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Germany’s Seven.One Entertainment Nabs Beta’s Premium Series ‘Estonia’ From ‘Chernobyl’ Team (EXCLUSIVE)



Beta has pre-sold sprawling Finnish drama series “Estonia” to Germany’s broadcaster Seven.One Entertainment Group, the parent company of ProSieben.

The eight-hour drama, about the deadliest civil maritime disaster in recent European history, is now in its third week of shooting.

Produced by Fisher King, a subsidiary of Beta Nordic Studio, the drama charts the sinking of the MS Estonia on September 28, 1994 which claimed the lives of over 850 people. The series also chronicles the tentacular investigation launched in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Miikko Oikkonen (“Bordertown,” “Helsinki Syndrome”) created the series based on numerous testimonies of survivors, which were classified until recently. The story is told though the perspectives of survivors, investigators and journalists.

“Estonia” reunites the creative team behind “Chernobyl,” including award-winning Swedish director Måns Månsson (“Snabba Cash”), cinematographer Jani-Petteri Passi and the VFX company DNEG.

The series is being directed by Månsson and Finnish director Juuso Syrjä (“Bordertown,” “Helsinki Syndrome”). It’s currently shooting in the world’s most advanced indoor water stages located in Belgium, and will continue in Turkey, Finland, Sweden, and Estonia.

“Estonia” stars Katia Winter (“Dexter,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Agent Hamilton”), Jussi Nikkilä (“Love and Other Troubles”), Peter Andersson (“Jack Ryan”), Arndt Schwering-Sohnrey (“Inglourious Basterds,” “Who Am I,” “The White Ribbon”), and Pelle Heikkilä (“Invisible Heroes”), among others.

Speaking to Variety during the shoot, Månsson said he was compelled to overcome his initial fears of committing to such a complicated, emotionally charged and multi-national project once he found out he would be working again with a “world-class team,” Passi and DNEG.

“Like ‘Chernobyl,’ there’s definitely some action, but it’s all about the characters,” said Månsson. “It has to be meaningful, otherwise why make a series about a disaster?” He said directing “Estonia” was a “cathartic experience” because the sinking of the ship caused a trauma in Sweden and is still considered an open wound due to the fact that the lengthy investigation that was conducted by Sweden, Finland and Estonia never determined a cause for the tragedy.

“The sinking of the MS Estonia is one of the great unsolved tragedies of recent times and thus offers plenty of room for conspiracy theories. This is gripping material that moves anyone who comes across it,” said Henrik Pabst, CEO of Seven.One Entertainment Group.

“Having already had a veritable hit on ProSieben and Joyn with Månsson’s series ‘Chernobyl,’ I’m delighted that we can also present his new project Estonia to our viewers and users on our platforms,” Pabst continued.

Justus Riesenkampff, executive chair of Beta Nordic Studios, said “Estonia” marked a milestone for Fisher King and for Finland. “It’s a totally new level. ‘Estonia’ has a budget that’s three times higher than average Finnish series,” said Riesenkampff, adding that it’s also Fisher King’s most ambitious show to date.

“It’s one of the biggest mysteries in the region and is still a very relevant story to this day so we knew we had find an angle that was different from the usual romance and sinking ship plot,” said the executive, who praised the show’s “unique approach,” as well as its “fresh and contemporary way of storytelling.”

“Miikko Oikkonen was able to access real testimonies about what went wrong and how this could have happened, so the series pulls audiences inside the ship, like a fly in a wall,” Riesenkampff continued. He pointed ProSieben seldom acquires non-U.S. shows at such an early stage. “They hadn’t pre-bought this kind of Europeans investigating drama in a while and they were interested by the team behind ‘Estonia,’ especially Mans who was second unit director on ‘Chernobyl.’”

Martin Håkansson, CCO of Beta Nordic Studios, described “Estonia” as “one of the most demanding and aspiring production coming out of Finland” and said it “sets new standards for Scandinavian productions” due to its “way of approaching the story so truthfully and the talented creatives attached.”

“The unsolved case of the disastrous sinking of the Estonia and its complex investigation remains relevant to all audiences today,” Håkansson continued.

“Estonia” is executive produced by Matti Halonen and Johannes Lassila of Finland’s leading production house Fisher King, in co-production with Martina Stöhr and Petra Jönsson at Sweden’s Kärnfilm AB, André Logie of Belgium’s Panache Production, and Estonian Amrion Oü. The show is also co-produced with C More Finland and Sweden, TV4, MTV Finland, and Telia Estonia, in collaboration with Beta Film, which is handling world sales.

