Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has reached a multi-year deal with Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures to distribute all of Annapurna Pictures’ films in select international territories.

The partnership is set to begin this year with Annapurna’s first distribution title, Kathryn Bigelow’s untitled Detroit riots project, scheduled for release in the U.S. on Aug. 4, 2017.

Ellison announced in January that her company was launching a new distribution division with Marc Weinstock, overseeing alongside marketing chief David Kaminow and Erik Lomis, the distribution president. Annapurna, which was founded by Ellison in 2010, has specialized in adult dramas such as Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Joy,” “20th Century Women,” “Foxcatcher,” “American Hustle,” and “Her.”

Bigelow is producing the film with Annapurna’s Ellison and Matthew Budman. Mark Boal, who wrote the script, and Colin Wilson are also producers with Greg Shapiro executive producing. The release date will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the riots.

The MGM deal will include films produced by Annapurna Pictures covering a footprint comprised of but not limited to Germany, Scandinavia, Latin America, Central Europe, Pan Asia, and the Middle East and will include the theatrical, home entertainment, and television rights in such films.

“We have been strategically working to enhance the depth of our film pipeline, and it is incredibly exciting to be able to work with Annapurna, who are industry leaders when it comes to identifying and working with quality talent and filmmakers,” said Chris Ottinger, MGM’s president, worldwide television distribution and acquisitions. “These incredible films deserve to be seen on a global scale and we look forward to giving the worldwide audience the opportunity to do so.”

Lomis said, “Our goal has always been to create films that resonate with the greatest audience possible and we could not be more thrilled to have found a partner in MGM. We look forward to working together and bringing our films to not just the U.S. audience, but the international one as well.”


Paul Greengrass has come on board to direct the Eliot Ness film, aptly titled “Ness,” for Paramount.

Brian Helgeland wrote the original screenplay based on Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko’s graphic novel “Torso.”

Ness, a U.S. Treasury Department agent who enforced Prohibition in Chicago, is best known for bringing down gangster Al Capone. He also famously assembled a team of retired cops to find a serial murderer who dumped his victims’ torsos in a river.

The film will focus on Cleveland serial killer part in the post-Capone years.


Paul Greengrass’ Berlin Wall Drama ‘The Tunnels’ Taps Tobias Lindholm as Writer


Greengrass, Greg Goodman, who works for Greengrass’ banner, John Davis, and John Fox are producing from Davis Entertainment, alongside David Engel for Circle of Confusion. Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko are exec producing. No actors are currently attached to the film.

The pic has been in development for some time, but picked up steam recently when Greengrass came across Helgeland’s new draft. Greengrass will now work with Hegeland on the script, in addition to casting the man to play the iconic federal agent. The studio hopes to begin production by the end of the year.

Greengrass most recently helmed Universal’s “Jason Bourne,” starring Matt Damon. He is repped by CAA.

Deadline Hollywood first reported the news.


“Straight Outta Compton” star O’Shea Jackson Jr. is in negotiations to join Legendary’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”

The movie already stars “Stranger Things” stand-out Millie Bobby Brown, along with Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga. “Krampus” helmer Michael Dougherty is directing the project from a script he penned with Zach Shields.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, and Elizabeth Olsen starred in the 2014 “Godzilla” reboot, directed by Gareth Edwards. Sources tell Variety that Watanabe is the only original cast member likely to return for the second installment.


Vera Farmiga to Star as Millie Bobby Brown’s Mom in ‘Godzilla’ Sequel


Alex Garcia will oversee the tentpole for Legendary. “Godzilla: King of Monsters” hits theaters on March 22, 2019, with the monster mash-up “Godzilla vs. Kong” slated to bow the following year on May 29, 2020.

Legendary and Warner Bros. announced in late 2015 that all future “King Kong” and “Godzilla” movies would be developed by Legendary and distributed by Warner Bros., starting with “Kong: Skull Island.” Legendary currently holds a distribution deal with Universal, but in order to re-team Godzilla and King Kong, the studio returned the rights to WB.

