Jun 11 2021

Deadline: Beta & Red Bull Underway On First Season Of Ambitious Soccer Drama ‘The Net’ (Exclusive)

By Andreas Wiseman

EXCLUSIVE: Filming is underway on ambitious European drama series The Net, about corruption and conspiracies in the world of international soccer.

The Net will comprise four independent series, shot in their local languages, which will work as stand-alone dramas, but also as part of an interwoven narrative across 30 hours of storytelling.

The first of four seasons to get underway is Austria’s The Net – Prometheus, which will star Tobias Moretti (Bad Banks), Angel Coulby (Merlin), Amanda Abbington (Sherlock), Benjamin Sadler (Tribes of Europa) and Nicholas Goh (Skyfall). Andreas Prochaska (The Winemaker) is directing Martin Ambrosch’s (Brock) script.

Set in Austria’s mountains, the drama will center on Georg Trotter (Moretti), a doctor and former doping agent who gave up his career after a tragic car accident badly injuring his wife Diana (Coulby) and killing his beloved son. Known as notorious doping hunter and “bloodhound”, Georg is offered to run a new, hypermodern, high-performance clinic in the Alps. There, the staff is supposed to get injured football players back into shape in record time with high-tech training methods, and help young talent to become the best footballers in the world. They promote clean sports without illegal tricks; for Georg a job that seems to have been made for him. But soon, he has doubts: Is it really about the wellbeing of the players and that of the sport? The closer Georg looks behind the fancy facade, the more secrets he uncovers, which not only point towards the future, but also into his own past.

Filming has begun in Liverpool, Vienna, Bad Gastein and Salzburg and the Austrian drama will air on Red Bull’s Servus TV and go online via the ARD Mediathek during the FIFA World Cup, which is due to take place in late 2022 in Qatar.

The German series, produced by Sommerhaus Serien for ARD Degeto, is set to follow this summer, while an Italian season is currently in development, due to start shooting later this year, and the fourth series, set in Spain and Latin America, is also in development.

The whole project is co-produced by Das Netz – a joint venture between Red Bull Media House and Beta Film – as well as the local producers of the separate series. It is based on an idea of Matthias Hartmann and Plinio Bachmann.

The Austrian instalment is produced by MR Film in coproduction with ServusTV, ARD Degeto and Das Netz, supported by the Austrian Television Fund, Vienna Film Fund and the state of Salzburg.

Red Bull Media House’s Matthias Hartmann, creator of The Net, said: “The art of serialized storytelling has taken giant strides within the last years. Depending on genres, it developed highly complex and ambivalent characters. For many, series are now synonymous with classic novels. For us, this inevitably leads to the question, if we couldn’t extend the storytelling cosmos and create a global series network, which allows the characters and stories to travel. As football is everything, more than money and religion, there’s nothing in the world that would be better suited.”

MR Film’s Oliver Auspitz added: “The Net is going to be a new way of serial storytelling. Of course, you’ll be able to watch and enjoy only one of four series, episode by episode. But it will also be possible to take part in a cross-over adventure if you watch all four series together, each time discovering your favorite characters in different countries and on different missions. Then, you will be able to get the big picture of The Net. For me as a producer, it is such a thrilling new way of thinking and producing. It took its time and it was not easy, but with our extraordinary team, we will succeed – we will go beyond the ordinary.”

Director Andreas Prochaska commented: “The Net is an extraordinary project, which allows me to unite national and international talent in front of the camera. Martin Ambrosch’s script merges drama and science fiction into a complex thriller with lots of ambivalent characters. The viewer can expect an exciting journey through the worlds of football, doping, medical drama and crime, from Liverpool to Austria’s Bad Gastein, from the playing field to a high-tech laboratory with unscrupulous scientists.”

Daniel Prochaska (Maximilian) will take over directing duties for episode five-eight of The Net – Prometheus.

Jun 9 2021

C21: ITV, BritBox check in to Hotel Portofino

ITV and BritBox in the UK have joined a drama set on the 1920s Italian Riviera from Eagle Eye Drama, the fledgling prodco set up by the team behind international drama brand Walter Presents.

Sky Italia and Foxtel in Australia will also air the series, titled Hotel Portofino, while PBS Distribution has taken North American sales rights.

Created and written by Matt Baker, it stars Natascha McElhone (Ronin) as the daughter of a wealthy industrialist who moves to Italy to set up a quintessentially British hotel in the beautiful town of Portofino.

It is produced in cooperation with the Beta Film Group, which also handles world sales. Production services are provided by Drugiplan.

The series, which will shoot this summer in Portofino and along the Croatian coast, also features Mark Umbers (Home Fires), Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings & a Funeral), Daniele Pecci (Orgoglio), Lorenzo Richelmy (Marco Polo) and Rocco Fasano (Skam Italia).

Eagle Eye said the series captures the long-established literary tradition of comic and idiosyncratic British ‘innocents abroad,’ but also reveals darker, more serious storylines, set against the historical backdrop of the rise of Fascism in Mussolini’s Italy.

