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John Clarke In Australian Telemovie

Media Release – June 29, 2004

John Clarke In Australian Telemovie Hit

A telemovie written and directed by New Zealand’s John Clarke has scored hit ratings in Australia.

STIFF was produced by New Zealand's Huntaway Films, a company run by Clarke, Jay Cassells and Sam Neill.

STIFF was the first telemovie in The Murray Whelan series to screen on Australian television and delivered outstanding ratings results for the channel Seven Network.

Programmed last Sunday at 8.30pm, STIFF won its time-slot in Melbourne and was the second highest rating programme for the time-slot nationally.

STIFF attracted over 1.3 million viewers Australia wide and was Seven Melbourne’s number one programme on Sunday night.

Tim Worner, director of programming and production for the Seven Network, said “STIFF had a number of stars in David Wenham, Sam Neill and Mick Molloy - not to mention writer and director John Clarke -. Great projects are invariably the sum of great partners and we're looking forward to the next one.”

THE BRUSH OFF, directed by Sam Neill, will be the second telemovie in the Murray Whelan series, and like STIFF, was adapted for the screen by John Clarke.

Following Sunday night’s screening, John Clarke said “It’s a terrific result, owing a great deal to a superb cast and crew, to generous and significant goodwill from the press, and to a large television audience which contains everyone mentioned so far. We loved making these films and it is a thrill to see this response.”

Huntaway's Jay Cassells said that "This may represent a bit of a breakthrough in commercial tv fare in that country. Hopefully the films will be seen on television screens in New Zealand later this year.’’

Film Victoria said the calibre of writing and talent of both cast and crew translated into such a success for the Seven Network.

``Congratulations go to the team at Huntaway Films,” Film Victoria chief executive Sandra Sdraulig said.

David Wenham leads the cast in the two Whelan telemovies. Wenham was Faramir, brother of Boromir, in Lord of the Rings and plays Murray Whelan, a minder, fixer, general dogsbody and slightly crumpled advisor to a Government Minister.

Clarke (known decades ago as Fred Dagg) has for many years provided Australia with a long string of tv programmes and films including The Games. Neill’s work is known worldwide for films such as The Piano, Jurassic Park, Death in Brunswick, Dead Calm, Evil Angels, Dirty Deeds, The Dish, Perfect Strangers and a new working title comedy, Wimbledon.

Cassells has worked on many films and produced Huntaway’s recent movie, Perfect Strangers starring Sam Neill, Joel Tobeck and Rachael Blake which was released to critical acclaim last year.


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