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Bret McKenzie

Actor, Musician

Bret McKenzie is one half of musical-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. McKenzie and Jemaine Clement found international fame with the cult HBO comedy, which followed the duo's fictional efforts to 'make it' in New York. An Oscar-winner after writing songs for The Muppets (2011), McKenzie's screen career began after a brief role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy helped win him a cult following. 

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Collection

The Billy T James Collection

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Billy Taitoko James is a Kiwi entertainment legend. His iconic ‘bro’ giggle was infectious and his gags universally beloved. This collection celebrates his screen legacy, life and inimitable brand of comedy: from the skits (Te News, Turangi Vice), to the show-stealing cameos (The Tainuia Kid), and the stories behind the yellow towel and black singlet.

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The Living Room - First Episode

Television, 2002 (Full Length Episode)

Wellington band The Black Seeds present the debut episode in this TV series profiling creative Kiwi culture. They begin by going behind the scenes on their action-packed music video Hey Son (with Bret McKenzie donning a Captain Cook meets Freddie Mercury number). There’s an early profile of Auckland graffiti/ streetwear artist Misery (complete with cycle interview, and cameo from artist Elliot 'Askew' O'Donnell), London-based Ta Moko artist Te Rangitu Netana talks about life away from home, and tattooing Robbie Williams; and there’s a piece about skateboarding mag Manual.

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Keep On Pushing

The Black Seeds, Music Video, 2001

Made by off-duty Lord of the Rings crew and directed by James Barr, this video won The Knack Award at the 2001 Flying Fish Music Awards, and was a Handle the Jandal award-winner the same year. Shot in black and white, the clip is visually strong, but contains lots of shots of the band falling from buildings, so don’t watch it if you suffer from vertigo. And please don’t try this at home! Onetime band member Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords) turns up in the final stages, with an emergency bucket.

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Good Morning - Final Episode

Television, 2015 (Full Length Episode)

On 11 December 2015 the morning telly watching nation mourned the end of a long-running TV One staple. Good Morning’s 9000 hours spanned nearly two decades, from faxes to Facebook. In this final episode, presenters Jeanette Thomas, Matai Smith and Astar wrangle a two-hour curtain call of ex-hosts. Included are the last Men’s Panel, cooking bloopers, and of course, advertorials (with a Suzanne Paul tribute, and a promo for Stiffy fabric stiffener). There’s tautoko to the show’s te reo, support for the arts, and disaster appeals, and Shortland Street's Will Hall lip synchs to Def Leppard.

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Coffee, Tea or Me?

Television, 2002 (Full Length)

In this 2002 documentary director Brita McVeigh heads down the aisle to explore the world of air hostesses in air travel’s glamorous 60s and 70s heyday. Seven ex-“trolley dollies” recall exacting beauty regimes, controversial uniform changes, and the job’s unspoken insinuation of sexual availability. The cheese and cracker trolley becomes a vehicle that charts the changing status of women as McVeigh argues that — despite layovers in Honolulu, and a then-rare working opportunity for ‘girls’ — the high life concealed harassment, and struggles for equal rights and pay.

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Series

Rocked the Nation

Television, 2008–2011

Rocked the Nation launched in 2008 with six one hour-long shows. Company Satellite Media ransacked the archives and interviewed protagonists to survey 100 key moments in New Zealand music history: smash hits, global breakouts, riots, sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, and TV talent shows. Hosted by Karyn Hay, the series screened on C4 during NZ Music Month, and was the channel’s highest-rating series to that date. Follow-up series counted down 100 New Zealand Pop Culture Stories (2009, hosted by Rhys Darby) and 100 New Zealand Sporting Moments (2011, fronted by Dai Henwood). 

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Bloopers - News

Television, 2018 (Excerpts)

These clips offer up a selection of Kiwi news bloopers. First, Sacha McNeil presents a retrospective of unscripted moments from TV3’s first 25 years of news: newsreaders sneeze and laugh, and reporters face rogue weather, animals, dance routines, and lashings of champagne from Olympic champions. Then presenter Hilary Barry laughs at inappropriate moments on The Paul Henry Show: she starts an extended battle with the giggles while mentioning All Black Waisake Naholo’s broken leg (2015). In 2016 she succumbs to laughter over an emergency defecation situation.

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Pulp Comedy - Series Five, Episode Two (Flight of the Conchords)

Television, 2000 (Full Length Episode)

This episode of the stand-up comedy show ends with an early screen appearance by Flight of the Conchords. The duo perform two songs that will later appear on the first HBO series, and debut album. The funky 'Ladies of the World' goes beyond Julio Iglesias, while the epic 'Bowie' (three and a half minutes into clip three) pays homage to the man whose complex changes of tempo and vocal range proved too difficult for them to play. Mike King hosts, John Glass reflects on bachelorhood and kissing etiquette, and Chris Brain references bikers, the Wiggles, Bill Gates and Star Wars.

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Give Up Your Dreams

The Phoenix Foundation, Music Video, 2015

The video for this Phoenix Foundation single features Bret McKenzie excavating a deep hole, in a landscape that evokes the work of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky (although Loren Taylor's video was actually shot in a clearing close to Wellington's wind turbine). The band turns up to watch, and the man finds eye-opening liberation from his toil. Vocalist Samuel Flynn Scott credited inspiration for the song to musician Lawrence Arabia’s recipe for satisfaction: ditching dreams of success, in order to enjoy making music. The result was a finalist for the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll.