Former Te Papa boss quits NZ

Former Te Papa chief executive Michael Houlihan has left New Zealand – after lasting barely three months in his role as a special adviser to next year’s Anzac Day commemorations.

Houlihan left Te Papa after two disastrous exhibitions racked up big losses. He was given a 12-month secondment to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, and was appointed to the advisory role on May 12.

A ministry spokesman confirmed yesterday that his last day was August 19, and that he had gone back to Britain.

When the secondment was announced in May, it was made clear that Houlihan would not be returning to his role at the national museum.

Te Papa chairman Evan Williams confirmed last night that Houlihan had “completed the first part of his secondment at the ministry, which was a specific task, but has ended his secondment and gone back to the UK. That was a decision that he made”.

He emphasised that Houlihan was not sacked from Te Papa, nor did he receive a golden handshake.

“He wasn’t fired, he has made his own decisions. Yes, we did have a big problem, and we’ve completed the turnaround.”

While Houlihan was at the helm of Te Papa, the museum was poised to post a $12 million loss for the year ending June.

It came on the back of two big loss-generating shows – The Aztecs: Conquest and Glory, and Colour & Light: Impressionism from France and America.

Severe cost-cutting measures were introduced and are expected to reduce the loss to about $8m. The budgeted deficit was $4.4m.

Houlihan was seconded to the ministry as a special adviser on military heritage leading into the 2015 Anzac Day commemorations and opening of the National War Memorial Park.

Labour arts, culture and heritage spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said yesterday that questions were raised at the time about whether or not the secondment was part of wider issues being raised with management at Te Papa.

“The minister made it sound like the secondment was absolutely critical to the centenary celebrations . . . important enough that the most senior person at Te Papa was justified in leaving that role.

“For the individual in question to have now departed from that role early and left the country really suggests those earlier suspicions may have been fair.”

A spokesman for Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson said Houlihan had been well qualified for the special adviser position. He began his career at London’s Imperial War Museum.

“The minister is very pleased with the progress of the commemorations programme to date – most recently the announcement of the temporary museum in the Dominion Museum Building – and that includes the contribution of Michael Houlihan.”

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Finlayson did not have any involvement in Houlihan’s departure, the spokesman said.

Houlihan became Te Papa’s chief executive in August 2010, when he was 61. A new boss is due to be announced later this year.

– The Dominion Post


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Forget wardrobe malfunctions or fashion faux pas on the red carpet because being drunk or high trumps everything at an awards show, as illustrated by comedian Sarah Silverman at the Emmys.

While Julia Roberts in her Elie Saab mini dress and Julia Louis-Dreyfus decked out in Carolina Herrera looked stunning, Silverman was stoned, or at least appeared to be.

“This is, uh, my pot. My liquid pot,” Silverman told E! Host Giuliana Rancic as she rifled through her handbag to show off its contents for the network’s latest addition to red carpet reportage – the “Clutch Cam”.

Inside her purse Silverman had all the essentials that a teetotaller requires for an epic awards show.

“I’ve got my phone, pot and gum,” she said showing off her portable vaporiser filled with marijuana.

“I don’t drink, I’m a light weight but I’ll have a puff here and there and at the Governor’s Ball [the official Emmys after party] what have you.”

During the awkward three minute interview with Rancic, something we haven’t seen since this year’s Oscars when Cate Blanchett yelled at an E! camera operator for giving her outfit the once over, Silverman mocked the presenter before walking off.

“Why do you put the microphone in front of me, you didn’t say a question. You’re just like ‘Hey, you’re dressed like a nominee’,” Silverman yelled at Rancic.

“I don’t get paid enough to ask questions ok I just put a microphone there and expect you to do the work,” Rancic snapped before Silverman was distracted by a side view of her breasts in her low cut gown.

“Ah look at my boobs. This is the higher one,” she started before Rancic attempted to get the interview back on track.

“No listen, here, look this way. Your boobs are very perfect.”

When asked who she was wearing, her reply was the reason she was nominated: “I’m wearing Marni, the character from Girls… Marni with an ‘i’… obviously you don’t know fashion,” she said to Rancic who was beginning to look like a blonde deer caught in headlights.


