It’s the final show in Frontseat’s Autumn season, so we celebrate in the appropriate manner by heading to Wanaka’s Festival of Colour.

Chad Taylor asks Jonathan Lemalu about puckering up before a big gig.

Josie McNaught samples happy hour at the Auckland Philharmonic with willing guinea pigs.

Oliver asks dance and anthropology scholar Georgina White about the proper way to request the next dance.

We announce the winner of the search for New Zealand’s Best Fictional Character, and hop on a bus with the star-studded Jubilation Choir.

And Sam Neill pops up for a chat.

A sure-fire way to attract custom is to add the prospect of drinks to proceedings. The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra recently launched ‘Happy Hour’, a chance for audiences to ‘taste test’ a concert with a cocktail in hand. Josie McNaught tempts one avid concert goer, and an interested but inexperienced couple to give their verdict of the experience.

Chad Taylor meets bona fide operatic star Jonathan Lemalu, back in New Zealand for a series of concerts with Malcolm Martineau. Jonathan comes clean about his introduction to opera, what motivates him in his career, and why he might not sit next to you on a bus in winter.

Continuing our musical theme, Oliver meets dancer, author and anthropologist Georgina White, whose book ‘Light Fantastic’ looks at the history of dance floor courtship in New Zealand. From war time dances to the dreaded school ball line up of blokes one side, sheilas the other, Oliver and Georgina take a waltz down memory lane.

No way are we spilling the beans. You’ll just have to watch our last episode of the series and find out who wins the poll to find New Zealand’s Greatest Fictional Character. Are they black and white? Or in full colour? A tight race it turned out to be, but a fair one.

We meet luthier (instrument maker) Steve Evans in his rural Whangarei studio, where he makes his Beltona resonator instruments. Like the one Mark Knopfler plays. In fact, exactly like one that Mark Knopfler plays!

The stunning golden backdrop of a Wanaka autumn, a brass band boogie, and Sam Neill, who picks some personal favourites from recent Kiwi films, and sings the praises of one particular vineyard’s pinot.

And that’s Frontseat for this Autumn season. We’ll be back in touch! In the meantime, keep an eye on TV One’s Winter arts season… coming very soon.

Frontseat, this Saturday 14th April, 8.00am on TV One.

THIS SATURDAY: – We unveil the finalists in the Search for NZ’s Greatest Fictional Character – Oliver Driver visits the Corban Estate Arts Centre in Waitakere City – Josie McNaught asks are there now too many arts festivals in NZ? – Noelle McCarthy is on the trail of books we’ve never finished – Comedian Cori Gonzalez-Macuer addresses Wellington’s flatting crisis CULT OF THE BLACK SINGLET Frontseat’s celebrity jury met last week to choose a shortlist from the 50 nominations for New Zealand’s Greatest Fictional Character. Tom Scott, Chris Bourke, Miranda Harcourt, James Ashcroft, Carol Smith, Loren Horsley and our production manager’s mum had a tough job. And just how many black singlet-wearing characters made the finalists¦᾿

THE FRONT ROW: THE BOOKS YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED A recent study revealed that ‘Ulysses’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ are among the books least likely to be finished by British readers. Noelle McCarthy seeks out a trio of big readers here to discover the skeletons in their literary closets. What hasn’t Finlay McDonald finished? What won’t CK Stead start? And what can™t Auckland Writers & ReadersᾠFestivaῬ headᾠJill Rawnsley remember reading?! ARE WE FESTIVALLED-OUT? The Auckland Festival and Womad are over, but the Christchurch Jazz & Blues Festival and Wanaka’s Festival of Colour are just around the corner. These days New Zealand has more arts-related festivals than you can shake a stick at, but what kind of pressure is this putting on the cultural infrastructure? Josie McNaught braves the killjoy label to ask whether there are now too many festivals. CORBAN ESTATE ARTS CENTRE Oliver presents the show this week from the Corban Estate Arts Centre, a former winery turned artists’ community in Waitakere City. Along the way he rubs shoulders with some of the higher profile artists who work alongside each other.

