New Series

TVNZ has been confirmed as one of the international broadcast partners of an epic mini-series event centring on the Titanic.

The state broadcaster is one of many international networks who are a part of the project, with others including Channel 7 in Australia, ITV in the UK and ABC in the US.

The mini-series will consist of two 90-minute and four one-hour episodes with filming beginning in Hungary this autumn.

The TV event is set to coincide with the centenary of the of the ship’s sinking with ABC in the US and Global in Canada screening it first.

An ITV press release Throng received today describes the series as: “Interweaving multi-arc action, mystery and romantic plot lines and featuring fictional and historical characters, Titanic will focus on different characters ranging from steerage passengers to upper class guests. Each point of view will culminate in a cliff hanger as the ship begins to founder, building to an explosive conclusion which draws together each of the stories. Viewers will be taken on a heart wrenching journey through Titanic’s last hours, as the drama reveals which of the characters they have come to know so well will survive… and who does not.”

Sutherland to return to TV

24 actor Kiefer Sutherland has signed on to feature in a new pilot for Fox in the US. The actor will join Heroes creator Tim Kring on Touch, a drama that centres on a father who discovers that his autistic son can predict events before they happen.

Jay Z wins lawsuit against Hell’s Kitchen winner

Rapper Jay Z has won the latest round in an ongoing legal battle with a former winner of UK series Hell’s Kitchen. The rapper filed a lawsuit against Terry Miller after the chef named his restaurant and catering business “Rockafella” which is too close to the Roc-A-Fella Records music empire.  A judge has overruled the original decision which was in favour of Miller.

Minnie Driver cast in drama pilot

Minnie Driver has been cast in a new pilot for CBS which will see the actress playing a single mother in the detective drama. 

Glee to release original songs on album

The cast of Glee will finally release their own original songs on the next album coming out on March 8. Two original tracks will feature on the covers album, Glee: The Music, Volume 5.

Prime secures rights to Top Gear USA

Prime has picked up the new American version of Top Gear, entitled Top Gear USA. The network is among a range of international broadcasters who have purchased the series, with others including Channel Nine in Australia.

Scrubs actor to guest on Cougar Town

Another former Scrubs cast member will guest star on Cougar Town in the show’s second season. Sam Lloyd, who played Ted Buckland on the medical sitcom, will play the same character in the second season finale of Courtney Cox’s comedy.

NPH to direct new comedy pilot

How I Met Your Mother actor Neil Patrick Harris will reportedly direct a new pilot for CBS. The sitcom is said to focus on a team of young people who work at a high-power venture capital firm.

Viewers complain about new UK MasterChef format

The BBC are fielding complaints over the format changes to the new season of MasterChef in the UK which has adopted the style of the Australian version. Viewers are complaining that the series is too different now from its original, minimalist format.

Harry Potter actor lands pilot role

Harry Potter actor Jason Isaacs will return to TV in a new NBC pilot called REM. The British-born actor, who featured in the Harry Potter franchise as Lucius Malfoy, will join former 24 showrunner Howard Gordon on the pilot.

Matt Preston to feature on MasterChef USA

MasterChef Australia judge Matt Preston will appear on the next season of MasterChef USA as a guest judge it has been confirmed. The food critic will appear alongside the show’s regular judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot.

Kathy Griffin to guest on Glee

Kathy Griffin has confirmed that she will be making a guest appearance on Glee. The actress and comedienne will play a character who is based on former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin.

Mandel to host new reality show

America’s Got Talent judge Howie Mandel has been confirmed to host the new Glee-inspired reality show entitled Mobbed. The hidden camera show will see unwitting members of the public treated to a flash-mob style musical performance which informs them of some big news such as a marriage proposal or an offer of employment.

Cowell planning sports reality show

Simon Cowell is reportedly looking to develop a sports reality show which will run in the lead-up to the London Olympics next year.

Travolta turns down Glee role

John Travolta has turned down the opportunity to make an appearance on Glee, saying he didn’t feel he could perform well enough in the short time he would get on the show. He said: “I really have a criteria or pride that I would want to knock them dead, and I don’t think I can knock them dead in a week.”

