This Is Not My Life

8:30pm Thursday, August 26 on TV One

From the creators of Go Girls and Outrageous Fortune , new local series This Is Not My Life (tonight on TV ONE at 8.30pm) is an absorbing new mystery drama starring Charles Mesure, Tandi Wright, and Miriama McDowell.

For well-known Kiwi actor Joel Tobeck, his role in TV ONE’s new local drama series This Is Not My Life was all about community. Joel has a thriving career spanning New Zealand, Australia and the United States, and spends considerable time away from his Waikato home base.

“I’d been overseas for a long time working and any chance to work at home, to be closer to the family I’d take. I really thought the project was great – I believed in what they were doing. It’s a great idea, great concept and I haven’t really played a bad guy for a while so I was definitely drawn to it.”

Joel also cites the opportunity to work with friends, family and a hero of his: “I’d been a fan of John Bach’s work for a very long time but I’d never met him before. If I come to work with the older statesmen in the business I really, really enjoy it. Together our careers are some probably eighty years combined. Then on the other end of the scale, I admired and enjoyed working with Steven A. Davis because this is his first acting job – the amount of work he’s putting into it, his keenness, and that he’s so into it and enjoying every moment of it – I remember being like that when I first started.”

There were plenty of familiar faces on the project – Joel had previously worked with Charles Mesure and Tandi Wright, as well as many of the crew. And First AD Mark Harlan is Joel’s brother. “We have a good time, there’s a nice feel about the crew. Everyone has a good laugh and that’s the beauty of New Zealand crews especially with Maori and Polynesians working in the crew, there’s that laughter and lightness – I love it.”

Onscreen, Joel’s character, Richard Foster, is no friend to anyone. He is the power-hungry Head of Security in Waimoana, who realises Alec Ross (Charles Mesure) is a threat but isn’t sure where Alec fits in to the picture. Alec is not the only Waimoana resident Richard has his eye on.

“Richard feels there is something about Gordy that he could use, because Gordy’s got his ear to the ground with regard to Alec Ross and Jessica Wilmott. Gordy is his contact to the community and he’s given Gordy this potentially a great job. In the beginning, it’s kind of boring and unrewarding but Richard takes Gordy under his wing, and starts to wonder how he can get Gordy to do his dirty deeds.” explains Tobeck.

In tonight’s episode, Alec is even more determined to discover Waimoana’s secrets after finding out that there is a transmitting device in all the residents’ beds.

Dr Collins’ queries into Kyle’s whereabouts prompts a visit from Waimoana’s new Head of Security, Richard Foster (Joel Tobeck), who assures her that the old Kyle is a safe place. Dr Collins is unconvinced and uses Jessica to test her own theories. When her plans go awry and Jessica is picked up by security, Dr Collins warns Alec, who enlists Gordy’s assistance to track Jessica to an isolated place where they make a startling discovery.

Meanwhile, Jessica wakes up from the effects of Dr Collins’ drugs in Gordy’s care, the man she remembers as her dear and devoted suitor.

Missed an episode of This Is Not My Life- full episodes are available online. Go to tvnz.co.nz and click the ‘Ondemand’ button

8:30pm Thursday, August 19 on TV One

Something completely different from the creators of Go Girls and Outrageous Fortune , new local series This Is Not My Life is an absorbing new mystery drama starring Charles Mesure, Tandi Wright, and Miriama McDowell.

Artist Tracey Collins has a unique look – with her trademark peaked hairstyle and funky clothes she is instantly recognisable. Collins’ task on This Is Not My Life, as the production and costume designer, was to design and create a unique world which would be instantly recognisable as New Zealand, but markedly different from our existing Kiwi reality.

“When I first read about the series I was very intrigued and excited by the possibility of creating an alternate reality, a world that the audience would recognise but that was a little bit different – to twist their perception of this world. I was also interested because I had never really worked on a thriller and on contemporary drama. A lot of work that I’ve done has been quite fantasy-based,” says Collins.

