International Insider: SAG-AFTRA Strike Looms; Kevin Spacey Trial Begins; Taormina Tales

Welcome back, Insiders. Jesse Whittock with you this week to look back on the last seven days in international film and TV. Here we go. Also, sign up for the Insider newsletter here.

SAG-AFTRA Strike Looms

Clock’s ticking: Time is running out for SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP to strike a new deal and avoid an actors strike before the current contract runs out today, though our U.S. colleagues Dominic Patten and Anthony D’Alessandro revealed on Wednesday talks may extend to next week or even later. Fingers remain crossed at these signs of progress. Negotiations are at a critical stage, with more than 1,000 actors, including Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep, signing a letter stating they are “prepared to strike.” In Europe, producers, studios, networks and actors have been peering pensively across the pond. Unions in English-speaking countries appear less prepared to act in solidarity with their U.S. counterparts than was the case with the WGA and the writers. We posed the question to several guilds, and most were unwilling to state a position or offer their members guidance until more is known. Only one union in Australia confirmed it was planning to support SAG-AFTRA and had been communicating with the U.S. guild. Everyone seeingly wants to avoid the confusion that came with the WGA strike, where overseas workers weren’t sure what they could and couldn’t work on.

Related Story

Jurors Will Hear "Many Damned Lies" & "Deliberate Exaggerations" In Kevin Spacey Trial, Says 'American Beauty' Star's Lawyer

Primer: Overnight, Deadline’s handy primer about how Hollywood and beyond would be hit by a strike has dropped. The piece walks you through TV, film, festivals, indie pics and Wall Street, leaving no stone unturned. Shows such as House of the Dragon, Industry and Andor, which have kept going during the writers strike, would likely be hit, while Europe-shooting movies such as Paramount’s Gladiator 2 are under the microscope. The impact of a strike would be “sudden and significant for the international business as well as the U.S industry,” our colleagues write. Dive deeper here. And for our full coverage of the potential actors strike, go here.

Kevin Spacey Trial Begins

“The defendant will be gratified to know you have seen his films”: As Insider goes to press, the prosecution is making its opening arguments in the trial of Kevin Spacey. The Usual Suspects and American Beauty star faces 12 counts related to sexual assault and indecent assault. He arrived at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday morning, taking time to smile, wave and say “good morning” to the assembled crowd. Spacey strenuously denies the charges against him and has taken a bold stance, telling a German magazine recently that he expects to get work “the moment I am cleared of these charges in London.” The coming weeks will clearly be career defining. The incidents all go back at least a decade. Spacey has been the subject of numerous legal cases since he was first publicly accused of sexually abusing actor Anthony Rapp when the Oscar winner was 26 and Rapp 14. Spacey beat a $40M civil case that Star Trek: Discovery actor Rapp brought against him last year. The jury for Spacey’s UK case was sworn in Wednesday, with the judge warning the 14 not to use computers for anything to do with the trial, which will “quite obviously” attract media attention. Prior to their selection, the judge told the prospective jurors: “I am sure the defendant will be gratified to know that many of you will know his name or have seen his films.” Read about the first week of the legal proceedings here and more about Spacey’s legal woes here.

Opening salvos: In her opening remarks, prosecutor Christine Agnew called Spacey — who’s being tried under his real name Kevin Spacey Fowler — a “sexual bully” who “sexually assaults other men.” She laid out a series of allegations, including complainants waking up to find Spacey performing oral sex on them to “grabbing [a complainant’s] penis with such force it was painful.” In response, Spacey’s lawyer, Patrick Gibbs, said the jury would hear “many damned lies” and that Spacey had returned to the UK to face trial so he could answer the allegations with “what actually happened.” The trial is expected to last four weeks and we’ll be reporting on all the key moments.

Taormina Tales

“All the attributes”: The Deadline team have been in Taormina this week, covering one of the buzziest film festivals around. Kicking off its 69th edition with a “Pavarotti Forever” benefit in the beautiful Italian town, much was riding on this starry edition, and new head Barrett Wissman told Mel he had been “fascinated to find a rare festival with all the attributes that this place has.” As the fest kicked off in earnest, Mike Fleming spoke with Amber Heard. Coming off years of legal battles with Johnny Depp, Heard, whose In the Fire was premiering at Taormina, had a few things to say, revealing first and foremost that she had injured her wrist trying to swat a fly. It’s been a difficult few years for the actress and the full piece is well worth a read. Some serious star quality was in the building, with Harrison Ford around to speak on the occasion of the Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny premiere, the highly-anticipated latest in the franchise. Check out his fascinating Deadline Studios chat with Mike here. Also checking into Deadline Studios were Bella Thorne, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelson and Abel Ferrara. All of our coverage can be found here.