Uproar over Jersey Shore’s Italian shoot

The president of the National Italian American Foundation has criticised the decision by MTV to shoot the fourth season of jersey Shore in Italy. Joseph V. Del Raso said: “It is unfortunate that American television producers want to export an image of young Americans that has little to do with the image of most of our youth.  American youth has so much to offer the modern world and it is certainly not representing by the caricatures portrayed by the Jersey Shore cast.”

Edgar Allen Poe pilot ordered

American network ABC has ordered a new drama pilot based on the fictional exploits of Edgar Allan Poe. The pilot, entitled Poe, will portray the writer as a detective who employs unusual methods to solve crime in 1840’s Boston.

House cast yet to gain contracts

The cast of House are yet to be contracted for an eighth season of the medical drama, with only lead actor Hugh Laurie on contract. Actress Lisa Edelstein explained: “There are still some issues to be worked out. I believe NBC [Universal] wants Fox to take over the cost of production, and Fox doesn’t want to. Until that’s resolved, they can’t even begin to talk to any of us.”

UK Jersey Shore spin-off planned

MTV UK has greenlit a British spin-off of reality series Jersey Shore which will be centred in Newcastle in the north of the UK. The series will be called Geordie Shore and will aim to “bring the personality of the North East alive to viewers in the UK and around the world.”

Rove to return to TV

Australian TV presenter Rove McManus will return to TV in a new LA-based series which will broadcast on Australia’s pay-TV network, Foxtel. McManus will host the talkshow, Rove LA, which will feature celebrity guests and various comedy acts in a similar style to his previous show which ended in 2009.

Sponsors pull ads from US Skins

Subway has become the fourth major sponsor to pull its advertising from MTV in the US during new teen series Skins. Taco Bell and Wrigley are among the other major companies who have bailed from the show which has caused a stir in the US following its premiere this month, due to its depiction of teenage sex and drug-taking.

De Niro drama pilot ordered

A new pilot has been ordered by American network CBS which is being produced by Robert De Niro. The pilot centres on six new recruits to the New York Police Department and their struggles to balance their jobs with their personal lives.

Hugely successful iPhone app Angry Birds is set to be adapted into an animated series to screen either on TV or online.

Rovio, the Finnish company who produced the game, have announced plans to develop their creation after mulling it over for some time now.

“We have been looking at [a show[ for quite a while, and that is definitely one of my personal big focus areas right now — to work on broadcast content for Angry Birds,” Rovi CEO Mikael Hed told

A marketing deal was announced for the game last year, a move which led the way for the series.

“It was a completely new area for us; we had to get our bearings there, and a sense of how the whole market was,” Hed said.

“That was the first part of the exercise, and now that we’ve done that, the next part is to move into production, and that’s where we are right now.”

Source: Hollywood Reporter

New Zealand App Store:
Angry Birds -

US App Store:
Angry Birds -

NZ On Air has today announced funding for a major new drama series, intended for prime time on TV One, from the writers and producers of Outrageous Fortune and Go Girls.

Nothing Trivial is a warmly comic drama based around a pub quiz team of five friends with one thing in common: each is unlucky or unhappy in love. The 13-part series will receive $6.9 million.

“We’re very excited to be supporting this project,” said NZ On Air chief executive Jane Wrightson. “We’ve been looking for a quality drama to serve TV One audiences for a while now, and this one has all the credentials. The series deals with matters common to us all – life, love and the pursuit of happiness – in a witty and quintessentially Kiwi way.”

Made by South Pacific Pictures, New Zealand’s most successful drama production company, the series has been created by award-winning writers Rachel Lang and Gavin Strawhan.

Nothing Trivial is supported from NZ On Air’s contestable TV fund, from which around $66 million a year is invested to create a varied range of content for different audiences. Programmes include dramas, documentaries, children’s programmes, Maori programming in English, and special interest programmes (for example ethnic, rural, spiritual and arts).

“Our funding aim is to support innovation, diversity and value for money. We invest in worthwhile programming that the market alone cannot support,” Ms Wrightson said.

