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Predestination, The Code lead Aacta noms

2 December 2014 7:18 PM, PST

The Spierig brothers. Predestination and Russell Crowe.s The Water Diviner lead the film nominees while The Code and Please Like Me head the contenders in the TV categories in the 4th Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (Aacta) Awards.

Predestination received nine nominations, followed by The Water Diviner with eight, seven for David Michôd.s The Rover and six apiece for Jennifer Kent.s The Babadook, Josh Lawson.s The Little Death and Jonathan Teplitzky.s The Railway Man.

Culled from 25 eligible titles, Predestination, The Water Diviner,. The Babadook, Rolf de Heer.s Charlie.s Country, The Railway Man and John Curran.s Tracks are vying for best feature.

Perhaps surprisingly, Crowe was overlooked for best director, which will be a battle between the Spierigs, Kent, de Heer and Michôd.

The contenders for best TV drama are Endemol.s Puberty Blues season 2, Playmaker Media.s The Code, Screentime »

- Don Groves

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Vale Jeff Truman

2 December 2014 4:05 PM, PST

With a bruised heart I have to report to Awg members that our dear colleague Jeff Truman has delivered his last script.

Tragically, Jeff suffered a massive brain bleed last Sunday and passed away on Tuesday 2nd December without waking up. He was 57.

Jeff was one of the television industry.s true professionals. Over a career spanning more than 30 years he wrote almost 200 hours of produced drama - everything from Neighbours, for which he contributed over 100 episodes, to the new Seven Network crime drama Winter and, most recently, Doctor Blake. His scripts for Fat Tony & Co were widely considered to be the pick of the series, and in 2013 he took home a long overdue Awgie for his fine work on Underbelly Badness. Any way you look at it, until two days ago Jeff Truman was working at the height of his powers.

Jeff was a writer who always delivered, both »

- Peter Gawler*

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Ten confirms bids

2 December 2014 3:11 PM, PST

Network Ten today confirmed it has received take-over offers but urged investors to be cautious in reacting to media speculation about potential transactions.

The company said its advisors Citigroup had received . non-binding, conditional proposals from a number of parties in relation to transactions which, if implemented, could result in a change of control of Ten or a refinancing of its existing debt facilities..

Discovery Communications and Foxtel reportedly have lodged a cash-and-shares bid of 20 cents-25 cents. Its shares were trading at 24 cents this morning, unchanged from yesterday.

If the deal proceeds Foxtel would be limited to a stake of 14.9% under cross-media rules.

Ten said an independent committee of the board will now consider those proposals with Citigroup.

.It should be noted that the proposals are confidential, non-binding and conditional in nature and may or may not result in a transaction which is acceptable to the company,. it said.

Time Warner »

- Don Groves

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UK, Us deals for A Place to Call Home

2 December 2014 2:48 PM, PST

The first three series of Seven Productions. A Place to Call Home will screen in the UK on BBC Two.

That follows a deal announced at Mipcom whereby the period drama is screening in the Us on streaming service Acorn TV, which will be followed by DVD and syndication on public TV stations.

The BBC deal was announced today by Seven and Endemol Worldwide Distribution.

Foxtel commissioned a further two series, each of 10 episodes, of the period drama after Seven announced in June it would not proceed after series 2 because the show skews to an older demographic.

Rlj Entertainment bought North American rights and the first season has launched on Acorn TV.

Created by Bevan Lee (Packed to the Rafters, Always Greener,. Winners & Losers), the show stars Marta Dusseldorp, Noni Hazlehurst, Brett Climo, Abby Earl, Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood, Aldo Mignone, Craig Hall, Frankie J. Holden and David Berry.

Seven.s director of production Brad Lyons said, »

- Don Groves

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New Australian 3D film co-venture

2 December 2014 1:42 PM, PST

December Media and natural history producer BioPixel are joining forces to develop and produce three 3D giant screen/IMAX films.

The first, Great Barrier Reef . 3D, is being financed and is due to start shooting in March. Produced by Stephen Amezdroz, December Media.s head of giant screen production, and directed by BioPixel co-founder Richard Fitzpatrick, the 45-minute film will show how the tiniest building blocks of life formed the world.s largest living structure.

December Media MD Heath Watt said, .We have been scoping the world for potential partnerships for new and exciting giant screen/IMAX projects for some time. With BioPixel.s amazing experience in and capability for shooting natural history it is a natural fit to our giant screen/IMAX slate strategy..

BipPixel co-founder Bevan Slattery said, .Combining BioPixel.s technical expertise in shooting natural history with an experienced production partner like December Media will allow us »

- Don Groves

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Stan lands the Brits

1 December 2014 8:41 PM, PST

Streaming service Stan today announced an extensive licensing deal with BBC Worldwide covering shows such as Sherlock, Ripper Street, Orphan Black, Top Gear and Doctor Who.

Luther, Wallander, Parade.s End and Torchwood will also screen on Stan, which is expected to launch in early January.

The arrangement also covers factual documentaries from David Attenborough and Louis Theroux, kids show Charlie and Lola and, from the vault, comedies including The Office, Gavin and Stacey, The Vicar of Dibley, Extras, Absolutely Fabulous and Fawlty Towers.