ARTISTS AT HOME: CORI GONZALEZ-MACUER Comedian Cori Gonzalez-Macuer won the esteemed Billy T award last year, so he’s probably pretty funny. You can find out for yourself in his NZ International Comedy Festival show next month: “I am Man/Yo Soy Hombre”.

Saturday 17th March, 8.00am on TV One.


Josie McNaught on the trail of the new generation contemporary Pacific artists – Oliver Driver poking around Auckland Museum’s impressive redevelopment – Jon Bridges at the Musical Theatre conference in Hamilton – Behind the scenes of the new claymation “Hoof it” anti-speeding ads – Frontseat’s continuing Search for NZ’s Greatest Fictional Character – The Big Idea’s Cass Hesom-Williams and her excellent door-bell PASIFIKA ON THE RISE As Auckland’s annual Pasifika festival hits Western Springs, and Auckland Museum’s Le Folauga exhibition shows off the first wave of top Pacific contemporary art, Josie McNaught investigates who might be nipping at the heels of Michael Tuffery, Lonnie Hutchison and Niki Hastings-McFall. Along the way she discovers New Zealand’s first dealer gallery dedicated to selling new Pacific art.

THE FRONT ROW: FINDING YOUR VOICE Musical theatre is big business in New Zealand, but it’s the hidden statistic of the arts scene. Last weekend while quarter of a million people attended Pasifika and watched the fireworks up in Auckland, more than 200 people were at the annual conference for musical theatre practitioners in Hamilton. Jon Bridges headed to Richard O’Brien country to ask whether NZ will ever have a musical on Broadway.

NZ’S GREATEST FICTIONAL CHARACTER Who will it be? Nominations can come from across the artistic spectrum, from literature to cartoons, from television drama to stand-up comedy. Email your nominations to

ANOTHER PLANET The new anti-speeding ad campaign on television doesn’t involve the usual realistic crash scenes. Instead, the campaign features pests such as rats, possums and stoats making excuses for their behaviour.

These little claymation creatures were created by Wellington animation house Another Planet – best known for Guy Capper’s short film work. His big brother Tim Capper introduces the Frontseat audience to the other folk behind this campaign.

ARTISTS AT HOME: CASS HESOM-WILLIAMS Designer Cass Hesom-Williams is the editor of The Big Idea website (, New Zealand’s online arts hub featuring the latest arts industry jobs, profiles of creative folk and updated arts news. Send your story ideas and arts diary submissions to Frontseat’s researcher Gabe McDonnell at

THIS SATURDAY FEATURES: – Frontseat’s new poll – The Search for NZ’s Greatest Fictional Character – Chad Taylor climbing drainpipes in a quest to find out why anyone would steal NZ art – Josie McNaught hot on the trail of National’s new arts spokesman Chris Finlayson – Oliver Driver helping to erect the Famous Spiegeltent in AK07’s Red Square – Tusiata Avia out in the sunshine performing work from her show Wild Dogs Under My Skirt – Tongan music legend Bill Sevesi on his beloved ukulele

NZ’S GREATEST FICTIONAL CHARACTER Who is New Zealand’s Greatest Fictional Character? Frontseat launches its new national poll. The rest of the world has Hamlet, The Cat In The Hat, Superman, Cinderella, Huckleberry Finn. Who do we have? The answers may surprise. Email your nominations to There are tickets to the comic-horror flick “Black Sheep” up for grabs.

THE FRONT ROW: ART HEIST! Earlier this year, the University of Auckland suffered a blow when several art treasures were stolen from its library. A Goldie painting, two McCahon poems and a rare Bible were taken in the heist. Novelist Chad Taylor – drawn to the glamour of international art thievery – examines the shortcomings of being an art thief in New Zealand.

THERE ARE VOTES IN THE ARTS National has a new man in the Arts portfolio, and he’s highly qualified for the job. Former Creative NZ Arts Board chair Chris Finlayson’s task now is to prove that the National Party cares about the arts, too, after Labour’s 2-and-a-half terms of arts funding. Reporter Josie McNaught gets a policy preview.