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Julia Garner’s Dual ‘Ozark’ and ‘Inventing Anna’ Nominations Solidify Her Status as ‘Emmy Catnip’



When it comes to turning Emmy nominations into Emmy wins, Julia Garner is so far batting a thousand. The actor was nominated in 2019 and 2020 in the supporting actress in a drama series category for “Ozark” — and she won both times.

Now, Garner has doubled her Emmy nominations tally to four, picking up another supporting actress nod for the final season of “Ozark” and also landing one for her “Inventing Anna” role, as lead actress in a limited or anthology series or movie.

Given her “Ozark” success, that nomination wasn’t a shock. But the success of “Inventing Anna” at the Emmys — including in the key limited or anthology series category — was a bit of a surprise, especially given the expectation that another Netflix series, “Maid,” would make the cut.

Yet in hindsight, it shouldn’t have been a surprise at all. By now it’s clear that Julia Garner should be added to the list of awards catnip — the roster of stars that continue to amaze on screen, and whose work has not gone unnoticed by industry voters. Think of other awards favorites like Olivia Colman or Sarah Paulson (who returns to the Emmy table this year with “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” her eighth nomination).

Garner has clearly impressed over the years on “Ozark” as Ruth Langmore, but has also shown her range in recent years via “Waco,” “The Americans,” “Dirty John” and now, “Inventing Anna.”

In playing socialite huckster Anna Delvey, Garner had to perfect a bizarre, one-of-a-kind accent while playing a character whose demeanor is more or less bored psychopath. Shondaland’s Betsy Beers told me why they felt so fortunate to land Garner for the role.

“She is perfect because she can do anything and is just an astoundingly talented actress,” Beers says. “She, like Anna, is a chameleon, and has the uncanny ability to truly become the character she is playing. She dug into the research, and watching her become Anna was a joy to behold. And perfecting that accent was no easy task!”

In a year boasting some of the best performers and performances in recent memories, nearly every Emmy category is super-competitive. And that especially goes for Garner’s fields; In supporting drama actress, she’s up against an overdue nod for Rhea Seehorn (“Better Call Saul”), two stars from the hottest show on TV (“Severance’s” Sarah Snook and J. Smith-Cameron), a nominee looking to make history (“Squid Game” star Jung Ho-yeon), another double nominee in Sydney Sweeney (“Euphoria”) and two icons: Christina Ricci (“Yellowjackets”) and Patricia Arquette (“Severance”).

The lead actress in a limited series field is also stacked, with Paulson, Toni Collette (“The Staircase”), Lily James (“Pam & Tommy”), Margaret Qualley (“Maid”) and Amanda Seyfried (“The Dropout”).

But never count the awards catnip out. Garner is next set to star as Madonna in a biopic on the legendary performer, and also is busy getting into the production game — signing a deal with Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements’ Tomorrow Studios. When we broke news of Garner’s next project, the international jewel heist mystery “Balabusta,” without knowing much more about it, I just know I need to see it.

Adelstein told me how the Garner deal is “probably one of the best we’ve ever made.” Added Clements: “She is so bright, so prolific… oh my goodness, that woman is going to be an Oscar winner.”

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Marvel Makes Fake Tinder Profile for She-Hulk



To promote the upcoming series She-Hulk, Marvel creates a faux Tinder profile for Jennifer Walters, highlighting the charcater’s romantic journey.

As part of their promotion for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Marvel has created a faux Tinder profile for the show’s lead character Jennifer Walters. She-Hulk is the next project to be released in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, streaming exclusively on Disney+ beginning August 17. Starring Tatiana Maslany as the title character, the show will also feature the return of several familiar MCU faces like Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, Tim Roth as Abomination, Charlie Cox as Daredevil, and Benedict Wong as Wong alongside an ensemble cast of new characters played by Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Anais Almonte, and The Good Place alum Jameela Jamil.


She-Hulk will take a look at an often ignored corner of the Marvel universe: the lawyers who clean up after superheroes. One such lawyer is Jennifer Walters, who gains her own set of powers from her cousin Bruce Banner. The show will follow her as she attempts to balance her career of defending superpowered individuals in court, her search for a romantic partner, and her eventual rivalry with Jamil’s social media influencer villain Titania. Walters’ romantic travails might not be the primary focus of the series, but they do wind up front and center in the advertisements, particularly a scene where she Hulks out and carries a man around her apartment.

