OUT BOX OF THE
Underbelly seeks Chopper
ERIC Bana (right) is being courted for a key role in the second series of Underbelly. Series two, which focuses on Vince Colosimo’s Alphonse Gangitano during the 1970s and ’80s, starts shooting in Sydney in the middle of next month. Casting has begun, however stars from series one, including Les Hill, Callan Mulvey, Rodger Corser, Damian WalsheHowling, Kevin Harrington, Caroline Gilmer, Gyton Grantley and Martin Sacks, are all believed to have missed out. The real-life Melbourne crime story will be filmed mainly in Sydney for logistical reasons, though future series will return to Melbourne. Tony Tilse, Grant Brown, Shawn Seet and Ken Cameron are directing, and Melbourne’s Kris Mrksa has joined Peter Gawler, Greg Haddrick and Felicity Packard on the writing team. The lifting of a legal ban has opened the way for the first five (edited) episodes of Underbelly to screen in Victoria, starting on Sunday.
MELISSA Tkautz (below), Amanda Keller and Kirsty Lee Allan star in a new SBS comedy series from the team behind Fat Pizza. Shot in Sydney this year, the nine-part comedy was written, directed by and stars Paul Fenech. Swift and Shift Couriers centres on life at a city courier company with each episode following the incompetent couriers as they go about their deliveries. It is expected to premiere next month.
Real escape artists
CHANNEL 7 has picked up a 10-part series investigating spectacular jailbreaks from Australia, Britain, the US and New Zealand. From Sydney-based Southern Star producer Micah Hewson, Real Prison Breaks is narrated by British actor Sean Bean, and looks at the Hollywood-style escape by John Killick from Sydney’s Silverwater prison in 1999 after his lover Lucy Dudko hijacked a helicopter; the murderous rampage that preceded the escape of American rapist Brian Nichols in 2005; Britain’s biggest ever escape involving 38 IRA members from Northern Ireland’s notorious Maze prison in 1983; and the 2006 escape from Sydney’s Long Bay jail of Robert Cole, who lost 14kg to squeeze through the prison bars. The series premieres this month on Britain’s ITV.
Ray returns for a few laughs
RAY Martin returns to the small screen as a regular guest on a new Comedy Channel series from radio stars Merrick Watts and Tim Ross. In an attempt to channel the energy found in live comedy and to keep the subject matter topical, The Merrick and Rosso Show will be filmed before a studio audience two days before it screens. Other regular guests include Ian Thorpe and Sophie Monk. The series premieres at 8.30pm on October 2.
Concrete jungle monkeys
FILMING starts next month on The Urban Monkey, a 10-part short-form comedy series for the ABC starring Triple J’s weekend breakfast host, Melbourne comedian Sam Simmons. Executive produced by Jason Burrows of Sydney company Jungleboys, the series spoofs 1980s bush adventurers (think Alby Mangels) and draws comparisons between animal behaviour and that found in the human world. Trent O’Donnell is directing.
Holidays road tested
FRANKIE J. Holden, Lara Bingle, Sam Riley, Laura Csortan and Scott McGregor are among the celebrities road-testing resorts in a new series of Holidays for Sale screening on Nine from September 21. The four-part series is hosted by Gorgi Quill, replacing Shelley Craft, who is busy filming Domestic Blitz and Australia’s Funniest Home Videos.
Animals on set
CAST and crew of the ABC drama series East of Everything have been trained to deal with hazards presented by the local wildlife after several surprise encounters on the Byron Bay set. The latest involved star Richard Roxburgh (left) and a baby brown snake. The sevenpart second series, which began filming last month, promises a birth, a death and more laughs than the first. It will screen on ABC1 next year.
Knight Rider kits up again
CHANNEL 7 has scheduled fresh episodes of US dramas including Prison Break and Heroes, along with the contemporary remake of Knight Rider, a few weeks after they screen in the US. Knight Rider stars Justin Bruening as Mike Tracer, the son of series original Michael Knight, and the original star David Hasselhoff makes a cameo appearance in the movie-length premiere. Prison Break series four began in the US on September 1, with the brothers finally free and seeking revenge on The Company. The third season of Heroes and Knight Rider screen there later this month.