Extra: Naked hires development director; Sundance scraps SoCal drive-in screenings

Natalie McArdle joins Fremantle’s Naked  London-based factual producer Naked, a division of Fremantle, has appointed Natalie McArdle as its new director of development. McArdle (pictured) formerly served as director of development at ITV ...
January 6, 2021

Natalie McArdle joins Fremantle’s Naked 

London-based factual producer Naked, a division of Fremantle, has appointed Natalie McArdle as its new director of development.

McArdle (pictured) formerly served as director of development at ITV Studios-backed Twofour where she was focused on creating new brands across factual entertainment, formats and blue-chip factual series.

Previously, she held the title of head of development and executive producer at Electric Ray. There, McArdle played a crucial role in creating some of the biggest titles for the Sony Pictures Television-backed studio, including BBC2′s My Million Pound Menu, Channel 4′s Alone at Home and BBC1′s Call That Hard Work.

Prior to Electric Ray, McArdle held a number of roles at Tiger Aspect, BBC3, Firecracker Films, Studio Lambert and Twenty Twenty.

At Naked, she will report directly into creative director Tom O’Brien when she joins the company next month.

“[Natalie] exudes energy and passion and her experience in developing inspiring ideas and producing great content is what we at Naked get excited about,” said Naked MD Fatima Salaria in a statement. “Natalie’s reputation for creativity and originality is exactly what we’re looking for in our senior team.”

Sundance cancels SoCal drive-in screenings

The 2021 Sundance Film Festival has pulled the plug on its plans to offer drive-in movie screenings throughout Southern California, as the state continues to battle record-setting COVID-19 cases.

“In consideration of the overall public health situation in the Los Angeles area and the trajectory of the spread of the virus there, the health guidelines, and crisis the hospital systems are facing we will be pivoting our planned drive-in screenings to our online platform,” said a Sundance representative in a statement provided to Realscreen. “We have made case-by-case health and safety evaluations in our other Satellite Screen locations as well; audiences in markets where in-person gathering is inadvisable will also be joining us online.

“The safety and well-being of our audiences, community and staff is the most important thing to Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival.”

The festival, which runs from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, elected to provide audiences across the country with a comprehensive digital experience, coupled with satellite screenings slated to take place beyond the borders of Park City, Utah.

This year’s film lineup features screenings throughout Utah, as well as on screens and drive-ins in 24 states through a network of partnerships secured with drive-in theaters, independent arthouses and a network of local cultural organizations, including the Mission Tiki Drive-Ins throughout Los Angeles.

On Monday (Jan. 4), the State of California reported 40,723 new cases, followed on Tuesday by an additional 37,234 cases. Nearly 7,900 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Los Angeles County alone.

Discovery strengthens distribution team 

Discovery has solidified its senior distribution team with the appointments of Michele Barney and Eric Phillips as presidents of affiliate distribution and global distribution strategy, respectively.

In her new role, Barney will be responsible for strategy oversight and distribution of Discovery’s networks and content in the U.S. and Canada, while also managing the company’s carriage with cable, satellite, telco and digital distributors.

She joins Discovery from AT&T, where she served as SVP of content and programming, where she led strategy and negotiation for distribution agreements across all AT&T video and mobile platforms for linear and on-demand content.

Barney reports into Bruce Campbell, chief development, distribution & legal officer, and succeeds Phillips in the role after he was promoted to become Discovery’s president of global distribution strategy.

With his new title, Phillips will be responsible for leading the strategy and relationship management for global digital platforms, with a focus on DTC partnerships for the organization’s fledgling streaming service, Discovery+, and other digital initiatives.

He will continue reporting into Campbell while also working closely alongside JB Perrette, president and CEO of Discovery International, and the International leadership team.

Prior to his role as president of affiliate distribution, Phillips held a dual position as EVP of distribution and EVP and COO of Discovery Education. Before joining Discovery in 2002, he practiced corporate law at Covington & Burling.

HGTV sets premiere for Home Again with the Fords

Discovery’s home improvement network HGTV has set an early February premiere date for Home Again with the Fords.

Produced by High Noon Entertainment, the seven-part series follows Pittsburgh natives Leanne, an interior designer, and Steve Ford, a licensed contractor, as they return to the Steel City to provide modern and risqué home renovations for their clients.

Home Again with the Fords debuts across HGTV on Feb. 2 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.