New local drama series The Pretender set for launch

12 09 2008

Local series The Pretender is a fly-on-the-wall look at the inner workings of a typical New Zealand MP’s office. It follows the highs and lows, backroom machinations, and desperate measures of MP Dennis Plant (Bob MacLaren) and his team as they attempt to navigate the dog-eat-dog world of governmental politics. Disgruntled with his ineffectual back bench position with the National Party, Dennis joins forces with defecting Labour MP Joanne Williams to form the new political party, Future New Zealand, and hold the balance of power. Dennis suddenly finds himself launched from virtual obscurity into the spotlight of the national media, though whether he’ll survive it remains to be seen.

Behind every politician is his team: Johnny Green (Andre King), his jaded and cynical strategist and policy advisor; Ed Hamilton-Smith (Mark Neilson), Dennis’ hapless press secretary: under-paid, under-valued and over-worked; and Joanne Williams (Lucy Schmidt), a career politician, and Future New Zealand’s co-leader: idealistic, intelligent, conscientious, and uncharismatic to the point of invisibility.

Broadcast Sunday 21 September 2008, 10:00pm on TV One


Partnership formed for digital extension of The Amazing Extraordinary Friends

4 07 2008

TVNZ has launched a digital extension of hit local series The Amazing Extraordinary Friends (AEF) in a landmark partnership with NZ On Air and Greenstone Pictures.

Housed on, the AEF website enables fans to interact with the show through exclusive video content, behind the scenes information, games and competitions.

The site has received funding from NZ On Air as part of its new Digital Content Partnership Fund and is produced by TVNZ’s online team with content supplied by Greenstone.

TVNZ’s Head of Marketing and Emerging Business Jason Paris says that the AEF site is a great example of TVNZ’s guiding strategy: “Inspiring New Zealanders on every screen”.

“Our strategy is to offer viewers content on multiple platforms and online is obviously an important part of this. Fans of AEF are always online, that’s where they get their information and how they communicate with their friends. So online is where we wanted to take the show.”

Paris says that partnering with NZ On Air and Greenstone in this venture is a significant step for TVNZ’s digital strategy.

“It’s great to have NZ On Air’s support, recognising that taking content online is an important extension for local production.”

NZ On Air’s CEO Jane Wrightson says that the AEF partnership is one of the first projects to be confirmed by the agency after the opportunity to fund online content was created by the recent Broadcasting Act amendment.

“The AEF project provided a wonderful opportunity for NZ On Air to move into the digital space in association with an already successful broadcast series. It is also appropriate that as one of our first online projects the target audience is one that easily embraces the opportunities presented by interactive web content”.

AEF producer Peter Clews believes that the AEF site is leading the way, reflecting the fact that in the future, television content will be delivered on a range of media.

“Having material online is changing the way that people are viewing and seeking their entertainment material, but the AEF site is not just another viewing platform, it’s a creative tool and fans will be part of the process.

“A lot of the material on the site will actually be generated by viewers. We want people to create their own superheroes who may actually end up being in Amazing Extraordinary Friends.”

The second series of The Amazing Extraordinary Friends is on TV2 at 4pm from Saturday 5 July. The production is funded by NZ On Air and TVNZ, and is created by Stephen Campbell and produced by Matt McPhail for Greenstone Pictures.

Queen Street Riots drama to feature on Sunday Theatre

1 07 2008

The Queen Street Riots – among the most divisive and violent moments in New Zealand’s recent history – are to be brought to life on TV ONE’s Sunday Theatre.

The famous incident in 1932 in which union leader Jimmy Edwards was batoned to the ground by police forms the focus of a new local drama, seen through the eyes of Edward’s 13 year old son James who watched his father’s collapse from just metres away.

Unusually, the drama will incorporate documentary footage of the real James Edwards, who recalled his vivid memories for the cameras shortly before he died at the age of 85.

The drama “Life’s a Riot” is the second project to be confirmed from a total of four local Sunday Theatre dramas that will receive funding support from NZ On Air.

It’s a joint venture by two production houses – Just The Ticket (Ross and Carmel Jennings) and Seannachie Productions (Aileen O’Sullivan).

