After studies in radio broadcasting and English literature — and a stint as a radio DJ — Andrew Szusterman went on his OE, and ended up as Music Director of the UK branch of MTV. Back in New Zealand, he helped launch youth music channel C4, and rose up the MediaWorks ranks to become the group’s Chief Content Officer, curating content across television, radio and digital.
Next to Andrew Shaw, Andrew Szusterman is probably one of the best Executive Producers in the NZ industry. I’ve known Szusty since Channel Z days when he was our station manager. Szusterman is to MediaWorks what Steven Joyce is to the National Party, their Mr Fix it. Martin Bradbury on The Daily Blog, 18 November 2016
Thanks to NZ On Air's support, The X Factor gave New Zealand performers a primetime platform, created excitement and controversy and drew huge, committed audiences. Former Olympian Barbara Kendall explains why she enjoyed the Kiwi version of the show so much, and why one contestant in particular caught her attention. Then X Factor executive producer Andrew Szusterman shares how this "massive, massive show" came to New Zealand, and celebrates the distinct, Kiwi flavour it took on — one example being Stan Walker's judging style.
British producer Simon Cowell launched hit talent show The X Factor in 2004, after leaving Pop Idol. In April 2013 the Kiwi version debuted on TV3, after 6,000 hopefuls auditioned. Presented by Dominic Bowden, the first season was won by Jackie Thomas. She had survived elimination earlier on, after a campaign by judge and mentor Daniel Bedingfield. In 2015 Beau Monga won the second season. That year, judge Natalia Kills called contestant Joe Irvine "disgusting" for supposedly copying the look of her husband, fellow judge Willy Moon. The couple were fired the next day.
The first New Zealand final of The X Factor features emotional highs and lows, and judge's compliments aplenty. Three young singers made it through in 2013: Whenua Patuwai, Jackie Thomas and Benny Tipene. All would achieve NZ top three singles within weeks of the final. Among the highlights of the 95 minute special: Tipene's acoustic version of 'Hey Ya!', Patuwai's 'A Change is Gonna Come' and Thomas's emotional last number — not to mention the showstopping opening: Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky', featuring 13 finalists, an acrobat, and two dancers wearing mirrorball heads.
MyStory was the first “mobisode” funded by NZ On Air. It tracks a group of young people in their ‘gap year’ between high school and university as they discover one of their friends has gone missing. The 40 x two-minute episodes screened on C4, and was able to be downloaded daily to 3G phones on the Vodafone network, or watched (as a weekly collection) on the C4 website on Sundays. Created by Gibson Group producer Bevin Linkhorn, the series was directed by Peter Salmon.
Pop Goes the Weasel was C4's twisted answer to iconic British pop quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks, embracing a shambolic DIY approach with oversized props, lots of ribbing and an oiled up man in tights (the Weasel) handling the judging. It's fair to say that not every joke has aged well. This trans-Tasman stoush pits a young Dai Henwood and Evan Short from Concord Dawn, against Scott Owen from The Living End and a DJ called 'the Doctor'. Overseeing it all is quizmistress supreme, Jaquie Brown. Director Toa Fraser pops by to embarrass Henwood with a prank call.
Pop Goes the Weasel started life as a radio quiz on Channel Z and Kiwi FM, before winning a spot on youth TV channel C4. The fast and loose game show ran for three seasons. It marked production company The Downlow Concept's first foray into television. The collective would go on to create critically acclaimed comedy series Hounds and long-running hit 7 Days, another panel show adapted from radio beginnings. Quiz mistress Jaquie Brown presides over teams of comedians and musicians while a greased up, squealing human 'weasel' awards the points.