International News Roundup: Cronenbergs in Cannes, Norwegian Killer on Trial, Julian Assange, Talk Show Host

Cannes rolls out the red carpet for Cronenberg and son, Norway braces for its trial of the century and London starts the countdown for the 2012 Olympics. Here’s The Hollywood Reporter’s look back at the media stories making headlines around the world this week.

CRONENBERG, SENIOR AND JUNIOR, HEAD TO CANNES

David Cronenberg and his son Brandon have booked their tickets to Cannes for the 65th fest. Cronenberg senior’s Cosmopolis, starring Robert Pattinson, will screen in Competition, alongside Walter SallesOn The Road, The Paperboy from Lee Daniels and Michael Haneke’s Amour.

Antiviral, the debut feature from Cronenberg Junior, will premiere in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard sidebar. Other high-profile Un Certain titles include Sundance winner Beasts of the Southern Wild and Sylvie Verheyde’s Confession d’un enfant du siecle, starring the unlikely screen duo of Charlotte Gainsbourg and rock bad boy Pete Doherty.

NORWEGIAN KILLER ON TRIAL

Norway braced for its trial of the century as Anders Behring Brievik, the man who massacred 77 people in a one-day rampage last year, took the stand. The trail began with a mini scandal, as the court dismissed one of the assigned lay judges after it was revealed he had posted a comment on Facebook last year calling for the killer to be executed. The first week was taken up by Brievik’s testimony, in which he defended the attacks as a political action necessary to defend Norway against multi-culturalism. The prosecution depicted Brievik as a loner and loser who spent a full year online playing World Of Warcraft.

MURDER ROCKS BOLLYWOOD, BEIJING

Bollywood fans where shocked and horrified by the kidnapping and beheading of actress Meenakshi Thapar. Thapar was reportedly kidnapped by two other actors who then killed her on the set of her latest movie. The two actors confessed after police caught them with the SIM card to Thapar's phone.

In China, the controversy surrounding the death of British businessman Neil Heywood continues to dominate the Beijing blogosphere. The scandal surrounding Heywood’s murder has already cost rising political star Bo Xilai his job and micro-bloggers continue to evade state censorship laws to break news and rumors about the case.

MURDOCHS RETURN TO STAND

News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and his son, deputy COO James Murdoch, will again give evidence to the U.K. government’s Levenson inquiry into phone hacking at News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper unit News International. James Murdoch is set to face questioning on Tuesday, April 24. His father on Wednesday, April 25 and, if needed, Thursday, April 25.

Meanwhile, the lawsuits against News International continue to pile up. A wave of plaintants, including VIPs such as soccer stars Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch and

British member of parliament Tom Watson and journalist Martin Hickmann added fuel to the fire surrounding the Murdochs with the launch of their new book, Dial M for Murdoch in which they claim News Corp. has exerted a “malign and corrupting influence” on British public life.

SKY SCORES GERMAN SOCCER, SONY BUYS EMI

But in a rare bit of good news for News Corp., it’s German pay-TV group Sky Deutschland beat out competitor Deutsche Telekom to score live rights to the Bundesliga soccer league. Sky will pay $2.5 billion for rights to the 2013 through 2017 Bundeliga seasons, a major price hike on its current deal. The German Football League is the big winner in the rights auction, and stands to earn $820 million a season, an increase of more than 50 per cent.

And another struggling media giant, Sony Corp., got some welcome good news this week when European anti-trust regulators approved its planned acquisition of EMI Group’s music publishing division. Sony will still have to sell off some of its music publishing assets to secure approval but the $2.2 billion deal can now go ahead.

FORGET THOSE GLEE AND WILL AND GRACE RERUNS

More bad news for human rights in Malaysia, where the government has banned TV shows featuring gay characters. The ban, initially imposed on state-owned TV and radio stations, is expected to be extended to commercially-owned channels and satellite TV providers. For foreign productions, the Censorship Board said they will remove individual episodes from TV shows currently on air and ban movies with gay characters from being screened locally. The Malaysian culture minister said gay characters go “against the norm of a religious.


NETFLIX AVOIDS CANADIAN REGULATION, AS DO AUSSIE ISPs

Mixed messages on global online regulation this week. Canada’s TV watchdog, the CRTC, decided for a second time not to regulate Netflix Canada as it does traditional Canadian TV channels, but let the online video market sort itself out.

In Australia, the Hollywood studios lost a landmark case when the Aussie High Court ruled that Internet service providers aren’t liable for their customers’ copyright infringement.

But in Germany, YouTube lost its case against rights collection group GEMA, with a Hamburg court deciding the Google subsidiary has to do more to find, and remove, copyright-protected content on its site.

ASSANGE MEETS HEZBOLLAH

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange launched his new talk show The World Tomorrow on English-language Russian network RT this week with a guest guaranteed to generate maximum controversy: the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah. Asssange, who has been under house arrest in the U.K., did interview via computer video link.

IRON MAN HEADS TO CHINA, WOLVERINE GOES DOWN UNDER

In a bid to tap the booming Chinese box office, Disney, its Marvel Studios and Beijing-based DMG Entertainment said Monday that they are teaming to co-produce Iron Man 3 in China. By partnering with DMG, which enjoys close working ties with the state-run China Film Group, Disney and Marvel should be able to work around Beijing’s tight film-import quota, which restricts the domestic market to just 20 foreign features, plus an additional 14 foreign 3D or Imax titles, per year.

Meanwhile 20th Century Fox’s The Wolverine is set for an August shoot in Sydney, Australia, the hometown of star Huge Jackman. Fox Studios Australia will host the production of the sixth film in X-Men franchise, although The Wolverine, which James Mangold will direct, is set in Japan.

OLYMPIC COUNTDOWN, ROYAL WORRIES

And finally, Britain is whipping itself into a media frenzy with just 100 days to go until the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle will direct the opening ceremonies and organizers plan to erect 22 big screens across the country to carry live coverage of the event. 

But unions at pubcaster BBC warn they may sabotage the other big Brit event this summer: the Queen’s 60th-year diamond jubilee anniversary celebrates this June. A trio of broadcasting unions this week warned they would strike to target the BBC’s coverage of the jubilee, which includes the broadcast of a free concert featuring Elton John, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, if the Beeb does not meet their salary demands.