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Profile Story On Bailey

The biggest TV star you've never heard of

Reality TV's new kid on the block used to shear sheep. Now, the man behind 'The GC' and 'Sidewalk Karaoke' has a career on the verge of becoming life-changing. Russell Blackstock reports.

It is 9.30am on a Wednesday and TV hotshot Bailey Mackey's office, tucked above an auto repair shop at an industrial unit in Auckland, is a hive of activity.

Some of the 22 staff are animatedly discussing ideas for programmes, while others are hard at work tweaking a new business software package that could be worth millions of dollars.

Mackey and the company he co-founded just 2 years ago, Pango Productions, is on a roll.

His most recent small-screen hit, Sidewalk Karaoke, has charmed audiences on Maori TV and is set to hit more than 30 international markets. The show's popular format was recently bought by FremantleMedia, a global content company with offices in 31 markets.

It also owns the Got Talent, Idol, and X-Factor formats, as well as Project Runway, Family Feud and more.

If Sidewalk Karaoke is optioned overseas, the deal could mean megabucks for creator Mackey and his fast-growing firm.

In between scheduling a Skype conference call with colleagues in Los Angeles, London and Spain, Mackey seems nonplussed.

"We have done all right out of the Fremantle deal, but it is the potential that is the exciting bit," he says, shrugging. "If we can go right around the world, that will be when it all might become life-changing for us."

FremantleMedia's executive president of global acquisitions and development, Vasha Wallace, believes the Kiwi programme is "exactly what we know broadcasters are looking for".

Mackey looks at it another way.

"Selling a show like Sidewalk Karaoke is no different from selling a Subway franchise," he says. "People who want to sell sandwiches will be attracted to buying a Subway outlet because it is a recognised and successful brand.

"It's much the same with Sidewalk Karaoke. The formula has proved a hit in New Zealand so there is a good chance people will like it elsewhere.

"It is not the Kiwi way to pump up your own tyres but when you are dealing with the Americans you have to learn how to sell yourself properly and not be shy about it, either."

It is a long and winding road from Mackey's upbringing as the son of a "humble, low-key" shearer at Rangitukia, near Gisborne, to the heady world of TV production and international deal-making.

But the 39-year-old dad-of-five insists the rough and tumble of the East Coast shearing sheds were the perfect training ground for a career in broadcasting.

"The sheds is where I would hear all the great yarns, the mischief, the humour and the intrigue," he says.

"My dad would work 12-hour shifts then we would party afterwards into the wee small hours.

"We spoke a different language and lived by our own rules. You had to be quick on your feet with your tongue to survive. There was a bit of an, 'if you are not at lunch, you are lunch' vibe going on.

"All this stood me in good stead for a job in television."

As a youngster, Mackey was a keen on sport and represented Ngati Porou East Coast at rugby.

But as a schoolboy he dreamed of working in broadcasting, his ambitions fuelled by listening to a transistor radio at night in bed.

"It amazed me I could be under the blankets and be listening to people talking on radio stations in Auckland or the west coast of America," he says. "That was the first time broadcasting influenced me.

"When I was a teenager I got myself a job at Radio Ngati Porou in Ruatoria and it all kicked off from there."

Mackey left school with no qualifications but got his first real break when he hitched to Auckland for a job interview as a reporter on Te Karere.

"It was all a bit farcical, really," he says. "I was wearing a suit I borrowed from my cousin. I got changed into it in the carpark outside TVNZ but I didn't know everyone was watching me from a window."

He was "rough around the edges", Mackey says, but that job taught him much about storytelling amid the tight production demands of television.

After shifting to TV3, Mackey spent three years mostly on sports shows, including as a presenter on TV3's Best Damn Sports Show.

"I was great at getting a Maori angle on things and the sports editor eventually kept asking if I could perhaps give the cousins a rest and try to get some Pakeha into my stories," he says, laughing.

Mackey went on to become head of sport at Maori TV and created award-winning sports show Code. He founded company Black Inc Media in 2008 and after the firm was bought by Eyeworks, he became company director alongside Kiwi reality TV queen Julie Christie.

From Christie, he learned the skills to make programmes that could appeal overseas.

"Working with Julie was an eye-opener," he says. "That is where I started to get the tools for making primetime programming and discover how the commercial side of the business works.

"I was learning from the master. It was like the ultimate apprenticeship. Yes, Julie can be a task master but she is fantastic at what she does and I'm not sure we will see someone of her capabilities as a producer in New Zealand again."

Christie believes Mackey's charisma is one of his main selling points.

"He has this remarkable everyman ability to relate to all sorts of people," she says.

"And he literally knows, or is related to, everyone from politicians to All Blacks.

