ALISON BOSHOFF: Phoebe Waller-Bridge re-signs with Amazon – three years after penning £60m deal with streaming titan that resulted in zero shows
Trebles all round for Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who has re-signed a deal with Amazon on terms that have left some industry analysts shaking their heads in wonder.
In 2019, at the point when PWB, pictured, was red-hot thanks to the success of Fleabag, she signed a three-year deal with Prime Video reportedly worth about £60 million, to develop, write and possibly star in high-profile series.
Thanks to the pandemic and perhaps other factors, she didn’t actually go into production on anything. In fact, she dropped out of a telly remake of Mr & Mrs Smith (the film starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) due to a difference of ‘vision’ with co-star Donald Glover.
In January, boss Jennifer Salke signed her up for another three years, apparently undeterred by the lack of content. Waller-Bridge is now working on an adaptation of the novel Sign Here, by Claudia Lux, about a man living in Hell; and is writing a live-action TV series based on the video game Tomb Raider, which she will not star in.
Prime Video’s head of TV, Vernon Sanders, told the Hollywood Reporter this week that Waller-Bridge is ‘fully committed’ to Tomb Raider, but is a ‘perfectionist’.
In 2019, at the point when PWB, pictured, was red-hot thanks to the success of Fleabag, she signed a three-year deal with Prime Video reportedly worth about £60 million
Phoebe Waller-Bridge dropped out of a telly remake of Mr & Mrs Smith (the film starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) due to a difference of ‘vision’ with co-star Donald Glover
Accounts filed in August for her company PMWB Limited show an annual turnover of £19 million, with a profit of £11 million.
Prime Video is getting a name for immense spending, with The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power being the most expensive TV series ever made at $465 million, and the forthcoming $300 million spy drama Citadel also a mega-money gamble. In the post-boom era of streaming, not everyone thinks this is good business.
Figures for ‘completion’ on the Lord Of The Rings TV show suggest that less than half of those who started watching wanted to finish.
Meanwhile, U.S. viewership ratings have Netflix easily dominant, and Prime Video not fielding a single contender in the top 15.
Nonetheless, boss Salke isn’t taking fright. ‘The giant, tentpole shows are driving people to subscribe to Prime,’ she insists. The question is: can Waller-Bridge write one for her?
Amanda & Alan’s Italian Job, the BBC One show where Amanda Holden and real-life buddy Alan Carr renovated a pair of dilapidated ‘one Euro’ flats in Sicily, has been one of the year’s surprise hits.
The result of their labours, a five-room apartment called Casa Alamanda, went on sale eight weeks ago for £127,000 and is one of the most-viewed properties on Rightmove.
However, despite all the interest it remains stubbornly available. Any profits will go to charity.
Ana and Chris pass their chemistry test
Chris Evans, a.k.a. Captain America, was happy to play the beta male to Ana de Armas’s alpha female in the forthcoming film Ghosted.
His character, Cole, is a lovelorn sap who follows his date, Sadie, across the globe and is surprised to find that she is actually a CIA operative in the middle of a dangerous mission and not entirely thrilled to see him.
The actors have played opposite each other previously in Knives Out and The Gray Man, but never tested their romantic chemistry — until now. But director Dexter Fletcher was certain it existed.
‘There is something special about these two together,’ he mused. ‘Actually, I asked them to jump in bed together and start kissing — and that wasn’t even in the script!
‘That was something that I invented, that they should do, so we know that these characters have more going on than just a little twinkle in their eye for each other.’
Chris Evans, a.k.a. Captain America, was happy to play the beta male to Ana de Armas’s alpha female in the forthcoming film Ghosted
Ana de Armas plays a CIA operative in the middle of a dangerous mission in the forthcoming film Ghosted
He added: ‘Who doesn’t want to see these two incredibly hot people having a great moment? I tried to shoot it tastefully, but sexy and kind of fun.’ The director reckoned that Evans playing second fiddle to de Armas’s action heroine is what makes the film special.
The Cuban-born actress, pictured left and above in the film with Evans, was cast after Scarlett Johansson dropped out due to scheduling issues.
She liked the fact that her co-star was ‘out of his comfort zone and not the hero guy’.
Evans, meanwhile, was ‘completely blown away’ by de Armas’s ‘comedic chops’.
Ghosted will be streaming on Apple TV+ from next Friday.
Gary Lineker reckons Jermaine Jenas will replace him when he leaves Match of The Day — and the former England midfielder is building up quite a broadcasting portfolio. As well as appearances on MoTD and The One Show, the 40-year-old has filmed a one-off documentary for Channel 4 . . . about trainers.
In The World’s Most Expensive Trainers, he travels to New York in search of trainer enthusiasts’ Holy Grail: a pair of Nike Air Jordans, worn by Michael Jordan himself and worth $2 million.
Bubbly Alex Jones from the One Show does a lot of showbiz meet-and-greets and is well used to offering guests a peck on the cheek. But she still gets a little taken aback when the guest in question turns their head and goes ‘full lips’, as she puts it.
One such rogue was pop star Lionel Richie, pictured, whom she inadvertently gave norovirus to.
Another was astronaut Buzz Aldrin, aged, er, 93. She said: ‘The one who went in most recently was Buzz Aldrin, but I’m not special — because he did it to Lorraine (Kelly) as well.’
No doubting my dedication
Based on the 1993 hit film starring Robin Williams, the production begins previews at the Shaftesbury Theatre on Friday May 12, with actor Gabriel Vick (left) in the lead role
Lighting transformations are the order of the day on feelgood new musical Mrs Doubtfire.
Based on the 1993 hit film starring Robin Williams, the production begins previews at the Shaftesbury Theatre on Friday May 12, with actor Gabriel Vick in the lead role.
He plays Daniel Hillard: a divorced dad (and out-of-work actor) who pretends to be a Scottish nanny — glorying in the name of Euphegenia Doubtfire — in order to spend more time with his children.
Vick (pictured, in and out of costume) has to don a wig, glasses, earrings — and false teeth — plus a one-piece prosthetic mask, to carry off the impersonation. ‘It’s when the wig goes on that Mrs Doubtfire truly arrives,’ he said, ‘and it’s at this point that her voice emerges.’
Troubled Mario banks on love of his celeb pals
Super-photographer Mario Testino fell from grace in 2018 when eight men — assistants and models — gave accounts of harassment to the New York Times. Five others subsequently made similar claims.
However, even though the magazine empire Conde Nast will no longer work with him (ditto fashion houses Burberry and Michael Kors), the celebrity snapper — who denies any wrongdoing — is still trading on his celebrity connections.
Testino, most famous for capturing radiant portraits of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, has released a coffee table book about love and weddings — and it features intimate moments from the nuptials of some of his most powerful, celebrated and privacy-conscious friends.
Kate Moss is on the cover of I Love You, kissing her (now ex) husband Jamie Hince, and the British supermodel can be seen inside, having her make-up done before her 2011 wedding. Salma Hayek is pictured kissing her groom, the fashion magnate Francois Henri Pinault, in 2009.
And Liz Hurley is photographed in her wedding tiara and a man’s shirt (no trousers) getting changed for her 2007 wedding to Arun Nayer.
I Love You is published by Taschen and on sale for a whopping £60.
Testino is also offering an online course in photography, containing more than 40 classes, in which he promises to share ‘all of the secrets and insights to help you succeed in the creative business’. It is currently on special offer at $188.
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