29 February 2020 03:15

MediAvataar's News Desk

MediAvataar's News Desk

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Wednesday, 26 February 2020 00:00

Hotstar Specials launches Special Ops

The story of a 19-year hunt for the terrorist behind the biggest attacks on India

Neeraj Pandey’s creation is Inspired by the real terror attacks that India has faced over the last 19 years!

Directed by Neeraj Pandey and co-directed by Shivam Nair, features an ensemble cast including Kay Kay Menon, Divya Dutta, Vinay Pathak, Karan Tacker, Sajjad Delafrooze, Sana Khaan, Saiyami Kher, Meher Vij, Vipul Gupta, Muzammil Ibrahim amongst others 

Hotstar Specials, along with Friday Storytellers, is set to launch the biggest spy action thriller of 2020. This fast-paced 8-episode series is based on the role of Indian intelligence in a series of real terror attacks that India faced over the last 19 years. Starting with the 2001 attack on Indian Parliament, the show goes back and forth in time covering several other events including 26/11, Kashmir terror attacks amongst others; and the chase for the single mastermind behind these attacks – making it the longest manhunt in Indian Intelligence for India’s deadliest enemy.

The show has been written by Neeraj Pandey, Deepak Kingrani and Benazir Ali Fida; all of whom have spent years carefully researching the ways of Indian intelligence. Every aspect of the show has been conceptualized and created to deliver a high-quality thrilling experience. Keeping with the scale, it has been shot across numerous international locales including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Jordan and India.

Hotstar Specials presents Special Ops features an ensemble cast including acclaimed actor Kay Kay Menon along with the powerhouse talents such as Karan Tacker, Saiyami Kher, Divya Dutta, Vinay Pathak, Muzammil Ibrahim, Meher Vij, Vipul Gupta, Sajjad Delafrooz, Parmeet Sethi, Gautami Kapoor, Sana Khaan, Sharad Kelkar, KP Mukherjee and many others.

Hotstar Specials presents Specials Ops is slated to release on 17th March 2020 in seven languages on Hotstar VIP.

Gaurav Banerjee - Head, Hindi Entertainment, STAR India said, “Neeraj Pandey is one of the most distinguished filmmakers of our time and we are delighted to partner with him for his digital debut. Our goal with Special Ops is to create an action-packed spy series that’s at par with global standards when it comes to quality and scale; it takes forward the Hotstar Specials agenda of bold and varied story telling on a big scale.”

Neeraj Pandey who has created the show added, “Special Ops is a story I thought of many years ago – it’s a big idea that required a lot of patience and research to pursue and develop. With newer and exciting formats of storytelling gaining prominence, we were able to build a fabulous team to create this larger than life story that strings together many real events from the past two decades. For the first time in the history of Indian entertainment, the 2001 Indian Parliament Attack has been recreated on celluloid. That’s just one of the many big moments from the show.”

Shital Bhatia who has produced the show says “A big idea requires the right scale and platform to bring it altogether. This is an exciting partnership for us and has many firsts - first digital series from Friday storytellers, Neeraj’s first on the digital platform and our association with the largest OTT Hotstar. The show has the right mix of scale, talent and pace to enthral and entertain the audiences.”

The focus: an unprecedented joint operation of the CIA and Mossad to assassinate Imad Mughniyeh – a Hezbollah co-founder who, with the exception of Bin Laden, topped the CIA and FBI Most Wanted list.

Mughniyeh was purportedly behind dozens of terrorist operations, including the embassy and barracks bombings in Lebanon, multiple kidnappings of Americans, hijacking of airlines, and attacks in Buenos Aires, including the bombing the Israeli Embassy there. U.S. intelligence officials accused him of killing more United States citizens than any other man prior to the September 11 attacks. He was also a close ally of General Suleimani, working with him to export the Iranian revolution to Iraq after the invasion, at the cost of many American lives. The concentrated two year hunt for Mughniyeh in the mid 2000’s became one the largest, most expensive and complicated in history. They got him as he exited a restaurant and walked past a parked car in Damascus in 2008, with Mossad agents triggering a bomb that had been placed in a spare tire. Mughniyeh was killed instantly.