"His main strength is his personality and tenacity and he was always a great pitcher of shows.

"He's like a guy with three brains - the one in his head, the one in his heart and the one in his gut - and that's what you need to make it in TV production internationally.

"But he needs someone very strong to look after the money and if he wants to make it really big then he'll have to leave New Zealand."

Mackey has been executive producer of a range of shows on local television networks, including Qantas award-winner One Land and The Life and Times of Temuera Morrison.

In 2012 he found himself at the centre of a controversy with the headline-grabbing debut of The GC.

The publicly funded show was about good-looking young Maori making money, partying and chasing their dreams on the Gold Coast.

It was a ratings hit but copped flak for under-delivering on cultural content. "None of the GC crew were obese, committing crimes or unemployed," Mackey says.

"The storm about it was taxing emotionally and personally but it was simply a show about a contemporary Maori subculture. It was another learning curve."

Since he started Pango Productions with business partner Jonathon Ulrich, things have gone from strength to strength.

The company makes shows including weekly Maori current affairs offering Marae and satirical semi-topical news programme Brown Eye, with co-producer Taika Waititi. The firm has just sold its cooking series The Game Chef to the National Geographic channel.

But it is the development of a business software package for TV production companies that could be the real money-spinner, Mackey says.

"This could underpin a half-trillion-dollar global-content business and we already have clients in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. It has certainly got me out of bed in the mornings with increased vigour."

TV production rival Phil Smith, boss of Great Southern Television, describes Mackey as "the new kid on the block".

"Bailey has certainly made a splash," Smith says. "For me he is the most natural salesman in our industry. When we are at events overseas he runs his operation like a well-oiled shearing gang. He is still young and has a lot of potential."

Despite his growing success here and abroad, the mercurial Mackey insists he wants to retire at 45.

He and his partner, Kiriana, who is the financial controller at Pango, have just had a daughter.

"I have always had a never-say-die attitude but I am serious about getting out of this business early," he says. "I have worked seven days a week for as long as I can remember and I want to enjoy seeing my family growing up.

"People tell me I could never retire as I wouldn't know what to do with myself. They are wrong about that. I want to be living somewhere where there is no cellphone, no email and no hassle. I will be absolutely awesome at doing absolutely nothing."

- Herald On Sunday

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Sidewalk Karaoke Reviews

New Maori TV show Sidewalk Karaoke takes to the streets, and the world

It's hot. But it's even hotter in front of the camera, under the lights and the scrutiny of crowd of strangers.

Tai Waru steps onto her mark, squares off in front of the camera and gives the crew a nod and a smile. The music starts.

Warwick Avenue by Duffy plays through the speakers and the crowd from the Henderson Night Market is drawn like moths to the limelight as Waru begins to sing along.

She has a lovely voice, she hits the notes, she keeps good time, but when the machine weighs up her tone, pitch and speed, she's found wanting.

She has to score 70 or higher to move to round two, but she's under and then she's out.

It's karaoke, only more cut throat.

The next singer steps up to the plate. Siouxzanne Matete is the picture of confidence even as she takes on one of the greatest singers of her generation: Beyonce.

Not only does she nail round one for the $100 cash prize, but she also nails round two, banking an extra $100. Now's the hard part though.

This isn't any old singing competition, this is Sidewalk Karaoke - a new Maori Television show which hasn't even aired in New Zealand yet, but the producer is already making deals to take it worldwide.

It's the singing game show where even if you're good enough on your own, if you can't convince someone else to sing a duet with you, it's game over.

Matete sprints around the crowd of onlookers - all of them now desperately staring at the ground or not-so-subtly edging away.

In the end, it's her reluctant fiancee who's dragged into the spotlight.

The difference between Matete and the others is only a matter of confidence.

Take Tai Waru; she only sings in the shower, in kapa haka or after she's been built up by a bit of Dutch courage.

"I'm more of a person to be comforted by everyone else around me - singing with people," she says.

"This is the first time I've ever stood in front of a lot of people ever. I'm just starting to get out of my comfort zone."

Not unlike Matete's reluctant fiancee, Waru was pushed to take part.

Her friend Kelly Dunn knew "she just needed a little bit of tautoko, manaaki [support, encouragement]" to get started, and "once she did, tumeke".

And Waru says she's already more confident for having done it.

"If I can do that, I know I can do anything else. I think for me, I'm going through that time of my life where I need to accept the person that I am and take risks because you know, any day I could die," she says.

"And having my friend bring me here and give me that confidence to actually do something I never thought I'd ever do, it was cool."

Matete, on the other hand, is dripping with confidence.

"I'm a natural on stage, as everyone says. I've been doing kapa haka so I'm used to it," she says.

Her fiancee Anthony Rose is less of a natural, but he never had a chance to say no.