“Kong: Skull Island” recently opened with $61 million and currently has $392 million at the worldwide box office.

Jackson garnered rave reviews after portraying his father, Ice Cube, in the N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton.” He recently received another round of strong notices (including being named one of Sundance Film Festival 2017’s breakout stars by Variety) for his role as Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen’s drug dealer in “Ingrid Goes West.”

Jackson is currently filming the STX action pic “Den of Thieves.” He is repped by WME, Cube Vision, and Ziffren Brittenham.


After years of seismic growth, the Chinese box office flagged in 2016, sparking fears in Hollywood that one of the movie industry’s major sources of ticket sales is slowing down.

On Monday, John Zeng, president and board director at Wanda Cinemas, Asia’s largest exhibitor, told a crowd of theater owners and studio executives that box office revenue in the country will continue to rise, fueled by new theater construction and a vast audience of young, movie-loving consumers. Through a translator, he predicted that the Chinese box office will continue to grow at a rate of between 15% and 20% annually.

“The Chinese market is still strong,” Zeng said during remarks at CinemaCon, the annual exhibition industry trade show taking place this week in Las Vegas. He did offer one caveat: “For a Chinese market to be better you have to have the content.”


CinemaCon: 3 Major Issues Facing the Movie Business


Last year, the Chinese box office grew just under 4%, a steep drop-off after years of increasing at an average of 35% annually. Zeng said the movies making their way to China weren’t as compelling and noted that tastes in the Middle Kingdom differ from those in the United States. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” was the biggest domestic hit last year and “Finding Dory” was the second-highest-grossing release, but their box office revenues in China paled in comparison. In contrast,”Warcraft,” one of China’s top movies with $220.8 million, bombed domestically, eking out $47.4 million. Zeng said that animated movies were not as popular in China as they are domestically, and noted that Chinese audiences are particularly interested in special-effects-heavy action films.

Hollywood studios have long been worried that younger generations aren’t interested in going to the theaters. The thinking is that they’re more animated about streaming services and buzzy television shows than they are about the latest big-budget movie. The situation is different in China, where younger consumers are driving ticket sales. Zeng said that 71% of Chinese ticket buyers are between the ages of 18 and 39. In the states, that demographic represents 47% of the theater-going crowd.

Zeng’s morning remarks were paired with a presentation by Andrew Cripps, president of 20th Century Fox International. Cripps stressed that there are reasons to be optimistic about the state of the movie business, noting that the domestic box office is surging on a wave of hits that includes Fox’s own “Logan.” Yet, he also sounded a cautionary note, arguing that the cost of making and marketing movies is continuing to rise, and the fight to get consumers’ attention is growing more fierce.

“Audiences are faced with a proliferation of choices … and cinema is just one choice out of many,” said Cripps.


ROME – Paolo Virzi’s “Like Crazy,” a road movie about two women who escape from a mental institution in Tuscany, took top honors Monday night at Italy’s 61st David di Donatello Awards, the country’s equivalent of the Oscars. The film took home five statuettes, including prizes in the key categories of best picture, best director, and best actress, which went to Valeria Bruni Tedeschi.

The evening’s two other big winners were “Indivisible,” a neo-Gothic drama set in Naples and directed by Edoardo De Angelis, about teenage conjoined-twin sisters with beautiful voices, and Matteo Rovere’s “Italian Race,” set in the world of GT racing. “Indivisible” took five nods, including for best screenplay, producer, and supporting actress, and “Italian Race” won six statuettes, including best actor for Stefano Accorsi, cinematography, and editing.

Virzì’s “Like Crazy” launched last year from Cannes and sold widely internationally, with Strand Releasing picking it up for the U.S. His upcoming film, English-language drama “The Leisure Seeker,” toplining Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland as a runaway couple who embark on a twilight-years road trip from Boston to Florida, has been pre-bought by Sony Classics for North America.