The series will be executive produced by Adler, Keshet International’s Avi Nir, Peter Traugott, Alon Shtruzman, and the author. Adler’s credits include the films The Operative and Bethlehem, and he directed two episodes of Shooter. He wrapped the Joel Kinnaman / Noomi Rapace drama The Secrets We Keep for AGC Studios and Lorenzo di Bonaventura Productions.

When the book was acquired by Keshet and HBO, the ambition was to use Rise and Kill First as a way to create and co-produce an English-language limited series shot in Israel that could be reprised by covering different missions. As evidenced by the recent drone strike against Suleimani in Iraq, there seems to be no shortage of these to focus upon. An investigative reporter for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth and a New York Times Magazine staff writer, Bergman took the book’s title from the Talmud: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” That has been a cornerstone principle in protecting Israelis from terrorists, and much of that has come through targeted assassinations, many done pre-emptively to take out enemies and suicide bombers before they strike.

Bergman had unprecedented cooperation from many former Israeli prime ministers, along with more than 100 interviews from the chiefs of the Israeli defense establishment and Intelligence committee to actual operatives and assassins. This allowed him to chronicle many of the highest-profile operations — some of which succeeded and some of which did not — and with all the ethical and moral dilemmas considered.

Among the prolific Keshet’s productions is Hatufim (Prisoners of War), the Israeli drama that was the basis for the Emmy-winning long running Showtime series Homeland. which heads into its final season.

The One Where They Got Back Together

The Friends Cast Set to Reunite for Exclusive HBO Max Special Unscripted Cast Reunion Special, Along with All 236 episodes of the Emmy®-Winning Series, will be Available to Subscribers at the Launch of HBO Max

It’s official, Friends fans! After 15 years, nine months, and innumerable fan requests from around the globe, we now have the ‘brand-new information’ you’ve been waiting for. The Friends cast will be reuniting exclusively for an untitled unscripted special for HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering debuting in May 2020.

Series stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer will return to the iconic comedy’s original soundstage, Stage 24, on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank for a celebration of the beloved show. The unscripted cast reunion special, along with all 236 episodes of the Emmy®-winning series, will be available to subscribers at the launch of HBO Max.

“Guess you could call this the one where they all got back together — we are reuniting with David, Jennifer, Courteney, Matt, Lisa, and Matthew for an HBO Max special that will be programmed alongside the entire Friends library,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer, HBO Max and president, TBS, TNT, and truTV. “I became aware of Friends when it was in the very early stages of development and then had the opportunity to work on the series many years later and have delighted in seeing it catch on with viewers generation after generation. It taps into an era when friends – and audiences – gathered together in real time and we think this reunion special will capture that spirit, uniting original and new fans.”

Ben Winston will direct the special and will executive produce along with Friends executive producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane. The special hails from Warner Bros. Unscripted & Alternative Television and Fulwell 73 Productions. Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry, and Schwimmer will also executive produce the special. Emma Conway and James Longman are co-executive producers.

To get caught up on original Friends episodes, sister WarnerMedia network TBS recently announced that for the next four weeks every episode of Friends will air on TBS and livestream on the TBS app, weekdays from 10:00am – 4:00pm. Additionally, the network has curated an experience for fans offering the best of the series on their digital platforms.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020 00:00

INMA unveils Global Media Awards finalists

The International News Media Association (INMA) today announced 173 finalists for the 2020 Global Media Awards competition, which rewards innovation and excellence growing audience, brand, and revenue.

This year’s competition generated 824 entries from 242 news brands in 44 countries. Finalists hail from Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and North America.

India has the higher number of finalists with 29, followed by the United States with 27, Norway with 14, and Australia with 12.

In terms of companies, leading the INMA shortlist with finalists are News Corp; Jagran; Schibsted; Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd. (Times Group); Russmedia; and Stuff.

INMA has rewarded excellence in news media since 1937. This year across 15 categories, the Global Media Awards competition rewards innovation in building news brands, platform excellence, audience development, advertising sales, and nurturing corporate culture. Entries also are divided into two groups: global/national brands and regional/local brands.

Some 42 media experts from 20 countries judged the competition in February, focusing on breakthrough results, unique concepts, strong creativity, innovative thinking, and winning synergies across media platforms.