"It was actually on my bucket list to get him on camera, because I thought it would be impossible," says Matete.

And after getting all the way to round three on Sidewalk Karaoke, her confidence has been bolstered even further.

"I know I definitely will be [performing again in future], he definitely will be with me," she says, despite Rose's protest.

"I look forward to walking up on the Grammy stage and getting my Grammy, and everything else, so Lady Gaga, watch out."

FIRST THE STREETS, THEN THE WORLD

Sidewalk Karaoke was created and developed especially for Maori TV by award-winning producer Bailey Mackey (Code, The GC).

The concept is simple: a crew of about 20 takes its karaoke machine and cameras on the road, sets up somewhere like the night market and get whoever's willing to sign up for some good, old-fashioned karaoke.

In round one, you choose a song, belt it out, and if you score above 70, you win $100. Round two is double or nothing, but this time the producers choose a song for you and you have to score 80 or above.

In round three, there's $1000 up for grabs but as Matete found out the hard way, you then have to convince someone - literally anyone in the vicinity - to sing a duet with you, and even if you can do that you still have to score 80 or above.

It's a simple format, and one Bailey's had in the back of his mind for years.

He first pitched it as Karaoke Cab, which would be the same format only taking place as random people got into the back of a taxi.

But don't go comparing it to James Corden's now world-famous Carpool Karaoke.

"That's totally different because that's celebrities, whereas this is sort of more random, everyday people," he says.

Besides: "James Corden I think, has done really well - it's an online phenomenon. But the ratings for the actual TV show aren't that great".

At any rate, the cab idea didn't stick and Bailey soon figured the way to go was to hit the streets.

"I was really keen on trying to develop a show that was the opposite to the big talent formats like X-Factor and things like that. It had to be kind of nimble, I guess lo-fi enough to entice anybody into it," he says.

"I like to say, it's a show that might not change your life but it will change your night."

Mackey quickly discovered the night markets were a good location, because on the streets or in train stations, people were usually on their way somewhere and therefore in a rush.

"There's a concentrated amount of people for a certain amount of time, most are happy because they're eating some great food, and the ethnic diversity is really good at the night markets as well," says Mackey.

Many of those signing up to sing have - like Matete and Waru - come from kapa haka backgrounds, others come from church singing groups and choirs. But still, others are coming from out of left field, and that's the point.

"There's a lot you can't control but that's kind of what makes it exciting. We show up just not knowing who's going to walk on set and there's a real power to that, and a real magnetism. The idea for us is to be able to capture that spontaneity and that unknownness," says Mackey.

The best part is that the app, which calculates the singers' scores is going to be made available to the public, too.

There will be one "sing-along song" per episode which, when it plays on TV will automatically launch the app through voice recognition technology, then viewers can play along at home and compare their scores to those on TV.

It's a simple format and like Mackey says, a fairly "low-fi" affair, but it's one which has garnered huge international interest.

Mackey is currently on the verge of closing deals to share the format in some 17 countries, and has already closed a deal in the UK.

"Mate, it's huge. For me, it's the fulfilment of 17 long years of hard slog. It's potentially life changing, so it means a lot," says Mackey.

"Making TV is tough....but what you hope for is to create a show that has interest internationally and Sidewalk Karaoke is that show.

"I really think it's a show that's just about having fun, it's got a big heart."

And while the singers aren't going on to sign record deals or embark on worldwide tours, they do become celebrities for a night - and $1000 doesn't hurt either.

One young man, Manihera Waru smashes through all three rounds of Sidewalk Karaoke in Henderson, pulling in his father to sing a Bob Marley classic on round three.

Later, a passerby shouts, "what did you win?"

He responds, "a grand".

The verdict? "Too much, bro."

Sidewalk Karaoke premieres on Maori TV, Thursday, May 5 at 8.30pm.

 - Stuff

Sidewalk Karaoke: Simple, Yet So Awesome

Forget Carpool Karaoke, New Zealand has its own show and it's for the people - not just celebrities.

Sidewalk Karaoke is Maori TV's new anti-talent show, designed to give the average Kiwi their 15 minutes in the limelight and a chance to make an easy $1000.

The show was brought in by the network to replace Homai Te Pakipaki, which finished last year on account of "budget cuts" and the tightening of purse strings.

Sidewalk Karaoke is the low-budget, low-fi answer to those cuts.

It's a simple set-up: a karaoke machine, an app which rates your performance, some lights, cameras and some action.

A small crew takes to the streets (and night markets) of Auckland, sets up the karaoke machine and passers-by pick songs from a lineup including hits by everyone from Prince to Beyonce.

In round one the singer picks a song and plays for $100. They have to score above 70 on the specially made app, which judges based on speed, pitch and tone.