A visibly moved Valeria Bruni Tedeschi thanked Italian modern psychiatry pioneer Franco Basaglia, who closed the country’s prison-like mental asylums, and my “poor psychoanalyst,” among others.

The nod for best first-time director went to Marco Danieli for “La ragazza del mondo,” about a romance between a girl who is a Jehovah’s Witness and a young ex-con.

Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals” took the David for foreign film from outside the European Union, while the nod for E.U. pic went to “I, Daniel Blake,” by Ken Loach.

This was the second edition of the Davids produced and aired by Murdoch-owned paybox Sky, rather than by pubcaster RAI, which had always handled the awards in the past. As with last year, the ceremony was emceed by local “X-Factor” host Alessandro Cattelan, and was a rather restrained but classy affair.

Sky is ramping up to become a key player in Italy’s film industry with the launch of a theatrical distribution arm named Vision Distribution in partnership with with producers Cattleya, Wildside, Lucisano Group, Palomar, and Indiana Production. Together, those producers account for about 40% of the domestic share of the Italian box office. The new distribution outfit, which is headed by former Warner Bros. Italy managing director Nicola Maccanico, will launch this summer.

Meanwhile, the domestic share of the Italian box office in the first quarter is down from 46% last year to 22% this year. Last year’s whopping 46% of the local market was largely due to smash comic hit “Quo Vado.”

Triple Oscar-winner Roberto Benigni was honored with a Special David earlier in the day by Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella and Culture Minister Dario Franceschini.

Here’s the complete list of David Awards winners:


“Like Crazy,” Paolo Virzì


Paolo Virzì, “Like Crazy”


Marco Danieli, “La ragazza del mondo”


Nicola Guaglianone, Barbara Petronio, Edoardo De Angelis for “Indivisible”


Gianfranco Cabiddu, Ugo Chiti, Salvatore De Mola for “La stoffa dei sogni”


Attilio De Razza, Pierpaolo Verga, “Indivisible”


Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, “Like Crazy”


Stefano Accorsi, “Italian Race”


Antonia Truppo, “Indivisible”


Valerio Mastandrea,  “Fiore”


Michele D’Attanasio, “Italian Race”


Gianni Vezzosi, “Italian Race”


“Crazy for football,” Volfango De Biase


Enzo Avitabile, “Indivisible”


“Abbi Pietà di Noi” by Enzo Avitabile, “Indivisible”


Tonino Zera “Like Crazy”


Massimo Cantini Parrini, “Indivisible”


Luca Mazzoccoli, “Italian Race”


Daniela Tartari, “Like Crazy”


Angelo Bonanni, Diego De Santis, Mirko Perri, Michele Mazzucco, “Italian Race”


Artea Film & Rain Rebel Alliance International Network, “Italian Race”


“I, Daniel Blake,” Ken Loach


“Nocturnal Animals,” Tom Ford


“A casa mia,” Mario Piredda


“In War For Love,” Pierfrancesco Diliberto


Warner Bros. mega-tentpole “Justice League” dominated social media chatter last week with more than 201,000 new conversations, according to media-measurement firm comScore and its PreAct service.

The studio released teaser videos and posters on March 23-24, kicked off by a teaser of Batman tossing Aquaman his trident, followed by a full trailer on March 25.

Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher star in “Justice League.” Amy Adams, Amber Heard, Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons, and Willem Dafoe also appear in the pic. Zack Snyder began shooting “Justice League” in April from a script by Chris Terrio. The film hits theaters on Nov. 17.


‘Fate of the Furious’ Races to Top Spot in Social Media Buzz


“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” starring Affleck as Batman and Cavill as Superman, turned out to be mildly disappointing for Warner Bros., grossing $870 million worldwide. Snyder directed from Terrio’s screenplay, which introduced Gadot as Wonder Woman, and briefly Momoa as Aquaman and Miller as the Flash.

Sony’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” generated an impressive 85,000 new conversations last week, thanks to the release of teaser posters on March 24. The reboot of the franchise, starring Tom Holland, has already produced more than 1.23 million new conversations, with more than three months remaining before the July 7 release.

