’s on-demand service. Virgin Media will also have access to Sky Sports’ red button interactive coverage and be able to deliver some Sky programming over the internet.

And in another story across town – focusing on media empires – Richard Desmond told BBC Radio 4 he wanted to expand his media empire and had £1bn to spend. These are some very deep pockets indeed. He said he was “definitely not” interested in buying the Mirror or the Daily Telegraph, but when asked if he would like to buy The Sun he replied: “Work it out for yourself.” The BBC’s Nick Cosgrove said of Desmond, “He is one of the most controversial newspaper barons Britain has ever produced.

Neil Berkett, chief executive of Virgin Media, said of the sale, “The sale of our channels business has generated substantial value. Together with the new commercial agreements we’ve announced today, it will allow us to focus more closely on our strategy of exploiting Virgin Media’s super-fast connectivity to offer our customers a range of the very best content through a highly versatile next generation entertainment application.”

So as the Murdochs increase their empire there could well be competition from Desmond, however Rupert Murdoch, who owns The Sun – the most popular newspaper in Britain – has given no sign that he wants to sell up.

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Posted in: International - Film & TV news, The Weekly Wizard

Hoffman Takes To Director’s Chair for British Comedy

May 28th, 2010
Dustin Hoffman

Hoffman on the BBC's Friday Night With Jonathan Ross

At The Cannes Film Festival the BBC announced that Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman will make his official directorial debut with a British comedy entitled Quartet. The film will star British acting legends Dame Maggie Smith and Albert Finney in a tale about ageing opera singers who are reunited, after a disagreement in their youth, in a retirement home. Written by Oscar-winner Ronald Harwood, the film will follow events that culminate in the one-off reunion concert of a once world-famous foursome of opera singers.

Although Hoffman is listed as an unaccredited director of 1978 film Straight Time, this is his first official foray into directing.

The BBC also announced plans for a film about Charles Dickens, an adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s book We Need to Talk About Kevin and a project from writer and director of In the Loop, Armando Iannucci.

Commenting on the line-up, BBC Films creative director Christine Langan said, “I’m really proud of the range, quality and diversity of our slate. These collaborations, alongside Vertigo’s Streetdance 3D represent our determination to deliver as eclectic, innovative and dynamic a mix as possible from established and brand new talent.”

Other projects include Three Sixty, from screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Deal, The Queen), which has been described as a “multi-stranded tale of love and sexual obsession”.

All thoroughly exciting and wonderful news for the BBC and British film industry.

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Posted in: International - Film & TV news, The Weekly Wizard, UK - Film news

Chaplin Celebration in Small Indian Village

April 23rd, 2010
The Chaplin fan club in Adipur

The Chaplin fan club in Adipur

As reported by the BBC, there was a celebration in India recently. A celebration in the small town in Gujarat to be precise, and those who attended were there to honour one, Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin. The Chaplin fan club in Adipur has more than 200 members and on Chaplin’s birthday (16th April) every year more than 100 people gather to celebrate the star’s birth.

Ashok Aswani launched The Chaplin fan club after watching Chaplin films. Celebrations began in April 1973 and have continued strongly ever since. “Scores of impersonators imitate the tramp’s bow-legged dance walk and waddle with mixed results,” says Soutik Biswas of the BBC.

The humour, and grief, shown by Chaplin on film has hit a chord with this small Indian town and Chaplin has gained hero status and worship with colourful celebrations and Indian song and dance in his honour. “The tramp is dead, long live the tramp,” cries Kishore Bhawsar, a 52-year-old bus conductor and fan club member who has composed a paean to his favourite actor.

Indian film, and the success of Bollywood cinema, is continually climbing and becoming more recognisable in the UK. British actor Ben Kingsley (played Gandhi in the 1982 biographical film), is soon to appear in his Bollywood debut, and the huge success of Slumdog Millionaire has shown a spotlight on Indian films and their stars. Kingsley is the latest foreign star to appear in a Bollywood movie, as the Hindi-language film industry seeks new audiences overseas and Hollywood increasingly looks for tie-ups with Indian studios.

The Australian filmmaker, Kathryn Millard, even made a documentary about the club in India. “When I set out to research a documentary about Chaplin imitators around the world, I had no idea that I would meet a very special community – perhaps Chaplin’s most devoted followers – in a small town in India,” says Ms Millard. She says whenever she shows the film; people ask her whether there is a way they could join the Charlie Circle: “I hope they may start accepting associate members from other countries!”

