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 rugby tour documentaries 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
After years of TV success — often appearing alongside fellow ex All Black Matthew Ridge — Marc Ellis went solo to present this show about New Zealand’s diverse cultural make up. Over the course of the series his adventures include hunting, visiting the Chatham Islands, casting spells with witches, and cutting all his hair off in an attempt to become a vegetarian, celibate, non-drinking Hare Krishna. How the Other Half Lives was made by Ellis’ production company Chico Productions, and produced by Sportscafe creator Ric Salizzo.
Reality TV host Marc Ellis tones down his laddish antics to present this series on other cultures and beliefs. In this episode he asks "what makes the Hare Krishna tick...what makes them so happy all of the time?". Ellis moves in with a Krishna community in West Auckland, where his strikingly casual guide teaches him what it is to be a Hare Krishna. Late night and early morning dance sessions prove to be less of a struggle than anticipated for Ellis, who seems to fit right in — although the haircut might be a little close, and the proximity of the local pubs a temptation too far.
This long-running chat show gathered a loyal following for its recipe of sports fandom mixed with playful pratfalls. Regulars in the circus wrangled by producer Ric Salizzo included larrikin ex-All Black Marc Ellis, straight girl Lana Coc-Kroft, 'That Guy' Leigh Hart, and Graeme Hill. This 23 November 2005 final features plenty of sporting guest stars and ‘best of’ moments: from World Nude Day to a litany of laddish moments from Ellis. Rumours of presenter intoxication would only have been stirred by the mayhem of the closing set destruction, accompanied by band The Exponents.
John Clarke created an unofficial Kiwi national anthem when his alter ego Fred Dagg first released 'We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are' in 1975, simultaneously celebrating and poking fun at national pride. This video is a 1998 update of the song, instigated by TV's SportsCafe. Times change, but the recipe remains the same: "good clean ball and for God's sakes feed your backs!" Alongside a roll call of celebrities, politicians and sports stars — Sean Fitzpatrick, Chris Cairns, Zinzan Brooke — Clarke spreads the grateful gospel at the United Nations.
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.
This 1992 TV One documentary 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 South Africa 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 Kirwan's young All Black teammate Matthew Ridge to ‘defect’ from rugby, to play professional league for the 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 while preparing 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. Ric (Sports Cafe) Salizzo directs.
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 documentary 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.
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.