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Kimpossible dream?

Posted April 10th, 2012 by debritz

Is a fresh and funny Australian sitcom too much to ask for? Apparently so.

News that we're about to be subjected (if we so choose) to both a Kath and Kim movie and a new TV series is proof positive that there are either no original ideas in comedy now, or that nobody in televisionland is willing to take a punt on a new idea.

I was never a big fan of Kath and Kim. I always saw it as the latte set's cruel and too-broadly-stereotypical-to-be-funny satire on the working classes. To me it was just as authentic as millionaire shock jock Alan Jones is when he talks about "Struggle Street".

But I also realise that many people, including those out of whom the mickey was being taken, lapped it up. And I admit I am a fan of other work by the creators of Kath and Kim, Jane Turner and Gina Riley, and many of its cast, particularly Glenn Robbins and Magda Szubanski. (I think Riley's best work was in The Games, which had the benefit of John Clarke's brilliance behind it.)

If we must flog this dead horse, can we have something else, too? Why aren't the networks -- especially the cashed-up Seven Network -- investing in the future of television comedy? As I've said before, creating content is the only viable future for the free-to-air networks.

We've come a long was as a society since Hey Dad..! and yet, Kath and Kim aside, there hasn't been a hit commercial television comedy since it ceased production in 1994. It's time for us to move on; to invest in the writing that can bring us a genuinely funny sitcom that riffs off contemporary Australian themes.

Perhaps the Queensland Theatre Company will consider reviving its Australian Sitcom Festival, where in 2001 (wow, that was a long time ago) an ensemble of talented actors gave new scripts a try-out in a stage setting.

New Queensland Premier Campbell Newman doesn't seem to be a fan of the "high" arts (he scrapped the annual Premier's Literary Awards), but maybe this is something he could get behind. Anything that would encourage good writing, and provide potential employment for actors and film crew, is surely worth considering.

A dirty, fishy business

Posted December 7th, 2011 by debritz

It's being billed as the biggest marketing blunder of the year. Advantage SA and Advantage Adelaide sent out goldfish to promote South Australia in bowls carrying the slogan: “Be the big fish in a small pond and come test the water.”

Sadly, "a number" of the fish were dead on arrival at their destinations.

However, those in the media with long memories will remember a time when journalists were deliberately sent dead fish (and I'm not talking about the barramundi sent to Media Watch.)

When the John Cleese film A Fish Called Wanda was released in Brisbane in 1988, the publicists sent a live goldfish to movie journalists. As far as I know, they were all still alive when delivered.

A rival firm publicising the movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels then sent a dead gold fish to the same journalists, including a close colleague of mine.

Somehow I don't think anybody will be doing that again any time soon.

Farewell, Googie Withers

Posted July 16th, 2011 by debritz

Stage and screen actress Googie Withers has died at the age of 94. I fondly remember seeing Googie and her late husband John McCallum peforming as angels looking back on their distinguished and glamorous careers at QPAC in Brisbane a decade or more ago. I can't remember the name of the show, though. Can anybody help?

Can Kath and Kim make it big?

Posted March 8th, 2011 by debritz

I'm not a big fan of Kath and Kim, so anything I write from here on in should perhaps be seen through that prism. No doubt many people will welcome the news that the popular TV show is to be made into a feature film. I question whether it will be a success. Making it big on the small screen is one thing, but stretching out what's essentially a one-joke idea to a feature length is quite another. If it's made to a modest budget, it could be a big success locally - at the cinema, with DVD and online sales, and TV rights. But the producers seem convinced that this will fly internationally -- and there I have my doubts. Sure, you can point to the success of the Sex and the City films, but SATC had a much bigger global following -- particulalry in America, where the big money is made at the box office. Remember, the US version of the show was a major flop, so the brand is tainted Stateside. Of course, I wish Gina Riley and Jane Turner success, but I wish they could've come up with an original idea -- as the Working Dog folks did when they made the transitition from TV to movies. Instead of making a feature-length version of Frontline or (god forbid) Funky Squad, they came up with the original idea that was The Castle, and then The Dish. Paul Hogan didn't leverage one of his TV characters into film, he created a new one for Crocodile Dundee -- and that became the biggest Australian film ever. If we really want another Australian-made global blockbuster, then maybe we should be looking elsewhere rather than recycling a TV show that's already reached its use-by date.
PS: Now for some devil's advocacy. I also question whether a Kath and Kim movie is a project that should attract taxpayer funding. The TV series was a big success, so if the producers really had confidence in the film, they'd seek to fully fund it through commercial investment. Shouldn't government funding be there to help give a leg-up to people with a great idea who don't have the funds -- or the powerful and wealthy friends -- to help make it happen?

As Des says ...