It’s directed by Ian Mune and written by Dean Parker, who has illustrated James Edwards’ family story with both the music and the black humour of the Depression era.

Life’s a Riot is due to go into pre-production shortly, and is expected to go to air on Sunday Theatre in 2009.

Outrageous Fortune Back on Screen

4 06 2008

Outrageous Fortune

The Wests are back for a fourth season of New Zealand’s best loved, award-winning comedy drama when Outrageous Fortune returns Tuesday, June 17 at 9.30pm.

The Wests are a one-family crime wave with a proud tradition in thievery, larceny and petty crime. Or at least they used to be. At the beginning of the first series of Outrageous Fortune, family matriarch Cheryl West (Robyn Malcolm) decided enough is enough – the family must clean up their act and go straight.

They tried. Sort of. Most of them gave it a bit of a bash, but it’s not easy to be a saint when you have the DNA of a sinner. Despite much opposition from her husband, Wolf; and the occasional temptation to veer from her chosen path, Cheryl led by example. There were a few laws broken along the way in the name of the greater good and she did end up falling in love with a policeman, but even she is not perfect.

Outrageous Fortune is a comedy-drama series about the wrong sort of people trying to do the right thing when the rewards for going straight are neither immediate nor bountiful. It is a bold, fresh series which is by turns bawdy, action-packed, satirical and trashy – but only ever a heartbeat away from reality.

Created by James Griffin (Sione’s Wedding, Serial Killers) and Rachel Lang (Maddigan’s Quest, Mercy Peak), Outrageous Fortune won five of the key awards at the Qantas Television Awards, two Woman’s Day Readers’ Choice Awards, four TV Guide Best on the Box People’s Choice Awards and six of the top drama categories at the Air New Zealand Screen Awards in 2007. And to top it off, the character of Cheryl West was dubbed Metro magazine’s Woman of the Year in their annual Best of Auckland Awards.

Tonight Pascalle (Siobhan Marshall) returns to find Cheryl in a state of siege: caring for baby no-name and coping with raiding cops and Plunket, and also guarding a prisoner. Loretta (Antonia Prebble) is once again under house arrest to stop her from adopting her baby to the Colquhouns in Herne Bay. And Pascalle has some amazing news.

Join the Wests again this year, as Cheryl battles the forces of Wolf to defend her kids and castle in Outrageous Fortune, Tuesday June 17 at 9.30pm on TV3

New Zealand Born Million Dollar Con Man featured in docu-drama

22 05 2008

Eric Thompson as Derek Turner
Eric Thompson stars as Derek Turner in The Million Dollar Con Man
“I’ve come from basically the … [bottom end] of the world, New Zealand … there’s only one-way for me to go, that’s up” – Derek Turner.

Through an improbably simple scam involving a phoney hedge fund and the gift of the gab, New Zealand’s biggest conman Derek Turner (Erik Thomson – All Saints, The Alice) took the life savings of scores of people and lived a life of luxury around the world. On Thursday, June 5th at 8:30pm on TV3, his story is told in the docu-drama The Million Dollar Con Man.

Turner’s outlandish career began by overthrowing a company he wasn’t even an investor in and stretched to pitching to rebuild the World Trade Centre. His undoing came in February 2006 when he was convicted in a New York court of defrauding over 60 investors of $90 million. Now, as he sits back in his cell in the Nassau County Correctional Centre, still following the financial markets from a transistor radio, still claiming he will return to trading, Derek Turner can at least lay claim to one title – he is undoubtedly the “King of Con” from down under.

Born and raised in Taranaki, Turner first got into trouble after moving from Auckland to Sydney, where in 2000 the Australian Securities and Investments Commission found him guilty of trading without a licence, shut down his operation and ordered him to repay his investors.

Instead, Turner took their money and set up home in the tax haven of the Bahamas where he started up a new hedge fund, Turning International, which collected millions from investors in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, the UK and the US.

However, the good times would not last forever. Turner’s downfall eventually came from the most unlikely of people, an ex-con turned preacher by the name of Barry Minkow (played by Mark Fergusson).

The Million Dollar Con Man is interspersed with interviews from the people intimately involved in the case, from victims who lost millions, to FBI Agents, and even Turner’s un-doer, Minkow himself.