Disney-Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” generated 39,000 new conversations last week following the release of new images and posters, including an Empire magazine cover on March 21, as well as an extended clip on March 24. The sequel, with Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Vin Diesel returning, opens May 5, three years after the original took in a surprisingly strong $770 million worldwide.

Paramount’s “Baywatch” generated 33,000 new conversations, thanks to a teaser poster on March 20 and a new trailer on March 22. Starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, the action-comedy reboot of the TV series opens May 26.

Paramount’s fantasy “Ghost in the Shell,” starring Scarlett Johansson, produced 20,000 new conversations last week ahead of its March 31 launch.

Universal’s “The Fate of the Furious” generated 19,000 new conversations — pushing it to a total of 970,000 — as it released “Gang Up” off of the soundtrack on March 23, featuring Young Thug, 2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa, and PnB Rock. The film, which opens April 14, stars Vin Diesel, Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, and franchise newcomers Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren.


Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions have set an awards-season release date of Sept. 22 for Jake Gyllenhaal’s Boston Marathon bombing movie “Stronger.”

Gyllenhaal stars as Jeff Bauman, while Tatiana Maslany plays his girlfriend Erin Hurley, in a story about love triumphing over adversity. Clancy Brown (“Hail, Caesar!”) portrays Bauman’s father and Miranda Richardson plays his mother Patty Bauman.

The film is a production of Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment label, Mandeville Films, Bold Films, and Nine Stories. It’s Gyllenhaal’s first production under his Nine Stories banner.


Jake Gyllenhaal, ‘Life’ Director Daniel Espinosa to Reteam on ‘The Anarchists vs ISIS’


Inspired by a true story and based on the New York Times bestseller by Bauman and Bret Witter, the film stars Gyllenhaal as the working-class Boston man whose iconic photo from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing gained worldwide notice.

Bauman was waiting for his girlfriend at the finish line of the marathon when two pressure-cooker bombs exploded, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. When Bauman awoke the next day after surgeries and realized he could not speak. He asked for a pad and paper, and wrote: “Saw the guy. Looked right at me.”

That set off a massive manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted of the murders last year. The book, published in 2014, also describes Bauman’s attempts to walk again and face his new circumstances with grace.

The movie is directed by David Gordon Green from a screenplay written by Boston local John Pollono. Producers are Todd Lieberman & David Hoberman (“The Fighter”), Gyllenhaal, Scott Silver, and Michel Litvak (“Whiplash”). Executive producers are Riva Marker, Peter McGuigan, Anthony Mattero, Gary Michael Walters, Jeffrey Stott, and Nicolas Stern.

This marks the second Lionsgate movie about the Boston Marathon bombing — “Patriots Day,” co-financed with CBS Films and starring Mark Wahlberg, was released late last year. The news about “Stronger” was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.


Paramount  has given an awards season release date of Nov. 3 to the comedy-drama “Suburbicon,” starring George Clooney, Matt Damon and Julianne Moore with Clooney directing.

Joel and Ethan Coen have written the script for “Suburbicon.  Producers are Joel Silver under his Silver Pictures banner alongside Clooney and Grant Heslov under their Smokehouse Pictures label, and Teddy Schwarzman for Black Bear Pictures.

The movie will be set in the quiet family town of “Suburbicon,” where the best and worst of humanity is reflected through the deeds of seemingly ordinary people. When a home invasion turns deadly, a picture perfect family turns to blackmail, revenge and betrayal.

Clooney’s directing credits include “Monuments Men,” “Leatherheads,” “The Ides of March,” “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” and “Good Night and Good Luck.”

Paramount has also set the Emily Blunt-John Krasinski thriller “A Quiet Place” for April 18. Platinum Dunes is producing and Krasinski is directing from his own script. He previously directed “The Hollars” and “Brief Interview with Hideous Men.”

The studio also announced a March 23, 2018, release date for Johnny Knoxville’s comedy “Action Point,” in which Knoxville operates a theme park. The studio announced the project in January.

