Although he may not be keen to do so, Bill Toepfer can claim a place in global television history as the man behind the Popstars reality TV juggernaut. Toepfer has enjoyed a long and accomplished career in New Zealand television, editing and producing hundreds of hours of documentaries and TV specials.
Phill England was a versatile maker of television programmes, specialising in documentary. He worked as a director, cameraman and editor across all four series of acclaimed arts series The Gravy. In 2008 England was nominated for a Qantas directing award, for a Gravy episode looking at the varied ways artists explore sexuality. Phill England passed away on 30 October 2010. He was 42.
Joe Cotton first burst into the media spotlight via 1999 reality show Popstars, after auditioning to join TrueBliss. The all female group scored a number one single and album, but broke up after the TV series went off air; the show spawned many international variations. Cotton studied music at high school and Whitireia Polytechnic. Post TrueBliss, her vocal skills saw her winning first place on 2007 reality show Pop's Ultimate Star. Cotton has also hosted TV2 music show M2, competed on Treasure Island, guested on 7 Days, and done extended time on radio. She now hosts a nationwide night shift on More FM.
After immigrating to New Zealand from South Africa when she was 11, Megan Alatini (née Cassie) became a contestant on reality show Popstars in 1999, soon winning a place in girl group TrueBliss. The band topped the Kiwi singles and album charts. In 2002 Alatini joined the main cast for the fourth season of The Tribe as warrior Java, acting alongside her real-life sisters Meryl and Monique. Alatini also acted in the short-lived Atlantis High. In 2006 she was a judge on New Zealand Idol; the following year she competed on the third season of Dancing With The Stars, where she ended up runner-up behind Suzanne Paul.
Sound engineer and producer Mark Tierney co-founded 90s group Strawpeople with Paul Casserly. Tierney’s screen career has seen him mix music and film-making. He presented music show CV (1989), auditioned Popstars for the influential show of the same name, and directed (sometimes alongside Casserly) a run of music videos known for their ‘urban style’. Since shifting to the United States and the United Kingdom he has co-written Iraq documentary Return to Kirkuk, and directed and co-written London-set movie thriller Moving Target.
Eclectic certainly describes Louise Wallace’s screen career: from baseball cap-wearing host of Mobil Sport, to presenting and reporting for current affairs programmes 60 Minutes and 20/20, to headline-grabbing reality TV host and participant (The Weakest Link, Celebrity Treasure Island) and acting (as a judge in Street Legal). In 2016 she was cast in Real Housewives of Auckland.
Geoff Steven's career spans documentary, experimental film and photography. In 1978, he directed acclaimed feature Skin Deep, the first major investment by the newly established NZ Film Commission. Steven followed it with Strata and a long run of documentaries, before time as a TV executive at both TV3 and TVNZ. He now heads the Our Place World Heritage Project.
Auckland-raised Scott Flyger got his first big editing break on high profile documentary Rubber Gloves or Green Fingers, and went on to spend 12 years in London, where he cut a range of high profile dramas, comedies and documentaries. Now based in Christchurch, Flyger runs postproduction house Due South Films.
Des Monaghan has worked as a producer and network executive in both New Zealand and Australia. A pioneering force in local current affairs, he went on to beome TVNZ's Controller of Programming, and sue Prime Minister Robert Muldoon for defamation. In 1996 Monaghan joined Bob Campbell to found Australasian production company Screentime, producers of the globally successful Underbelly drama franchise.
Ian Hughes' breakthrough role was in acclaimed TV series and movie Topless Women Talk About Their Lives. He played a loony writer whose script involves topless women standing in kitchens and garages ... talking about their lives. Topless was followed by multiple TV guest parts (Shortland Street, Xena, Bliss) and film roles, including starring in his own Kafkaesque short, The Waiting Room, and acclaimed play Ship Songs.