Karima Madut gets cred on Shortland Street

Taken from Stuff, by Joanna Mathers.

When Karima Madut arrived in New Zealand, aged eight, she learned English by writing poetry and song lyrics. "I wrote about my life," she says. "I wrote love songs to my primary school crushes."

Fourteen years on and the Kenyan-born Sudanese actor is still writing songs. She's also singing, acting on stage, and poised to become a household name as Clementine on Shortland Street.

As only the second African actor on New Zealand's longest running soap (the first was Zimbabwean Brian Manthenga, who played Dr Xavier Moyo in 2009), Madut has only been on set a few weeks, but she's already made an impact. There are whispers of her character being deepened and broadened to include a back story, complete with on-screen family.

She was asked to audition while in rehearsals for stage psychodrama Belleville, directed by Oliver Driver. "My agent called me two months ago to ask if I was keen to audition for a role. I found out that I had the job within a week."

Read the full article here.

Oz drama to be based in Kiwi town

Taken from NZ Herald, by Russell Baillie.

It seems the reverse brain drain has made it to television production - a major Australian television network has commissioned a primetime family drama set in smalltown New Zealand.

Seven Network yestserday announced among its 2015 season 800 Words which stars NZ-bred actor Erik Thomson as the father of two teenagers who moves his family from Sydney across the Tasman to a picturesque Kiwi town after the death of his wife. Thomson's character writes a newspaper column - hence the shoe title - for a living.

It's partly created by James Griffin, a regular contributor of 800 words in his regular column for the Weekend Herald's canvas magazine.

Despite the apparent scenic qualities of the fictional town in the show, the hamlet will be named "Weld".

South Pacific Pictures will be making the eight episode series of hour-long shows after the Australian network wanted a new vehicle for Thomson, who had played the father in hit Aussie series Packed to the Rafters for six seasons.

Read the full article here.

Channel Seven’s new shows for 2015

Taken from Sydney Morning Herald, by Michael Lallo.

A drama based on serial killer Ivan Milat, a Gallipoli documentary series, a fourth spin-off of the "Rules" reality franchise, and two separate star vehicles for Packed to the Rafters leads Rebecca Gibney and Erik Thomson are among the new programs Channel Seven hopes will help it retain its ratings dominance next year.

But a question mark hangs over Bringing Sexy Back, The Amazing Race and The Big Adventure, which have not been confirmed to return in 2015.

Network CEO Tim Worner boldly proclaimed Seven would remain Australia's No. 1 station until 2020 - at least - at a lavish unveiling of next year's programs.

Full list of new shows here.

Outrageous Fortune prequel cast

Taken from NZ Herald, by Russell Baillie.

One of its stars is going from goalkicker to safecracker. Another plays her own television grandmother.

That's the cast of Westside Story and its stars are promising it will be a sexy and stylish 1970s-set prequel to Kiwi television classic Outrageous Fortune. The actors in the leading roles have been revealed exclusively to the Weekend Herald as the wide-collared big-moustached retro-revival of hit Kiwi dramedy begins shooting in Auckland tomorrow.

Original series star Antonia Prebble has been confirmed as playing her grandmother Rita in Westside Story. It's a role she took on earlier while starring as Loretta West in OF, during flashbacks to the earlier days of safecracking grandpa, Ted West who was played by the late Frank Whitten.

Read the full article here.

NZ On Air funds television comedy

Taken from NZ On Air.

There will be lots to laugh about next year with the two new and three returning television comedy series funded by NZ On Air.

In its latest funding decisions, NZ On Air has committed support for a new sketch comedy series that will give local female comedians a platform. Funny Girls will be written by and predominantly feature women. Made by Mediaworks it will screen on TV3.

The second new series is Word Up which will be made by South Pacific Pictures for TV One. With a quiz show format, three comedian-led teams will compete for laughs.

NZ On Air will also fund new seasons of the popular 7 Days and Jono And Ben At Ten on TV3 and Best Bits on TV One.

"Locally made comedy is performing well on TV right now. We are happy to see new concepts coming through, as well as continuing to support existing series that have built faithful audiences. In particular it is good to see a show specifically written for our excellent female comedians," says Ms Wrightson.

Read full funding details here.

Coverband: Even losers get lucky

Taken from NZ Herald, by Greg Dixon.

So you wanna be a rock 'n' roll star?

Then listen now to what I say: just get an electric guitar and take some time and learn how to play. Then, maybe, if your hair's combed right and your pants fit tight, you'll have a big hit and move to LA and ... then what?