She began by driving around Auckland with Directors Robert Sarkies and Peter Salmon, and Location Manager, Benny Latton. Together the quartet researched modern architecture, new suburbs and new public spaces. They examined colours, building materials, and modern design to create a strong new look for the series.

Collins explains, “technology is a huge part of this series. We’ve developed a new computer system, we’ve streamlined, we don’t have computers and laptops, we just have this computer that’s a more user friendly and ergonomic shape, and you can talk to the technology. I know these sort of things already actually exist but not for everybody at the moment. And in our world they exist for everybody. For example, each character has a PEC – a personal entertainment and communication system – which is their phone, their computer, everything. We’ve taken what exists now and pushed it further and that’s a really exciting part of this world.”

“We don’t have paper in this world – it’s a paperless society. So everything is, of course, done from computer. And it’s been really interesting from a design perspective when you come to dress a lot of sets, it’s quite weird because there are no books. There’s no paper in any of the sets, so everything’s much cleaner,” she continues.

Collins and her team created a language and a logic for Waimoana, the closed community where This Is Not My Life is set. Initial parameters included the scripts and drama budget, but they soon found the logic of Waimoana was self-perpetuating, and one rule would suggest another.

“With just subtle little shifts you can create a whole new world. We’ve probably bought 80 per cent of the garments in wardrobe, and we’ve just really subtly changed them – maybe a pocket shape or a lapel, shifting the buttons, the way the garments do up, or something crossing over in a slightly different way. Just slightly changing the language of that particular garment and actually putting combinations of things together that maybe wouldn’t go together. Suddenly you have a whole new fashion that’s quite clean and minimal, that doesn’t exist out there in the way that it is. You might be able to buy a pale blue shirt or a pale grey pants but the way that we’ve sort of put it together looks completely new so the whole production from production design and costume design has really been about reinventing what’s out there,” says Collins.

In tonight’s episode, Alec’s (Charles Mesure) daughter, Becky (Ariana Brunet), is sick. She has nightmares where she mentions a bad man, Harry, who calls her Hannah, and a ring with snakes – the insignia of the Eugene Corporation. Alec is excited by these clues, and starts wondering what residents are exposed to in order to maintain community happiness and harmony.

Jessica (Miriama McDowell) continues to date Gordy (Steven A Davis) in the hope of learning more. She reveals her theories about Waimoana to a friend at the club, which bring her to the attention of Dr Collins (Tania Nolan). Jessica is deeply shaken by the doctor’s questioning and Alec confronts Dr Collins and tells her to leave Jessica out of it. Dr Collins surprises him by not denying that Kyle was replaced and saying she will look into Alec’s allegations. Alec and Jessica draw closer and closer together, but she refuses to be ‘the other woman’.

8:30pm Thursday, August 12 on TV One

Tandi Wright plays New Zealand’s own desperate housewife in new local drama This Is Not My Life. Her character, Callie, is a woman who craves her husband’s love and family stability; but instead finds herself living with a man who doesn’t recognise her or their children.

“Callie’s not just desperate, she’s not just a housewife, she is both of those things. But she’s so much more,” says Wright. “For Callie, Alec (Charles Mesure) is the centre of her world. She wants to be loved, he is everything to her and she would do anything to please him and to protect her family. She’s quite a tiger in that respect. Of course, she’s concerned that he can’t remember her. That’s not good for anyone’s self esteem – how could you really completely forget the love of your life?”

This Is Not My Life is one of Wright’s first television roles after her Qantas Film & Television Awards Supporting Actress nomination for her performance in the feature film Out Of The Blue and after the birth of her daughter. In the fast-paced mystery drama, she plays opposite Charles Mesure, an actor she has worked with before, on productions such as Street Legal.

“Charles, I have to say, has been fantastic in this. His work load is unbelievable, extraordinary. He’s in every scene. He is so prepared, generous and incisive. I think we were really lucky because we’ve worked together in the past and so it was really nice to come to this with that shared history. You don’t have to get to know each other, you just start in, boom, and he’s been amazing. He has this very strong charismatic, strongly male presence – macho presence – and it’s just so lovely to play off. There’s a real solidity there but it’s not overwhelming, it’s very inclusive and we play together very easily.”

