After time as a sports reporter for both radio and TVNZ, Ric Salizzo spent time as media liaison officer for the All Blacks, and formed his own production company on the back of light-hearted All Black rugby tour docos The Good, the Bad and the Rugby, and Blood, Sweat and Touring. In 1996 he created and co-hosted the long-running sports entertainment show Sportscafe.
I know some TV producers who wait to see the ratings before they decide if they've made a good show or not, but I'm not like that. You know in the pit of your stomach if it's good or not. Ric Salizzo, in a July 2008 NZ Herald interview
This doco follows the then-world champion All Blacks on a 1989 tour of Wales and Ireland. With star winger John Kirwan as guide, “The All Black Film Unit” gives a players’ insight into an international tour in pre-professional, pre-media trained times — there’s even a plate of oranges. Match, training, and travel footage is complemented by relaxed encounters with players (Zinzan Brooke mounting a shetland pony has entered rugby folklore). Producer Ric Salizzo repeated the recipe — sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls — in the successful Sports Cafe series.
This long-running chat show gathered a loyal following for its recipe of sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls. Regulars in the circus wrangled by producer Ric Salizzo included larrikin ex-All Black Marc Ellis, straight girl Lana Coc-Kroft, That Guy, Eva the Bulgarian, and Graeme Hill. This 23 November 2005 final show features sports guest stars aplenty and ‘best of’ moments: from World Nude Day to a litany of laddish japes from Ellis. Rumours of presenter intoxication would only have been stirred by the mayhem of the closing set destruction.
The follow up to 1989 tour doco The Good, the Bad and the Rugby sees winger John Kirwan narrate an insider’s guide to the All Blacks’ 1990 tour to France: from Michael Jones negotiating a haircut (“how do you say ‘square top’ in French?”) to 19-year-old Simon Mannix leading a ‘Ten Guitars’ singalong. Footy relics of the era include afternoon test matches, four point tries, placed kick-offs, sneaky ciggies and Steinlager. Producer Ric Salizzo later repeated the Pasta Productions’ recipe — sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls — in the successful Sports Cafe series.
This 1992 TV ONE doco follows the All Blacks on their first post-apartheid visit to South Africa. The footy tour tomfoolery of producer Ric Salizzo’s earlier All Blacks’ docos is subbed off for reflections on politics and sport from players (including ex-All Black Ken Gray who refused to tour the republic in 1970 and joined protesters in 1981). Not all goes to script for a “new South Africa”: the Afrikaans anthem is played before the Ellis Park test, and the All Blacks win. Future SA cricket star Herschelle Gibbs is a young coloured player mentored by the ABs.
The third of Pasta Productions’ popular All Blacks documentaries sees winger John Kirwan provide running commentary on the team’s path to the 1991 World Cup in England: from Argentina to Sydney and Auckland to contest the Bledisloe; from facing bottle and orange missiles in Tucumán to touch on Bondi Beach. JK muses on why coach Alex Wyllie is nicknamed ‘Grizz’, Neil and Tim Finn provide musical accompaniment (“I see black”), and Canterbury Uglies are the training uniform du jour. Meanwhile on-field signs are ominous for the reigning world champs.
Presented by John Kirwan, this film looks at the 1990 decision of his young All Black teammate Matthew Ridge to ‘defect’ from rugby to play professional league for Manly Sea Eagles. Ridge had been the uncapped understudy to 1989 World Player of the Year, John Gallagher. Ironically Gallagher converted to league shortly after Ridge, news that Ridge receives as he prepares for his league debut (Ridge went on to captain the Kiwis). His code shift began a trend that transformed union and league in NZ; union turned pro in 1995. Directed by Ric (Sports Cafe) Salizzo.
Producer Ric Salizzo followed a series of All Black tour videos with this popular long-running live show. The Sky Sport (later TV2) series featured interviews and skits, and gathered a loyal following for its recipe of sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls (and tension between larrikin ex-All Black Marc Ellis and co-host Lana Coc-Kroft). Other members of the circus that Salizzo tried to wrangle included That Guy (Leigh Hart), Eva the Bulgarian (Eva Evguenieva), Graeme Hill, and the Human Canonball (Ben Hickey). The show made a brief comeback in 2008.
In 1975 TV One launched with a flagship 6.30 news bulletin which went largely unchanged with the move to TVNZ in 1980. In a 1987 revamp, it became the Network News with dual newsreaders Judy Bailey and Neil Billington (replaced by Richard Long). In 1988, the half hour programme moved to 6pm. With the advent of TV3 in late 1989, it was rebranded One Network News; and, from 1995, extended to an hour. The ill-fated replacing of Long with John Hawkesby in 1999 saw it make headlines rather than report them. In 1999, there was another name change to One News.