Paramount also said it had removed a sequel to 2015’s “Terminator: Genisys” from its slate. The sequel was listed as “Terminator 3” and had been set for a June 29, 2018 release date. “Terminator Genisys” was the fifth film in the franchise and grossed $440 million worldwide on a $150 million budget but the studio indicated last year that it was not moving forward.

James Cameron, who directed the original 1984 “Terminator,” will regain rights to the franchise in 2019.

Paramount will make its slate presentation Tuesday at CinemaCon. It officially announced Monday that longtime 20th Century Fox topper Jim Gianopulos had replaced Brad Grey as CEO of the struggling studio.



Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver” will hit theaters nearly two months earlier than originally planned, moving to June 28 from Aug. 11.

Sony announced the news at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Monday. The new release date puts Wright’s latest smack dab in the middle of the July 4 frame, going up against “Transformers: The Last Knight,” “Despicable Me 3,” Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler’s “The House,” “Amityville: The Awakening,” and Sofia Coppola’s “Beguiled.”


CinemaCon: 3 Major Issues Facing the Movie Business


In its previous August slot, it would have opened against New Line’s “Annabelle 2” and Weinstein Co.’s “Wind River.” It’s a sign of confidence for the action heist film, which garnered major buzz upon debuting at SXSW earlier this month. In his review for Variety, Peter Debruge wrote, “Like all Edgar Wright movies, ‘Baby Driver’ is a blast, featuring wall-to-wall music and a surfeit of inspired ideas.”

“Baby Driver” stars Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, and Jon Bernthal, and follows a young, talented getaway driver who relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best. However, a doomed heist threatens his life, love, and freedom after he’s coerced into working for a mob boss. The film sees a 50/50 financing split between MRC and TriStar, with TriStar handling worldwide distribution.

Wright, Elgort, and Hamm were also on hand at the annual gathering to hype up the movie to exhibition industry professionals. Wright told the crowd that he designed the film to be seen “loud and large” on the big screen. Sony’s president of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer also showed off the first six minutes of “Baby Driver” at the event.

“Baby Driver” will see a 50/50 financing split between MRC and TriStar, with TriStar handling worldwide distribution.


Universal’s new untitled Doctor Dolittle movie, starring Robert Downey Jr., will be opening on May 24, 2019, the studio announced on Monday night.

Stephen Gaghan directs the new take on Dolittle, which will be produced by Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum under their Roth/Kirschenbaum Films (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Maleficent”), along with Susan Downey (“Sherlock Holmes” films, “The Judge”) for Team Downey. Gaghan wrote the most recent draft of the screenplay from an earlier draft by Tom Shepherd.

The project is based on the 1920s tales by Hugh Lofting, following a peculiar doctor who can speak with animals, shunning human patients in favor of the critters. The release date news comes two days before Universal’s CinemaCon presentation, where the studio will tout its upcoming release slate to exhibition industry professionals in Las Vegas.

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Universal acquired the rights to the beloved character after a heated bidding war, and announced Downey’s casting earlier this month.

The “Iron Man” star is far from the first to step into Doctor Dolittle’s shoes; Rex Harrison starred in the 1967 musical “Doctor Dolittle,” which won Oscars for best original song and best visual effects. Eddie Murphy was the next actor to take on the character, starring in 1998’s “Doctor Dolittle” and the 2001 sequel.


Sony chief Tom Rothman has one message for those who think fans won’t be rushing to the theaters to see “Blade Runner 2049”: “Netflix, my ass.”

The exec dropped the zinger while debuting new footage of the “Blade Runner” sequel to exhibition industry professionals at CinemaCon, with star Ryan Gosling on hand. The footage that the actor brought with him to Las Vegas stunned the crowd, featuring an apocalyptic Los Angeles and Las Vegas filled with snow, dust storms, and dazed looking androids.

Rothman, for his part, called the film “cool as s—,” and Gosling told the crowd of theater owners that the team behind Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049” tried to keep CGI to a minimum.