In a story set in New Zealand the day after tomorrow, Wright is impressed by the world that series creators Gavin Strawhan and Rachel Lang have created.

“The clever thing about This Is Not My Life is that the world is not ours but it’s so recognisable. It’s just got that slight remove – it mirrors parts of society now in quite clever little ways. I like the idea about memory and how important memory is to the individual. If your memories were replaced entirely with someone else’s memories would you be a different person? Is it possible to change like that? At the same time, it’s about identity and who you are. The two things are so closely linked – does your memory make you ‘you’, and what if someone were to play with that? Are you someone else?”

In tonight’s episode (at 8.30pm on TV ONE) Jessica (Miriama McDowell) starts to come around to Alec’s (Charles Mesure) weird theories when she realises the office junior who replaced her looks like her, has a similar background, and is dating the same guy who pressured Jessica.

Jessica plays up to Gordy (Steven A Davis) who reveals that he works for Personal Systems and it’s his job to track people. While Jessica distracts Gordy, Alec downloads the tracking program and works out a way to block their chips. He breaks into the library and discovers that while there are no files for him or Jessica, there is a very revealing one on Gordy. Plus, Alec finds Callie’s file from her life before Waimoana.

8:30pm Thursday, August 5 on TV One

Kiwi actor Miriama McDowell gave up a Northern Hemisphere summer and returned home to a soggy New Zealand winter for the chance to be in the new local mystery drama This Is Not My Life, tonight at 8.30pm on TV ONE.

McDowell is one of New Zealand’s brightest rising stars, appearing in recent local feature films such as Dean Spanley and No.2, in which she played the flamboyant Hibiscus. In This Is Not My Life, McDowell plays femme fatale Jessica Wilmott, who intrigues Alec Ross (Charles Mesure), a man questioning the reality around him.

“The first reason I was drawn to the role was because I know one of the producers, Tim White, from working with him on No. 2. I knew if he was doing the series, it would be good because he’s got good taste. And then I read some of the scripts and they’re just so exciting. You get three quarters of the way through an episode and you want to know what happens next. Your heart starts sinking a little bit because you know it’s coming to an end. And maybe you don’t have another script to read because they haven’t printed it out yet. That’s always a good sign.”

Her character Jessica is a dancer in the Go-Go Club, just another facility in the ‘best little place in the world’, Waimoana, designed to meet all its residents’ needs and desires.

“Jessica is every male’s fantasy,” says McDowell. “But she’s also like the little grain of sand in the shell that makes the pearl. She’s the one Alec just can’t forget – he’s always coming back to her. She’s a constant reminder for him that there are real people and real feelings out there. She becomes his sidekick and they set out to solve the mystery of Waimoana.”

McDowell was pleased that her character is curious about her place in this seemingly perfect world. “We all want to live in a happy and safe society. We all want to live in the best little place in the world. But what are we willing to give and what are we willing to give up in order to have that? I think that this story will appeal to anyone because it’s really asking us what we want from life. What is the ideal life? If we could have everything we wanted, what would it actually be like?”

In tonight’s episode (at 8.30pm on TV ONE) Alec realises he must proceed with caution after the events in the forest, seeing the changed Kyle, and the discovery of the chip in his own head.

Plagued by nightmares, he is still sleeping on the couch. He goes to relationship counselling with his wife, but suspects that counsellor Mike (Simon Prast) knows more than he is letting on. Alec realises most of the people of Waimoana are happy and reasons that anyone like him is more likely to be unhappy. He finds a discontented, beautiful young woman, Jessica (Miriama McDowell), who was sacked from his work place after an office tryst and now works as a ‘hostess’ at a bar. He overcomes her animosity and she agrees that some of his story resonates. But can he trust her?

Missed an episode of This Is Not My Life? Full episodes are available online. Go to tvnz.co.nz and click the ‘Ondemand’ button.

