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The G.C. — Aussies to see Mozzies

The G.C. — Aussies to see Mozzies

By Tom Frewen

Australian television viewers will be the next to judge the merits of The G.C., the controversial reality series about young Maori “working hard and playing even harder” on their “glittering” Gold Coast.

Eyeworks New Zealand, the local affiliate of a giant Dutch international television production company, confirmed this week that the programme was offered to foreign networks before TV3 put the first episode to air on May 2.

"The G.C. was sold to an Australian free to air network [on] week one of its screening in New Zealand,” says Eyeworks New Zealand’s chief executive, Julie Christie. “That network does not want to be named but the deal followed bidding from two separate networks.”

The successful bid was from Channel Ten, the third-rating Australian network behind Nine and Seven, according to a document released under the Official Information Act by the government’s broadcasting funding agency, New Zealand on Air.

Backing his initial support for the programme, originally called Golden Mozzies and described by New Zealand on Air as a documentary about “seven Maori families living on the Gold Coast,” veteran broadcaster Tainui Stephens says he might not have been so supportive if he’d been aware “that the final format of the series would be quintessential reality television.

“However, I found myself enjoying the simple fact that — notwithstanding the genre — here was a valiant Maori attempt to take part in that particular form of broadcasting.”

Mr Stephens says he was “intrigued by the vitriol that the show generated and which was often sheeted home to the executive producer, Bailey Mackey, personally.”
But Mr Mackey was one of two executive producers listed in the show’s credits. The other was Julie Christie whose Eyeworks New Zealand owns 90% of Mr Mackey’s Black Inc Media production company which submitted the proposal and received $420,000 from New Zealand on Air to make an “observational documentary” series. While Mr Mackey copped all the flak after the series turned out to be more along the lines of Jersey Shore and The Only Way Is Essex, Ms Christie got on with selling the New Zealand version of that genre to Australia.

Mr Stephens says “a bidding war for the series erupted between Australia’s Channel 9 and Channel 10. 10 won. I gather that the sale is the best yet that (EP) Julie Christie has had for a show to Australia.

“It seems that NZOA is destined to get a good deal of its money back. That too is something to applaud.”

While casting doubt on the integrity of New Zealand on Air’s Maori television funding strategy, that observation also highlights the vulnerability of New Zealand taxpayers to exploitation by large international television production companies. Perhaps that is a subject that should interest the auditor-general.

As none of the funding trickled down to the G.C.’s cast of ten, who were not paid, the programme’s screening on Channel Ten could well reinforce a prejudice across the Tasman that New Zealanders are not overly bright.


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