State of shock!
Unlike most young Australian actors, E Street star Bruce Samazan (pictured) is in no hurry to work in the US – in fact he has no plans to ever visit there again. Making his first trip to the US, staying with friends in Texas during a production break for E Street, Samazan cut short his two-week visit and made a dash back to Sydney, admitting that the place “freaked” him out. “There’s gang warfare over there that I can’t grab a hold of… it’s chaotic,” he told TV Week. “It’s totally unnatural for an Australian to go over there and adjust to the fact that if you wear the wrong coloured baseball cap or T-shirt, you might be shot at.” On one occasion he went to put on a Los Angeles Raiders cap but was advised by his local friend, “Bruce I wouldn’t wear that. You could get yourself into trouble – you might get shot at”. Then, two days later, a local newspaper carried the headline ‘Two Youths Shot Dead Outside Nightclub’… for wearing LA Raiders outfits. “That was pretty scary stuff,” Samazan said.
It’s goodbye to the Valley!
A Country Practice viewers will soon bid farewell to three of the show’s most popular characters. Gordon Piper (who plays Bob Hatfield), Syd Heylen (Cookie) and Matt Day (Luke) will be making their final appearances on screen in the coming weeks. For Day, leaving the series has come at the right time. “The character is now rounded off and I feel he has gone as far as he can for me,” he told TV Week. “Theatre is the next avenue I wish to explore. I want to steer clear of TV for a while.” Showbiz veteran Heylen leaves the show with happy memories. “I’ve made a lot of good friends,” he said. “The series kept me before a broad audience, which you don’t get to cover doing live work. It has been a happy period.” And although Piper is adamant that he won’t be returning to A Country Practice, he and Heylen (both pictured) will be making a guest appearance in two episodes later in the year in a storyline which sees Cookie return to hospital.
New doctors set for take-off
The Nine Network drama The Flying Doctors is set for a major revamp as production starts soon on its tenth series. In a major shake-up for the series, the series will now be based in Broken Hill (the real-life base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service) rather than the fictional Coopers Crossing, and the only familiar cast members making the move to the new location will be husband-and-wife team Maurie Fields and Val Jellay (pictured) and Sophie Lee. And joining the new-look series will be Simone Buchanan (Hey Dad!), Peter Phelps (who has just returned from the US where he featured in Baywatch), Steve Jacobs (Rose Against The Odds) and Lydia Miller. The new-look series is scheduled to debut on Nine around mid-year.
Neighbours’ Blakeney twins, Gayle and Gillian, are about to ‘split up’. Gillian, who plays Caroline Alessi, will be taping her final scenes in the Network Ten series this week. “While I love the character and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself on the show, I feel it is time to move on as an actor,” she told TV Week. Meanwhile, Gayle is contracted to the show until July and will then assess her options before making any decision about her future. But while the pair will no longer be working together on Neighbours, they will be working together again in London next month as they record their next single which is due for release in Australia later this year.
Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, with views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, is the location for the latest TV soapie wedding – but it is unlikely to ever appear on Australian screens. The British TV series Families, which stars Briony Behets (the British-born actress best known for her roles in Aussie dramas Number 96 and The Box), is filmed between Manchester and Sydney… but so far the series is yet to be sold to an Australian network. The series’ wedding is between Behets’ character Diana Stephens and cafe owner Anton Vaughn (Rhett Walton).
The patchy relationship between the local producers of the Network Ten tabloid current affairs show Hard Copy and Paramount, who own the US-based format, continues. But executive producer Peter Sutton isn’t concerned as he said there are plenty of other sources for content if the plug is pulled on being able to grab stories from the US version, but concedes that the show may have to change its name – with Fast Copy or Australia’s Hard Copy cited as possibilities.