Auckland play takes audience behind the scenes

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Set in Auckland’s The Basement’s Green Room, Wine Lips explores the less-than-glamourous beast that lives beyond the bright lights on stage.

“I really want to expose the industry for what it is – a construct that sets up a dream that everybody wants but nobody ever really gets to; there’s no end point, it’s a constant grind,” says 23-year-old Brooks.

“The Basement Green Room is a great place to explore this idea because it’s a place that means so many different things to people at different stages in their career; it could be a stepping stone, a home, a crossroads, or in a worst case scenario, a dead end.”

The play takes place backstage at Scotty (Nic Sampson’s) new show. He invites actor and ex-girlfriend Brit (Chelsea McEwan Millar) to share a bottle of wine.

This results in quarter-life crises and awkward memories abetted by booze in a performance that mirrors the reality of being a theatre performer.

For ex-Shortland Street star 18-year-old Geordie Holibar (he played Chris Warner’s son Phoenix) his role as Max is his theatre debut.

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Meyers came to the gig in the wake of some of its best hosts in recent memory: Neil Patrick Harris, Jimmy Kimmel, Jane Lynch and Jimmy Fallon. And while the Emmys have not enjoyed the giddy heights of Golden Globes, which had Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, nor have they hit the Oscars’ lows, with Seth McFarlane, Alec Baldwin and James Franco.

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Without the international profile some of his peers enjoy, the US late night talk show host tackled some easy targets up front – himself, host broacdaster NBC, iconic cable channel HBO and Emmy “category fraud”, one of the simmering issues at the periphery of the 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

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Modern Family won a record-tying fifth best comedy series Emmy Award and a dominant Breaking Bad captured the top drama award and a trio of acting honours in today’s ceremony, which took a sombre turn as Robin Williams was remembered with restraint and grace by his longtime friend, Billy Crystal.

“He made us laugh. Hard. Every time you saw him,” Crystal said of Williams at the conclusion of a tribute to industry members who died last year. “Robin Williams, what a concept.”

“I used to think if I could put a saddle on him and stay on him for eight seconds, I was gonna do OK,” said Crystal.

“It’s very hard to talk about him in the past because he was so present in all of our lives,” Crystal continued. “He was the brightest star in the comedy galaxy.”

Crystal concluded by reflecting on the eternal glow Williams would continue to give off, long after he was gone.

“And you’ll think to yourself: Robin Williams, what a concept.”

Bryan Cranston was honoured as best actor in a drama for Breaking Bad, proving that True Detective nominee Matthew McConaughey’s movie-star appeal couldn’t conquer all.

“I have gratitude for everything that has happened,” Cranston said. His victory ties him with four-time best drama actor champ Dennis Franz. Cranston’s co-stars Aaron Paula and Anna Gunn were honoured in categories for best drama supporting acting,

“Thank you for this wonderful farewell to our show,” said Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan said of the series about a teacher-turned-drug kingpin that ended with a bang.

The Good Wife star Julianna Margulies won the Emmy for best lead actress in a drama series. “What a wonderful time for women on television,” Margulies said.

McConaughey was the object of too-handsome jokes by presenter Jimmy Kimmel and adoration by winner Gail Mancuso, honoured as best director for an episode of Modern Family.

“If you don’t mind, Matthew McConaughey, I’m gonna make eye contact with you right now,” she said from the stage, making good by holding the actor’s gaze for much of her speech.

The ceremony honouring the best of TV wasn’t shy about playing the movie-star card. “Six minutes to Woody Harrelson” flashed on screen during Colin Bucksey’s acceptance speech for best miniseries direction for Fargo.

Harrelson and his True Detective co-star were given time to banter before announcing that Benedict Cumberbatch of “Sherlock: His Last Vow” was the winner of the best miniseries actor award.

“So you won Oscar, (People magazine’s) Sexiest Man Alive and now you want an Emmy, too. Isn’t that a little bit greedy” Harrelson teased his fellow nominee.

Fargo was named best miniseries, and the award for best miniseries actress went to Jessica Lange of American Horror Story: Coven.

