The legendary Emmylou Harris brings a little bit of Nashville to TVNZ’s Auckland studio for her first ever TV special — recorded during a NZ tour in a deal which allowed her to own the international rights. One of country music’s great vocalists and most loved performers, Harris leads her seven piece band through an accomplished set (although banter is in short supply). Highlights include ‘Grievous Angel’ (which she originally recorded with her early mentor Gram Parsons), Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Racing in the Street’ and The Crystals hit ‘He’s A Rebel’.
This edition of Prime TV’s history of New Zealand television looks at 50 years of entertainment. The smorgasbord of music, comedy and variety shows ranges from 60s pop stars to Popstars, from the anarchy of Blerta to the anarchy of Telethon, from Radio with Pictures to Dancing with the Stars. Music television moves from C’mon and country, to punk and hip hop videos. Comedy follows the formative Fred Dagg and Billy T, through to Eating Media Lunch and 7 Days. A roll call of New Zealand entertainers muse on seeing Kiwis laugh, sing and shimmy on the small screen.
Punk rock was breaking and musical styles changing, but in New Zealand country music was appointment viewing at 7pm on Saturday. That's Country ran from 1980 to 1984. Hosted by one-time pop singer Ray Columbus, the show featured both local and international talent including Suzanne Prentice, Patsy Riggir, Emmylou Harris and George Hamilton IV. An American offer to buy the show and install a US presenter were resisted. Instead the show was sold to a Nashville cable TV network, in a New Zealand first; That's Country soon had an audience of 30 million in the States.
A meticulous, unflappable producer and director, John Lye’s career spanned three decades – most of it spent with TVNZ in Christchurch and Avalon. Lye did time as a cameraman and floor manager. Later he commanded two major productions of the 1980s — That’s Country and McPhail and Gadsby. After leaving TVNZ in 2000, he helped launch Big Brother Australia and live broadcasts of New Zealand Parliament.
Dean Mills joined the new second television channel in 1978, straight from school. After six months dragging cables around, he moved into camera work. Over eight years he was behind the camera on everything from wrestling (On the Mat) and song and dance shows, to an unforgettable interview with Muhammad Ali. Mills has never left cameras totally behind: based now in Sydney, he works for technology company Jenoptik.
Ray Columbus, OBE, began hosting television shows at the tender age of 19. After Columbus and the Invaders topped Australasian charts with 1964 single 'She's a Mod', Columbus spent time as a musician in America. The song was covered multiple times. He later returned to Aotearoa to resume a long career as recording artist, TV presenter and talent manager. Columbus passed away in late November 2016.