Written by Tom Scott, Press for Service is a humorous take on the shenanigans of the parliamentary press as they battle with the prime minister over their journalistic freedom. With the idealism, sleaze and alcoholism, that traditionally go hand and hand with the job, we follow David Miller; striving to be a respected journalist. Miller writes a damning piece but forgets to check his sources. Opening and closing with John Toon's elegant aerial shots of Wellington and a buoyant score, the episode features prominent Wellington thespians Ray Henwood and Ross Jolly.
This report from 80s current affairs show Close Up introduces the New Zealand public to future Prime Minister Jim Bolger — shortly after the “lightning coup” that saw him unseating urban lawyer Jim McLay, to become leader of the National Party. The focus is on Bolger’s rural roots as a father and farmer. There is also praise from political historian Barry Gustafson, and a mini journalistic joust with ex PM Robert Muldoon, over whether he supports the new party leader. In 1987 Labour was re-elected for another term; Bolger’s party swept to victory in 1990.
In this 2001 documentary, popular columnist Joe Bennett goes behind the scenes of the “sausage factory” of Kiwi politics in Wellington – from The Beehive to The Green Parrot Cafe. Exploring the machinations of power in New Zealand, Bennett meets press secretaries, lobbyists, and spin doctors, from Helen Clark’s Chief of Staff Heather Simpson to press gallery reporter Barry Soper. The documentary marked a further collaboration between director Richard Riddiford and Bennett, after Jafas, where Bennett compared Auckland and Aotearoa's views of each other.
After training to be a vet, cartoonist and writer Tom Scott ended up spending more time with creatures of the animated kind.
David Beatson was a broadcasting veteran with more than 50 years experience in journalism. Beatson began his television career as a reporter on magazine show Town and Around, before developing a reputation for a no-nonsense interviewing style on shows like Gallery and Eyewitness. Later in his career Beatson became the editor of the Listener, chief press secretary to PM Jim Bolger and chairman of NZ On Air.
Catapulted to fame after tousles with Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, Tom Scott originally trained to be a vet. He ended up helping Murray Ball turn Footrot Flats into a hit movie. The celebrated humourist and cartoonist has also told the story of Kiwi legends Edmund Hillary and David Lange, in both TV documentaries and dramas. Scott also co-wrote Rage, a TV movie about the 1981 Springbok tour.
As longtime host of primetime current affairs show Close Up, Mark Sainsbury became a household name; in 2007 the Sunday Star Times described his moustache as “the most famous in the country.” But the ginger duster doesn’t overshadow the experience and talent he’s brought to many roles over a long broadcasting career: from reporting for One News and Holmes, to officiating at Sir Edmund Hillary's funeral.
Veteran actor Roy Billing has acted in so many films, TV shows and plays, his CV runs to more than 10 pages. Often cast as the straight-talking everyman, Billing has also provided award-winning screen portrayals of rugby-playing priests (Old Scores), drug barons (Underbelly), small-town mayors (The Dish) and avuncular judges (Rake).
Ian Cross trained as a journalist. His 1957 novel The God Boy has been hailed as a classic (and similar status afforded to the 1976 TV adaptation). As Listener editor he doubled its circulation; as broadcasting chair and chief executive he had a turbulent relationship with the Muldoon government — and failed to stem what he saw as the over-commercialisation of television.
Chris Harrington began in local television in 1976, reporting and producing current affairs and news. Highlights of his career include award-winning Sunday stories about allegations of police pack rape by Louise Nicholas, and another on treatment of Porirua Hospital inmates. In 1989 he was awarded a QSM for services to journalism. In 2007 Harrington moved into private production and public relations.