This story of remembrance and celebration of life in a small Indian town has clearly caught the hearts of those who witness the annual celebrations and with the release of Millard’s documentary more people will gain an insight into the Gujarat/Chaplin relationship. And that can only be a good thing.


Posted in: International - Film & TV news, The Weekly Wizard

The Bracelet

October 6th, 2009

Walkman BraceletNot really, directly associated with film and TV production, but so amazing I had to post this. If you thought the iPhone was cool you’ve seen nothing yet.

It’s Sony’s Walkman Bracelet, currently on show at Japan’s broadcast technology and gadget emporium, CEATEC.  Using OLED technology, it’s a bangle that does emails, pictures, music, and loads more.

Take a look.

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Posted in: International - Film & TV news

Single Lens 3D

October 6th, 2009

This week in Japan, birthplace of all things techno, sees the opening of CEATEC, the show for all things techno.

Sony single nens 3D cameraOne of the most important demos, will be of Sony’s 3D video camera which uses just one lens.  3D camera systems and rigs have appeared hugely over the past 12 months, all, quite naturally, have used some means of combining images from two lenses into one TV picture.  One lens for each eye, to create the depth of natural 3D.

Sony have gone one better, or maybe that should be gone one less, better.  Their prototype camera uses just one lens, eliminating the need for complicated mounts, rigs, focus and zoom calibrations etc.  The 3D is created by a complex arrangement of mirrors to split light from the lens, to be recorded by left and right sensors, and later viewed with polarised glasses.

Sony 3D CameraThe camera will also shoot up to 240 fps, making it ideal for sports and other application, requiring smooth 3D images of fast moving action.

3DTV truly seems set to become the next big thing as also at CEATEC, Panasonic, Sony and others, preview large 3D TV’s and 3D Blu Ray player, also from Panasonic.

Will we ever keep up??!!

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Posted in: International - Film & TV news

Beyond 3D

September 29th, 2009

Apple iGlassesWith 3D TV about to creep into our media rooms, the ever technology eclipsing Apple, have just been granted a patent for beyond 3D, (not its actual name!)

3D specs may never be the same again, as these aren’t just 3D specs, they’re individual video displays you wear on your eyes.  What might become known as the iGlasses, Apple have had these in development for three years and they’re now ready to move into the design labs.  The idea is that the glasses are fed with video via fibre optic cable from the laser unit carried elsewhere, so the specs are very light. Programming will come from your iPhone or iPod.

They will create a totally immersive TV experience great for movies and games, similar in idea to the early ‘virtual reality’ goggles and helmets, but high quality video and not as clunky.

When and if you’ll be able to buy these is unsure, as Apple patents many ideas which go into the design labs never to come out, but unlike 3D, this is less of a sequel, more a new genre.

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Posted in: International - Film & TV news

Execs Arrested For Bollywood Piracy

September 25th, 2009

priyanka chopraA major operation by the piracy division of Mumbai police has led to the arrests of six top level executives at leading Bollywood distribution and duplication companies.

In the smashing of a plot to pirate upcoming movie, ‘What’s My Rashee?’, (What’s My Star Sign?), starring Bollywood beauty, Priyanka Chopra, it was discovered that the master print of the movie was stolen from Adlabs, India’s largest digital processing facility and cinema chain,  and passed to bootleggers, along with a print of, Fast Forward, another unreleased movie.  It was also found that those arrested had pirated a further 11 movies over the past six months.

Adlabs processing manager, Durgadas Bhakta was arrested along with, Rajesh Chowdhry of UFO Moviez, Neeray Shah, overseas distribution manager for Big Cinemas, Kalapi Nagda of home video distributor, Shemaroo Entertainment and one other.

whats your rashee PoaterThe investigation and arrests were made under the, Maharashtra Prevention Of Dangerous Activities Act, recently established in Maharashtra state and which carries a penalty of one year in jail.

Ironically, Adlabs is the only lab in India which is recognised by the UK’s, Federation Against Copyright Theft, as piracy is huge in India, costing the industry up to $400m a year.

Clearly, you can’t trust anyone!

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Posted in: International - Film & TV news

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