If they score high enough, they move on to round two, in which the producers pick a song and singers have to score 80 or higher to either double their money or lose it all.

Finally, round three puts $1000 up for grabs, and you still only have to score 80.

The catch? You have to get someone to sing the song with you.

It's a simple format, but one which has garnered global attention.

Producer and show creator Bailey Mackey says interest in the format has been growing steadily and he's now negotiating deals with "potentially up to 33 countries".

And though he's keeping tight-lipped about the specifics, Mackey says the implications of the show's success are huge, not only opening the door for international shows to be produced here in New Zealand, but for more Maori to pick up work internationally.

"I think the fun is, you know, karaoke is one of those elements of life that is a lot of people's guilty pleasure. I think there's a little bit of a singer in all of us and there's nothing better than when you're at a karaoke bar and someone completely nails a song," he says.

"There's that mixture of envy and, I guess, hope that when it's your turn you'll do just as well."

And those watching at home will get their chance to find out, as the show's app will be available so viewers can play along at home.

Former Homai Te Pakipaki great Te Hamau Nikora is the show's host and sideline cheerleader for the contestants, and says even with the world's eyes on Sidewalk Karaoke, it's still a Kiwi show with a lot of heart.

"I'm sure now [international producers] will be watching what we're doing, and get to see my style I guess.

"And then hopefully I'll get to make that movie with Eddie Murphy that I've always wanted to make," he laughs.

"The show is really, really slick. It's homely, it's family, but it's entertaining and competitive at the same time. For me, it's like Homai Te Pakipaki but a step up and a step out, and a bit more accessible."

- NZ Herald

‘Think Singstar on wheels’ – The simple genius of Maori TV’s Sidewalk Karaoke

Madeleine Chapman watches Sidewalk Karaoke, the new homespun singing competition by Māori TV.

Sidewalk Karaoke, the latest release on Māori TV, is exactly what you would expect: karaoke sung on the sidewalk. Think Singstar on wheels. Think cracking highs when sober. Think shopping mall talent quest outside the mall.

The budget is shamelessly sparse – no judges, just a machine – which is right in line with the show’s premise. Sing a song, receive a score of over 70 from the machine, and win $100. Sing another song, score over 80, and by gosh you get $200. Pick a random singing partner from the crowd that has gathered, sing a duet that scores over 80, and I’ll be damned if you don’t take home a crisp $1000.

Host Te Hamua Nikora keeps it simple. He looks like he just loves karaoke and knows all the words to every song, even when the contestants don’t. He rolls the ‘r’ in “karaoke” and pronounces it with flair so it becomes “Kah-rah-aw-keh”.

The contestants’ backstories only go as far back as what they were doing when they saw theSidewalk Karaoke setup. One was out with her kids, one had gotten a text from a friend, and one was a fire dancer apparently looking to profit from his new business competitor.

The first contestant in Sidewalk Karaoke history was Natasha Baldwin, who chose to sing ‘Take It Easy’ by The Eagles. Give her the grand prize for her song choice alone, I say. She scored a 75 and was so stoked about winning $100 that once again I say just give her the grand. Instead she wisely chose to take the money and buy a feed for her kids. You go, Natasha, and don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.

Fire dancer Rory performed his dance worryingly close to a lot of electrical equipment before announcing that he had never sung karaoke before. As it turned out, he wasn’t great but hey, you can’t knock the hustle.

The big winner of the premiere show was Roland Williams, a storeman and 2009 winner of Homai te Pakipaki. His first song choice was ‘Dance With My Father’ by Luther Vandross. THEY ALL DESERVE A THOUSAND DOLLARS AND A JOB AT THE BREEZE. Unsurprisingly he nailed it, then nailed the second song, then found a duet partner in 10 seconds and nailed the final song. Ten hundred dollar bills to Roland and one bloody good show for all the viewers.

Sidewalk Karaoke is so simple it’s genius. There’s no nastiness or focus on those contestants who don’t win – and there are a lot. Instead it’s a goodnatured show that leaves you wanting everyone to win a thousand dollars. I can already see the very same idea being used on The Tonight Show and watched millions of times on Youtube. Except Jimmy Fallon will pronounce “Karaoke” as “Carry-okey” so it won’t have that same spark.

- The SpinOff

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PLAY Review

Brendon and Louise ready to Play

Maori Television, acclaimed for their documentaries and delving into the nation's heart, took a step in the popular culture direction last night with the launch of their new show, PLAY.

A commentary show about sport, PLAY is hosted by former Good Morning star Brendon Pongia and Stan Walker's gorgeous girlfriend, Louise Tyson.