First place winners, regional winners, and the coveted global “Best in Show” will be unveiled at the April 28 closing dinner of the 90th Annual INMA World Congress of News Media at the historic Opera Ballroom of the Intercontinental Le Grand in Paris.

All 824 entries in this year’s Global Media Awards competition are live on INMA.org in the association’s Best Practices archive. Finalists may be viewed publicly, while all other entries are reserved exclusively for INMA members. INMA has nearly 6,000 “best practices” from the past nine years of Global Media Awards competition, sortable to finalists and winners, category, year, and country.

The economic slowdown fails to dent India’s appetite/love in the time of a recession?

It seems the slow down in the economy and the elections have had little impact on consumer spending for eating out / made sure that Love is celebrated even more fervently in 2020. EazyDiner, India’s leading restaurant reservation platform witnessed an 8X surge in diners going to restaurants on Valentines Day in 2020 much to the delight of restaurants and hotels alike. Despite the slowdown and declining consumer spending, diners left no stone unturned when it comes to eating out. This year Valentine’s Day bookings even trumped the total number of bookings made on New Year’s Eve. The number of average diners on the 14th across India made was 3, which basically means that eat out was done in groups of 2’s or 4’s.

EazyDiner studied data (tables being booked, dishes ordered, average diner spends, coupons bought) from over 500,000 diners on the platform on the eve of Valentine’s day. EazyDiner also ran a campaign on the same across multiple platforms including Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google Display Ads, advertisement in Hindustan Times Brunch, and internal mediums such as communication on Emailers, App Notifications, Banners etc. In total, the campaign generated 20+ million views for EazyDiner.

While India’s economic growth will slow to 5 per cent, compared to 6.8 per cent last year, consumer spending when it comes to celebrating key events continues to be on upswing much to the joy of hospitality industry. Occupancies for most hotels and restaurants were at 100% for both lunch and dinner as per data on EazyDiner’s LiveTable restaurant management app. Eating out during the day peaked during lunch and dinner at 1.30 pm and 9.30 pm respectively. In order to cater to this demand, restaurants that ran special offers at 12 noon and 7 pm were able to capitalize on two seatings for both lunch and dinner. Restaurants who hadn’t anticipated such demand could only sell one seating on a day as the demand surpassed a record number compared to valentines day in the last 5 years.

Most popular trends witnessed across diners in India:

For lunch most of the people opted for Italian restaurants and for dinner – Chinese and Pan Asian cuisines were a big hit.

Type of restaurant: 55% of the people booked upscale restaurants which are restaurants with an average cost per diner of over Rs. 1,000 whereas the average spend per diner in 2019 was Rs 829.

62% of EazyDiner Prime customers, who are American Express Centurion and Platinum, Citi Ultima and Prestige, IndusInd Pioneer and Axis Burgundy Reserve cardholders, went to luxury hotel restaurants or very high-end standalone restaurants.

Most eating-out destinations on Valentine’s Day frequented by couples:

CP, Cyberhub and Aerocity in Delhi;

Kormangala, Indiranagar and Sarjapur in Bengaluru;

BKC, Andheri(west) and Powai in Mumbai and Adyar,

Phoenix Market City Mall and Nungambakkam in Chennai were the most popular

Indians decided to be adventurous with their palate and opted for Italian during lunch while Chinese / Pan Asian remained the preferred option in the evening.

Out of the beverages consumed on Valentine’s Day, these are the ones which stood out

Grover’s La Reserve in the wine category

Diageo’s Singleton was consumed the most at luxury and upscale restaurants

Gin cocktails were the preferred choice of white spirits while vodka and white rum was lagging behind significantly

Delhi/NCR saw the highest number of bookings during the lunch period, whereas Bangalore topped the number of bookings made for Dinner on Valentine’s Day.


Talking about the campaign, Rohit Dasgupta, CEO & Co-founder, EazyDiner, said, “ When it comes to consumer spending for special occasions, Indians don’t hold back and in fact, consumer spending witnesses a spike on such days. Valentine’s Day in 2020 broke records vs any of the previous years as Indians spent 50% higher than in 2019. Consumer appetite was boosted by offers and special dishes being offered by the restaurants across India. We hope to see this trend translate throughout the remaining days of the year.”

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