“Every location was real,” said Gosling. “Every set was there…It was a fully functioning, living, breathing world.”

inRead invented by Teads


The new footage showed more of Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard and Gosling’s Officer Q, as well as a creepy look at Jared Leto, playing a manufacturer of replicants with a daddy fixation. In one shot Leto loving caresses a naked android, who appears to have been doused in amniotic fluid.

Robin Wright and Ana de Armas also star in the film, which hits theaters on Oct. 6. Ridley Scott, who directed the first film, executive produced “Blade Runner: 2049.” Denis Villeneuve, an Oscar-nominee for “Arrival,” takes over directing duties. Sony co-financed the production with Alcon, and will distribute the picture internationally. Warner Bros. is handling the domestic rollout when the film debuts on Oct. 6, 2017.

More to come…


Access Entertainment, led by former director of BBC Television Danny Cohen and owned by billionaire industrialist Len Blavatnik, has taken a 24.9% stake in Bad Wolf, the production company behind the forthcoming TV adaptation of Philip Pullman’s epic “His Dark Materials.”

Bad Wolf was launched in 2015 by Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner, former BBC drama executives responsible for “Doctor Who,” “Torchwood” and “Da Vinci’s Demons.” The company, which has the support of the Welsh government and is co-sited in South Wales and Los Angeles, produces high-end TV and film for the global television market.

“This investment by Access Entertainment provides Bad Wolf with further support to fast-track its already burgeoning scripted productions and grow its business globally,” according to a statement.

In addition to “His Dark Materials,” Bad Wolf is also in the midst of producing “A Discovery of Witches,” based on the bestselling novels by Deborah Harkness, and an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s “Warlord Chronicles,” alongside original scripts from “some of the most respected writers in the industry.”

Tranter, chief executive of Bad Wolf, said: “This investment is a fantastic endorsement of our vision for Bad Wolf and the Welsh government’s strategy for the industry. Access Entertainment is a bold and ambitious company who share our appetite for drama of scale. Joining forces with Len Blavatnik and Danny Cohen was absolutely central to our decision. We have had a long and productive relationship with Danny over the years, and Len is a true visionary who immediately understood what Bad Wolf stands for.”

Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Entertainment’s parent company Access Industries, said: “We established Access Entertainment to work with the world’s best creative talent and support them in realizing their ambitions. We are delighted to partner with the Bad Wolf team at this critical stage in their development.”

Cohen, president of Access Entertainment, said: “I’m very excited to be forming this new partnership with Bad Wolf. Jane and Julie are brilliant television executives, highly creative and with an appetite for projects of global scale and impact. I’m very confident that Bad Wolf will produce outstanding work in the coming years, and we are looking forward to going on this journey with them.”

The architect of the partnership with Access Entertainment was Bad Wolf’s chief operating officer Miles Ketley, who has been with the company since its early days. On completion of the deal and the first phase of Bad Wolf, he will step down to become a partner in a new media investment firm.

At the helm of the BBC’s drama division, Tranter and Gardner, together with Russell T. Davies, relaunched “Doctor Who” and created “Torchwood.” They subsequently moved to Los Angeles to head up BBC Worldwide Productions, where they produced three seasons of historical drama “Da Vinci’s Demons” for Starz and Fox.


ROME – Expanding Qatar-based telco Ooredoo and Starz Play Arabia have forged a partnership to launch Ooredoo TV Go, an on-demand streaming service to which Starz Play will provide more than 6,000 hours of mostly Hollywood shows in eight markets across the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia.

The deal, the financial terms of which were not disclosed, will also give Oooredoo the content cornerstone for launching an Ooredoo TV Go app, in the first step of a planned multi-channel, multimedia OTT service.

“This is only the beginning for Ooredoo TV Go,” Johan Buse, Ooredoo’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement. “We will have more content and channels added in the future and we also have ambitious plans to have it optimized for television.”