It is directed by Adam Wimpenny (Blackwood), produced by Julie Baines (Four Kids & It) and executive produced by Jo McGrath and Walter Iuzzolino. ITV’s head of drama, Polly Hill, will oversee production for the UK broadcaster.

Eagle Eye Drama, which was launched last year by Iuzzolino, McGrath and Jason Thorp, described the show as a family drama full of emotional highs and lows, with a classic ‘whodunit’ mystery woven throughout and building to a dramatic climax.


Like Walter Presents, Eagle Eye is backed by Channel 4, which recently aired Before We Die, Eagle Eye’s remake of the Swedish series of the same name adapted by Hotel Portofino creator Baker.

Andrea Downing, president of PBS Distribution, said: “This beautifully crafted series will have viewers immersed in an intensely lush production filled with mystery, intrigue, and drama, all within the backdrop of Portofino, one of Europe’s most magnificent coastal towns.”

Iuzzolino, CEO of Eagle Eye Drama, added: “This is a hugely important and exciting new creative chapter for Eagle Eye; Hotel Portofino is our very first original series, from an idea which was developed in-house. The series was inspired by my hometown and we’re grateful to PBS Distribution who have been incredibly supportive and collaborative partners on this project.”

May 21 2021

Variety: ‘Lupin’ Author Maurice Leblanc’s ‘The Island of Thirty Coffins’ Picked Up by Beta Film (EXCLUSIVE)

Munich-based Beta Film, one of Europe's biggest independent TV companies, has acquired worldwide distribution rights outside France to "The Island of Thirty Coffins," a French series adaptation of a novel by "Lupin" author Maurice Leblanc.

An atmospheric crime thriller from Leblanc – whose Arsène Lupin character, created in 1905, inspired Netflix biggest foreign-language global hit "Lupin" – "The Island of Thirty Coffins" stars Virginie Ledoyen ("The Beach," "8 Women").

Directed by Frédéric Mermoud ("Les Revenants") and written by Elsa Marpeau ("Capitaine Marleau") and Florent Meyer ("Lupin"), its acquisition forms part of a planned far larger drive into French drama series by Beta Films.

"We shall try to acquire more and more French series in the upcoming months and years," said Jérôme Vincendon, Beta Film exec VP international sales and acquisitions, French-speaking Europe. "We think it's the right moment," he added.


Once dominated in prime time by U.S. procedurals, France has seen its domestic TV industry build in production and artistic ambitions, sometimes playing off its large literary culture and history.

"We are fascinated by the richness and creativity of the ever growing and blooming French production market. International success stories, such as 'Lupin' or 'Call My Agent,' prove the strong, competitive creation landscape in France and underline its worldwide significance," Vincendon observed.

"The Island of 30 Coffins" was originally published by Leblanc in 1919, just after World War I. Even though the series is now set in the modern-day, the post-conflict feel is still evident.

The six-hour drama turns on Christine, who lost her son at birth 15 years ago. Or so she believes, until she receives a video suggesting he might not be dead. That sends her hurrying back to the island of her childhood in Brittany to discover the truth in an investigation confronting multiple mysteries.

The series also stars Charles Berling ("Marie Curie," "Capitaine Marleau") and Stanley Weber ("Borgia," "Berlin Station," "Paula").

"During World War One, women came to occupy a huge space in society. It may not be a coincidence that '30 Coffins' has a woman at the center of the story who is highly independent and battling to be free," said Stéphane Moatti, at France's Thalie Images, which produced "30 Coffins" for French public network France Télévisions' France 2.

"The series was shot on location on the coastline of Brittany in North-West France, in wild countryside, on mysterious islands and in abandoned sites, conveying the authentic crime look and feel of a crime series," Beta Film said Friday. Having wrapped on the island of Ushant, shooting has begun in other parts of Brittany and Paris.

"'The Island of 30 Coffins" setting on this spectacular island is at the heart of the thriller," said Moatti. "But local elements can raise the popularity of a series in both its domestic market and international," he added.

Thalie Images was founded 10 years ago by Moatti and KaBo – the company behind long-running short format comedies such "Scenes de Menages" and 2020's "Derby Girl" – to start producing primetime drama.

To do so, it has drawn on French film talent. Thalie Images credits include "Mystère a Paris," a crime film series running on France 2 over 2011-19, and "Le Mensonge," a celebrated miniseries with "La Belle Époque's'" Daniel Auteuil in his first TV role.

Mermoud cut his teeth making shorts and a feature before breaking out directing episodes of French original series "Les Revenants," which generated U.S. remake "The Returned." 

May 11 2021

C21: Beta picks up NRK's Award-winning coming-of-age drama Rod Knock

Munich-based producer and distributor Beta Film has picked up the international distribution rights, excluding Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland, to Norwegian coming-of-age drama Rod Knock.

Produced by Fenomen and Storyline and commissioned by Norwegian pubcaster NRK, the 16×25' series follows a group of young gearheads as they deal with the trials and tribulations of early adulthood, including heartache, uncertainty and loss.

