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Disney+ UK hints at Simpsons deal

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Disney+ UK

Don’t have a cow, man! It looks like Disney+ will include The Simpsons after all when it launches in the UK later this month.

The animation didn’t feature on the streaming service’s UK line-up when it was revealed last week, despite Disney owning the rights.

Its absence was due to licensing restrictions with Sky, which broadcasts the show in the UK.

But in a cryptic Twitter message, Disney hinted a deal had been struck.

Underneath a picture of a spinning pastry, the broadcaster tweeted: “Grab yourself a D’oh-nut and stay tuned,” seemingly in reference to Homer’s famous catchphrase.

The news comes days after it emerged that Disney+ would be integrated into the Sky Q service.

If confirmed, it will be the first time Homer, Bart, Marge, Maggie and Lisa have been available to stream on-demand in the UK.

The Simpsons is currently broadcast in the UK on Sky One and Channel 4 – Sky shows episodes from all 31 series, while Channel 4 is showing up to series 27.

But some Simpsons fans threatened to boycott Disney+ UK if the series was not included in its roster of programmes.

It is understood that the show will be shown on Sky for the foreseeable future, no matter the outcome of the Disney+ deal.

Gala launch cancelled

Disney has owned the rights to The Simpsons since it purchased Rupert Murdoch’s Fox for $52bn back in 2017. The US version of Disney+ launched with more than 660 episodes of the sitcom last year.

Only one was missing: Season three’s Stark Raving Dad, which featured a guest appearance by Michael Jackson. Producers pulled the episode from circulation following renewed allegations of sexual abuse by the star in the Finding Neverland documentary last year.

Other shows destined for Disney + when it launches on 24 March will include Star Wars series The Mandalorian and a new Toy Story series centred on the character Forky.

The on-demand video service, which costs £5.99 per month, is Disney’s attempt to challenge industry leader Netflix, which has 170m subscribers.

Walt Disney said about 28.6 million people had signed up for Disney+ since it started in November.

The service is currently available in five countries, including the US and Canada. Alongside the UK, it’s due to launch in other countries in western Europe later this month.

However, a red carpet gala marking the launch has been cancelled due to fears over coronavirus.

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Basu Chatterjee: Bollywood’s ‘chronicler of simple romances’ dies at 93

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Basu Chatterjee (left) receiving an award from Adoor Gopalakrishnan in 2009Image copyright
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Basu Chatterjee (left) explored middle-class anxieties of life and love

Legendary filmmaker Basu Chatterjee, who directed simple Bollywood romances and comedies, has died aged 93.

Chatterjee’s films were known for telling stories of regular middle-class men and women with humour and sensitivity.

Some of his best-known films included Rajanigandha, Choti Choti Si Baat, Chitchor and Baton Baton Mein.

He also directed the gritty 1986 film Ek Ruka Hua Faisla, a Hindi adaptation of Twelve Angry Men.

His death was confirmed on Twitter by filmmaker Ashoke Pandit, president of the Indian Film and TV Directors’ Association.

“I am extremely grieved to inform you all the demise of Legendary Filmmaker Basu Chatterjee ji. His last rites will be performed today at Santacruz crematorium. It’s a great loss to the industry. Will miss you sir,” he tweeted.

Chatterjee began his career as an illustrator and cartoonist for the Mumbai-based magazine Blitz before moving to Bollywood in the mid-1960s. His debut directorial venture, Sara Akash was critically acclaimed and also won an award.

‘Brilliant and sensitive’

Popularly known as Basu-da (a Bengali term for elder brother), he wove magic on big screen through dozens of films made in the 1970s and 1980s.

At a time when action films were all the rage with the audiences, he managed to carve a niche for himself with gentle stories exploring middle-class anxieties of life and love.

He mostly worked with mid-level actors and actresses, his favourite being Amol Palekar, whom he cast as a timid young man in a number of romances.

He also directed superstar Amitabh Bachchan in Manzil, which is known for its hit song Rim Jhim Gire Sawan, an ode to the Mumbai monsoon.

He also directed several Bengali films and serials like Byomkesh Bakshi and Rajani for India’s state-run TV channel, Doordarshan.

Following the news of his death, his Bollywood colleagues and fans took to social media to pay tributes to Basu-da.

