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Rethinking Barbie: new documentary takes a fresh look at the icon

Caroline Frost, Andrea Nevins and Kim Culmore (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Some feminists might choke at the idea that the highly controversial Barbie doll was actually invented by an ardent feminist. This was one of many fascinating insights to emerge from an RTS event devoted to a new feature-length documentary Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie.

The film examines the changing face of Barbie from a feminist – and occasionally anthropological – perspective since the doll’s debut in 1959.

Comcast and Disney vie for the Murdoch empire

(Credit: AP)

However it ends, the battle royal for the right to own most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, and all of Sky, reflects deep and significant trends in global media. The resolution (in favour of suitors Disney, Comcast or both) may end up being less important than what the outcome tells us about market dynamics.

This battle is about the response of legacy media to accelerating shifts in consumer behaviour and to the threats posed by the big digital disruptors. In a market where content and distribution are increasingly intermingled and global, size unlocks the prize.

Hulu ups the ante

The Looming Tower (Credit: Hulu)

Sometimes, a single show can change the way a broadcaster or a platform is perceived. For the US streaming service Hulu, The Handmaid’s Tale – based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel – has been one such show.

The 10-part series was made for Hulu by MGM Television (Hulu does not have in-house production capabilities) and quickly became water-cooler viewing on both sides of the Atlantic. It went on to win multiple awards, including a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series and a brace of Golden Globes.

Hulu reveals first look at second series of The Handsmaid's Tale

The second installment of the dystopian drama will follow Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) journey after she is taken from Gilead, as it was left ambiguous at the end of the first series as to whether she was being sent for punishment by The Eyes, or to safety with the Mayday revolution.

As she takes steps to protect her unborn child from the threats of Gilead, Offred is also faced with her conflicting feelings for Nick (Max Minghella) following her discovery that her husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) is alive and safe.

Channel 4 and Hulu are on a mission to Mars

The series is created and written by Beau Willimon (House of Cards) who will also serve as executive producer alongside Jordan Tappis.

The First will explore the challenges of taking the first steps toward interplanetary colonisation. Willimon said: “It’s a story about the human spirit and about our indomitable need to reach for unknown horizons. How ordinary, imperfect people band together and overcome a myriad of obstacles to grasp the extraordinary.”

Samantha Morton and Jessica Brown Findlay to star in Georgian prostitution drama Harlots

Jessica Brown Findlay (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Harlots follows Margaret Wells (Oscar-nominated Samantha Morton), a woman who struggles to reconcile her roles as mother and brother owner in the family drama that offers a new take on 18th century London’s most valuable commercial activity – sex.

“In 1760s London there were brothels on every corner run by women who were both enterprising and tenacious,” says Executive Producer, Alison Owen. “History has largely ignored them, but their stories are in turn outrageous, brutal, humorous and real.”

AMC Networks' Josh Sapan on deal-making

Josh Sapan

AMC Networks President and CEO Josh Sapan lays claim to having the world’s largest collection of antique lightning rods. "They’re architectural and a form of industrial art. I just got captivated by them," he explains.

One or two of them can be found lying around his office on Penn Plaza, a few blocks from the Empire State Building, alongside examples of another passion. This is his collection of panoramic photographs of people and places from the last century.