Premiering this Monday night at 8.30pm, PLAY will see Pongia and Tyson lead a team of athletes and celebrity panellists as they talk about the highs and lows of the week in sport. Fast banter, witty commentary and sharp barbs aplenty are promised.

Panellists include Silver Fern queens of the court, Cat Latu and Kayla Cullen, Blues player Bryn Hall and more sporting greats, with regular guest spots from All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder and Warriors star Issac Luke.

Pongia is excited about his return to TV.

"I love live TV.  As slick as it looks, so many things can go wrong, which makes it all that more exciting. I thrive in that environment. I'm a cheeky kind of guy so as the anchor, I'll be pushing boundaries and a lot of it will be off the cuff and thinking quickly on my feet." 

Although he admits there are also a few nerves.

"There always are, but it's a bit like when I played basketball. I'd be nervous on game day but as soon as I walked into the stadium I was calm and ready. It will be the same Monday night when I walk on set."

Tyson agrees, saying she can't wait to start filming.

"To host a big show like PLAY has been a goal of mine for a few years now. I'm stoked and feeling privileged to be given the opportunity to work with our incredible team and to co-host with Brendon," she says.

"It's live and there is no hiding, so you will get a lot of laughing and personality out of me. During the audition period I was nearly peeing myself with laughter, it was so much fun."

It's the first time working together for the hosts but already they've struck up a fast friendship, with Pongia promising to look out for Tyson.

"I've told Lou, no matter what, I will look after her," he says.

"I'm lucky enough to have a lot of experience in TV but her trust in me will only grow as the show goes on. And I can already tell she’ll be helping me out at times too."

- NZ Herald (Spy News)

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Brown Eye Reviews

TV pick: Brown Eye

Brown Eye is Maori Television's foray into news satire. We asked presenter Nathan Rarere and producer Bailey Mackey about the thinking behind the programme and the deeper meaning on the show's name.

Brown Eye, catchy title. Was Whakapohane rejected?

Nathan: I can't lay claim to coming up with the title, but my eyes are a luxurious brown. So that's something.

Bailey: Brown Eye has so many awesome meanings, doesn't it? It was one of those names that once we came up with it, we wondered why hasn't there been a show with that name before? Plus I too have brown eyes.

So is this a Te News for the 21st century?

Nathan: Abe Pakatewhainau was a personal hero of mine so I won't have a disparaging word spoken about Te News. You can't just make current affairs puns by themselves any more.

People like to be more educated and all have the likes of Google and Wikipedia in the palm of their hands now. If we can make people laugh and then trick them into looking further into the subject then that's good.

Bailey: Yes, that's right ha! No one or nothing will compare to what Billy did.

It's pitched as "a satirical news show from a Maori perspective". Will it all be from that perspective? And if you don't have a Maori perspective will you still get it?

Nathan: If you could feel the joy of Homai te Pakipaki, then you can feel the focus of the Brown Eye. Anyone can feel it.

Bailey: Yeah I think so. We have non-Maori as part of the team, but you know. I guess I'm an editor in chief kind of thing so I funnel everything through my brown eyes.

Who are you hoping to entertain or educate the most?

Nathan: People who thought they already knew it all.

Bailey: Ourselves ... No seriously I hope the New Zealand public in general. That would be awesome if they were able to see things through brown eyes.

Who are you hoping to annoy or offend the most?

Nathan: People who thought they already knew it all

Bailey: Hopefully, the New Zealand public - no just joking. I guess satire is at its greatest when you punch up. Being Maori that probably means most sections of society are open for a bit of offence. To be honest though we aren't really aiming to offend, it's more about offering a different point of view and at times pointing out the ridiculousness of the truth which is ridiculous in itself.

Who is this Uncle Isaac* guy who features in the show? He looks kind of familiar.

Nathan: He's a brilliant member of staff and a wealth of knowledge. I like to describe him as either the best history teacher you'll ever have. Or the most uncomfortable.

Bailey: I actually think he may have changed his name. Maybe it will be Uncle Matiu by the time we go to air. Who knows with that guy?

*Uncle Isaac is to be played by one Taika Waititi.

Where: Maori TV
When: Fridays, 9.30pm
What: Satirical news from a Maori perspective

NZ Herald

A Brown Eye on satire

Maori TV are about to launch satirical comedy show Brown Eye. It’ll be hosted by television and radio presenter Nathan Rarere and feature co-creator Taika Waititi. Standing Room Only producer Shaun D Wilson spoke to Nathan along with producer and co-creator Bailey Mackey as they prepare to send their comedy baby out into the world.

- RNZ

Brown Eye helps Nathan Rarere return to prime-time

Twenty years after bringing Ice TV to the nation's youth, Nathan Rarere will be back in prime-time shortly hosting new Maori TV current affairs show Brown Eye. He talks to James Croot about what viewers can expect from what's described as an "unadulterated, opinionated and entertaining satirical news show". 

