Vision-impaired Kiwi takes to London stage to star in one-woman opera

It's an all Kiwi affair with Joanne Roughton-Arnold's composer and director also coming from NZ. Source: Breakfast


Cast for TV adaptation of Kiwi writer's Booker Prize winning The Luminaries named

The lead cast members in the BBC drama adaption of Eleanor Catton's Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries have been revealed, with NZ actor Marton Csokas taking a main role. 

Csokas will join play Francis Carver in the television version of the book, BBC Two has confirmed.

He will join Eva Green, who will take on the role of Lydia Wells, and Eve Hewson, who will play Anna Wetherell.

The six-part adaptation of the story - a Victorian mystery tale set during the New Zealand gold rush - was originally announced in 2016.

Catton adapted her own novel for the screenplay and the series will be directed by Australian film-maker Claire McCarthy.

The New Zealand author became the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker Prize - aged 28 - when The Luminaries won in 2013.

The 832-page book was also the longest work to win in the prize's history.

The Luminaries.


Watch: Will Smith marks 50th birthday with bungee jump out of helicopter into Grand Canyon

Like a scene out of a high-octane action movie that he would star in, Will Smith celebrated his 50th birthday today by successfully bungee jumping from a helicopter near the Grand Canyon.

Cameras, which captured the stunt for a livestream on YouTube , showed the actor hooked to a harness and bungee cords dangling over a gorge in northeastern Arizona.

"This is some of the most beautiful stuff I've ever seen in my life," Smith said while still swinging over the chasm.

He described the experience as going "from pure terror to absolute bliss".

The entire event had the feel of a polished episode of reality TV. Camera crews showed Smith, wife Jada Pinkett Smith and his three children being greeted by dozens of relatives and friends on a platform.

His Fresh Prince of Bel-Air co-star, Alfonso Ribeiro, served as a host interviewing Smith and others before and after.

The stunt was billed as a leap "in the heart of the Grand Canyon". But the jump was outside Grand Canyon National Park on the Navajo Nation. The tribe's reservation borders the east rim of the national park.

A Navajo medicine man gave Smith a blessing and thanked him for coming to the reservation.

Smith said the bungee jump was a challenge from Yes Theory, a YouTube channel that makes videos of people doing activities outside of their comfort zone.

But the event also raised money for charity through an online lottery for a chance to watch the jump in person. The proceeds will benefit access to education for children in struggling countries.

Smith used the stunt to fundraise for education for children in struggling countries. Source: Will Smith / YouTube



Flight of the Conchords use US TV appearance to ask Jacinda Ardern if she'll have them for dinner

New Zealand comedy folk band Flight of the Conchords have used an appearance on a US late night talk show to ask the Prime Minister if they can come round for dinner.

The pair, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote an upcoming HBO special.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will appear on the show tomorrow, after appearing on the Today show earlier this week, and host Stephen Colbert asked the pair what he should ask her.

"Why don't you ask her if we can come round for dinner, maybe at her place," said McKenzie.

"You're bringing people together," he told Stephen Colbert.

The host then asked about the Prime Minister's house, which the pair described as "nice".

"It used to be a preschool," said McKenzie. "And my brother went there for preschool....then they turned it into the Prime Minister's house.

"It's down the road from where I grew up."

As well as unveiling a new song, the pair discussed their lives since the end of their US show in 2009, including having children.

"He's got a few, and I've got one, but together we've got two each, I guess." Clement told the show.

Colbert noted that the pair don't seem that interested in fame, and asked if they can walk around in New Zealand without being recognised.

It's only tourists who notice them, according to McKenzie.

"If someone lights up when they see us, you know they're foreign," Clement added.

Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement used an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, who will interview Jacinda Ardern this week, to make a request of the prime minister. Source: YouTube / The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

'Lights, camera, action' soon as isolated Otago community hosts $300m Disney remake of Mulan

Hollywood heavyweight Disney has settled into an isolated part of North Otago for a $300 million live-action remake of the 1990s animation Mulan, creating a big buzz for locals. 

The movie is being partly filmed in the Ahuriri Valley, near Omarama, and is set to inject millions into the economy.

An entire city is emerging on the edge of one of the country's most scenic sights.

But getting a closer look at the set of Mulan is problematic, with security tight, and even residents in Omarama are being kept in the dark.

"Some people, they come in and they say, 'it's top secret and they can't really talk about it'," said a local shopkeeper.

That's still not enough to stop it being the talk of the town.

"Lots of ice creams. They've been great for business," said a woman scooping ice cream in her shop.

Another woman said: "The town is absolutely buzzing. It's so, so good for Omarama to have all these people around." 

Originally an animation, this Disney film is directed Kiwi Niki Caro of Whale Rider fame and stars martial arts actor Jet Li. 

It has a reported budget of $300 million and is set to be lucrative for the regional economy too. The Waitaki District Council estimates $13 million will be injected locally.

Although tucked away in the Ahuriri Valley, business owners in Omarama are smiling.

"I was talking to a guy the other day who was organising beds and they had to find 800 beds between here and Twizel and Otamatata. It's definitely positive," said a local man.

The council says the producers have paid a bond to cover removing all buildings, structures and gravel should the area of the set not be returned to the same or a better condition, when filming wraps up in a few months.

The movie is due for release in March 2020.

Disney’s remake of Mulan is being partly filmed in the Ahuriri Valley. Source: 1 NEWS