As originally reported by, the She-Hulk publicity team clearly had Jennifer Walters’ love life on the mind when crafting their latest promotional material. They have crafted a faux Tinder profile that has been shuffled onto the ap. Although it does say “ad” in the lower right corner of her profile picture, it is a pretty convincing replica of what her profile might look like until one looks at the caption, which is an advertisement for the series that closes with “Find out who she DOES match with in She-Hulk… (seriously – she goes on dates!).” Check out screenshots from the fake profile, shared on Twitter by user jozopath, below:

This is the latest in-universe ad for the series in a particularly creative campaign that has also included bus ads that mimic real-life ads for attorneys. It’s clear that Marvel is using this particular promotional strategy to appeal to people who may be more interested in romantic television series than the action-packed superhero mayhem the franchise is known for. However, the ad does leave fans with the implication that Walters may end up with a love interest that rises above the heap over the course of the 12-episode season.

It’s possible that this could be Bass’ character Todd, who according to his character description has recently taken the plunge into online dating. However, there will likely be plenty of twists and turns before Walters gets to that point, including a potential entanglement with Segarra’s character Pug Pugliese, who is part of her legal team. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a Marvel series, after all, so it is likely that nothing is as it initially seems.


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Bob Greenblatt Turns His ‘Gift of Free Time’ into Memoir of Producing, Programming and Persevering



After years of working with accomplished writers to develop TV shows, Greenblatt says it was humbling and invigorating to face the blank page every day.

“It was about a year of me pouring out the stories on the page, and another four to five months reworking it,” Greenblatt says. “So many things about writing it were revelatory to me. So many little things.”

The title refers to Greenblatt’s hometown of Rockford, Ill., about 90 miles west of Chicago, and the detective drama series starring James Garner that ran on NBC from 1974-80.

Taking a long look in the rearview mirror helped him take stock of where the industry is headed. And that was a worthy exercise for an executive who is pursuing entrepreneurial ventures in TV, stage and other content opportunities.

“When you step back for a minute and really think about things, it’s really remarkable to look at what’s happened to the business,” Greenblatt says. “When I started there were basically three networks and Fox was on a couple nights a week. Then we went into the cable revolution and now it’s streaming that is the next iteration.”

From the days of vaudeville and nickelodeons to the burgeoning world of Web3 entertainment, the one constant throughout is the need for distinctive content to bring consumers to the screen. Greenblatt’s book is an invaluable compendium of anecdotes about his experiences in the TV trenches. He brings the dual perspective of a seasoned industryite who has worked as a top programming buyer for major networks as well as a producer of Emmy-winning series.

Some of the liveliest tales in the tome revolve around “Six Feet Under,” the beloved HBO drama series that ran from 2001 to 2005. Greenblatt and his former producing partner, David Janollari, shepherded the series with creator Alan Ball through the Greenblatt Janollari Studio banner that the pair ran in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

On paper, a show about a deeply dysfunctional family that runs a funeral home in Pasadena hardly has the makings of a successful TV series. But in the moment that “Six Feet Under” was birthed some 20-odd years ago, HBO was just starting to open the aperture of prestige television.

“The Rockford Files” also makes crystal clear how much television is a team sport. Greenblatt goes out of his way to recognize the many people who contributed the ideas and inspirations that make for distinctive shows.

Courtesy of HBO

The germ of the idea for “Six Feet Under” came from then- HBO development chief Carolyn Strauss being interested in finding a series set against the backdrop of the business of death. At the same time, “Six Feet Under” only worked because Ball brought his unique view to the subject matter.

“Alan Ball is a singular talent, and recognizing that early on was a stroke of luck for us. We had an instinct about him. And while instincts are hard to quantify, if you learn to listen to them and trust your gut about a ‘feeling’ you have, it can pay big dividends,” Greenblatt writes. “This show always goes back to one of my favorite epiphanies — only pursue ideas that are singular, totally original and even risky. While it’s not possible to do that every single time, when you can, the payoff is often extraordinary. In a million years, the idea of a show set in a funeral home doesn’t make any sense, until it gets into the hands of a genius.”

Of course, in the stranger-than-fiction way the world works, Greenblatt was head of programming for HBO rival Showtime by the time “Six Feet Under” wrapped its five-season run in 2005.

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