Star English interviewer David Frost was international television royalty when he jetted into New Zealand in 1973 to host a series of six hour long shows which were produced by Des Monaghan and directed by Kevan Moore (the longest duration he’d worked on). In the NZBC’s most ambitious undertaking up until then, the six episodes were recorded in just four days. The series began with political leaders — Prime Minister Norman Kirk and Leader of the Opposition Jack Marshall. The other subjects were abortion, obesity, champion athletes, marriage and children.
This TV documentary sees director Peter Wells look at his life “through pansy-tinted glasses”. Motivated by the anniversary of his brother’s 1989 death (from AIDS) Wells’ film charts his path to becoming a pioneering gay filmmaker and writer: from growing up fascinated by colour and the glamour of royalty in conservative Port Chevalier in the 1950s, to baking, and deciding to come out when he was drafted to fight in Vietnam. As befits an artist whose credits include Desperate Remedies, the treatment is distinctive: a mixture of documentary, (aptly) flowery home movie, and quiet reflection.
Fat Freddy's Drop worked up a reputation for epic live gigs (first captured on 2001 album Live at The Matterhorn) before dropping Based On A True Story. The first local indie album to top the New Zealand charts, it was voted 2005's favourite Worldwide Album by listeners on Gilles Peterson's BBC Radio 1 show. Soul-pop tracks like 'Wandering Eye' and sales of 120,000 plus saw them anointed flagbearers of the 'Wellington Sound'. The band operates as a collective, sharing songwriting credits and royalties equally between all members. To date, the band's four studio albums have all topped the local charts.
George Henare is acting royalty in New Zealand with a huge body of work in theatre, television and movies. His first screen performance was as a suspected killer in the 1976 TV play The Park Terrace Murder. From there Henare starred as Hone Heke in the epic TV drama The Governor. Moving to the big screen, Henare portrayed the evil tohunga in The Silent One. Henare's other film and television credits include Mercy Peak, Shortland Street, Hercules and Xena, Rapa Nui, Once Were Warriors, and The Legend of Johnny Lingo.
In the tradition of novelty songs, ‘Culture?’ was catchy to the point of contagion. Fuelled by carnival keyboards, it was The Knobz response to Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s refusal to lift a 40% sales tax on recorded music (originally instituted by Labour in 1975), and Muldoon's typically blunt verdict on the cultural merits of pop music (“horrible”). The giddy, hyperactive video comes complete with Muldoon impersonator (Danny Faye), and casts the band as the song’s 'Beehive Boys'. In the backgrounder, Mike Alexander writes about his time as the band's manager.
Popstars was a key part of the late 1990s reality television explosion. The series followed the creation and development of all-female pop band TrueBliss (Carly Binding, Keri Harper, Joe Cotton, Megan Alatini and Erika Takacs). The five singers went on to record several chart-topping singles, and a platinum-selling album. Also a hit was the series format, which sold around the world and helped inspire Pop Idol/American Idol, the franchise that would dominate reality television for years to come. Popstars was named Best Entertainment Programme at the 1999 NZ Television Awards.
Tim Prebble is an alchemist of sound, adept at combining audio from many sources to evoke mood and emotion. His work has enhanced everything from feature films to television drama series, shorts, and documentaries. The common thread in his output is a deep sensitivity to theme and story.
Julian Dickon’s place in New Zealand screen history would be secure thanks to just one show — groundbreaking 70s drama series Pukemanu, which he created. Dickon also wrote a number of early plays for television, and went on to write drama, documentary and children’s show Sea Urchins. Dickon passed away on 3 April 2015.
Kiwi acting legend Jennifer Ward-Lealand began acting at age seven; her first screen role followed at age nine. Since then she has starred in big screen dramas Desperate Remedies and Vermilion to critical acclaim, and appeared in a long run of television shows, from TV drama Danny and Raewyn to Australian comedy show Full Frontal.
Before Simon Morris became resident film reviewer and arts presenter for Radio New Zealand, he had a freelance television career encompassing scriptwriting, reporting and directing. He wrote for high-rating soaps like Close to Home, City Life and Shortland Street, directed classic music videos and was a key part of the Radio with Pictures team.