Maaz Sheikh, Starz Play CEO, said that “the combination of SVOD platforms and telecom operators now brings Arab consumers the premium content they want at an affordable price” and gives consumers “greater control over what they watch, when they watch, and what device they watch it on.” He called Ooredoo TV Go “a solid example of how to deliver the maximum value and convenience to customers.”

Rapidly growing Ooredoo has more than 138 million customers. It currently operates in Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Palestine, the Maldives, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Starz Play, which is the first Starz service outside the U.S., offers Starz signature shows including “Spartacus,” “Black Sails,” “Power,” “Survivor’s Remorse,” and “The White Queen,” and also a wide selection of other Hollywood movie content, including new releases, kid- and family-oriented content, and programming from local partners.

Starz Play launched in the Middle East in 2015, beating Netflix to the punch in the region. It seems to be gaining traction, recently touting more than 1,500 new signups a day. Series that have been strong performers include “Power” (pictured), Showtime series “Billions,” and the History Channel’s “Vikings.”

Digital media growth in the MENA region is forecast by PwC at 17.6%  between 2016 and 2020.

In January, Starz Play forged a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Intl. Television Distribution for exclusive Middle East rights to several hit shows, including “The Flash,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” and “Supergirl.”

Starz Play operates in 19 MENA countries, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates,  Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia. Its top territory is Saudi Arabia, where it has a bundling partnership with leading telecom operator Saudi Telecom.


PaleyFest LA wrapped its week of TV panels with FX’s “American Horror Story: Roanoke.”

Executive producer Brad Falchuk revisited his original interest in the concept of “Roanoke” during a Q&A on Sunday at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.

“Even before the show, we were always fascinated by it. It’s one of the few American mysteries so it was always in the back of our head. It was nice to have something that had just a kernel of truth in it and we could fill in whatever we want,” said Falchuk.

“Every season we’ve always tried to do something different. We really wanted to be as scary as possible. I wanted to beat the hell out of the cast in a different way,” he added.

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‘Westworld’: Stars, Producers Talk Season One Surprises at PaleyFest


Sarah Paulson, who played three characters during “Roanoke,” including reprising “Asylum’s” Lana Winters, compared this season to her previous ones on show.

“Usually Ryan Murphy comes out and gives a little niblet, but this was completely blackout,” she said.

When asked what other “American Horror Story” role she’d like to possibly revisit, Paulson chose her “Coven” character Cordelia Foxx.

“Probably Cordelia. We only got to see her just getting her powers,” Paulson said. “I just would like to know if the power might have been something that kind of changed her.”

“Maybe we’ll get to see that,” she added.

Denis O’Hare, meanwhile, said he would revisit Larry Harvey from “Murder House” or Spalding from “Asylum,” while Kathy Bates she would prefer to play a new character instead.

For Cheyenne Jackson, who played reality producer Sidney Aaron James, the inspiration for the ruthless character came from an unlikely source.

“I love the show ‘Unreal,’ she’s so simple-minded that she’ll do anything to get the shot, and when the part was pitched to me, it was kind of the same idea,” he said.

Stars Cuba Gooding Jr., Adina Porter, and Tim Minear were also in attendance.


Josh Earnest, who served as White House Press Secretary in the latter part of President Barack Obama’s tenure, will join NBC News and MSNBC as a political analyst, according to a Monday announcement.

“With his wealth of experience and insight, Josh will be a great addition to our roster of contributors and will be an asset for our two networks as we continue to cover the White House, Congress and politics beyond the Beltway,” said NBC News President Noah Oppenheim and MSNBC President Phil Griffin in a memo to staffers. Earnest served as press secretary from 2014 to 2017.

Earnest worked for the Obama White House and his campaigns for ten years, initially joining his first presidential campaign in March 2007 as its Iowa communications director. Earnest would go on to work as deputy communications director during the 2008 general election. Josh has also worked on numerous national, statewide and local campaigns over the course of his twenty years in politics.

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He graduated from Rice University with a degree in political science and policy studies.

Earnest debuted in the new role Monday morning with appearances on both NBC’s “Today” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

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