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Auckland

A one-hour ballet production - the first TV version of Sleeping Beauty made in Australia or New Zealand will be Bryan Ashbridxe's major job before he takes off on a year's leave of absence. Bryan has been appointed assistant artistic director of the Australian Ballet Company, Peggy Van Praagh being his chief in the job. Bryan has prudently decided not to cut his ties with the NZBC, but will make up his mind whether or not to return after he has worked in Australia for a year. For Sleeping Beauty he will use the whole of the New Zealand Ballet Company plus additional dancers, and the music will be provided by the NZBC Symphony under Juan liatteucci... Max Cryer due to take off soon for a three month stint in the States under contract to a US agency... Kevan Moore reported to be in the planning stages of a series which will represent a distinct switch of pace and style for him-old-time music hall, forsooth! .... Surprising how many TV people pop up in local theatres. Producer Michael Devine is currently on stage at the Mercury in the lively musical, Lock Up Your Daughters. Lee Grant (Miss, not Mr, of course) is a permanent member of the company... Wave of contract signing suggests that the popular summer resorts are going to see a lot of the top popsters over the holidays... Likely TV material in Des and Juliet Rainey, currently on their way back to Auckland after two years in America. Folk-singing enthusiasts (Des is a psychologist by profession), they have appeared in all sorts of festivals and sung their way over the seas by giving shipboard concerts under contract. This can pose problems, as they recall with one Transatlantic revue in stormy seas. Des had just sung the line Are you leaving me with no word of farewell... when the ship rolled and Juliet, dancing to his music, sailed backwards off the stage. The Raineys were seen on TV when they last were home.

Wellington

Head office of the NZBC went into a real flap over the Compass programme on the Broadcasting Authority Bill. One day the Director of Television, Mr Noel Palmer, said the corporation had deferred any production of TV programmes dealing with the legislation while it was under debate in Parliament; the next day the acting Director-general, Mr L. R. Sceat said the corporation had decided that Compass would deal with the Bill. How’s that for administrative consistency? The allegations of political interference were wide of the mark, but the NZBC, worried about their monopoly, hardly emerged from the imbroglio with its reputation enhanced. This was a clear case where a competitive spur would be in the public interest... Spare a thought the Compass team who had worked so hard to prepare a programme then were told it would be deferred, and instructed 24 hours later to go ahead with a new format dealing with the same topic. Make you tear your hair, wouldn’t it?... In other circumstances, Mr Sceats might have won our sympathy because he had only been back in the country 24 hours when he was thrust into the hot seat defending a decision he knew little about. Mr Sceats had been away on an overseas trip to Britain and Canada. He had just been back a day, time enough to say hail and farewell to the Director general, Mr Gilbert Stringer, who was dashing off on another of his many trips overseas. Obviously the corporation sees some considerable advantage in having its chief executives continually on the move... Strangely, while the executives were on the move abroad, the NZBC does not appear to have sufficient resources to station newsmen or other experts abroad to get a New Zealand view on international affairs. But at least it sent two Compass teams to Australia. David Beatson with producer Michael Scott Smith has been gathering film for a Programme on Transtasman Trade, and Ian Cross with producer Steve Whitehouse looked at the Australian economy and culture. James Mason, Compass’ highly efficient research assistant, went ahead of the main body to lay the groundwork for the two programmes, both of which should be on screen shortly... It is surprising that the NZBC has taken so long to wake up to the big country across the Tasman. Some visual reports from first-hand could help to right the often lopsided picture we get of Australia... The Landscape documentary series has been of varying quality, with one or two excellent pieces, and others that have barely made the grade. Terry Bryan's evocative film of a Maori shearing gang rated highly.

CHRISTCHURCH

Channel 3 must surely be establishing an enviable reputation in the religious programme field. Following on the excellent As I See It series fronted by the Rev. Bob Lowe, it came up recently with I Confess, in which Brian Edwards interviewed a Roman Catholic layman, priest and Christchurch psychiatrist who, between them, must have unravelled some of the mysteries of the confessional for outsiders at least. The three interviews were virtually identical but they revealed the contrast between the religious and psychological attitudes towards the confession, sin and guilt. This was thought-provoking material and probably just as informative for Catholics as other Viewers... Following fairly closely on the fragmentary coverage provided for the Local Body Elections, coverage of the U.S. Presidential Election provided by Channel 3 was in marked contrast. To most New Zealanders the American affair is rather confusing and the employment of a commentator to explain the intricacies of voting was well worth while. CHTV3, on this occasion, provided a much clearer progress picture than it managed for the local contests... Town and Around which has tended to be a bit hum-drum in recent times, became all punchy and provoking again for a couple of nights recently. The closing of the old established drapery business of Armstrong's caused quite a stir in the city, because of the rapidity of the action which, it appeared, would leave staff in the unenviable position of job-hunting with Christmas coming up. Town and Around conveyed the hard news with visual impact through interviews with management, staff and a union official, and put the whole thing in much better perspective. Then there was an Edwards confrontation with the city’s new Mayor, Mr A. R. Guthrey. No pious platitudes, but Edwards at his forthright best giving viewers undoubtedly their best insight yet into the background nature and character of the man who will be the city’s First Citizen for the next three years... Producer Peter Muxlow coming up with four quarter-hour jazz band programmes early next year. Pianist Doug Caldwell and trombonist Brian Marston whose groups have featured in a lot of radio work, will form the nucleus of the eight-piece combination to which will be added singers, not all of whom will be local. Filming will be undertaken next February and this series will be "national"-probably for Saturday night showings... CHTV3 sports team going to be heavily involved in outside direct telecasts throughout the summer with scarcely a week going by without the mobile unit in business somewhere. On top of that, the team is now compiling Sport 1968 for national screening on December 30.

DUNEDIN

The changing face of things . . . the face of Dunedin’s Mount Cargill has certainly taken on a new look in recent weeks with the growth of the new $520,000 Television transmitter at present under construction there. Work on the building was reported to be going ahead reasonably well. About 20 men are working at the transmitter site and actual building should be completed by the end of this year. When finished, the construction will feature a 400ft transmitter tower and aerial and the new transmitter will have a power of 50 kilowatts, compared with 19 kilowatts of the present transmitter at Highcliff... Top marks to the DNTV2 news team which was quickly on the job covering the unscheduled arrival of British round-the-world yachtsman, Robin Knox-Johnston, at the Otago Harbour. The lone yachtsman had encountered difficulties in Foveaux Strait and had been reported making for Bluff where he was to await the arrival of a British journalist who was bringing news of changes in the rules of the competition Knox-Johnston was taking part in. The yachtsman caught newsmen completely unawares by arriving at the mouth of the Otago Harbour instead, and it is to the credit of the DNTV2 team that they were able to locate the vessel, inform Knox-Johnston of the rule changes and return to the city with film for a special news bulletin all within a couple of hours of the first sighting of the yacht by the Taiaroa Head lighthouse keeper.