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Author: KYLIE MILLER, Source: Guardian
Date: 06/03/2003
Words: 1438
          Publication: The Age
Section: Green Guide
Page: 14
Lowe to wing into Melbourne

Former West Wing star and '80s Hollywood brat-packer Rob Lowe will star in Salem's Lot, a $25 million, four-hour television miniseries to be filmed soon in Melbourne. Production on the drama for American cable station TNT, based on Stephen King's 1975 spine-chiller about vampires taking over a small New England town, is expected to start in two months. Lowe plays writer Ben Mears, who returns to his home town and discovers its evil secret. Peter Filardi (Flatliners, The Craft) wrote the script adaptation and Mikael Salomon will direct. Lowe has most recently been seen as White House staffer Sam Seaborn in Channel Nine's The West Wing, but left last year after a salary dispute. A new series of The West Wing, featuring Lowe's final episodes, is pencilled into Nine's schedule from March 25.

Andrikidis scores Silver Hugo

Peter Andrikidis has picked up a Silver Hugo award for best achievement in direction for the Channel Ten telemovie Heroes' Mountain at the 2003 Chicago International Film Festival. A Silver Hugo means ``a symbol of discovery" and is the festival's highest honour. Hugos are awarded only to ``outstanding productions of incomparable excellence, creativity and originality". Heroes' Mountain won a gold plaque for best telemovie at the same awards. Andrikidis is currently directing Ten's miniseries adaptation of Jessica, starring Sam Neill, and worked on Grass Roots and the telemovie BlackJack, which screens on Ten on March 16. The awards will be presented today.

Going big at Ten

Also over at Ten, work has begun on Go Big, a telemovie written by former ABC scriptwriters Ellie Beaumont and Michael Miller, after the Film Finance Corporation approved funding last month. Beaumont and Miller worked closely with Ten's drama chief, Sue Masters, on projects including Love Is a Four-Letter Word, GP and Wildside. Miller is also writing for The Secret Life of Us and White Collar Blue. Rosemary Blight, also from Love Is a Four-Letter Word, is producing Go Big. The romantic comedy follows the life of Gina, a 30-year-old telemarketer who is ``sick of being poor, sick of being ordinary and sick of the world being run by the rich and famous". Unless she was rich and famous herself . . .

Producer steps up

Susan Bower has assumed the role of executive producer for the Nine drama McLeod's Daughters after the founding producer and series creator, Posie Graeme-Evans, moved to Nine as director of drama. Bower began her TV career on A Country Practice in 1989 and has been with McLeod's as supervising producer since its inception.

ABC to KISS and tell

Those who missed seeing the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in full KISS make-up at the weekend need not mope - the ABC recorded the concert for broadcast in June. Aunty flew in equipment from around Australia to capture the gig, an effort involving 50 ABC crew, 19 cameras, two cranes, 400 microphones and three audio trucks with 130 channels of euphonic sound.

Caton to have a gay old time

Michael Caton's colourful career will take on a decidedly pink hue when he returns to the big screen in the Australian comedy Strange Bedfellows. Co-written and directed by Dean Murphy (Muggers), the film is about two old-timers in a small country town who declare themselves a same-sex couple on a tax return and then have to learn how to appear gay when the taxman arrives in town. It will be Caton's first lead role in a local feature since he played Daryl Kerrigan in Working Dog's 1997 movie, The Castle. Caton presents Hot Auctions on Channel Seven and starred in the ABC comedy Bad Cop, Bad Cop.

Buffy goes for big kill

The rumours have been around for months but now it's official - Buffy the Vampire Slayer won't be back after the current season. Sarah Michelle Gellar, who found fame playing Buffy Summers, a perky Californian high school student who kills demons in her spare time, has told America's Entertainment Weekly magazine that Buffy, in its current incarnation, is over. The series will wrap up with a five-part story, which will include the return of Faith, the bad-girl slayer, and Buffy's first love, Angel. ``We're gearing up to tell a fabulous, huge, great arc," Gellar said. ``It's going to be pretty spectacular." The show may come back to life in some form: creator Joss Whedon is planning a spin-off that may include some Buffy cast members.

