Roundup: Judith Neilson, Fremantle names CEO Global Drama, Channel 4, Apple TV+

Roundup: Judith Neilson

Australian TV’s Joan Sydney and Cary Young pass away, ATO influencer industry crackdown, TikTok to license IMDb data

Business of Media

Neilson has $72m more to spend on journalism, but not like before

Billionaire philanthropist Judith Neilson says her journalism think tank directed funding towards mainstream media companies such as Nine and News Corp that could have been better used by smaller or grassroots publications, reports the AFR’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

The few remaining staff of the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas left on December 31, leaving a shuttered website, no social media presence and an empty building in Chippendale in inner-city Sydney.

But despite the operational collapse of the organisation, Ms Neilson says she still intends to spend at least another $72 million to meet her pledge to invest $100 million in a centre for journalism. The newly positioned JNI, which will come after a strategic review, will focus more on independent media, a spokesman for Ms Neilson said.

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Fremantle names Christian Vesper CEO Global Drama

Global production giant Fremantle has promoted Christian Vesper to CEO Global Drama.

In his newly created role, Vesper will oversee and seek to build on Fremantle’s already vast portfolio of scripted production companies, which include Italy’s Wildside (My Brilliant Friend, Eight Mountains), Lux Vide (Medici, Devils), and The Apartment (Bones and All, The Hand of God), Denmark’s Miso Films (Face to Face, The Investigation), and Ireland’s Element Pictures (The Favourite, Normal People).

Vesper will also oversee Fremantle’s roster of talent partnerships and deals, including with Chernobyl director Johan Renck and Michael Paret’s newly launched production company Sinestra, Michael Winterbottom’s Revolution Films, Afua Hirsch’s Born In Me, and Fremantle’s three-year partnership agreement with independent production collective The Creatives.
He will report directly to Andrea Scrosati, Fremantle Group COO and CEO Continental Europe.
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Neighbours, A Country Practice star Joan Sydney dies peacefully at home aged 83

English-Australian actress Joan Sydney, best known for starring in Neighbours and A Country Practice, has died aged 83, reports the ABC.

Her close friend Sally-Anne Upton announced her death in a social media tribute, saying Sydney passed away peacefully in her Sydney home on December 28

Sydney was known for her Logie-winning role playing Matron Maggie Sloane in A County Practice between 1983 and 1990.

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TV quiz king Cary Young dies in Wheelers Hill aged 83

The man who became known as the TV quiz king of Sale of the Century after winning more than 60 episodes has died, aged 83.

Cary Young, who became a household name during his time on the 80s and 90s game show, died peacefully at Nellie Melba Village in Wheelers Hill with his family by his side after a battle with Alzheimer’s, reports the Herald Sun’s Elena Couper.

His daughter Michelle Young said her father, then an abattoir worker, went on Sale of the Century because he wanted to make his life better for his family.

“People just had this affection for him because he was just this very average person next door type, he wasn’t an academic or professional, he was working in the meatworks when he went on there, and he saw an opportunity to make a better life for his family,” she said.

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Lambasted: New ad puts concept of ‘un-Australian’ behaviour on the rack

Having spent well over a decade bemoaning the slide into un-Australian behaviour in its annual summer ad campaigns for lamb, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) has now decided to put the very concept on the rack instead, reports the Sydney Morning Herald’s Karl Quinn.

The latest ad, which was created by The Monkeys and directed by Yianni Warnock, debuted during the cricket on Thursday, runs for more than three minutes in its full form (there are shorter versions too) and features people disappearing for committing acts deemed un-Australian.

Their sins range from boasting to dobbing to using a “cheat stick” in pool. As each is accused in turn, they disappear.

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Channel 4 privatisation plans formally abandoned

Plans to privatise Channel 4 have been formally abandoned, ending years of threats to the broadcaster that cost the government millions of pounds and were opposed by the vast majority of the media industry, reports The Guardian’s Jim Waterson.

The culture secretary, Michelle Donelan, said Channel 4 was a “British success story and a linchpin of our booming creative industries” and therefore should not be sold. Instead, she is suggesting a relative modest series of tweaks to Channel 4’s remit, with the business continuing to be owned by the state.

Donelan’s decision reverses proposals set out at length by her predecessor Nadine Dorries, under Boris Johnson’s government, which would have seen Channel 4 sold to a private owner. There had been suggestions, including from Tory MPs, that the proposed sale was motivated by political opposition to Channel 4’s output rather than a sound business case.

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Ricky Strauss hire signals big swings ahead for Apple TV+

Apple may be the world’s largest company, but it has always had a soft spot for that Disney magic.

That’s why Steve Jobs asked Bob Iger to serve on Apple’s board (Iger resigned when Apple officially entered the content business), and why it was eager to work with former Disney and Pixar executive John Lasseter, now at Skydance Animation, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Alex Weprin.

With Apple TV+, the tech giant is taking a page from HBO, ordering fewer TV shows and movies, but aiming for a quality that’s a cut above the rest. But the Apple brand has always been a bit more family-friendly than HBO, and the Disney envy is still apparent.

Enter Ricky Strauss. When Disney launched the marketing campaigns for films like Frozen, The Avengers, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Incredibles 2, it turned to Strauss’ team to deliver.

Strauss, a veteran producer, production executive and marketer, had founded Ricochet Media, and later worked as Participant Media’s president, before joining Disney in 2012 to lead marketing for the company’s film studio. He later led marketing and content for the launch of Disney+, an effort that saw the streaming service rocket to nearly 90 million subscribers in just its first year.

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Social Media

ATO vows to crack down on glam ‘influencers’ and their ‘gifts’

The ATO is coming for ­Australia’s multimillion-dollar “influencer” industry, with a promise to tax glammed-up social media stars on gifts they receive from companies, make them pay GST, and stamp out bogus deductions, reports The Daily Telegraph’s Jonathon Moran.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal Australian Taxation Office staff have an arsenal of “data-matching” technologies to help them compare tax returns of “Insta-famous” people with the lifestyle and valuables on display in their online posts.

An ATO spokesman confirmed the fresh crackdown, saying: “If you are paid in-kind, such as with goods or other benefits (for example, being able to keep an item or outfit used in a post, or being ‘gifted’ something) … you are subject to the same income tax and GST treatment as normal cash or credit payments.

“We have sophisticated data-matching and analytical tools that enable us to identify people that may be under-reporting their income from a range of activities.”

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TikTok to license IMDb data for feature targeting film and TV content

TikTok is licensing data from IMDb to power a new feature that will make it easier for users to search for content related to a specific film or TV title and see relevant data about the work — such as its cast and release date — on a dedicated, in-app page, reports The Hollywood Reporters’ J. Clara Chan.

The feature, which will first be rolled out to users in the U.S. and the U.K., will allow creators to add a link to the film or TV show referenced in their video.

The tagged work will then appear above the caption after the video is posted, and viewers will be able to click that link and be directed to another page with IMDb-powered information about the title, as well as a spread of other TikTok videos that have also tagged the same movie or TV show.

Creators will also be able to link to their favourite shows and movies on their profiles, which will direct interested followers toward the respective works’ IMDb pages.

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Top image: Judith Neilson

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