The Million Dollar Con Man is a truly remarkable story of one man’s determination to live a life beyond his means, filled with luxury and prestige. Derek Turner’s story is told on Thursday, June 5th at 8:30pm on 3.

Dexter – intriguing drama described as perverse pleasure

16 04 2008

DEXTER, described as a perverse pleasure to watch, is one of the most intriguing dramas of the year and it premieres on 3 on Monday, April 28th at 9:30pm.

Based on the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, DEXTER stars Emmy and Golden Globe Award-nominated actor Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan, an incredibly likeable forensics expert for the Miami Metro Police Department who also happens to be a serial killer – but one with his own moral code in that he only kills murderers who can’t otherwise be brought to justice.

So who exactly is Dexter, is he just a killer portraying himself as a forensics expert or is there more to this tortured soul?

“People fake a lot of human interactions,” says Dexter “but I feel like I fake them all.” And he’s become very good at it. But in the process of simulating real emotion every day something interesting starts to happen – Dexter starts to feel authentic connections to people.

“In his simulation, the line starts to get blurred between what he’s simulating and what he’s experiencing,” actor Michael C Hall explains to

“We meet him at a time when his world is being shaken up and a lot of the structures he’s built to simulate reality start to crumble. He starts to realise a genuine connection to these things.”

“His foster sister Debra works alongside him at the Police Department as an ambitious but overlooked cop. His relationship with his sister roots Dexter to the world,” he says. “It’s part of the code that was imparted to him by his father to take care of her, to look out for her.”

Dexter’s foster father Harry Morgan was no ordinary dad, a respected cop at Miami-Dade PD, Harry found the four year-old Dexter at the scene of his mother’s brutal murder. After a young Dexter started dismembering the neighbours’ pets, Harry intervened and departed significantly from the usual school of kiddie control.

“Everything stems from the outside-the-box parenting style of his father,” Hall says. “A man who sold Dexter on two ideas. One: he had no choice but to kill – that’s what got into him got in too deeply and too early. And two: he had the capacity to do good. It really was a simultaneously loving and manipulative act,” says Hall, who is palpably fascinated by the ever-looming figure of Harry. “I probably think more about Dexter’s father than Dexter does,” he adds.

For his portrayal of Dexter Morgan, Hall has been twice nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Drama Series, a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series and a Television Critics Association Award for Individual Achievement in Drama. He is also the recipient of a Golden Satellite Award and a Saturn Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series.

DEXTER also stars Julie Benz (Angels, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Jennifer Carpenter (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), Erik King (National Treasure), Lauren Velez (Oz), David Zayas (Michael Clayton) and James Remar (Sex and the City).

Make sure not to miss this complex character when DEXTER premieres on Monday, April 28th at 9:30pm on TV3.

NZ Crime Drama about David Dougherty for TVNZ Sunday Theatre

11 04 2008

One of New Zealand’s most disturbing real-life crime stories is to be transformed into a Drama for TV ONE’s Sunday Theatre slot.

“Until Proven Innocent”, the story of David Dougherty and the three strangers who fought to get him a pardon for a crime he didn’t commit, is to be made into a feature length film by Lippy Pictures Ltd with a New Zealand on Air grant of $1.35 million.

David Dougherty was found guilty and jailed in 1992 for the abduction, sexual violation and rape of an 11 year old girl.

Three people who had never met him became convinced of his innocence – journalist Donna Chisholm, lawyer Murray Gibson, and scientist Arie Geursen – and began a crusade to overturn his conviction.

The drama will recount their four year battle, through two trials, two high court appeals and a petition to the Governor General, to get him pardoned.

Their efforts were vindicated in 2002 when another man, Nicholas Reekie, was convicted of the crime.

The David Dougherty case is sometimes referred to as ‘the other Arthur Alan Thomas’ because in many ways it mirrors that earlier wrongful conviction.

“Until Proven Innocent” is written and produced by Donna Malane and Paula Boock, who worked together as producer and writer respectively of the highly-rated New Zealand dramas “Insiders Guide to Happiness” and “Insiders Guide to Love”.

The drama is expected to go to air on Sunday Theatre in the first half of 2009.