Mediaweek Roundup: Seven Studios UK, Tokyo 2021, A-League + more

• Botica’s Bunch, Nine Perfect Strangers, The Crown, and NRL

Business of Media

Nine Entertainment CFO Paul Koppelman departs after 11 months

Nine Entertainment has announced that CFO Paul Koppelman has resigned for personal reasons including the recent death of a family member. The resignation is effective immediately. Graeme Cassells, currently group financial controller, will take on the role of acting CFO.

Paul Koppelman departs Nine after just 11 months in the role.

Chief executive Hugh Marks told Nine staff this morning Paul had asked him to share his reasons for departing with you saying: “My decision to stand down from my role at Nine is a deeply personal one and a time when I have had to put my family before my career. My wife suffered the loss of her much loved mother recently and she and my children need my total focus and love at this time, as we in Melbourne go back into severe COVID restrictions. These restrictions also meant I would be unable to attend results presentations and so the timing was made easier for us all.

“I have loved my time at Nine and it is a business I will continue to follow and enjoy from the outside, I wish Hugh and the team all the best and much success.”

Marks added: “We are sad to see Paul go but understand that he needs to put his family first. I want to take this opportunity to thank Paul for his contribution and support during his time with Nine and we have great confidence in Graeme stepping into the role as acting CFO.”

Nine will be releasing its FY20 result on 27 August. Subject to completion and auditing, at this stage, Nine is expecting to report Group EBITDA (pre Specific Items and post AASB16) in the range of $390m-$410m for its continuing businesses. Wholly owned net debt at 30 June, 2020 is expected to be c$300m.

Seven shrinks debt pile as Beyond takes over UK production business

Beyond International has expanded its international production capabilities to the UK by acquiring Seven Studios UK from Seven West Media. The selloff is the latest move from Seven that further reduces its debt.

The acquisition was facilitated through Beyond Entertainment Ltd, the company’s wholly-owned Irish subsidiary.

Beyond has also acquired the remaining 50.98% of the share capital of 7Beyond Media Rights Limited that it did not previously own from Seven Network, giving it 100% ownership of 7Beyond.

Both businesses will eventually be re-branded as Beyond Productions and will report into John Luscombe, Beyond Productions’ GM and EVP.

See also separate feature item today.

Radio

Perth radio duo celebrate a year since breakfast show relaunch

96FM’s Fred Botica and Lisa Shaw have celebrated the first anniversary of their return to Perth radio this week. The celebration was spurred on by regular contributor and former Fremantle Docker Matthew Pavlich who arrived in the studio with a bottle of champagne and three glasses.

The breakfast show Botica’s Bunch returned to Perth radio in July 2019 after new managing director Gary Roberts arrived at the station and convinced the team to reunite at the ARN-owned station.

“It’s been a year since you returned to radio after four long years apart,” said Pavlich. Pavlich then asked Lisa what it was like being back together as he popped the cork on the Perth breakfast show. “It’s great,” said Lisa as she dodged the cork flying across the studio.

Botica and Shaw have been on-air together since 1997, having earned their place as the most successful breakfast team in Perth radio history, together winning a record 100+ consecutive surveys in Perth.

Botica began his Perth radio career in 1986 to work with 96FM and Channel 7 Perth as their voiceover artist, and as the voice of the 96FM Skyshow in its bicentennial year.

Botica went on to lead Mix 94.5’s breakfast team to become Perth’s highest rating breakfast show with Botica’s Bunch, which he co-hosted with Shaw from the late 90s.

See also: 96FM back in the game: Gary Roberts shaking up Perth Radio

Television

Nicole Kidman and cast to quarantine here for new Liane Moriarty series

Welsh actor Luke Evans has revealed details of Hulu’s quarantine plans for the Australia shoot of limited series Nine Perfect Strangers, reports Variety.

“We all have to be quarantined in a hotel room,” said Evans in an interview for the July 14 episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast The Big Ticket.

“I can’t see anyone for two weeks. I have to be tested every other day. Everything is going to be delivered to my room and I have to stay in a room in Australia and not leave it for two weeks just so that we can then be free to go and shoot something,” said Evans.

According to COVID-safe guidelines published by the Australian Screen Production Industry, all arrivals in Australia are required to isolate in mandatory quarantine accommodation for 14 days, in the city of arrival. Regular testing is also advised both prior to and during the shoot.

Nine Perfect Strangers is based on the eponymous book by Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty. It takes place at a boutique health and wellness resort that promises healing and transformation as nine stressed city dwellers try to get on a path to a better way of living. But they have no idea what is about to hit them.

The cast also includes Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy and Manny Jacinto.

Kidman will executive produce in addition to starring, with Big Little Lies executive producer Bruna Papandrea and David E. Kelley. John Henry Butterworth and Kelley will also serve as co-writers and co-showrunners. Nine Perfect Strangers is produced by Made Up Stories and Kidman’s Blossom Films, with Endeavor also producing.

[Read more]

Netflix’s The Crown to run for six seasons after creator changes mind

Peter Morgan has changed his mind on bringing the curtain down on The Crown after five seasons, meaning that the Netflix show will now run for six seasons, reports Deadline.

Creator Morgan said: “As we started to discuss the storylines for Series 5, it soon became clear that in order to do justice to the richness and complexity of the story we should go back to the original plan and do six seasons. To be clear, Series 6 will not bring us any closer to present-day — it will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail.”

The change of heart comes just six months after Netflix announced that Season 5 will be the last. It means that the new Queen Elizabeth II, Imelda Staunton, will follow her predecessors in filming two series — as will Lesley Manville, who was last week confirmed as Princess Margaret.

Sources always said that Morgan would write six seasons, and this idea was further cemented when he signed an overall deal with Netflix last year. Furthermore, six seasons has long been Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos’ ambition for the Left Bank Pictures show.

[Read more]

Sports Media

IOC told only vaccine can save Tokyo 2021 as 12-month countdown nears

The International Olympic Committee is preparing to mark the 12-month countdown to a rescheduled Tokyo Games in the face of an escalating global coronavirus crisis, at the head of which is Olympic powerhouse and COVID-19 basket case the United States, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Phil Luton.

In a landmark decision in late March, the IOC postponed the Games for a year as lockdowns gripped competing nations, meaning athletes had little chance to train or prepare to compete on the grandest of stages.

While some nations have effectively dealt with the contagion, worldwide infections have only soared, leaving the IOC, Tokyo organisers and hopeful athletes in a nightmare scenario given the time invested and billions already spent on preparing the Japanese capital for the world’s biggest sporting event.

The IOC has already said another postponement would result in a cancellation, while leading Australian-based experts have said the only feasible way for the Games to be held on schedule would be contingent on the development and release of a vaccine.

[Read more]

NSW grants exemption to Vic teams as A-League chief faces uncertain future

Greg O’Rourke has accepted he faces an uncertain future as the head of the A-League after overseeing the bungled attempt to bring three Victorian clubs to NSW before the closure of the state borders and rejecting a request from one club to relocate last week report Dominic Bossi and Vince Rugari.

The A-League season will, however, be completed, with Football Federation Australia sources confirming to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Western United received official travel exemptions from the NSW government late on Thursday – enabling them to fly to Sydney once players and staff all return negative tests for COVID-19.

The last 27 games of the home-and-away season and the finals series will now certainly be played, although the planned fixture list is likely to be reijigged significantly.

It brings to a close an unedifying few days for the A-League, which was left embarrassed after failing to get the three clubs out of Victoria in time before the border to NSW was closed – even though the NRL, AFL, rugby union and even the V8 Supercars managed to move their teams without fuss.

With the exemption now granted, the three Victorian teams can travel to Sydney on Saturday, but will have to first undergo 14 days isolation in Sydney before playing any games. They will be able to train during that time.

[Read more]

‘Second-rate event’: V’landys unmoved by prospect of Sydney AFL grand final

Peter V’landys has welcomed the prospect of an AFL grand final in Sydney, cheekily suggesting the “best city in the world” has plenty of room for more “second-rate events”, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Vince Rugari.

The ARLC chairman was responding to remarks from Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, who said it would be V’landys’ “worst nightmare” if the AFL’s showpiece was moved into rugby league heartland.

With the MCG unlikely to be in a position to host a large crowd by the end of October, the state governments in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia have all expressed an interest in hosting the grand final, with debate raging in the AFL industry as to where it should go.

Speaking on Footy Classified, McGuire said an attendance of 75,000 at ANZ Stadium could bring in as much as $50 million for the AFL and described the league as the “talk of the town” in NSW and Queensland, which are currently hosting the 10 Victorian teams in hubs.

V’landys said McGuire was “just playing friendly rivalry” and that ongoing competition between the AFL and NRL would make both sports perform better.

“Him putting a couple of little jabs in… they’re only just minor jabs, we will look for the knockout punch,” V’landys told the Herald.

“I think the AFL is very, very fortunate to have someone like Eddie McGuire. He’s a personality. He has the sport in the headlines at all times.

“I love the way he tries to get under our skin, and I wish we had someone of a similar stature in rugby league. I don’t think the AFL people appreciate him as much as he should be because he’s always prepared to go out on a limb – you don’t have to agree or disagree with him but he’s certainly good for their sport.”

[Read more]

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