This collection celebrates the legendary moments that New Zealanders — huddled around the telly — gawked at, chortled with, and choked on our Choysa over as they played out on our screens. "There's a generation who remember where they were when JFK was shot", but as Paul Casserly asks in his collection primer, "where were you when Thingee's eye popped out?"
The primetime current affairs interview is the heavyweight contest of screen broadcasting. They can woo hearts and minds, speak truth to power, turn elections, end strikes, enrage or reveal subjects, and enshrine or tarnish reputations. This collection puts the spotlight on iconic Kiwi contributions to the genre, from headline-making clashes (Muldoon versus "smart alec" Walker, Clark versus "sanctimonious little creep" Campbell, Pilger versus "just read" Hill, Conner versus Holmes) to warmer encounters (David Frost charmed by Big Norm Kirk, Paul Holmes bemused by the Ingham twins).
Radio with Pictures producer (and future MTV boss) Brent Hansen talks to David Bowie, while he is in Auckland to star in film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. His darker 1970s days behind him, Bowie proves a relaxed and charming interviewee. Following a triumphant Broadway run in The Elephant Man, he discusses stage and screen acting, the use of his music in recent films and his own directing aspirations. Bowie explains the cut-up technique of writing learned from William S Burroughs, and looks forward to making his next album (the hugely successful Let’s Dance).
This extraordinary moment in New Zealand political history occurred during the 2014 election campaign. Kim Dotcom, a colourful German-born file-sharing mogul exiled in NZ, had helped form a political party — Internet Mana — to “disrupt” the campaign. The party’s 24 August launch went awry when Dotcom fled from reporters keen to follow up a remark made during his speech (he hinted he could hack Prime Minister John Key’s credit rating). Internet Mana press secretary Pam Corkery infamously berated reporters, calling TV3's Brook Sabin a “puffed up little s**t.”
On 09 July 2002 the ruling Labour Party was under pressure on the Genetic Engineering (GE) issue, when John Campbell confronted Prime Minister Helen Clark over the suspected release of GE corn seed in 2000. In a 3 News special a fired-up Campbell, informed by Nicky Hager's yet-to-be-published Seeds of Distrust, alleged there had been a cover up. Upset at what she perceived as an ambush, Clark reacted tersely; she later labelled Campbell a "sanctimonious little creep". With a general election looming, the encounter was dubbed 'Corngate'.
Ada (Holly Hunter) has been mute since she was six. She travels from Scotland with her daughter (Anna Paquin) and her grand piano to colonial New Zealand, for an arranged marriage. When her husband, a stoic settler (Sam Neill) sells the piano to Baines (Harvey Keitel), Ada and Baines come to a secret agreement. She can win her piano back key by key by playing for him, as he acts out his desire for her. An especially big hit in Europe, Jane Campion's Oscar-winning tale of sexual emancipation in the bush is the only NZ film to have won the top award at the Cannes Film Festival.
This fondly-remembered Pictorial Parade plunges down the famously steep grade of the Denniston Incline. The cable railway was the key means of transporting ‘black gold’ from the isolated Denniston Plateau to Westport. The engineering marvel fell 518 metres over just 1670 metres. It brought down 13 million tonnes of coal and many hardy families, despite notorious brake failures. This film was made just before the mine and railway ceased operating, as “old king coal” was supplanted by oil. Director Hugh Macdonald writes about making it, and a companion film, here.
English literature graduate and former share trader John Campbell joined TV3 as a reporter in 1989. In 1997 he began fronting his own current affairs segment on 3 News. John Hawkesby's resignation in 1998 saw Campbell drafted in to read the 6pm news with Carol Hirschfeld. In 2005 he moved to 7pm for Campbell Live, and hosted it for a decade. After returning to Radio New Zealand, he joined TVNZ in 2018.
From his early days on the stage, Percy Hayes was known for singing and impressions; but it was as actor Rupert Julian that he made his name in Australia, then in the pictures in America. After earning a million dollars as director, producer, writer and star of The Kaiser, his directing career peaked with The Phantom Of The Opera in 1925, starring Lon Chaney. He stayed on in a mansion in LA's Hollywood Hills, until his death in 1943.Image: courtesy of Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archive
Roger Horrocks has been raising the quality of debate about New Zealand film and television for nigh on half a century. At Auckland University he campaigned for, then ran, the country’s first and biggest film studies course. Horrocks has written extensively about Kiwi culture, including writing the definitive book on Len Lye. He is also a filmmaker and was a founding board member of organisation NZ On Air.