In this latest funding round, NZ On Air has committed $10.8 million to new programmes. This includes a new series of 7 Days for TV3, the weekly showdown between panels of comedians sharing their wit on news events of the week.

“7 Days has given Kiwi comedians high-pressure television and script writing experience, helping develop the New Zealand comedy scene. And, most importantly to our funding requirements, it’s a bona fide hit with audiences,” said Ms Wrightson.

Several documentary series also received funding, including three for TV One; Surviving Modern Medicine – a series reviewing the growing use of prescription medicine, Chef on a Mission, where chef Simon Gault looks to provide healthier meals inside some unique New Zealand institutions, and Keep Calm and Carry On – a unique guide for new parents presented by impending mother Jaquie Brown.

Ms Wrightson said the new projects were based on very polished proposals and are a great reflection of the talents and diversity in Kiwi television-making.


Funding Details


Nothing Trivial 

13 x 1 hour

Broadcaster: TVOne

Producer: South Pacific Pictures



7 Days

36 x ½ hour

Broadcaster: TV3

Producer: TV Works Ltd



Chef on a Mission 

6 x 1 hour

Broadcaster: TV One

Producer: Imagination Television



Surviving Modern Medicine

10 x ½ hour

Broadcaster: TV One

Producer: Eyeworks New Zealand Film and TV Drama



Keep Calm and Carry On

6 x ½ hour 

Broadcaster: TV One

Producer: Jam TV


Paltrow to return to Glee

Gwyneth Paltrow has confirmed that she will return to Glee for a second guest spot after appearing on the series recently. The actress will reprise her role of a substitute teacher later in the show’s second season after calling the guest role “the best job ever.”

Ethan Hawke circling TV project

Ethan Hawke is circling a new project for American network Fox which is from Fringe producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Hawke is looking to produce and feature in the project entitled Exit Strategy which centres on a CIA mission gone wrong.

Transporter series set to film

The TV series based on The Transporter movie trilogy is set to begin filming early next year after a US broadcaster was found for the EuropaCorp production. The series will be shot in 12 parts early next year for a November release. EuropaCorp is also considering a TV series based on Liam Neeson film Taken.

Simpsons take dig at Fox again

The Simpsons has taken another jibe at its network Fox following a couple of jokes in recent episodes regarding the network’s Fox News and its demographics. A Fox News helicopter was seen with the slogan “Merry Christmas from Fox News… but no other holidays” which follows the previous slogans: “Unsuitable for viewers under 75” and “Fox News: Not racist, but #1 with racists.”

Sam Neil joins J.J. Abrams’ Alcatraz series

Kiwi actor Sam Neill has joined the pilot of new J.J. Abrams series Alcatraz. The Jurassic Park actor will join the likes of Lost’s Jorge Garcia, Sarah Jones and Jonny Coyne on the new thriller project which centres on a group of prisoners who escape from the infamous prison and find themselves in the present day.

Clarkson unsure over new Stig

Top gear host Jeremy Clarkson has said that both he and the BBC are unsure whether or not to introduce a new Stig on the motoring show. Following racing driver Ben Collins’ announcement earlier this year that he has been the masked test driver for the show for several years. Clarkson said recently: “We don’t know what to do. Eventually a suggestion will come in and we’ll say, ‘Well that’s a good idea’, so we’ll do that.”

Fans launch petition over MJ autopsy doco

Fans of Michael Jackson have started a petition against a TV re-enactment of the late singer’s autopsy last year. Discovery Channel are planning to make the special which will follow a pathologist as they undertake a full autopsy on a synthetic cadaver.

New Hasselhoff show pulled after only two episodes

David Hasselhoff’s new reality show entitled The Hasselhoffs has been pulled following only two episodes. The show, which follows the family of the former Baywatch actor, slipped majorly in the ratings and will not see its next eight episodes go to air.

Gambon joins Luck alongside Hoffman and Nolte

Veteran British actor Michael Gambon has joined a new HBO series called Luck. Gambon has signed on for a recurring role on the series which centres on the owners, jockeys and gamblers in the horse racing circuit. He will join the likes of Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte on the project.