How did you hear about the show and what attracted you to presenting it? 

Bailey Mackey (one the show's creators) got hold of me and asked me to audition. You've got to really think hard about auditioning for a show like this because it carries with it a fair amount of ethics and social responsibility. But once I saw the ideas and read an audition script, I couldn't wait to be involved in some form, and I guess I'm lucky to be the guy up front.

Will you be modelling yourself on any particular host/presenter of a similar sort of show?

I've never really modelled myself off any presenter before, I've always found you just end up doing a weak impression of a strong character. But I do admire the work of shows similar to this, with John Oliver and John Stewart currently the best in the business. I was also a big fan of Jeremy Wells' style on Eating Media Lunchtoo.

What have you been doing to prepare for the series? 

Whilst I've been a sports presenter for the past seven years, I've been navigating the world like most other people. A dad, husband, house owner (mortgage slave) and guy figuring out how to feed the family and pay the bills. Everyday life fires challenges at all of us, my life experiences and those of my family provide me with daily laughs and frustrations that hopefully we can relate to our audience.

What do you think are the biggest issues that will concern your viewers or that they will want to see the mickey taken out of?

There are many issues we need to tackle, but it's not just about what issues we tackle, it's how we look at them. Like children going to school without food – how come it still happens? If we've got money to possibly throw at a yachting campaign, how come we can't feed the kids? And who decided that? Someone had to be sitting in parliament somewhere and thought to themselves, "I guess feeding those kids would make them look forward to education and make school seem like a safe and welcoming place to be... but have you guys seen those yachts?! 60-knots bro! That's like...um...really, really fast! Can a kid do 60-knots? Can a kid get me a dinner with a billionaire in the Bahamas? Coz one of those yachts can! I vote yachts!" But in the grand scheme of things there is plenty in life that is ripe for the mickey taking eh?

What can viewers expect, what regular features do you have planned and can tell me a bit about the format and what do you think will set it apart from the other topical comedy shows currently on air?

What will set us apart will be heart. We've got a really varied range of people throwing their brain power at this show, but each of us come with heart.
We'll have panel discussions, I saw Mike King hanging around in the kitchen yesterday and we told him we'd make him a coffee if he agreed to come on the show, so he said yes. He loves coffee. When you've got someone as talented as Taika Waititi to teach you history lessons then you know we're going to educate. Our audience will finish the year as the smartest audience in world TV history probably.

How do you feel about taking on 7 Days in their established time slot (although they are currently off the air at the moment) and are you hoping to pick up the slack created by the departure of Jono and Ben to an earlier hour?

We decided to settle that battle on people's remotes as opposed to the "fight in the car park" that had been suggested earlier by txts. It would have made a great YouTube clip, but it's so hard to organise.

How much do you think you can get away with in the 9.30pm Friday time slot?

Well there shouldn't be any kids up watching at that point in time so I'd say we could go anywhere!

What is going to be the toughest challenge of putting the show together? Have you worked out a weekly schedule you need to work to? Can you talk me through that plan as it currently stands?

The toughest challenge will be finding our style. Bailey Mackey and Callie Adams have done hard work putting the team together. A Monday writers' meeting kicks off the week and there is much polishing and honing to be done by the time we come to shoot the show on Thursdays. That gives us a day to be able to construct the show properly so that people can watch on Friday night.
In all the projects I've ever worked on, episode one looks different to episode five ... it's the same as any work team. You just gotta find your roles.

Finally, how has TV changed since you first worked on Ice TV in 1995?

In our first year of Ice TV, we did a piece where Jon Bridges explained to us all what this strange new thing called the "World Wide Web" was... so it's safe to say it's changed completely. Even the ability to just go film stuff on a video camera. I had come from a music TV background where we just used whatever equipment was lying around so our Ice TV styling was quite lo-fi. One of the first pieces we ever filmed at Ice was submitted on video tape and the techno people at TV3 said, "but this isn't broadcast quality". TV is a much more instant and adaptable beast now. Thanks for asking me about Ice TV, I feel about a billion-years-old now.

Brown Eye debuts on Maori TV at 9.30pm on Friday, May 15. 

- Stuff

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Local variety makes a return to our TV screens, and the critic makes a discovery he wasn’t expecting.

Colin Hogg: Revived dinosaur beats the arrows

5:00 AM Tuesday Sep 9, 2014Add a comment

The Modern Maori Quartet with Temuera Morrison (centre) in Happy Hour.

I felt happy in a sad sort of way on hearing that experiments had once again started to bring back to life that great dinosaur of the television age, the variety show.