Most new BBC Worldwide shows premiere on Foxtel's BBC First, except for programs such as Nine's Top Gear and the ABC's Doctor Who, where the Fta broadcasters retain life-of-series rights. The holdback before titles are available to Stan will vary but. often will be one year after cable/Fta...

.Australians have long been entertained by BBC Worldwide.s great slate of programming. Their shows are especially loved by Australians, »

- Don Groves

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Sony buys Playmaker Media

1 December 2014 4:53 PM, PST

Sony Pictures Television has bought Playmaker Media, arguably Australia.s hottest indie drama producer with four shows commissioned by free-to-air networks.

Former Fox Television Studios production executives David Maher and David Taylor, who founded Playmaker in 2009, will remain at the helm under a 5-year deal.

Earlier this year it.s believed Playmaker attracted the attention of other multi-nationals including Shine, but no deal eventuated.

Interviewed last week, Taylor told If, .When people kick the tyres we will always have a chat.. Today he said, .We have been talking to Sony for a while. We liked what they had to say and it.s a good opportunity..

One asset is that future Playmaker Media productions will be routed via Spt.s global distribution machine.

Historically the producers have dealt with Dcd Rights, All3 Media International, Zdf Enterprises and ITV Studios Global Entertainment after a first-look deal with Fremantle Media Enterprises elapsed. »

- Don Groves

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Find Your Voice producers launch crowd-funding campaign

1 December 2014 3:28 PM, PST

Keisha Castle-Hughes and Adam Saunders have finished shooting Find Your Voice, an Australian-New Zealand film about a young Sydney Maori and musician who returns home after winning the lottery.

Now the producers aim to raise $30,000 via Indiegogo by December 24 to complete the film (formerly known as Million Dollar Mate), including editing, colour grade and sound design.

It.s the feature directing debut of Chris Herd, who developed the script with Saunders. The actor, whose credits include Blue Water High and Home and Away, plays Elvis .E. Pineaha, who has lost sight of who he is and what really counts. After winning the lottery, he returns to New Zealand on a journey of self-discovery.

In Auckland E meets the captivating Grace (Game of Thrones. Castle-Hughes), but she is initially put off by his brash manner. Soon, however, sparks fly.

The cast includes Tama Lundon of reggae group Herbs, Cold Chisel.s Ian Moss and Danielle Hayes, »

- Don Groves

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Qualified praise from Us critics for Unbroken

1 December 2014 12:24 PM, PST

Angelina Jolie.s Unbroken tells an extraordinary survival story in a mostly uninspiring way- but it.s likely to make a lot of money worldwide. That.s the consensus among the first batch of Us reviews which have appeared online following previews in Los Angeles and New York.

The critics are divided over the Universal production's Oscar prospects but some rate Jack O.Connell as Louis Zamperini, the former Us Olympic athlete who was captured by the Japanese in WW2 after his plane crashed into the Pacific, as a good bet for best actor. Filmed in Australia and based on Laura Hillenbrand.s book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, the drama opens in the Us on Boxing Day and in Oz on January 15. Variety.s Justin Chang seemed to sum up the ambivalent mood among critics when he wrote, .In re-creating the nightmarish »

- Don Groves

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Some Fenech fans lose their taste for pizza

30 November 2014 7:05 PM, PST

Paul Fenech has built up quite a cult following with his movies and TV series in the past 14 years but Fenech fans must have had other distractions last weekend.

How else to explain the relatively tame opening of the director-actor-writer.s latest opus, Fat Pizza vs Housos?

The comedic battle of thongs, chainsaws, bikies and pizzas, which stars Fenech, Johnny Boxer, Maria Venuti and Elle Dawe, with cameos from Nick Giannopoulos, Kyle Sandilands and Angry Anderson, rang up $280,000 on 121 screens and $296,000 with previews.

Minus previews, that.s 46% below the 2012 debut of Housos vs Authority, which grabbed $526,000 on 151 screens and wound up earning $1.35 million.

It.s dubious whether anyone chose to go to the second weekend of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1, rather than the caper set in the infamous housing commission suburb of Sunnyvale.

But Transmission Films. Andrew Mackie tells If, .We were on fewer screens this time and »

- Don Groves

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Nightcrawler injects fresh blood into anemic B.O.

30 November 2014 4:20 PM, PST

In a lousy session for new releases, Nightcrawler was the best of a bad lot in Australian cinemas last weekend.

Jake Gyllenhaal.s chilling turn as a sociopath in writer-director Dan Gilroy.s biting satire of media exploitation and corruption delivered $576,000 on 96 screens.

That's a reasonable start for the indie thriller co-starring Riz Ahmed, Rene Russo and Bill Paxton, which has earned $US28.7 million in its first month in the Us.

Nationwide takings plunged by 37% to $11.1 million, which was way below the corresponding week for the past two years, according to Rentrak.s estimates.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 raked in nearly $5.8 million, despite selling around half as many tickets as in the opening weekend, but has amassed a lucrative $20.8 million.

Chris Nolan.s Interstellar banked $1.6 million in its fourth orbit, down 25%, advancing to $15.6 million.

Paul Fenech's Fat Pizza vs Housos opened with a mediocre $296,000 on 121 screens, »

- Don Groves

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