THE FAMOUS SPIEGELTENT (WITH BONUS ANNIE CRUMMER) Owned by Australian David Bates, the 87 year old Famous Spiegeltent is a popular arts festival attraction. It’s on location in New Zealand for AK07, Auckland Festival. Annie Crummer is just one of the many locals performing there and Oliver Driver talks to Annie whilst helping to put the finishing touches on the tent.

WILD DOGS UNDER HER SKIRT Performance poet Tusiata Avia’s solo show “Wild Dogs Under My Skirt”, based on the book of the same name, hits the AK07 Auckland Festival. W took advantage of the gorgeous March weather and got her outside in the sunshine for a sneak preview.

ARTISTS AT HOME: BILL SEVESI Over the past week in the news, you may have seen the story about the gift of 200 ukuleles from the Play It Strange trust to several Auckland schools. Music legend Bill Sevesi dreamed up this idea 45 years ago. Send your story ideas and arts diary submissions to Frontseat’s researcher Gabe McDonnell at

Frontseat starts this Saturday 3rd March, 8.00am on TV One.

On this week’s show:


See stars including Michael Hurst, Paolo Rotondo, Stuart Devenie, Fraser Brown, Duncan Sarkies and Chapman Tripp Award-winning playwright Albert Belz in exclusive previews of their upcoming AK07 Auckland Festival shows, as Oliver Driver visits the city’s rehearsal rooms.


A rare opportunity to observe Tame Iti as you’ve never seen him before. In this week’s Front Row, talkback star Noelle McCarthy and the artist-activist-actor discuss fame, media hi-jinks, Shakespeare and the IRA in a frank and revealing interview. They’re at the Corban Estate Arts Centre where Iti is rehearsing a new take on ‘Tempest’ for AK07, created by Lemi Ponifasio of Mau.


The last couple of years have seen the biggest wave of Kiwi film hits since the golden days of The Piano/Heavenly Creatures/Once Were Warriors. Local box office success and varying levels of international acclaim have followed the release of In My Father’s Den, No.2, Sione’s Wedding, River Queen, World’s Fastest Indian, Out Of The Blue, not to mention docos like Kaikohe Demolition and Squeegee Bandit. But what’s next? Can we keep up the momentum? What are the trends in Kiwi filmmaking? Josie McNaught finds out.


In the first of his “How To” series, Oliver Driver imagines himself as a corporate citizen who wants to put his money into the arts. He seeks advice on the best way to spend his money from experienced sponsors such as Ernst & Young’s John Judge, and with the help of a spunky young cast of actors, he uncovers the Dos and Don’ts of how sponsors should act at opening night functions.

A new time slot, a new way to view, a new national poll, a new sponsor and a hot team of local personalities herald Frontseat’s 2007 season on TV One.

Morning is the new evening, according to the new season’s photo shoot for the arts show Frontseat. Frontseat returns to TV One on Saturday 3rd March in the new timeslot of 8.00am. Snuggling up together over croissants & coffee, in a pose re-imagining Annie Leibovitz’s Fleetwood Mac portrait for Rolling Stone magazine, are host Oliver Driver, reporter Josie McNaught, and correspondents Noelle McCarthy, Jon Bridges and Chad Taylor. The photograph was reconstructed by gifted Auckland portrait artist Kirsty Griffin.

Feedback from the arts community has often included comments about the late hour of the show’s broadcast. The show now has a consistent new 8.00am Saturday timeslot. And for arts-lovers who wish to view Frontseat at their leisure, this year for the first time stories from each episode of Frontseat will be available on the TV One website immediately after broadcast.

Now into its 4th year, Frontseat is well established as the weekly appointment for the latest news and rising stars in Kiwi arts and culture. “I’m darned proud to front an arts show that’s maintained its credibility within the arts community whilst being irreverent and opinionated. And it looks great too,” says Oliver Driver.