Posted May 31st, 2010 by debritz

Des Partridge, the longtime cinema critic for The Courier-Mail, supports the cause to Save the Regent. Here's some audio of him telling 4KQ's breakfast team of Laurel, Gary and Mark how this last-of-a-kind venue will be lost barring a last-minute change of heart by the State Government.
Update: I had my say on the Regent in this segment with Spencer Howson. It's towards the end after the usual (hopefully) entertaining fluff.

BYO glasses?

Posted April 3rd, 2010 by debritz

A cinema-going friend writes:

I just bought tickets on line for Gold Class and had to fork out $1 each for the glasses (or I could bring my own). What am I going to do - bring some cardboard ones I have lying around the house or put some green and red cellophane together?

I suppose it will only be a matter of time before we all do have our own 3D cinema glasses. Until the fad wears off (again), of course.
PS: Live theatre is always in 3D - and you don't need special glasses.

How to win an Oscar

Posted March 4th, 2010 by debritz

After an interview with Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies and Founder and Curator of The Cinema Archives at Wesleyan University, the Daily Beast's Jacob Bernstein has come up with a list of 10 ways to win an Academy Award. They include:
+ Speak with a funny accent;
+ Play a famous person;
+ Get fat/ go ugly (by, for example, donning a plastic nose);
+ Play the piano;
+ Die ("either beautifully or horribly".)
Oh, and with the notable exception of Jimmy Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy, singing and dancing won't win you a gong.
More here.

A Dae to remember

Posted January 3rd, 2010 by debritz

January 14 will see the Australian premiere of Bran Nue Dae, the movie. The Brisbane opening of the stage musical on which it is based remains one of my favourite nights in the theatre, and if the film - starring Rocky McKenzie, Jessica Mauboy, Ernie Dingo and Geoffrey Rush -- goes any way towards recapturing that magic, it will be brilliant. Here's the trailer.

A gem from the web

Posted December 26th, 2009 by debritz

The Making of the Avatar Bootleg. The title doesn't quite say it all.

Monopoly: the movie

Posted November 12th, 2009 by debritz

A film from a board game? Yes, apparently Alien and Gladiator director Ridley Scott is preparing to add Monopoly to his CV. The LA Times notes that it's not so crazy. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was, after all, inspired by a theme-park ride. One character in the movie will be the top-hatted little capitalist known as Rich Uncle Pennybags or Mr Monopoly. I hope his recent nemesis, The Simpsons' Monty Burns, will also make an appearance.

Wizard wheez

Posted October 26th, 2009 by debritz

Psssst. Fancy attending a "Generic Wizard Night"? Well, get in contact with Ms Marmite Lover at the Underground Restaurant, a "pop-up" establishment in a West London home, where the menu was originally inspired by the Harry Potter books and films. Diners were to have ventured down Diagon Alley (the side of the house) to enjoy dandelion wine, pumpkin soup and mint humbugs. But Ms Lover received a letter from Warner Bros telling her how delighted they were that she loved Harry Potter but to hold such a themed event would be an infringement of copyright. Thus the name change. More here.

Jessica's Deadly!

Posted October 15th, 2009 by debritz

Congratulations to the winners of the Deadly Awards for indigenous Australians, including singer Jessica Mauboy, actors Leah Purcell and Luke Carroll, and musicians Gurrumul Yunupingu and the Saltwater Band. There's more here.

Sounds like Larry

Posted October 1st, 2009 by debritz

I use them on this site, but I often scratch my head about the placement of Google ads. I was searching imdb.com today for Laurence Olivier, and the sponsored link was:

I know what I don't like ...

Posted July 21st, 2009 by debritz

"I haven't seen it myself, nor shall I ..." So writes Christopher Hart in this Daily Mail story about the British decsion to allow screenings of the Lars von Trier film Antichrist. Despite this, and after calling himself a "broad-minded arts critic", Hart goes on to demolish a film he's only read about and call for it to be banned outright rather than given an 18 rating. Well, I'm sorry Christopher, just reading about it isn't good enough. Before you can have a valid opinion, you're going to have to actually see it - especially since it's your job to do so.
Update: On reflection, if only I'd known about this scam when I was reviewing plays, films and TV shows years ago ... It would have made life a lot of easier (but I probably wouldn't have been able to sleep at night).
Update: Mail Watch demolishes Hart's story here.

BCC a non-Event?

Posted July 16th, 2009 by debritz

Is another great Queensland brand about to disappear? Birch Carroll and Coyle cinemas now have signage calling themselves "Event Cinemas". What's going on?

The long goodbye

Posted July 14th, 2009 by debritz


I was surprised to see that the fourth most popular entertainment story on news.com.au today concerns film star Patrick Swayze saying goodbye to his family "as his cancer spreads". The story is dated November 28, 2008 - more than seven months ago - and, as far as I know, Swayze is still with us. I hope he lives to see the story get older and older and older. But why is it that this item remains in the top 10? Presumably, Google keeps delivering readers who think it is current news.

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