Knut Inge Solbu, the show's producer, told C21 the series was targeted at men aged 20. "It's a story about young men dealing with problems that they haven't developed the language to talk about. It's important to tell stories like these. The message is that you're not alone and to talk about it."

Speaking about potential buyers, Claudia Schmitt, head of kids and family entertainment at Beta Film, told C21 the series would particularly suit VoD platforms, as well as public service broadcasters.

She added: "I think there will be remakes of Rod Knock, as we are selling both the format and finished tape, and it has universal appeal. In Germany, Holland and Eastern Europe, however, the series could be dubbed because the landscapes are similar."

Rod Knock is directed by Daniel Fahre (Born2Drive, Marcus & Martinius – Together) and produced by Solbu, Tom Marius Kittilsen and Janne Hjeltnes, while Linn-Jeanethe Kyed (Tuba Atlantic, Burning) serves as scriptwriter.

At last weekend's Norwegian TV industry awards, the Gullruten, the series won seven awards, including Best Drama and Best Script.

May 7 2021

Deadline: Beta Film Pre-Sells Period TV Drama ‘Sisi’ To France & Austria, First Look At Production

EXCLUSIVE: Beta Film has closed pre-sales with two leading European broadcasters, France's TF1 and Austria's ORF, on RTL Group's series about iconic Austrian Empress Sisi.

Shooting of the six-hour series has just started in the Baltics and will continue in Austria, Hungary and Germany. Today we can reveal a first look on set. RTL Group's streaming service TVNOW plans to release Sisi at the end of this year. Further negotiations with several international broadcasters are said to be underway.

Empress Elisabeth, nicknamed Sisi, whose fictional character was portrayed by Austrian actress Romy Schneider in the 1950s, was a pop star and influencer of her time at the end of the 19th century, and an icon in Europe and beyond.

The series circles around the tomboy and Bavarian princess, who, after her marriage with Franz Joseph I., Emperor of Austria, has to realize that life at the Habsburg court in Vienna is not at all what she expected. The monarch must fight against the strict and even cruel regime at court and for her ideals.

The role of Sisi is interpreted by up-and-coming Swiss-American actress Dominique Devenport (Night Train to Lisbon), while Emperor Franz is portrayed by Germany's Jannik Schümann (Center of My World, Charité). Also starring are Grimme-awarded Désirée Nosbusch (Bad Banks) in the role of Archduchess Sophie, the mother-in-law of the young Empress, and Julia Stemberger (M - A city haunts a Murderer) as her mother Ludovica and Tanja Schleiff (Downfall) as famous Countess Esterhazy, amongst others.

Beta handles world sales. The TVNOW-series is produced by Story House Pictures (Jens Freels and Andreas Gutzeit, who also serves as showrunner) in collaboration with Satel Film (Heinrich Ambrosch, Bettina Kuhn) and Beta Film. Scripts are written by Elena Hell and Robert Krause. Head writers are Andreas Gutzeit and Robert Krause.

Sven Bohse (Dark Woods) directs the series; Hauke Bartel leads the RTL Mediagroup's team with Sylke Poensgen (EP) and Markus Böhlke (commissioning editor). The show is supported by the FFA German Federal Film Board and the FFF Bavarian Film and Television Fund.

May 7 2021

Beta Film celebrates a primetime-winning week on Germany's ARD

With three primetime wins, Beta Film has finished a most successful week on Germany's public broadcaster ARD. Inspector Dupin (filmpool) even surpassed previous successes, scoring over 7 million viewers and a sensational market share of 22.4 %. The ninth installment of the crime cycle, set against the glorious backdrop of the rough Breton coast, also did very well with younger audiences (14-49), outdoing most of the private channels with an 8 % market share. Earlier in the week, the UFA production The Unbearable Lightness of the Revolution, one of the highlights in Beta's current spring lineup, won primetime with a strong four million viewership on ARD and a 13 % market share overall. Last but not least, Beta's subsidiary Zeitsprung with producer Michael Souvignier took its share of the cake with another primetime win for Goldjungs on ARD with five million viewers and a 16 % market share.

Apr 28 2021

“Hudson & Rex” new Season jumps through the roof in North America and the UK

Munich, 28 April 2021. Season three of the success procedural Hudson & Rex exceeds all expectations in its home turf on CityTV (Rogers Media) in Canada, as well as on UKTV's Alibi with rating increased over 50%.

The crime show about Charlie Hudson (John Reardon) and his extraordinary former K9 dog Rex closed the third season on CityTV this spring with an average increase of almost 50% in comparison to the previous installment. Set in St. John on Newfoundland, the series gathered up to one million viewers an episode with a strong fan base among adults between 25-54 years.

Season three currently runs with extraordinary success on UKTV's Alibi, gathering an exceptional 60% increase in viewers in comparison to season one, while averaging nearly half a million viewers per episode.

After the continuous success of the series, the canine/cop procedural's cast announced the fourth season with 16 new episodes during its season three finale on CityTV last week. Hudson & Rex (64 episodes) is produced by Shaftesbury, Pope Productions and Beta Film for Rogers Media / CityTV. Beta Film also handles the world sales.