Producer Gemma Gracewood and reporter Josie McNaught return to the show. Also back this season is The Front Row, a popular feature which gives local personalities the chance to look at the arts from a different angle. Proving the strength of Frontseat’s brand in attracting impressive talent, three high-profile, arts savvy names present the Front Row this season. They are novelist Chad Taylor, broadcaster Noelle McCarthy and humourist Jon Bridges.

Taylor made his Frontseat debut in Paris last November at Les Belles Etrangeres literary festival. His most recent novel is “Departure Lounge” and he was voted NZ’s sexiest author by Sunday magazine. McCarthy is a Newstalk ZB host who featured at the top of the Sunday Herald’s recent “power list” and tackled censorship for Frontseat last season. Bridges is a regular Listener columnist and notorious TradeMe trader “spellnazi”. Last season he revealed the problem with poetry and uncovered the art in everyday jobs.

This year Frontseat will be at AK07 Auckland Festival, taking the viewers into the backstage areas, on-stage and beyond. Regular New Zealanders will talk about the art that surrounds them, there will be a “must-see” arts diary, and once again viewers will be polled on an important aspect of Kiwi culture.

Frontseat is made by Wellington production house Gibson Group, producer of high quality, strongly branded arts programming. Under the helm of executive producers Dave Gibson and Gary Scott, director John Hagen, researcher Gabe McDonnell, production manager Zelda Edwards and editor Raewyn Humphries complete the Frontseat team.

Frontseat’s new sponsor, Resene, is recognised for its support of the arts through sponsorship and the creation of specific paint products for the arts sector’s needs in areas such as film and art galleries.

“I’m a Derek, and Dereks don’t run”

A line from Bad Taste’s hero, Derek, written and spoken by Peter Jackson, was revealed as The Greatest Line in Kiwi Film on TV One’s flagship arts show Frontseat in its final episode for 2006.

Two Peter Jackson films, two Geoff Murphy films, and two lines from Once Were Warriors made the shortlist for Frontseat’s Greatest Line in Kiwi Film, after more than 50 nominations were whittled down to a Top Six. Hundreds of public votes saw Jackson’s sci-fi splatter film Bad Taste crowned the winner.

“The winner of the Greatest Line of Dialogue is a definite classic in the canon of Kiwi filmmaking,” said Frontseat host Oliver Driver. “Peter Jackson was thrilled that his line was in the running for the top prize.

“I know a lot of people were expecting the better-known ‘eggs’ line from Once Were Warriors or ‘we’re taking this car to Invercargill’ from Goodbye Pork Pie to win. But something about the Derek line has really captured the public vote.”

The Frontseat Film Jury said it was a “quintessentially Kiwi line”. Jury member Chris Knox said it was his personal favourite of the Top Six. “You could just say ‘Derek’ and it would be hilarious. And it was the moment that Peter Jackson fully became Peter Jackson.”

Oliver Driver added: “Peter Jackson is undoubtedly New Zealand’s greatest filmmaker on a whole lot of levels. Praised mostly as a director, it was actually his scriptwriting skills that won him his first Oscar nomination, for Heavenly Creatures.

“Jackson’s debut effort Bad Taste was made over many, many weekends and the Derek character didn’t even feature in the film’s first version. It wasn’t until another actor left the film that Peter Jackson had to invent a new character. And as he says in his new biography, he’d run out of friends to play the new guy, so he had to cast himself!”

See the other finalists »

The Greatest Line in Kiwi Film will be revealed on TV One’s arts show Frontseat in its final episode for 2006 on Sunday night 17th November 11.10pm & Saturday 25th 8.00am.