Actress Melissa Bell (pictured) is currently caught in a battle between Network Ten’s two soapies. Melbourne-based Neighbours’ producers are keen to renew Bell’s contract when it expires mid-year, but Bell wants to move back to Sydney-based E Street where she once had a brief role – due in part to her current off-screen interstate relationship with the son of E Street producer Forrest Redlich.
Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here
”Fat Cat has been banished from our screens in one of the most profound decisions made in the history of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal. The tubby tom’s character was deemed “still not clearly defined” and his show was accused of having “still generally poor” direction. It took 15 years for someone to reach this momentous decision, years in which the lives of whole generations of Australian children must have been corrupted irreparably.”
Program Highlights (Melbourne, March 1-7):
Sunday: Nine crosses to Brisbane for the Benson And Hedges World Cup match between Australia and India. Seven has motor racing with coverage of the Nascar/Auscar Nationals from Calder Park, Melbourne. Meanwhile, ABC’s Sunday Afternoon With Peter Ross is back with a collection of arts-themed programming and interviews. Sunday night movies are Shirley Valentine (Nine), Die Hard 2: Die Harder (Ten) and the Japanese comedy Tampopo (SBS), up against Seven’s debut of mini-series Prime Suspect.
Monday: In A Country Practice (Seven), Luke (Matt Day) and Darcy (Kym Wilson) meet Douglas ‘Simmo’ Simmonds (Richard Moir), a crippled Vietnam pilot who revives Luke’s dreams of flying. In Neighbours (Ten), an accident puts Helen’s (Anne Haddy) life at risk – while in Mother And Son (ABC), Maggie (Ruth Cracknell) remembers a clock that her late husband Leo gave her on their 25th wedding anniversary as she takes one from the house across the street.
Tuesday: In GP (ABC), Robert (John McTernan) is acting strangely and decides to be a medico on an Antarctic expedition – until he reveals he has a tragic illness. Beyond 2000 (Seven) reports on mankind’s most ambitious project yet – human habitation on Mars, while reporter Tracey Curro test drives the world’s first car in a suitcase.
Wednesday: ABC presents a one-hour special, Cop It Sweet, taking a look at Sydney’s inner-city Redfern Police Station, in an area with a history of clashes between police and Aborigines, making it one of the most controversial police districts in the country. Nine crosses to the Sydney Cricket Ground for day-night coverage of the Benson And Hedges World Cup match between India and Pakistan.
Thursday: More World Cup cricket from Sydney on Nine, this time the match between Australia and England. In Acropolis Now (Seven), Effie (Mary Coustas) arranges a party for Sophie’s (Sheryl Munks) 21st birthday at Vibrations Disco.
Friday: Seven presents live coverage of the semi-final of the AFL Foster’s Cup, with commentators Bruce McAvaney, Peter McKenna, Don Scott, Gerard Healy and Bernie Quinlan. The ARIA Awards (Nine) are telecast for the first time, live from Melbourne’s World Congress Centre, and hosted by Richard Wilkins and Julian Lennon, with appearances by John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes, Jenny Morris, Noiseworks, Diesel, Wendy Matthews, Margaret Urlich, Rockmelons, Sophie Lee, Craig McLachlan, Dannii Minogue and international artists Diana Ross, Rod Stewart and Harry Connick Jnr.
Saturday: The Seven Network presents an all-day telethon to raise financial support for the Australian team to compete at the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. The Olympathon starts at 7.00am, including special editions of Saturday Disney and Video Smash Hits, followed by live crosses around Australia for interviews with some of Australia’s Olympic hopefuls. The evening telecast includes a night of entertainment featuring the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Phantom Of The Opera stars Marina Prior and Rob Guest (both pictured with Seven’s Bruce McAvaney), Julie Anthony, Grace Knight, Craig McLachlan, Vanetta Fields, Judith Durham, Simon Gallaher, Don Burrows and Peter Cupples. The telethon concludes at midnight. Nine presents all-day coverage of the Benson And Hedges World Cup cricket from Adelaide.
Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 29 February 1992. Southdown Press