Well hopefully, like Meatloaf bellowed, your rock 'n' roll dreams will come true. Bt what if they don't? It is with this alternative universe, the shaky afterlife following the half-life of rock 'n' roll success, that new local comedy, the terrifically silly and rather mishchievous Coverband (9.30pm, Thursdays, TV One) has decided to have some fun.

This is the story of the brothers Gibson, Matt and Alex, who started a band at high school. They played guitar and bass; Ivy was the singer. At first they called themselves Ivy and the Poison (ha!) "It was Ivy's idea," the opening voiceover from Matt told us, "to change the name of the band to just 'Ivy'." (a poke at the ego of singers! ha again!) And then they had the big hit and Ivy and Matt moved to LA - dumping brother Alex and drummer Knuckles in the process - and then ...

it all went pear-shaped.

Read the full review here.

Brokenwood Mysteries: A moment of sleuth

Taken from NZ Herald, by Lydia Jenkin.

It was Miss Scarlett, in the billiard room, with the candlestick.

TimeOut wanted to find out whether Neill Rea and Fern Sutherland's roles in new murder mystery series The Brokenwood Mysteries had heightened their powers of deduction. So we challenged them to a game of Cluedo, the winner being the first to discover Miss Scarlett's misdeeds.

It initially took us a while to remember the rules of the game (correct protocol must be adhered to) and get a little momentum going with our investigations, but once we discovered the secret passageways that ran between the kitchen, study, conservatory, and lounge, we were on a roll. Questions began flying as we tried to out-manoeuvre each other in figuring out who had killed poor Dr Black, with what handy implement, in which room of Tudor Close.

Both Rea and Sutherland claim to have figured out who the killers were early on in the likes of Broadchurch and The Killing, and their fictional counterparts - Detective Inspector Mike Shepherd, and Detective Kristin Sims - have recently solved four murder mysteries in Brokenwood.

So you'd think one of them would win...

Read the full article here.

Flat3’s new season trailer

Flat3 follows Lee, Jessica and Perlina as they try to figure out who they are, what they're doing in this life, and whose turn it is to buy toilet paper.

Sometimes smart, often silly, a little rude and a lot awkward, Flat3 is a Kiwi comedy with a unique cultural take - universal in its specificity and relatable in its fresh perspective.

The series is co-written and directed by Roseanne Liang, director of My Wedding and Other Secrets, and features new Go Girl JJ Fong.

Season 3's release date is 26 September, 2014.

FLAT 3 Season 3 Trailer from Flat3 on Vimeo.


David Farrier: I was Rhys Darby’s straight man

Taken from NZ Herald, by David Farrier.

I met Rhys Darby in 2007. I was interviewing him about the success of a small show called Flight of the Conchords. His wife Rosie was in the room, giggling away. Their first child was in a pram, sleeping.

My questions were pretty good, before my brain went to that bad place journalists have, full of terrible questions like "How did it make you feel?"

The questions I pulled out was. "Where do you get your ideas?" Rhys looked me directly in the eyes, paused, and guffawed. "That's a hack question!" He'd never been more right.

Years later and we'd become friends, mainly bonding over our low-fi radio show/podcast about Bigfoot called The Cryptid Factor. I'd usually do the interviews on the show, and at some point Rhys hit me with the concept of a TV show he was writing, in which he wanted to cast me ... as me. I thought it was a joke at the time, then Short Poppies happened.

Read the full article here.

Coverband: Playing jukebox for jokes

Taken from NZ Herald, by Lydia Jenkin.

Sticky-carpet pubs filled with rowdy drinkers, basly lit living rooms filled with inebriated party guests, sterile office dos with staff only there for the free beer - such is the glamorous life of a covers band. But the creators of a new local TV show thought it could be fodder for a comedy series.

It all started in 2007, when Johnny Barker's 48Hours film competition team, called Lens Flare, won the grand prize with a short musical comedy, Lease, about three hapless musicians. With the prize money, Barker decided to shoot a trailer with his teammates Jared Kahi and Brendon Morrow for a TV series idea they had rattling around, and see if they could get anyone interested.

It was when The Down Low Concept (Nigel McCulloch, Ryan Hutchings and Jarrod Holt, who also created 7 Days and Hounds) came on board that NZ On Air and TVNZ also came to the party with some funding.

"With The Down Low Concept's reputation, things finally worked out," Barker explains. "Initially I thought of it as a music-based drama, and now it's got that Down Low stamp on it, it's taken a very quirky turn. They're great writers."

Read the full article here.
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