“Sad to hear of the demise of Shri Basu Chatterjee. His works are brilliant and sensitive. It touched people’s hearts and represented the simple and complex emotions, as well as struggles of people. Condolences to his family and innumerable fans,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Journalist Sayantan Ghosh described him as “the oldest chronicler of Indian middle-class anxieties, pre-liberalisation ambitions, and the uncertain relatable loves of underdogs like most of us”.

The best description of his style of filmmaking though comes from a fan.

“Basu Chatterjee’s movie were like cool summer breeze,” writes @purvabhatt_. “Suddenly the world around you would slow down, the rush, chaos would fade, the chai would taste better. Like an old watch it would remind you of simpler times. He could present the most complex conundrums as a Choti si Baat [a small matter].”



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Bafta TV Awards: Chernobyl and The Crown among nominees

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Joshua Leese played Igor Kirschenbaum in Sky’s 2019 miniseries Chernobyl

Chernobyl leads the field at this year’s Bafta Television Awards, with 14 nominations.

The Sky Atlantic miniseries, which was heavily praised by critics, was based on the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

It becomes one of the most-nominated shows in the ceremony’s history, tying with the 14 nominations Killing Eve received last year.

Netflix’s Royal drama The Crown has seven nominations in total.

Other nominees at this year’s ceremony include Fleabag and Giri/Haji – which receive six nominations each.

The top Bafta TV nominees

  • Chernobyl – 14
  • The Crown – 7
  • Fleabag – 6
  • Giri / Haji – 6
  • Bafta TV Awards: The nominations in full

The Virtues, Killing Eve, Sex Education and Top Boy have also been recognised.

Chernobyl has three nominations for the main awards and 11 for Bafta’s Craft Awards, which were revealed together.

Glenda Jackson is nominated for leading actress at the age of 84, for her performance in Elizabeth Is Missing.

Gentleman Jack star Suranne Jones and Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer are also nominated in the category, along with Samantha Morton for her performance in I Am Kirsty.

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Killing Eve’s second series has four nominations, including leading actress for Jodie Comer

The best actor nominees include Callum Turner, Jared Harris and Takehiro Hira, while Stephen Graham is recognised for his work in The Virtues.

BBC One’s The Greatest Dancer is nominated for entertainment programme, despite being cancelled after its recent second series.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Jamie Demetriou are the most-nominated individuals this year, with three nods each.

Chat show host Graham Norton and Famalam star Gbemisola Ikumelo have two individual nominations each.

A Newsnight special in which Prince Andrew was interviewed by Emily Maitlis is nominated for news coverage.

Other nominees in the category include ITV News coverage of the election results, an episode of BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire Show about knife crime, and Sky News coverage of the Hong Kong protests.

  • The Crown: Critics welcome ‘confident’ return
  • What was the must-see TV moment of the year?

The nominations for the Must See Moment category were announced earlier this week, with nods for Game of Thrones, Line of Duty and Love Island.

This year’s ceremony will be broadcast from behind closed doors after being delayed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Richard Ayoade will host from a closed studio and winners will give acceptance speeches virtually.

The winners will be announced on 31 July, with the ceremony broadcast on BBC One.

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Bafta

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Richard Ayoade will present the Bafta TV Awards for the first time

In a statement, actor, presenter and writer Ayoade joked: “I am as surprised as you are that this is still going ahead.”

Bafta’s Craft Awards, meanwhile, which celebrate behind-the-scenes achievements, will be streamed on 17 July, hosted by fellow comic actor Stephen Mangan.

Categories such as writing, sound, editing and production design will be handed out at the Craft Awards, while prizes for acting and best overall series will be announced at the Bafta TV Awards.

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The young actors joining an industry on pause

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Elliot Swann

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Elliot Swann has been emailing audition tapes that he records at home

Elliot Swann caught his mum spying through the kitchen window as he practised ballet in their garden.

Despite still being physically closed, ArtsEd, the London-based acting conservatory where Elliot studies musical theatre, has powered on virtually since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.

Alongside classmates on Zoom meetings, Elliot, 21, drills voice practices and dance moves on the garden decking, and taps away in the bathroom of his parents’ house in Hampshire. But will there be any work for him and his fellow students after they graduate this summer?

Normally, at this time of year, acting students around the world are making their first foray into the business, performing in person for agents, casting directors and producers, hoping to sign on with a talent agency, or even pick up their first paid work.

But with theatres still closed, and TV and movie filming on hold, the acting world is currently an industry on pause.