Happy because nothing raises the pulse of a TV critic more quickly than the sight of a big soft target stumbling into view. But I also felt sad because there's little pleasure in taking shots at such easy and innocent prey.

And so it wandered into range, last Saturday night on TV One at 9:30 (and for a season of six). It even came with an awful name, Happy Hour, and one of those hosts with the most, this time Temuera Morrison.

So there it was, live before a full Mercury Theatre with its jolly (if tuneless) theme song and old-fashioned smiley style, done with a slightly desperate air.

Well that's how it seemed at first, especially when Tem bounded onstage to shout out how glad he was to be there and then had to add, "And hey, isn't it great to have one of these shows back on television?"

Let's see how great it is then, said the critic, tensing his bow and reaching for his quiver of cruel words. But then something went wrong, terribly wrong. I'd never expected I would laugh out loud at the damned thing.

Mind you, I have a taste for corn, especially when it's served up in the rich style of the greats who once did these sorts of shows rather well - Prince Tui Teka, Sir Howard Morrison (Tem's uncle) and Lord Billy T. James, the greatest and perhaps corniest of them all.

And funniest, of course, though Tem and his team were more often than not really quite funny last Saturday with their first show.

Not breathtakingly, side-shakingly, fall-off-the-sofa funny, but laugh-raising, especially in the skits that dotted Happy Hour. Elsewhere, it was mostly songs and sing-alongs and little routines.

Antique as they are with their sentimental singing, regular guests the Modern Maori Quartet really could sing and were useful on backing vocals and giggles.

Co-presenter Keisha Castle-Hughes didn't do much at all, but she did it well enough, and MC and skit actor Thane Kirby was pretty much perfect and sometimes hilarious.

On the down side, it's a pity there wasn't a live band, Tem said he was "glad to be here" far too often and guest singer Annie Crummer once again made Mariah Carey sound understated.

Tem, all the gushing aside, was terrific, doing a hilarious solo turn with a broom for a taiaha - "we were a poor tribe" - and telling a crazy tale about losing his patu to his uncle's three-legged dog on a marae while delivering the challenge to Prime Minister Rob Muldoon.

And there was the promising start of a running gag called "Doctor Ropata", a spoof prequel to the famous Shortland Street line, this one ending with, "You're not in New Zealand now Dr Ropata", delivered by a drag queen dressed as a nurse.

And there was a neat string of Tem's failed movie auditions. In one he's trying out for the lead in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

"I'm a good actor, but I'm not that good," he tells the director. "You might have to ring Cliff Curtis".

Later, Tem ended the show with, "Cook your missus some eggs".

He might have found something that finally fits - and the critic has found a variety show he likes.

NZ Herald

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Roger Moroney: Giving the audience a Happy Hour

The Modern Maori Quartet with Temuera Morrison (centre) in Happy Hour.

I felt happy in a sad sort of way on hearing that experiments had once again started to bring back to life that great dinosaur of the television age, the variety show.

Happy because nothing raises the pulse of a TV critic more quickly than the sight of a big soft target stumbling into view. But I also felt sad because there's little pleasure in taking shots at such easy and innocent prey.

And so it wandered into range, last Saturday night on TV One at 9:30 (and for a season of six). It even came with an awful name, Happy Hour, and one of those hosts with the most, this time Temuera Morrison.

So there it was, live before a full Mercury Theatre with its jolly (if tuneless) theme song and old-fashioned smiley style, done with a slightly desperate air.

Well that's how it seemed at first, especially when Tem bounded onstage to shout out how glad he was to be there and then had to add, "And hey, isn't it great to have one of these shows back on television?"

Let's see how great it is then, said the critic, tensing his bow and reaching for his quiver of cruel words. But then something went wrong, terribly wrong. I'd never expected I would laugh out loud at the damned thing.

Mind you, I have a taste for corn, especially when it's served up in the rich style of the greats who once did these sorts of shows rather well - Prince Tui Teka, Sir Howard Morrison (Tem's uncle) and Lord Billy T. James, the greatest and perhaps corniest of them all.

And funniest, of course, though Tem and his team were more often than not really quite funny last Saturday with their first show.

Not breathtakingly, side-shakingly, fall-off-the-sofa funny, but laugh-raising, especially in the skits that dotted Happy Hour. Elsewhere, it was mostly songs and sing-alongs and little routines.

Antique as they are with their sentimental singing, regular guests the Modern Maori Quartet really could sing and were useful on backing vocals and giggles.

Co-presenter Keisha Castle-Hughes didn't do much at all, but she did it well enough, and MC and skit actor Thane Kirby was pretty much perfect and sometimes hilarious.

