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Dramarama for 2015

Two new but old series and one that’s not close its use-by date collect $18 million from NZ On Air and ready themselves for production.

From the juggernaut that was South Pacific Pictures’ Outrageous Fortune will come prequel West Side Story, centred around the earlier years of Grandpa Ted and Rita West. Set in the 1970s, the series comes from Outrageous creators Rachel Lang and James Griffin.

Antonia Prebble and Frank Whitten

Antonia Prebble and Frank Whitten in 2008
Photo: the A List

Ted, Grandpa West, was played by Frank Whitten who passed away in 2011. Rita, dead before the story of Outrageous Fortune began, made one posthumous appearance in season 4, played by Antonia Prebble, which should be enough to spark some casting rumours for West Side Story.

SPP hasn’t yet cast the series, which will go into production by the end of the year.

Of an even older vintage is Tom Scott’s feature Higher Ground, the Edmund Hillary feature Scott’s long tried to get up. He spoke very entertainingly on that unsuccessful journey in the latter part of his John O’Shea address at the 2012 SPADA Conference.

Supported by the Platinum Fund he’ll now make Hillary, a 6 x 1 hour series. Greg McGee (Orange Roughies, Street Legal, Via Satellite) will co-write with Scott.

Returning to screens in 2015 will be season 2 of SPP’s Step Dave, which is (we think) the only TV drama from the last year that will go around a second time. One assumes Dry July is heading out the door a few hours early at SPP and show creator Kate McDermott’s place.

Step Dave lead Sia Trokenheim is currently available ondemand in Max Currie’s NZIFF-premiered Everything We Loved.

One of the SPP shows not renewed for 2014, Nothing Trivial, will have its last hurrah on TV One on Sunday night in the special finale episode.

“We are delighted to have supported three strong drama projects for all three major free-to-air channels in a difficult business environment. Our drama strategy aims to deliver a diversity of local drama programmes for audiences, and these funding decisions certainly give viewers choice,” said Jane Wrightson Chief Executive of NZ On Air.

“Our Platinum Fund investment in Hillary is an investment in a drama that will preserve one of our greatest stories for future generations, while West Side Story and Step Dave 2 give appreciative audiences more of these successful and uniquely New Zealand stories.”

Funding details:
Hillary, 6 x 1 hr, Great Southern Television, for TV One, $6,418,835
Step Dave 2, 13 x 1 hr, South Pacific Pictures for TV2, $6,820,420
West Side Story, 6 x 1 hr, South Pacific Pictures for TV3, $4,818,254

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