Buffering the miniseries awards was a parody routine about top nominees by “Weird Al” Yankovic. Musical numbers usually look out of place at the Emmys, and this one was no different. Other scripted banter fell flat, although host Seth Meyers kept soldiering on.

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CBS’ The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons was crowned as best comedy series actor, giving him his fourth Emmy and putting him in league with all-time sitcom winners Kelsey Grammer and Michael J. Fox.

ABC’s Modern Family, which tied Frasier as the all-time sitcom champ with five statuettes, also captured a best comedy supporting actor trophy for Ty Burrell. Allison Janney was honoured as best supporting comedy actress for CBS’ Mom,adding to the trophy she’d already picked up as guest actress on Masters of Sex.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who received her third consecutive best comedy actress Emmy for the political comedy Veep, drew big laughs as she stopped to exchange faux heated kisses with Cranston, who earlier was her co-presenter and who appeared with her on Seinfeld.

Meyers kicked off the ceremony by tweaking his home network, NBC, and other broadcasters for being eclipsed in the awards by cable series and online newcomers like Orange Is the New Black.

Noting that the Emmys moved to Monday night to avoid a conflict with yesterday;s MTV Video Music Awards, he said that MTV doesn’t really specialise in videos anymore.

“That’s like network TV holding an awards show and giving all the trophies to cable and Netflix. That would be crazy,” Meyers joked.

The ceremony’s traditional “in memorian” tribute to industry members who have died in the past year flashed images of stars including James Garner, Ruby Dee, Sid Caesar, Carmen Zapata and Elaine Stritch as singer-son

What else happened:

– ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic performed an epic medley of Emmy-nominated TV show themes.

– The Colbert Report won outstanding variety series. The end of an era, as Stephen Colbert takes over Letterman’s spot next year.

– The Amazing Race is back to its winning ways after one year on the back-burner, taking out Outstanding Reality Competition. Seeing that the show’s host, Phil Keoghan, is a Kiwi we’ll book that win as ours.


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Hot Air filmmaker to speak

Filmmaker Alister Barry will give Hamilton audiences a personal introduction to his new documentary Hot Air, at the International Film Festival on Thursday.

The 92-minute long film tells the story of the politics of climate change in New Zealand since 1988, when it first became a serious political issue, until 2008 when the Emissions Trading Scheme was passed into law.

There is a postscript about what has happened since.Barry is a member of the filmmaking collective Vanguard Films and has worked in the New Zealand cinema industry since the 1970s. His directorial work includes Someone Else’s Country, a feature on the new right revolution in New Zealand, and The Hollow Men, a feature documentary of the Nicky Hager book of the same name.

Barry will introduce Hot Air, co-directed with Abi King-Jones, at the Lido Cinema tomorrow at 8.30pm and at midday on Friday. A question and answer session will follow at the conclusion of each film screening.

The film had its premiere in the International Film Festival’s residency in Wellington, where it sold out with 40 people on a waiting list for tickets. Since then it has been screened as part of the festival in Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch and Nelson.

Barry said Hot Air gives audiences an insight into 20 years of political struggle between politicians, scientists and activists wanting to reduce New Zealand’s emissions, and corporate leaders and their lobbyists working to protect profits and commercial advantage.

”All my feature documentaries deal with the exercise of power, political power, in New Zealand. Another way of putting it is to say they all examine, by way of case histories, the way our democracy works and doesn’t work.

:This sort of examination can’t be done in a three minutes interview on Campbell Live and, anyway, TV just doesn’t want to do this sort of thing because of its need to maintain a mass audience of consumers rather than a mass audience of citizens.:

Making Hot Air and it’s predecessors had proved an educational experience for Barry himself.

”The really important thing I learnt was the extent to which power in our society has steadily shifted with neoliberalism to the corporate elite and away from our democratic institutions. And the way that corporate elite, who have names and brush their teeth just like the rest of us, use professional highly paid lobbyists to get what they want. This film is at one level the story of how a new society is quietly being constructed without our noticing. The lobbyists call it ‘the insider strategy’.”

Tickets for the Hamilton screenings are on sale directly from the Lido.For more information on the documentary go to