After more than 50 nominations, the list was whittled down to the top 6 (in no particular order):

  • “Cook the man some f*cking eggs”. Jake Heke (Temuera Morrison) in Once Were Warriors. Writer: Riwia Brown, from the novel by Alan Duff
  • “I’m a Derek, and Dereks don’t run”. Derek (Peter Jackson) in Bad Taste. Writer: Peter Jackson
  • “I’ve only been Pakeha for one minute and already I hate you Maori”. Puni (the late Tama Poata) in Utu. Writers: Keith Aberdein & Geoff Murphy
  • “I know what to do about mother”. Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) in Heavenly Creatures. Writers: Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh
  • “You’re not gonna hurt my babies anymore”. Beth Heke (Rena Owen) in Once Were Warriors. Writer: Riwia Brown
  • “We’re taking this bloody car to Invercargill, boy”. John (Tony Barry) in Goodbye Pork Pie. Writers: Ian Mune & Geoff Murphy

TV ONE 10:30pm, Sunday 5th November

Oliver is backstage at Sky City Theatre for the Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Awards, where he meets 2006 laureates Alastair Galbraith (genius experimental musician), Oscar Kightley (brilliant Naked Samoan), John Reynolds (sartorially excellent visual artist), Alun Bollinger (stunning cinematographer) and Ian Wedde (wonderful word-man).


Oliver Driver goes under the needle as he talks to tattoo artists about the fine line between art and commerce. He also meets tattoo “collectors” – those who choose to hang their artworks on their bodies rather than their walls – such as Joel Tobeck (yes, him again!) and Mick Watson.

Opinionated comment from recognisable faces with plenty to say including Naked Samoan Mario Gaoa, artist Dick Frizzell, broadcaster Noelle McCarthy, actor Joel Tobeck.

This week: Cultural commentator Jon Bridges looks into art forms that may be neglected because they’re not really considered to be ‘art’ by most people.

Paul Dibble is the sculptor whose ‘Long Horizon’ bronze piece was nicked from out front of Swell café in Waikanae last year, then returned for a reward. Next week, a major new memorial sculpture created by Dibble Art Co and Athfield Architects will be unveiled in London’s Hyde Park. Josie McNaught chats to Paul at Gow Langsford Gallery in Aucklland.

Frontseat, 10.25pm this Sunday 24th September on TV ONE.

Desperately Seeking Dr Warner:

Oliver Driver talks with his old hospital mate, Michael Galvin, about being a nationally-recognised doctor and playwright. Auckland Theatre Company is staging Michael’s new play Ocean Star at the Maidment Theatre. (A Frontseat staffer who saw his first play New Gold Dream thought it screamingly funny, especially thanks to Adam Gardiner who also acts in Ocean Star). Along the way, Oliver discovers a disturbing new trend: that of award-winning actors being hit by shoes along Auckland’s Ponsonby Road. What the…?

The Front Row:

Opinionated comment from recognisable faces with plenty to say. Keep your eyes peeled for naked Samoan Mario Gaoa, radio gal Noelle McCarthy, artist Dick Frizzell & apostrophe police officer Jon Bridges. This week: NZ’s Scariest Theatres. Actor Joel Tobeck returns to the theatres of his youth to exorcise the ghosts he allowed to terrify him whilst his mum and her mates were treading the boards. Theatre stalwarts like George Henare, Grant Bridger, Darien Takle, Michael Lawrence and Pat Shields help out.

Walter, Take Me To The Altar:

Who will be the blushing bride at the Walters Award next week? The four finalists for New Zealand’s richest visual art prize (named after the late Gordon Walters) are Peter Robinson, Francis Upritchard, Stella Brennan and Phil Dadson. They speak to their work and then Josie McNaught takes a bunch of New Zealanders into Auckland Art Gallery’s New Gallery to find out what they think of all this contemporary art.

Nominate A Great Line In Kiwi Film:

Keep those nominations flooding in as we celebrate the craft of scriptwriting! Beth Heke’s “You’re not gonna hurt my babies anymore” is proving very popular. The Top 10 will be revealed in October. NOMINATE a Greatest Line in Kiwi Film by emailing

ALSO: Newsreaders weigh in on what they’re reading for New Zealand Book Month; and some more art neighbours have their say about sculptures that they have to look at all day long.

Send your story ideas and arts diary submissions to Frontseat’s researcher Gabe McDonnell at