On the down side, it's a pity there wasn't a live band, Tem said he was "glad to be here" far too often and guest singer Annie Crummer once again made Mariah Carey sound understated.

Tem, all the gushing aside, was terrific, doing a hilarious solo turn with a broom for a taiaha - "we were a poor tribe" - and telling a crazy tale about losing his patu to his uncle's three-legged dog on a marae while delivering the challenge to Prime Minister Rob Muldoon.

And there was the promising start of a running gag called "Doctor Ropata", a spoof prequel to the famous Shortland Street line, this one ending with, "You're not in New Zealand now Dr Ropata", delivered by a drag queen dressed as a nurse.

And there was a neat string of Tem's failed movie auditions. In one he's trying out for the lead in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

"I'm a good actor, but I'm not that good," he tells the director. "You might have to ring Cliff Curtis".

Later, Tem ended the show with, "Cook your missus some eggs".

He might have found something that finally fits - and the critic has found a variety show he likes.

NZ Herald

Comment

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Temuera Morrison's Happy Hour

Temurea Morrison knows what it's like to be in his famous uncle Howard's shoes. He was literally wearing them as he took centre stage to present new TV variety show Happy Hour to a live audience.

''Howard Morrison's son, Howard Jr, gave me his shoes after uncle died and I decided to wear them in his honour. While I was on the stage, I felt Uncle Howard's spirit was there with me. I found myself thinking of him and realising, this isn't easy. Perhaps I should have watched him a little closer.''

Happy Hour is a comedy show combining live variety performance, guest interviews, satire and sketches.

Shot in front of a live studio audience, the series is hosted by Temuera Morrison, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Thane Kirby. The Modern Maori Quartet (Francis Kora, Maaka Pohatu, James Tito and Matariki Whatarau) are the in-house band

The show is produced by Bailey Mackey, who was the man behind The Life and times of Temuera Morrison. 

Mackey had been watching Morrison giving a talk to kids doing kapa haka in another of his TV programmes, The Kapa, and knew he'd found the right guy to present the variety show that was forming in his head.

''I was sent out there to give these young kids a motivational speech. I had them laughing and afterwards Bailey said 'I have a great idea for a show that just came to me when you were talking to the kids...' I wasn't paying much attention but I did think what planet is this guy on when he explained it.

''Then blow me down it all started to happen. Next minute we were all getting together and running through some ideas. Then we are singing and dancing and I realised this is actually going to happen. ''I found myself reading scripts about Dr Ropata back in Guatemala and I said 'this is absolutely ridiculous' and they said yes and we're going to film it and I said but how can we film something so ridiculous?' I thought, well, this must be comedy.''

Morrison has not done a lot of comedy. Serious drama has been his game. But comedy or drama, it still had to be taken seriously, he says.

''I learned that comedy is quite a serious business. You still have to go through the process, learn the dialogue, work with the other actors.''

Saying that, he had a lot of laughs filming the show.

Comedy may be a serious business but it's still pretty good fun, particularly when it came to appearing in the sketches.

''In one of the sketches I thought we were going to go to the jungles of Guatemala but due to budget constraints we had to film it in a tent in someone's back yard. The whole set up was quite hilarious.''

Morrison says while he is best known for serious roles like Jake ''The Muss' Heke in the unforgettable Once Were Warriors, he's always been quite a funny guy.

And he's had plenty of stage experience in his uncle's heyday. It was something of a family affair back then, he says.

Howard always use to us his family on stage, says Morrison. 

''We would be called out to sing backing vocals for songs like How Great Thou Art. I really enjoyed being on stage with my uncle. It was magic.

''Kapa haka was my theatre and my stage experience as a kid was performing with cultural groups. I guess I had the ammunition sitting there, it was just a matter of bringing it out and tapping into those talents again.''

The variety show is a sure fire winner, Morrison reckons. It always has been, it's just been in a hiatus. With shows like New Zealand's Got Talent  and The X-Factor, the genre is alive and kicking again.

Morrison grew up on the greats of New Zealand entertainment, the likes of Dalvanius Prime, John Rowles, Howard Morrison, Prince Tui Teka, Nash Chase.

''All these great singers and entertainers. A lot of Maori got into the music scene. They all got so big they got into the Sydney scene, some of them made it to Las Vegas. It was a golden era.''

Morrison co-presents Happy Hour with Oscar-nominated actress Keisha Castle-Hughes, whose husband, Jonathan Morrison (no relation) is a writer on the show.

Castle-Hughes is a real pro, he says.

''She has a lovely sparkle in her eye and is full of energy. She is very professional and a lot of fun.

''I'd love to act with her one some time. Maybe I could play her father. I seem to be playing everyone's father these days.''

Happy Hour 9.30pm, Saturday, TV One.

- Stuff

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