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12:15 New Zealand film's success in 2020

When the Chinese dreamed up the terrible threat "may you live in interesting times" they were probably thinking about a year like 2020.   

In a world that's been locked down, divided and cut off, it's hard to find the silver lining.  But - in the spirit of looking on the bright side of life - it can't be denied it's been a terrific year for New Zealand films and TV dramas and comedies.  

The big success story has been gang drama Savage, but there have been plenty more this year - notably This Town and Baby Done.     

Sandy Gildea, Executive Director of the Screen Production and Development  Association of New Zealand, and Vicki Pope, the producer of Savage discuss. 

A screenshot from the Savage movie.

A screenshot from the Savage movie. Photo: Supplied

12:30 Gavin Rutherford: Pantomime in 2020 

There's nothing quite like a Christmas pantomime - England's major contribution to the holiday season.   But we seem to like it in New Zealand too, especially at Wellington's Circa Theatre.

There's singing, there's dancing, there's magic for the kids, and risqué jokes for the grownups. Long-time Panto Dame - and now frequent pantomime writer - is Gavin Rutherford. Though you wonder if it's a suitable job for a serious, award-winning actor, and one-time - believe it or not - marine biologist.  

Cinderella; the Pantomime opens at Circa Theatre in Wellington on November the 14th. 

Cinderella – The Pantomime at Circa Theatre 2020. Photo credit: Stephen A’Court.

Photo: ©Stephen A'Court Photography

12:45 Sci-fi and fantasy celebrated in new anthology

We think of New Zealand literature as matter of fact, no-nonsense, social realism territory.  But beneath the stoic surface we seem to have an extraordinary fantasy life.

Margaret Mahy, The Vintner's Luck, comic-books and comedy horror films. It took a Kiwi to come up with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and don't even mention the Lord of the Rings and Narnia movies, all but one directed by New Zealanders.

And now an anthology of home-grown sci-fi, fantasy, genre, speculative fiction has arrived.  It's called Monsters in the Garden. It's co-edited by Elizabeth Knox and David Larsen, with contributions from the cream of our most imaginative writers.

Elizabeth Knox and one of the stellar contributors, Dylan Horrocks speak to Simon Morris about the book. 

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Photo: Suppled/Grant Maiden

1:10 At The Movies

1:33 Julia Parnell director Six60: Til The Lights Go Out

Julia Parnell is the director of Six60: Till The Lights Go Out, a documentary that charts the band's meteoric rise. 

Six60 are the biggest local band ever - even if they're yet to crack it overseas.  And yet the critics generally hate them, for reasons that remain a little unclear. They are the ultimate example of the old showbiz saying - nobody liked them but the public.

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Photo: Supplied

Julia's last film was about the Chills - a band that suffered the opposite problem, they were critical darlings. 

So, what's the difference?  Julia Parnell joins Simon Morris to explain. 

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Photo: Supplied

1:50 A Kiwi's love letter to the US 

Writer Jenny Robin Jones - like so many people - was always fascinated by the United States - just the idea of it intrigued her.

And like anyone who's even passed through the country, you soon discover there are so many states of America - figuratively and literally.

So she decided to pick just one, and maybe draw some conclusions from it.  And the one she picked was New Mexico. 

Jenny Robin Jones discusses the result, her new book Love America - On the trail of Writers and Artists in New Mexico

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Photo: Supplied

2:06 The Laugh Track 

This week for The Laugh Track Simon Morris is joined by Leon Wadham, the director of this year's Christmas show at the Basement Theater: Le Basement XXXmas Cabaret 

Leon is also a performer both on stage and screen, and is the creator of two solo shows which received much acclaim, Giddy, and Funk.  

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Photo: Supplied

Leon Wadham with the cast of Le Basement XXXmas Cabaret 

Leon's choices included Bill Hader and Seth Meyers on Saturday Night Live, the Male Gayze, featuring Tom Sainsbury, Chopped Liva and Marcia Belsky

2:25 Andrew Shaw - TV Legend 2020

TV executive Andrew Shaw is about to be formally be handed the title he probably warranted about 30 years ago. The New Zealand TV Awards have named him the TV Legend for 2020. It's an award given to a person or organization making a significant contribution to the television industry over the years.  Simon Morris speaks to Andrew about a career spent making television.

Andrew Shaw

Andrew Shaw on his Suzuki track bike at Hampton Downs Photo: Supplied

2:40 Rachel Kerr on her debut novel Victory Park

Rachel Kerr's first novel Victory Park is set in an eponymous housing block where her protagonist Kara lives and works, looking after other people's children as well as her own. The story hinges on a relationship Kara forms with a new arrival to the block Bridget, who, among other things, is dealing with a dissolving marriage to a publicly shamed Ponzi schemer. 

It's a novel about housing, the poverty trap and how much you can give to others before you end up losing yourself. Rachel joined Robert Kelly in our Wellington studio to talk about Victory Park - both the novel and the housing block from which it gains its name. 

Victory Park is published by Mākaro Press an is available in bookstores now. 

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Photo: Mākaro Press

2:49 Simon Ingram - painting with brainwaves 

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Photo: Tobias Kraus

We like to think that art is a seamless connection between the mind or heart of the artists and their audience or public.

But of course it's not.  The writer has a pen or a keyboard, the actor has a script and crew, the artist has a paintbrush and so on.   

But what if the artist was taken out of the picture entirely.  What if the mechanical device was allowed to work on its own?

This is the idea at the heart of Simon Ingram's work. An exhibition of Simon's work is beginning at the City Gallery in Wellington on November 21.   

3:06 Drama at 3 

Today's classic drama turns the spot-light on family relationships set against a backdrop of the Arthur Alan Thomas murder case - with Trick of the Light by Ken Duncum.