All3 In The Money

One billion reasons to feel good: Over the last few years, much of the super-indie chatter has revolved around Banijay and Fremantle, who’ve aggressively expanded their international assets. The other big player on the TV indie production scene, All3Media, has been much quieter. Speculation over its future cranked up last year after part-owner Discovery merged with Warner Bros., which already has extensive international production assets. It then emerged WBD and co-owner Liberty Global were exploring a sale, followed by confirmation UK network ITV was “actively exploring” an acquisition of the TraitorsGogglebox and Fleabag maker. Banijay and Fremantle have also been linked with a deal. Max and Jake dug through All3’s latest set of accounts to find that it had, for the first time, hit the £1B ($1.3B) revenue mark in the 2022 calendar year, while EBITDA topped £100M ($130M) — another first. At the same time, buried deep in the financials was the news All3 had upped its voting rights in The Traitors and Gogglebox maker Studio Lambert to a majority position, meaning the parent’s shareholders now have the right to vote on certain company matters. Studio Lambert also goes from an affiliate to a subsidiary, essentially bringing it closer to the mothership. Lambert’s programs are hot property right now. Last week, Max revealed ITV had earlier this year put in an audacious bid to grab meta-telly-watching entertainment show Gogglebox from Channel 4, but failed. Bean counters and financially-minded folk should head here for more on All3’s latest accounts.

Sky Deutschland Out Of Originals Game

Shocker: Last year, the European production market was rocked by the news HBO Max was pulling out of production in most territories across the continent. This week, there was more bad news as Sky Deutschland took the decision to bin off its original productions in Germany in 2024. Somewhat ironoically, WBD unveiled its first original from Spain — one of two territories unaffected by its European exit — this week. Back in Germany, shocked Sky staffers will see the scripted team disbanded once current productions are completed with others going into turnaround. Sky Deutschland is behind shows such as Das BootMunich Games and Babylon Berlin (more on that below) but with the cost of scripted production continuing to “rise,” according to Sky Deutschland boss Devesh Raj, new projects are grinding to a halt. Sky will continue to make shows in the UK and Italy, its other two main European bases.

‘Babylon’ goes on: The highest profile casualty of Sky’s move looked to be Babylon Berlin, the big-budget neo-noir drama series that was considered to have reinvented ambitions for a mainland European drama production when it was first ordered back in 2015. However, its makers (and free TV network ARD) were quick to say the show would have a fifth season, releasing a calming statement just hours after the news broke yesterday. Beta Film, X-Filme and ARD Degeto, the production wing of ARD, will continue with the show, though a spokesperson couldn’t say how Sky’s financial share will be covered at this stage. The show has had an extremely unusual production and financing set-up — with Sky getting a first window several months before public network ARD runs the same episodes. Beta has international sales rights and covers its investment in the production through deal-making. To date, sales have been made into 140 territories. I told you it was complicated.

The Essentials

🌶️ Hot One: Tim Davie was in contact with a top government official on the day he suspended Gary Lineker, bombshell documents revealed.

🌶️ Another one: Netflix signed a five-year collaboration with Monster screenwriter Yuji Sakamoto.

🌶️ Another: Disney+ greenlit a tense drama from The Power of the Dog and It’s a Sin producers.

⛺ Festival latest: Crisis at Busan with the confirmed dismissal of MD Cho Jongkook.

More festivals: Louis Theroux will deliver Edinburgh’s annual MacTaggart.

🎥 Casting: Unorthodox star Shira Haas boarded Israel’s Night Therapy.

😀 New faces: Black Bear set its UK distribution team.

🤝 Done deal: Banijay UK invested in James Norton and Kitty Kaletsky’s Rabbit Track.

🏦 Restructure: Cineworld filed for administration in the UK.

🖼️ Slate: From Prime Video Nordics, including another version of LOL.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Reynolds latest: Ryan invested in an F1 team and launched a Welsh language channel.

🎭 Breaking Baz: Critics Choice Awards chief Joey Berlin was in Baz’s spotlight this week.

🍿 Box officeElemental sparked overseas.

🚀 Rocketman: Elton John’s Glastonbury finale became one of the most watched UK TV broadcasts of the year.

📺 Trail: For Empty Nets, which will comprise part of Karlovy Vary’s Iran retrospective.

Max Goldbart contributed to this week’s International Insider.

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