8:30pm Thursday, July 29 on TV One

From the creators of Go Girls and Outrageous Fortune, new local series This Is Not My Life is an absorbing new mystery drama starring Charles Mesure, Tandi Wright, and Miriama McDowell.

In the peaceful, leafy New Zealand suburb of Waimoana, a man wakes up in a lovely home, to his lovely wife and children. But he can’t remember anything – not who he is, not having a wife and kids, not even his own name. The people around him call him Alec Ross, but he only has their word for it. Setting out to discover what’s going on, he stumbles on the truth – this is not his life and he may not get out alive. This is TV ONE’s new local drama, This Is Not My Life, starting tonight at 8.30pm.

Charles Mesure (Outrageous Fortune, Street Legal) stars as Alec Ross, a man who is experiencing no average mid-life crisis: should he put himself first or the family he doesn’t recognise as his own? Should he be with his supposed wife, or the woman he loves? Is it better to be happy or know the truth? And can he come out of this alive?

This Is Not My Life is created and written for TV ONE by Gavin Strawhan and Rachel Lang (creators of Go Girls and Outrageous Fortune). Co-creator, writer and executive producer Strawhan believes This Is Not My Life will keep viewers guessing from beginning to end.

“On one level, is this guy actually having a mid-life crisis and has he created this elaborate fantasy to explain why he feels alienated from his life? Then there is a sense of satire of modern society, modern technology and the illusion of freedom – the illusion in Waimoana is that there is complete freedom of choice and everyone’s free to be there. There’s also fun to be had with the clean green image of New Zealand, not too far in the future, where the PEC [Personal Entertainment Centre] has replaced phones and credit cards, cash has been replaced by Carbon Credits, and paper is a rare commodity.”

Strawhan says This Is Not My Life is set in a recognisable but different New Zealand, the day after tomorrow, where existing cutting-edge modern technology has been refined and pervades everyday life. All personal and social information is contained and controlled electronically – and is open to manipulation.

Alec Ross soon finds that shifting electronic information can both help and hinder him in his search to uncover the truth about his seemingly perfect life. Mesure says most of the TV series he has worked on have been police, legal, and medical procedural drama, centred around people doing their jobs. “Whereas this is about huge stuff: the core problem is this guy is trying to find out who he is and where he fits into the universe. Identity, memory and self-determination are huge ideas.”

This Is Not My Life gives Mesure the chance to be a leading man: “I’ve never really done that before. I’ve been acting for a lot of years and I’ve always been the antagonist or the boyfriend of the lead character or the father. And I’ve never actually played a pure protagonist: the guy who the story’s about, so I was very keen to try my hand at it. It’s been a lot of work – in the first half of the series I’m in almost every scene. And playing this guy you get everything from huge action sequences to emotional sequences, you know, complicated storytelling. It’s been really exciting.”

Mesure, whose recent credits include Ghost Whisperer, Cold Case, Bones, Without a Trace, and Lost, is joined by Tandi Wright (Out of the Blue, Shortland Street), Miriama McDowell (Dean Spanley, No. 2, Outrageous Fortune) and John Bach (Lord Of The Rings, Piece Of My Heart).

When I saw the promo for this show at TVNZ’s new season launch last year I was excited.  It looked good; sharp, exciting, enigmatic.  But as we all know after our experience with The Cult, looks can be deceiving so a certain level of caution has been taken while watching the two hour pilot which debuts on TV One this Thursday at 8:30pm.

The basic premise of the show is that Alec Ross (Charles Measure) has woken up and found him in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people and yet they all know him.  He has a wife and two children but he has no memory of any of it.  We’ve joked that this may be what actually happened to Gerard from Outrageous Fortune after his demise at the end of the last season.

It reminded us a lot of a show from 1995 called Nowhere Man where a guy goes to the bathroom while at a restaurant but when he returns to his wife, no one recognises him and his life has effectively been erased.  However, it’s way more techie.

