The great Coopers Crossing reunion!
This week’s episode of The Flying Doctors (Nine) features a reunion of past and present cast members as the town of Coopers Crossing, the fictional setting of the series, hosts a party to break the gloom of the recession. Some of the show’s most popular former stars, including Rebecca Gibney, Andrew McFarlane, Liz Burch and George Kapiniaris, have made a return for the special event. “I’ve been hoping for a long time this would happen,” Gibney told TV Week. “You form some great relationships with people when you work on a show like The Flying Doctors.” Kapiniaris, who played radio operator DJ in the series, is excited about the reunion storyline – with DJ returning to Coopers Crossing somewhat wiser and wealthier after working overseas. “It’s the best episode DJ ever had,” he told TV Week. “The problem is that some people who don’t know him take him the wrong way, with some interesting consequences!”
Actor John Waters (pictured) stars in Network Ten’s new mini-series Which Way Home which debuts this week. Which Way Home is about American nurse Karen Parsons (Cybill Shepherd), who sets out with a small band of orphan children from a Thai refugee camp during the Cambodian conflict to find freedom in Australia. Waters plays Steve Hannah, an Australian charter boat captain who becomes a reluctant hero when he helps Karen and the children through their horrendous journey. So did Waters find it daunting working with such a high-profiled actress? “I don’t think so,” he says. “I’ve always found that once you get on the set, however many magazines you may have been in, or whatever your salary might be – and how much bigger than mine – it all comes down to doing the same thing.” He is also impressed by the team of Thai youngsters who played the orphans. “Some of the kids had actually been through boat-people experiences,” Waters said. “When you mention you’ve done a film with seven kids, some people say, ‘That must have been a nightmare’, but we were lucky. These kids were very forgiving of the demands made of them.” He also said that he has remained friends with the young cast members and they continue to stay in contact. Which Way Home is produced by Hal McElroy (Picnic At Hanging Rock, Return To Eden) and also stars Peta Toppano, John Ewart, Marc Gray, Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Andy Tran.
When former Good Morning Australia host Gordon Elliott (pictured) left Australian television four years ago, he had no idea of the impending industry blood-spilling he was escaping from. “I’m really lucky,” he told TV Week. “Many of my friends got a bad deal out of the television upheaval in Australia.” But despite the still-difficult state of the industry here, Elliott has returned to Australian TV as the host of Network Ten’s Hard Copy – although he is presenting it from Los Angeles. He is also juggling his Hard Copy commitments in LA with his regular hosting of Good Day, New York, which he does three days a week. The original US version of Hard Copy, a success for Rupert Murdoch’s Fox network, is a spin-off from the American version of A Current Affair, which Elliott was a reporter for. And Elliott points out that Hard Copy was actually developed by an Australian, Peter Brennan, and was in part inspired by the original Willesee current affairs shows of the 1970s. “Brennan developed it from there, and gave it more punch,” Elliott said.
TV Week columnist and Hey Hey It’s Saturday presenter Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum (pictured) has triggered an investigation by the FBI in the United States over a possible video piracy case. “I was at a record bar in LA checking things out when I saw this tape labelled The Interview Series: Madonna,” he said. “It was one I hadn’t heard of before and, being such a fan, I paid $26 for it and took it back to my hotel. I put it in the VCR – and there was me! The bulk of the tape was from two interviews I did with Madonna, plus stuff from Spanish and Japanese television and the American Today show. I was stunned.” Meldrum then contacted Madonna’s management company. “They were amazed – and furious,” he said. “Now they’ve got the FBI in on it, to track the bootleggers down.”
TV Week, in association with Coca-Cola and MCM Entertainment, has announced plans to stage an annual Australian Music Awards. The inaugural AMAs are to be held at Melbourne’s Congress Centre in November and televised to a national audience. The awards will be decided by the public – via voting coupons to be published in TV Week, giving readers more than 20 categories to decide Australia’s most popular artists, records and videos.
The ABC and the cast of Brides Of Christ have been celebrating the show’s recent ratings success. The series, a co-production between ABC and Roadshow, Coote and Carroll, has received the ABC’s highest ever ratings for a non-sports telecast.
Melbourne radio announcer Barry Bissell, celebrating ten years at Fox FM this month, admits that he has no ambitions to move into television. “I once did a TV pilot. It was like a Casey Kasem countdown, and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. TV doesn’t interest me,” he said.
John Laws says…
”Not even the most kindly disposed critic could describe the acting in soapies as memorable and, of course, no-one expects it to be, given the demands placed upon the actors – many of them inexperienced – to churn out so many hours of drama each week. Fine acting, though, can be found in some of the big-budget drama series, Nicole Kidman’s performance in Bangkok Hilton, Terry Gill’s crooked cop in Police Crop, Peter Strauss’ alcoholic psychiatrist in Tender Is The Night, and the late Ray McAnally’s left-wing Prime Minister in A Very British Coup. The performance, however, that ranks as the most electrifying for a long time has been that of Lisa Hensley as the young nun Veronica (pictured) in the ABC’s splendid Brides Of Christ series. It was a performance of depth, intelligence and humour from a young actress who I can’t recall seeing much of before, but who I am sure will be featuring in a great deal more on TV in years to come.”
Program Highlights (Melbourne, September 21-27):
Saturday: Seven presents highlights of today’s AFL Preliminary Final – then Larry Emdur (pictured), Teresa Linnane and Gerry Connolly are this week’s contestants on Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune. The Bayswater Roller Dancers are special guests on this week’s That’s Dancin’ (ABC).
Sunday: Ten crosses to the Sydney Football Stadium this afternoon for the Grand Final of the NSW Rugby League Winfield Cup, with commentators Graeme Hughes, Bill Anderson and Wayne Pearce. ABC presents live coverage of the VFA Grand Final from Princes Park, and Seven leads into the news with a two-hour special, That Was The Season That Was, reviewing the 1991 AFL season in the lead-up to the Grand Final next Saturday. Sunday night movies are Honey, I Shrunk The Kids (Seven) and Chances Are (Nine) up against the debut of two-part mini-series Which Way Home (Ten).
Monday: In A Country Practice (Seven), the developing relationship between Terence Elliott (Shane Porteous) and Lizzy Walker (Joanne Hunt) is threatened when her criminal boyfriend arrives in Wandin Valley. Seven then crosses to the Southern Cross Hotel, Melbourne, for the annual presentation of the Brownlow Medal to the league’s best and fairest player.
Tuesday: Beyond 2000 (Seven) presents a report on an ambitious American attempt at environmental restoration by rebuilding a river. In All Together Now (Nine), Bobby (Jon English) and Doug (Garry Who) are convinced Count Dracula is their new next door neighbour.
Wednesday: In Neighbours (Ten), Ramsay Street is rocked by a tragic shooting. In E Street (Ten), Sheridan (Kate Raison) makes a shocking discovery.
Thursday: It’s the reunion episode of The Flying Doctors (Nine) with former residents of Coopers Crossing make a return visit to boost morale in the town due to the recession – including guest appearances by Andrew McFarlane, Liz Burch, Rebecca Gibney, Terry Gill, Bruce Barry and George Kapiniaris. ABC presents a repeat screening of Andrew Denton’s chat-comedy show The Money Or The Gun.
Friday: Performer Rhonda Burchmore is this week’s guest on Burke’s Backyard (Nine). Just before midnight, Seven launches its annual Football Marathon, presenting six hours of memorable moments from the past 25 years of Australian Rules football, including past finals and grand finals.
Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 21 September 1991. Southdown Press