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TV Talents Out The Door

January 29th, 2010

1So Simon Cowell is leaving American Idol, Jonathan Ross is leaving the BBC, Conan O’Brien is set to leave NBC and Archie Mitchell was killed off from Eastenders – so therefore left little choice. I mean, where are we going to find people who want to be on television?

Amid intense speculation over his next career move and Jay Leno’s widely criticized return to late night, O’Brien stepped down as host of The Tonight Show to his biggest audience ever. The final episode attracted 10.3 million viewers, with final guests including some actor named Tom Hanks and a curly, ginger comedian apparently called Will Ferell.

Cowell inked a deal with Fox earlier this month that will end his American Idol judging role. “We reached an agreement formally at about half past 10 this morning,” said Cowell, who confirmed his new deal in front of reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour on Monday, Daily Variety reported.

Wossy announced he was leaving the BBC after 13 years working for the corporation. As the BBC’s highest paid star (by some distance), he said in a statement that he had decided not to renegotiate his contract. The presenter added his decision to leave was not “financially motivated”.indianidol

Apparently, both Britain and America have new talent though, or so Cowell, Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden, David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel (it’s okay, I’ve never heard of him either) keep trying to tell us.

Of course, when one door closes another one opens, and just because such TV powers are moving on does not mean we’re left empty handed, lacking sufficient prime-time personalities and missing pizzazz. There’s baggy entertainment whose sole purpose it is to both find new talent and to exploit those who were once famous (or at least to have supposed to be. It all depends on whether you read Heat magazine or receive daily alerts about wags and Z Listers). Big Brother, All American Girl, I’m A Celebrity, Fear Factor, The Amazing Race, Survivor, all create entertainment, albeit in a very different manner than the TV judge or talk show host. There’s even Indian Idol now, already in its fourth season.

So, while the big earners are moving on to pastures new (personally I’d opt for an early retirement), there’ll always be those trying to discover new talent. Uncovering individuals, who, may never have long and successful careers at the worlds leading networks, but in the search, will create light entertainment for the millions who will watch it. Fame and celebrity is constantly being stumbled upon, but very little of it is truly sustained.

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A Champion of Independent Production Companies

January 22nd, 2010

Andrew Zein

Andrew Zein

Andrew Zein is to quit as managing director of Tiger Aspect after 13 years to join Warner Bros International Television Distribution’s new London-based production unit. Reports suggest that Zein is planning to buy many of the UK’s leading indies with the aim to remake British versions of successful US shows.

The Guardian state that Zein, “Will join Warner Bros as senior vice president, creative, format development and sales, in the company’s recently formed international television production unit.”

Zein has been given the task of consulting Warner Bros’ back catalogue for formats that can be reversioned for the UK market. It will be looking to mirror the success of NBC’s Law and Order, which has been remade by Kudos for ITV1.

Zein became managing director of Tiger Aspect in 2001, working closely with Chairman Peter Bennett Jones, and overseeing the launch of television hits such as, The Catherine Tate Show and children’s show, Charlie and Lola.

As a former Chairman and vice Chairman of the UK’s Producers Alliance of Cinema and Television (PACT), Zein has successfully fought hard for independent production companies to receive a greater share of the proceeds from their shows.

Tiger was recently bought from entertainment giant IMG by Endemol, along with factual specialist producers Darlow Smithson.

Commenting on his new position, Zein said, “My role is to make sure Warner Bros is making the most of all the intellectual property it’s got. The Warner catalogue has formats in there that we hope to reversion for foreign markets – not just in the UK. The brief is more international than that.”

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BBC3 Call in Hollywood Actress, but what have India done to deserve this?

January 15th, 2010

1211_lindsay_lohan_india_4190513_fame_exc1Hollywood actress and troubled starlet, Lindsay Lohan, will investigate child trafficking in India for a BBC3 documentary (the designing intelligence that gave us Freaky Eaters, My Man Boobs and Me, and Fuck Off, I’m Fat). And no, this is not a dippy film script or Paris Hilton-style reality TV show. It’s serious stuff dontcha know. Lindsay Lohan in India will follow Lohan as she meets children forced into sweat shops and prostitution, as well as former traffickers.

In December, the 23-year-old actress spent a week in India where, according to the BBC <http://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/comingup/lindsay-lohan-in-india/> , she visited “a shelter where young girls promised domestic work for India’s burgeoning middle classes were trafficked into brothels and forced into prostitution.”

The actress also took to Twitter while abroad to share one of her “lifelong dreams” with her followers.

“Over 40 children saved so far… Within one day’s work… This is what life is about… Doing THIS is a life worth living!!!” she tweeted December 9th. “Focusing on celebrities and lies is so disconcerting, when we can be changing the world one child at a time…. hope everyone can see that.” We see that Lindsay. Why would anyone focus on celebrities, write about their travels around the world – their interest in child trafficking and prostitution – and then perhaps, lets’ say, air it on television?

Blakeway Productions (part of the 3BM Television and Ten Alps TV group) will produce the documentary as part of BBC3’s new line-up of factual and current affairs programmes.

To watch the BBC3 trailer for Lindsay Lohan in India: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pg2t1LABdU

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Wossy’s Gone: Are multi-million pound TV contracts a thing of the past?

January 8th, 2010
Jonathan Ross: a colourful personality.

Jonathan Ross: a colourful personality.

So, Jonathan Ross is set to leave the BBC. We’ll miss him. Despite his loquacious manner and entertaining wit, his last four years at the Beeb have been notable for the array of infantile pranks and borderline crude interviews. As The Daily Mail comments, “in his manner of leaving at least, he has finally attained a degree of dignity.” Ross’s announcement that he had decided not to renegotiate his contract with the BBC was uncharacteristically measured and composed.

In truth, although the BBC will probably claim to be sad to lose their highest-earning star, there are likely to be “a few executives not too bothered about losing a man whose waywardness and multi-million-pound contract had become an embarrassment.”

Days before the confirmation of his departure, sources reported that Ross was concerned by the prospect of having his yearly pay slashed by £3million. True or not, he was the BBC’s highest earner and many at the BBC were said to have cheered on hearing the news of his decision not to renew his contract. Perhaps there is now a new pot of money available to fund new talent, dramas, comedies and documentaries?

Outside his London home, Ross told reporters he “would have liked” to stay at the BBC. He continued, “It has been a great 13 years at the BBC. I think it’s not a bad time for me to move on. It’s possibly not a bad time for them either.”

Though £18 million, three-year contracts for TV personalities are now firmly in the past, what we got from Ross was brash with a cutting humour and a wonderful talent. But is that deserving of the taxpayer’s money and £18 million? There is an argument to spend the money on discovering new talent, yet, does money equal talent? Is there even a necessity for talent on television? Reality TV leads the way in the ratings and Z list celebrities (if we can still call them that) actually make their living from such reality dramas. If Ross was host for Channel 4’s Big Brother and then moved on, would the show still draw in the millions, watching, gasping and cringing? Presumably, yes?

Life after Ross then is likely to be business as usual, musical chairs as Norton, Kermode and even Evans step forward to host the chat shows, radio programmes and film reviews. And perhaps Ross will still grace the screens to present the odd BAFTA or even Children in Need? Whether the BBC will see fit to grant a similar sized contract in this age of austerity is doubtful.

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