It’s set in the fictitious town of Waimoana, which is a little creepy.  Creepy like Jim Carey in The Truman Show.  There is some weird stuff going on.  Brain implants and tracking devices and electric cars that conveniently don’t appear to have enough juice to get you beyond a small radius of the town.  Their currency even appears to be some sort of carbon credit.

If you’ve ever been to Omaha north of Auckland then you’ll recognise the set location.  A sterilised version of Wisteria Lane perhaps that seems devoid of any soul.  Of course the wide shots have extra buildings and streets added on, making it similar to those Mainland cheese ads where Queenstown has highrises and a motorway – all adding to that futuristic meme.

Where The Cult fell down was in the like-ability of its characters.  Whether or not we’re going to care about these new characters is the first hurdle that creators Rachel Lang and Gavin Strawhan will have to help us over.  Thankfully they have a decent track record with Go Girls and Outrageous Fortune.

I’m left feeling intrigued.  There is an air of originality about the show but like how I assume many others will feel, I can’t shake The Cult from the back of my mind – it’s probably a very unfair comparison.  In any case, the series link has been set in my PVR as it should be in yours.

Update: International distributor Lionsgate has just picked up the show.

Emmy-award winning international distributor Lionsgate acquires GRST’s This Is Not My Life beginning on TV ONE tonight at 8.30pm.

Lionsgate, producer of the multiple, Emmy Award-winning and acclaimed drama series Mad Men, has purchased worldwide rights to This Is Not My Life, a thought-provoking, New Zealand drama series about a man who awakes one day, only to discover he can’t remember his wife, his kids – or even his own name.

The NZ on Air and TVNZ funded series (13 x 1 hour) is produced by Steven O’Meagher (Out Of The Blue), Tim White (The Boys Are Back In Town, Out Of The Blue), Rachel Lang (Go Girls, Outrageous Fortune) and Gavin Strawhan (Go Girls, Being Eve).

This action-packed mystery drama stars Charles Mesure as Alec Ross, Tandi Wright as his wife Callie, and Miriama McDowell as the femme fatale. Mesure has featured in such US series as Cold Case, Bones, Lost and Without A Trace, and is currently starring in the hit series V.

This is Not My Life Executive Producer, Steven O’Meagher, says, “Lionsgate has a great international reputation with hits like Mad Men and Weeds. The fact they’ve acquired the sales rights to the New Zealand series This is Not My Life before it’s even screened is a tremendous sign of their confidence in the quality of the show.”

Lionsgate’s Managing Director of International Television, Peter Lacono, adds, “as a key component of our division’s continued growth strategy, we aggressively pursue unique and compelling acquisitions. This Is Not My Life is well-crafted, artfully acted and directed, and aligns perfectly with our international clients’ high standards for successful programming.”

This Is Not My Life, which begins tonight at 8.30pm on TV ONE, was successfully showcased at the LA Screenings in May.

It was TVNZ’s turn to show off which series they’ll be screening in 2010 at their new season launch today in Auckland.  As you’d expect, there’s a fairly solid line-up.

TV One has a new goal:  to be a little edgier.  One might assume: a little less safe.  It will be interesting to see how this transcribes into ratings.

TV One should dominate Mondays with The Pacific, an HBO series from the makers of Band of Brothers.  This will be followed by the multi-Emmy award-winning series Generation Kill. However, as it aired in the US in 2008, it can be bought on DVD here for about $40.

On TV2 Monday night kicks off with Supernanny followed by Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters.

Before Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice screen, Tuesday nights on TV2 will have New Zealand’s version of The Apprentice.  No doubt Terry Serepisos should do quite well now that some of the boys from his club are heading to the World Cup.

Speaking of which, unlike other major sporting events, TVNZ has chosen not to relinquish the free-to-air rights for the football World Cup in South Africa which will screen on TV One.

Wednesday will see the local version of Masterchef New Zealand on TV One, confirming that the format won’t follow the highly successful Australian version.  This will be followed by the second season of Packed to the Rafters that is about to finish in Australia.