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ArtsEd

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ArtsEd students and teachers have carried on their classes remotely

“All of our work has stopped,” says James Calleri, who casts Broadway and regional theatre in New York as well as film and TV. “Everything has just been cleared.”

Mr Calleri, who also runs the graduate acting programme at New York’s Columbia University, would normally have taken graduating students on an industry tour of Los Angeles back in April.

They would have performed for some of the big showbiz decision makers. But all Columbia’s acting school showcases were cancelled, indefinitely.

“We were going to push to September, but the problem is that theatres are so debilitated right now,” Mr Calleri says. “They don’t even know what their life is going to be like after lockdown.”

Any auditions that are still taking place have moved to home recordings or “self tapes” that are emailed off.

Back in Hampshire, Elliot has made it though five rounds of recalls for a West End show.

“The good thing is you get a second chance,” he says. “You can watch it back, and if you want, you can do it again.”

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James Calleri

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James Calleri says the industry has just “stopped”

Elliot’s professors are also happy to give feedback and guidance before the videos are sent out, something that would not be possible with in-person auditions.

“The [movie and TV] businesses have been moving auditions to self tapes for some time, but I think plays and musicals will head that way too, even after the virus,” says Chris Hocking, the principal of ArtsEd.

“Everyone is trying to help these graduates. We have worked hard so that the students have industry contact throughout their training.”

What continues for Elliot is a waiting game. An actor almost never receives feedback unless they win the job.

“Especially now,” he says, “because everything is extended. And many tours have had to cancel because of the lockdown.

“There is every chance you might be auditioning for a show, you could get cast, and then a couple of weeks later they’ll say, ‘I’m really sorry, it’s been cancelled.'”

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Theatres around the world are closed

Elliot knows he is lucky to be getting seen. Many new graduates are not getting any industry face-time.

Racheal Owens, a teacher at Guildford School of Acting, says their graduates were due to have a final day of performance for agents and casting directors back in March. But a day before the show, the lockdown restrictions were announced, and it was cancelled.

“Some students had signed, but others had not, and would have been hoping for more opportunities, as we had two musicals left to perform,”she says.

The staff at Guilford have continued to do everything possible to get self tapes to agents. Luckily the industry in London has been receptive, in an effort to support this year’s graduates, but there is very little work available.

“I really feel for these students, whose introduction to the industry is so compromised,” says Ms Owens.

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Michael Carlo Photography

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Elliot Swann says he is committed to an acting career

A missed in-person performance can make life especially difficult for young actors with an offbeat style, or unusual looks, that might not come across well in a short self tape, plus resumé (CV) and headshot.

Such performers are more likely to win over agents and casting directors in person.

But even if young actors impress, however they are able to audition, how long will it be before the industry can return to some sort of normal?

James Calleri wonders how the practical experience of going to the theatre would work with social distancing.

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Media captionAbba’s Björn Ulvaeus fears for future of West End theatres

Producers might sell out a 1,200-seat Broadway theatre, but if 600 people sit in every other seat in order to socially distance, shows will fail to recoup costs, he points out. In smaller theatres, social distancing would be impossible.

“The class of 2020 is the injured party right now,” he says. “I feel like the industry knows that and hopefully will try and look out for them.”

Global Trade

More from the BBC’s series taking an international perspective on trade:

Alex Butler, who runs the New York boutique agency Henderson Hogan, warns his recent signings that things aren’t going to get better overnight.

“I told them, ‘Look, if you are in this for the long haul, come to the city, get your apartment, your day job and your classes set up. Once things go back, we can gear up.'”

But it could be a long wait. Mr Butler says he would love for Broadway to reopen in September but fears curtains may not rise until next year.

Still, he thinks that sometime down the road, if young actors coming out of school this year can hold tight, there will be opportunities to audition for these shows.

“People working on Broadway might decide they are done with the business, or if they are touring, their spouses won’t want them to go on the road anymore,” he says.

New York casting director Alison Franck, who casts Broadway, touring and regional musical theatre shows, says that actors have always needed to be creative and resilient. Those attributes are needed now more than ever, because many will struggle to get agents straight away.

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J Demetrie

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Alison Franck says that young actors now have to be more resilient than ever

“These actors have to learn how to hustle on their own,” she says. “And I think the ones who figure this out may often end up being more successful in the long run.”

Elliot understands how hard the current situation is, but he is ready to dig in. He believes the industry will come back “stronger than ever”.

Acting has been his dream for his whole life.

“I’m absolutely in it for the long haul,” he says.



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