Over four seasons, Street Legal’s slick Kiwi take on urban crime and law genres racked up a stack of award nominations - including a 2003 NZ TV Award for best drama series. Although initially wary that the Auckland setting might alienate viewers, writer Greg McGee chose a Samoan lawyer (Jay Laga’aia) as his main character, to exploit the show’s inner-city Ponsonby setting (where cafe society bumps into Pacific Island immigrant culture). Other key characters included Silesi’s lawyer ex-girlfriend Joni, and her new partner Kees, an overstressed sergeant.
One of a trio of late 90s Kiwi crime-based pilots, Street Legal was the only one that would successfully spawn a series - four series, in fact (though Kevin Smith vehicle Lawless saw two further tele-movies). The Street Legal pilot provides a stylish big city template for the show to come, as Auckland criminal lawyer David Silesi (Jay Laga-aia) enlists the help of an over- enthusiastic journalist (Sara Wiseman) in the hope of winning an out-of-court settlement over a hit and run case. Meanwhile Silesi's lawyer girlfriend smells something fishy - with good reason.
Running an impressive four series, stylish crime show Street Legal centred around a struggling Auckland law firm, home base for unorthodox lawyer David Silesi (Jay Laga'aia), and sometime girlfriend Joni Collins (Kathleen Kennard). 'Ellis's Restaurant', the first episode made following the pilot, sees Silesi defending an ex-junkie on a possession charge, and facing off for the first time on screen against Sergeant Keens Van Dam (Charlies Mesure). The episode also sees the debut of Silesi's beloved 1944 Ford Jailbar, after his Ute unexpectedly ends up in pieces.
This ten minute drama features actor Jay Laga'aia (Street Legal). Malama (Saili Williams) is a young girl who lost her eyesight in the car crash that also killed her mother. Although she can't see in the physical world, Malama has gained a window to the spirit world. Her father Ta'a (Laga'aia) still grieves and can't cope with raising the kids. His frustrations manifest as anger. When Malama and her brother attend their baptism, the family crisis hits boiling point. Malama screened as part of pioneering Pacific Island drama series Tala Pasifika.
Don McGlashan began his career as a restless teenage French horn player. He started to thrive in the post-punk era, writing iconic songs with Blam Blam Blam, mixing theatre and music with The Front Lawn and composing for film and TV, before forming The Mutton Birds in 1991. This episode of Sunday traverses McGlashan's life as he launches his belated solo career. Friends like Dave Dobbyn and Mike Chunn wax lyrical about McGlashan's talents, and snippets from his 2003 Auckland Festival show at the St James Theatre demonstrate why he is so beloved in Kiwi music history.
With more than 30 years in the television industry under his belt, veteran drama producer and director Chris Bailey has made a significant contribution to New Zealand’s screen heritage. His many TV credits include Gloss, Mortimer’s Patch, Under the Mountain, Burying Brian, Marlin Bay, City Life, and Greenstone. He was also the first executive producer on Shortland Street. Bailey was a co-founder of production company ScreenWorks which made the popular legal drama Street Legal.
Kate Elliott began her life on screen after attending an audition at school. Since winning that role - as a bulimic, sexually abused, self-mutilating teenager in House of Sticks - Elliott has starred in many of New Zealand’s major television productions including Street Legal, The Insiders Guide to Love, The Cult, Shortland Street, and played Katherine Mansfield in tele-feature Bliss. Her film credits include Toy Love, The Locals, and Fracture.
Nathaniel Lees is an NZ-born Samoan actor who has acted on both stage and screen. Lees began his screen career with small roles in Death Warmed Up and Other Halves, before joining Billy T James on his sketch comedy shows. Lees went on to appear in a number of TV dramas including Shark in the Park , City Life, Gloss, Shortland Street and Street Legal. His many film roles include Sione’s Wedding, The Lord of the Rings, Rapa Nui and The Matrix trilogy.
Actor Phillip Gordon began his television acting career playing bad boy Hugh Clifford on the long-running soap Close to Home. He then played small roles in many New Zealand films, before winning the lead role in the TV series Inside Straight. He played a conman in the hit film Came a Hot Friday, then returned to television in the kidult show Terry and the Gunrunners. More recently he has appeared on television in Shortland Street and Street Legal, and on film in The Returning.
Katherine Kennard left drama school and immediately landed a role on Xena: Warrior Princess. Her big break came playing lawyer Joni Collins over four seasons of Street Legal. Since then Kennard has appeared in a range of TV dramas including Orange Roughies, This is Not My Life, Underbelly and Spartacus. She was also part of the cast of the comedy-drama Nothing Trivial.