Another shot at football glory

Do you have what it takes to be a footballer's wife? That's the tantalising question visitors to Britain's ITV website are asked when they play the Footballers' Wives game (www.itv.com). Depending on your answer to questions such as ``What gets you up in the morning?" (getting into uniform and on the checkout by 8.30am, or vodka and tonic), prospective brides are recommended either to stick to their chase or opt for a librarian. Unfortunately, fans of the Ten soap opera will have to wait until later this year to find out how the cliffhanger of mother-in-law-from-hell Jackie, having a surrogate child for Chardonnay and Kyle, will be resolved.

Footy's feminine face

Closer to home, Fox Footy will give its weekly ``AFL wives and girlfriends talk show", Living with Footballers, a makeover when the show resumes at the end this month. Leah Hudson, whose husband Paul retired last year, will be eased from the show while Lisa Marie Lloyd (Matthew Lloyd, Essendon), Danielle Harvey (Robert Harvey, St Kilda), Bianca Twigg (Simon Beaumont, Carlton) and Sarita Stella (Brodie Holland, Collingwood) will be joined by new faces Georgina Lucas (Scott Lucas, Essendon) and Donna Johnson (Brad Johnson, Western Bulldogs).

Six Feet later

The third series of HBO's funeral parlour drama, Six Feet Under, premiered in the US on Sunday but Australian fans are unlikely to see it on Channel Nine until the second half of this year. Changes include the addition of two characters: Catherine O'Hara as Carol, a neurotic and tyrannical Hollywood producer who hires Lisa, the mother of Nate's child, as her live-in chef; and Kathy Bates as Bettina, a new best friend and bad influence for Ruth (Frances Conroy). Australian Rachel Griffiths, soon to appear in After the Deluge on Ten, returns as Brenda Chenowith.

US dramas renewed

American television networks made a flurry of announcements last week as their winter ratings season drew to a close. Among those affecting Australian audiences were the renewals of sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, the spy drama Alias and a third season of 24. There will also be a second instalment of Joe Millionaire.

kmiller@theage.com.au

Summer Bay, just south of London... and then some

It's a ripper of a television show, with bonzer tales about life in sunny Summer Bay and barbies on the beach by the surf club.

After 15 years, teen soap Home & Away has established itself as one of the best-known windows on Australian life. Yet the show created on the other side of the world and conceived by Australia's Seven Network is being counted by Britain's Channel Five as programming it has ``originated" and co-produced under quotas designed to promote original program ideas in the UK.

The Independent Television Commission has agreed that Home & Away is ``originated" by Channel Five because Britain's youngest terrestrial broadcaster now funds more than half the show's production costs and has editorial and creative influence over it.

Channel Five poached what is now its leading series from ITV1 in 2001. Under ITV it was classed as an acquisition.

As for Neighbours - the other popular Australian soap - which is shown by the BBC, it is also classed as an acquired show.

The disclosure is likely to add fuel to the debate about relaxing foreign ownership restrictions on British broadcasters. Many in the industry suspect foreign owners pack schedules with overseas rather than locally generated shows.

Regulations require that 53 per cent of Five's transmission time, excluding sport and news, must be devoted to ``originated" material. Home & Away, shown five times a week, accounts for 130 hours a year, a substantial proportion of its quota.

``This makes a mockery of the system," said one leading broadcasting executive. ``On this basis, if Rupert Murdoch buys Channel Five we'll probably see The Simpsons and Buffy the Vampire Slayer being deemed originated programming or co-productions."

A Five spokeswoman insisted the regulator was happy to count Home & Away as an originated series.

``We fund more than 50 per cent of its production costs and have considerable creative and editorial impact on it," she said. -- The Guardian

Home and Away stars Christie Hayes (as Kirsty Sutherland), left, and Mitch Firth (Seb Miller).

 
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