From the New Zealand TV Weekly. June 23, 1969
Can the NZBC afford to keep losing its producers? Latest to resign is Michael Devine, who was responsible for the controversial Interview '69 series, and also for the popular series for younger viewers, Button On Button Off!. Michael denied that the canning of one of the InterView series prompted his decision to leave, but repeated the complaints which have become depressingly familiar - too little pay for experience, nowhere to go in the NZBC in the foreseeable future, not enough consideration of the individual in some NZBC decisions. Also, Michael was not looking forward to the strong probability of being tagged with another children's series this year. As far as the dropped InterView programme was concerned, he regarded that as purely
an occupational hazard, although it would only be fair to assume that it was as much a disappointment to him as the dropping of anything into which one has put a lot of work in any field of endeavour. Meantime, Michael is off to Australia, optimistic that his experience here will pay off in job opportunities. Interesting to note that only two of the 12 producers who trained with Devine in 1966 are still on the NZBC's active list . . . . Let's hope the NZBC has not missed the opportunity to make a good documentary about the making of an unusual film - the first full-length Japanese colour musical ever to be made here. Called Young Man on Mt Cook, it will be set in Auckland as well as in the Southern Alps. Japanese talent - both players and technicians - will be doing the work, but John O'Shea and his Pacific Films unit will also be on the job. The estimated audience in Japan will be at least 5,000,000 - so surely a good Telly documentary would find a ready market abroad and do a good selling job for this country as well as earning some useful revenue.... Pity Raymond Burr bought his island in the Fiji group and not off the New Zealand coast, otherwise we could have picked up more free publicity abroad. Recently, he has been shooting an Ironside episode in Suva - which is a bit of a paradox as Fiji has no Television. However, he has promised to bring in a copy of the episode so the locals can see how it turned out. Incidentally, Burr said in Suva that he intends to give up Television work in about another couple of years . . . . Slightly surprising to see that this year's C'mon! didn't hit the mark with the critics. Usually Kevan Moore is a certainty to hit the target square in the centre.
Producer Bute Hewes who is doing an outstanding job with Looking at New Zealand has assignments lined up which will carry the programme through until December 14 when the series is due to end this year. Many of the programmes being made for the series are now also being done in colour because of the chance of placing them on Television networks abroad . . . . The continuing fuss about the deleted programme from the InterView '69 series seemed to have a synthetic ring to it, and if the script published in one Wellington newspaper was in fact the basis of the programme it is hardly surprising that the Controller of Television, Mr T. F. A. Shankland, axed it. But now it is up to the NZBC to show that it is not afraid to make and screen a satirical political programme in election year, if only to give substance to the denial by the NZBC's chairman, Major General W. S. McKinnon, of timidity in its political programmes. General McKinnon may need reminding in the months to come of his words:
Television broadcasts in the coming months would fully meet the public's requirements for vital and informative programmes . . . . Those who like Westerns and have been depressed by recent newspaper stories about Westerns being on the way out can take reassurance from the fact that the NZBC has further series of Bonanza, The Wild, Wild West, The High Chaparral and Cimarron Strip, in hand, while Lancer has recently started screen- ing from WNTV1. With its strong storyline Lancer promises to be one of the best . . Producer Brian Bell, formerly with the NZBC, is doing well in Australia where he recently won an award for a comedy series . . . . The NZBC has a newly appointed script editor, Michael Noonan from Auckland, to assess the quality of scripts for Television. But the number of scripts now on hand would keep the NZBC's production resources busy for the next couple of years. Roll on, Avalon.
CHTV3's direct telecast of the service of welcome to the Very Rev. Martin Sullivan, Dean of St Paul's, and former Dean of Christchurch, in Christchurch Cathedral was handled in a manner which demonstrably proved that, in some facets at least, New Zealand Television has achieved the grace which comes (or should come) with maturity - thanks to producer Owen Paterson and his crew of eighteen. Dean Sullivan has a very special place in the hearts of most Christchurch people and that this is so was epitomised in this production which could have been slick, on the one hand, or pedestrian reportage, on the other. Simplicity, sincerity and artistry were the ingredients used by Paterson. Some 400 hours were spent in planning and producing and those who saw this telecast would surely agree it was well worth the effort. Dean Sullivan is a man who is involved in living, rather than one who comments upon life. That Paterson was able to capture this involvement and, surely in many instances, involve viewers, rather than provide a commentary on what was, for Christchurch at least, a special occasion was the hallmark ot a mature and sensitive producer and equally dedicated team. This one set an O.B. standard other channels and local producers will have to work hard to emulate . . . The provincial executive of North Canterbury Federated Farmers wants a specialised Television programme for farmers. At a recent Christchurch meeting, Mr A. L. Mulholland said that the NZBC had indicated that time, equipment and facilities were available now for such a programme. City viewers who enjoy Country Calender on Sunday nights apparently need not worry about being deprived of seeing and hearing how New Zealand's
other half works and lives. This new programme would be designed to provide primary producers with technical information and would supplement Country Calendar..... Channel 3 has been the launching pad to greater things for a number of people over the years and among the latest to enjoy fruits of success is former producer Brian Bell, now with ABC, whose comedy series I've Married a Bachelor, has just won him a Logic Award as the best TV comedy in Australia. Now in its second series, this show has been directed by Bell from the start. He joined the NZBC in Christchurch after working on everything but drama with Britain's ATV, after being with the New Zealand Players and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. From CHTV3 Bell went to WNTV1 where he was in charge of all productions, except public affairs, and also ran training courses for young producers. There are evidently no plans for screening I've Married a Bachelor in New Zealand as yet.
Filming is almost complete on the six-part Ceilidh series, which went into production at DNTV2 a few weeks ago. Reports from previews of the first episodes indicate that the series will be- a first~c1ass one and studio officials are said to be very pleased with the results. Viewers will be able to judge for themselves when Ceilidh begins screening on July 10 . . . . It was a case of colds all round for the production team which handled the outside telecast of the Otago v. Wales rugby match a couple of weeks ago. The canvas-covered shelter from which the game was filmed, stands some 50ft above the field and received more than a fair share of the cold, blustery condition which prevailed on the big day. All things considered, though, the TV coverage of the match which followed the same evening, was exceptionally good, although wind again caused problems with microphones and drowned out most of the background noise making for what seemed an exceptionally quiet and orderly crowd! There's just one small gripe, and it applies to almost all coverages of rugby matches - why film them from only one side of the ground? Surely it can't be too difficult to have one or two cameras on both sides of the field. It would certainly give more variation to filming and a more informative commentary on matches . . . Another outside telecast worth watching for will be the official opening of the new University College by the Governor General, on the morning of August 9. The college, which is already in use, is the most striking of the many new buildings opened in Dunedin in past months and the 45-minute telecast should provide viewers with an excellent opportunity for an inside look which many of them will not otherwise have.