The final season of Lost has been promised to be aired as close to its US release as possible. The word simulcast was used but no one expects the show to air at 2pm.  TV2 has it listed in a Wednesday timeslot which means the best we can hope for is that ABC in the US move the show to a Tuesday so that it will air here within hours. If not, one can only assume that New Zealand internet traffic will be incredibly low for the six days post the season finale in the US as kiwi fans avoid websites spoiling the mystery.

The lead in to Lost is the new sci-fi thriller Flash Forward.

Coming to TV One on Friday nights is Leigh Hart’s Mysterious Planet which will be up against a tough comedy line up on TV3.  TV2 will screen the ninth season of American Idol after Two and a Half Men and The Middle, a show that is scarily reminiscent of Malcom in the Middle.

TV One is bringing the Bond-a-thon to Saturday nights with all 22 Bond movies.

Marcus Lush will be back with South, as will Matthew and Marc’s Rocky Road and the Amazing Race for Sunday evenings.  Sports fans will also be introduced to a new show on TV One for Sunday’s lineup.

The spaceships were shown but the cult remake of V wasn’t mentioned specifically.

The show of the preview though had to be This is Not My Life from the makers of Go Girls and Outrageous Fortune.  It looks hot.  The brief snippet made me think of Minority Report and the cult series Nowhere Man from the nineties.  It stars Charles Mesure (Gerard from Outrageous Fortune – does this mean he’s dead and not in Season 6?) and Tania Nolan (Angelina from Go Girls).  Of everything I saw, this was the one I’m most looking forward to.  Hopefully we’ll get a copy of the trailer soon.

New Shows
Flash Forward



The Middle



The Forgotten



The Vampire Diaries



Human Target



Drop dead Diva



Cougar Town



Hawthorne



Hung



Castle



Generation Kill



The Pacific



Past Life



V

Local
The Apprentice New Zealand
Masterchef New Zealand
Leigh Hart’s Mysterious Planet

Real Life: Are You My Tribe

Returning
Shortland Street
Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares
Packed to the Rafters
Beyond the Darklands
Gangs of Oz
Criminal Minds
Sunday Theatre
South
Medical Emergency
Piha Rescue
Border Patrol
Animal House
The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show
Inspectors
Cold Case
The Zoo
Desperate Housewives
Brothers & Sisters
American Idol
Go Girls
The Big Bang Theory
Chuck
The Mentalist
Scrubs
Rescue 1
Fringe
Two and a Half Men
Gary Unmarried
Grey’s Anatomy
Private Practice
Police Ten 7
Neighbours at War
America’s Funniest Home Videos
The Amazing Race
Matthew and Marc’s Rocky Road
One News
Fair Go
Sunday
20/20
Close Up

I read this on the Herald website, they both sound promising.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/television/news/article.cfm?c_id=339&objectid=10569329

It’s a double dose of good news for Go Girls creators Gavin Strawhan and Rachel Lang, who are also the team behind TV2’s upcoming series This is Not My Life, which has started filming in Auckland.

The 13-part series, which received close to $7 million in NZoA funding, is described as a “high-concept action/mystery drama” and will star former Hercules and Street Legal actor Charles Mesure.

Mesure has returned from Los Angeles, where he had guest starred on Ghost Whisperer, Crossing Jordan, Cold Case, Bones, Without a Trace, Lost and more.

He will star opposite Tandi Wright (Shortland Street) and Miriama McDowell (No. 2).

Meanwhile, Great Southern Film and Television – the production company behind Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Singing Bee – will turn their hand to television drama for the first time as they begin filming The Cult.

Described as “Prison Break meets Lost“, the 13-part series is the story of four 20-somethings trapped in the secret community of Two Gardens. The acclaimed cast will feature former McLeod’s Daughter Lisa Chappell, Law & Order’s Latham Gaines, EastEnders actor Andrew Grainger and Shortland Street’s Renato Bartolomei, alongside award-winning Kiwi actors Kate Elliot and Scott Wills.

The series received $6.45 million in NZoA funding and will be written by Kathryn Burnett, Nick Ward and Peter Cox – the same people behind The Strip, Street Legal and The Insider’s Guide to Happiness.