News in Brief

NATPE plans for 2003 event in New Orleans; Henninger Vision debuts; Natural History New Zealand branches out from Dunedin.
December 13, 2001

NATPE‘s annual conference is heading to New Orleans as planned for 2003, NATPE president and CEO Bruce Johansen said at a press conference Wednesday. Johansen also said an industry task force, headed by Hearst-Argyle COO Tony Vinciquerra, has been created to help decide the future of the organization. The task force’s first meeting will be held December 13 and the group will make final recommendations to the NATPE board of directors in April, 2002.

Stamford, U.S.-based distrib CABLEready is again organizing the NATPE Food Project, which aims to donate leftover food from the event’s show booths and parties to the Community Food Band of Las Vegas. Donations can be made at the CABLEready booth, #2341, or in advance by contacting Louis Occhicone at NATPE will run from January 21 to 24, 2002, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Canada’s Alliance Atlantis Communications has received approval from the Canadian regulatory body CRTC for its acquisition of the Independent Film Channel Canada.

Henninger Media Services, based in Arlington, U.S., is launching a new division titled Henninger Vision. The division was created in response to a growing demand for information to be re-purposed into multiple digital formats – such as streaming video, DVD, and DTS – and will provide mulitmedia services for all stages of project development.

Natural History New Zealand is branching out from its home base in Dunedin, N.Z. The Fox-backed prodco is looking to set up satellite shops in Washington, D.C. and China, among other locales, as a result of ongoing company growth and diversification.

Discovery Networks Europe and U.K. broadband cable company NTL recently signed a deal that will see digichannels Discovery Health, ,b>Discovery Wings and Discovery Kids launch in January 2002. NTL also renewed carriage of seven other Discovery channels, including ,b>Animal Planet, Discovery Civilization and Discovery Travel. The contract will run for five-and-a-half years.

In related NTL news, BBC NewsOnline reports that the cable company plans to cut 4,000 jobs across Britain in an effort to decrease its £12 billion debt. Earlier this year, NTL reduced its staff by 4,800. The company’s employee count now stands at 13,000, down from 21,800 a year ago.

CNN has downsized again. The Cable News Network this week let go 30 of its staffers, along with four of its programs – Burden of Proof, News Site, Travel Now, and Showbiz This Week. Joie Chen of News Site and Roger Cossack of Burden of Proof were among the staff casualties. On a brighter note, the network said it will hire new anchors over the next few weeks.

According to a report in The New York Times, media giant Viacom has consolidated its two network t.v. operations – CBS and UPN. Leslie Moonves, president of CBS, will now oversee both entities. Kerry McCluggage, chairman of the Paramount Television Group (which includes UPN), has resigned.

Glasgow-based prodco Wark Clements has signed a production deal with BBC Scotland, which includes eight-part series Lives Less Ordinary and Great Scots. The duration of the contract is two to three years. Wark Clements co-founder Kirsty Wark is also a top t.v. presenter, fronting such programs as BBC2‘s Newsnight and arts flagship Omnibus.

Catherine Tasca, France’s minister of culture and communication, has asked David Kessler, director general of the Centre National de la Cinematographie (CNC), to report on the evolution of television programming and the possible consequences. The request was spurred by the CNC’s decision to grant documentary aid to reality show Popstars.

The Canal+ Group and United Pan-Europe Communications have concluded a deal to merge their satellite television platforms in Poland. Canal+ is also currently in talks with News Corp. about acquiring the latter’s Italian digital t.v. platforms.

France’s MultiThematiques – the pay-TV company owned by Canal+, Lagardere and Liberty Media – will premiere a Spanish version of Eurochannel in Mexico and then Argentina, beginning January 21, 2002. The cable/satellite outlet, acquired from Brazil-based company Abril in November 2000, offers European programming and intends to revamp its look for the launch. Eurochannel currently has approximately 1 million subscribers in Brazil. A foray into the U.S. and an English-speaking channel are reportedly in the works for 2002.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has partnered with Factiva Services to distribute ABC’s news and current affairs footage. Factiva is a Dow Jones & Reuters company.

The 31st International Film Festival Rotterdam (January 23 to February 3, 2002) announced that the theme of its central program will be ‘What (is) Cinema?’ Its focus will fall on the current and future state of film, and discussions will debate digital cinema, the effect of globalization on film, new hybrid forms of cinema, and the role of the auteur. Spin-off programs include ‘The Desert of the Real: Where is political cinema now?’, which will attempt to define the current state of political cinema by considering the approach of selected contemporary docs, shorts, and videoactivist works.

CineMart (January 27 to 31, 2002), Rotterdam’s coproduction market, also announced its participants. Of the 43 films selected, one is a documentary. American filmmaker Alison Maclean will present Yes.

The Slamdance Film Festival, now in its eighth year, has announced its Competition and Lounge line-up for the 2002 event, which takes place from January 11 to 19 and overlaps with the Sundance festival. The festival received a record breaking 2,468 feature film submissions, which were whittled down to 12 Competition films by more than 50 programmers. Of the 12 features, 11 are premieres and five are documentaries – the highest number ever. They are: My Father, The Genius, by Lucia Small; Standing By Yourself, directed by Josh Koury; Stone Reader, a 220-minute film by Mark Moskowitz, Thank You for the Rubbish, from director Iain Jones; and Where Has Eternity Gone?, by Barney Snow. Of the four Lounge features, two are docs: Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme, by Kevin Fitzgerald; and Rocks with Wings, from director Rick Derby. Another indication of the festival’s rising status is its recognition by the city of Park City, which, for the first time, will extend its free public bus service to include a stop at the Slamdance site.

The Argentian version of Big Brother (Gran Hermano) is a confirmed hit. The final episode, which aired on December 1, attracted an 80% market share.

The Do It Yourself Network – part of the Scripps family of U.S. cablecasters – has partnered with publisher Creative Homeowner to use home improvement illustrations and reference books on its interactive how-to series Talk2DIY.

Actor Julia Roberts will produce and host an A&E doc titled Old Friends, about three women who first met in elementary school 95 years ago and remain friends to this day. The project is currently in production and will air in 2002.

Also at A&E, the cablecaster has named New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as the 2001 Biography of the Year. U.S. President George W. Bush was the first runner-up, followed by the country’s uniformed heroes, including firefighters and police.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.