Mark loves a spin-of f

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page - COLIN VICK­ERY

SKETCH com­edy se­ries The Wedge wasn’t what you’d call a hit with ei­ther crit­ics or view­ers.

It had a tal­ented cast— in­clud­ing Ja­son Gann, Adam Zwar, Rebel Wil­son, Cal Wil­son and Damian Callinan— but it wasn’t up to Fast For­ward stan­dard.

Its sec­ond se­ries was de­layed and then rel­e­gated to a grave­yard Sun­day slot be­fore be­ing axed.

Trou­bled sports star Mark Wary was The Wedge’s most pop­u­lar char­ac­ter, prompt­ing its cre­ator, Ja­son Gann, to de­velop a Mark Wary spin-off.

The re­sult­ing sit­com, Mark Loves Sharon, was a mod­est rater for Chan­nel 10 early this year. There’s no ques­tion, how­ever, that Mark Loves Sharon’s prospects were hurt by the gen­er­ally poor au­di­ence re­sponse to the last sea­son of The Wedge.

In the sit­com spin-off, Gann kept Wary’s man­ager Jerry Da­bel­stein (Dailan Evans) and in­tro­duced girl­friend Sharon Met­calf (Abby Meates), as well as her friends Chrys­tal and Beth (Kylie Gul­liver and Saskia Ham­pele) and Wary’s off­siders Sledge and Tomo (ShaunAn­gus Hall and Tim O’Dwyer).

‘‘ The Wedge had a lot of fans, but it also had its fair share of de­trac­tors,’’ Gann says.

‘‘(Be­cause of that) there were a fair few peo­ple bag­ging the show ( Mark Loves Sharon) be­fore they’d seen it, but I just had to have faith that it was go­ing to be good and that I could turn those peo­ple around.

‘‘The char­ac­ter was one I wanted to know more about. In the sec­ond se­ries of The Wedge I took him away from the press con­fer­ence sit­u­a­tion by hav­ing him go­ing to jail and to re­hab.

‘‘I found my­self start­ing to care for Mark and want­ing to know more, but he just seemed to be jammed be­tween dis­pos­able sketches. I re­ally wanted to show the truth of this guy.’’

Gann says he is de­vel­op­ing two new shows, but it is the op­por­tu­nity to make a sec­ond se­ries of Mark Loves Sharon that is at the top of his list.

‘‘We re­ally need to do at least an­other six episodes to tell the rest of Mark’s story. The show has been em­braced by a lot of peo­ple. Look at shows like Se­in­feld. It took about three sea­sons be­fore it re­ally found its au­di­ence,’’ he says.

The creators of Kath & Kim were able to sell the in­ter­na­tional rights to their comic cre­ation and Gann is hop­ing he can do the same with Mark Loves Sharon and Wil­fred, the cult SBS com­edy in which Gann played a talk­ing dog.

Gann has just re­turned from the MIPCOM TV fes­ti­val in Cannes, where he met pro­duc­ers in­ter­ested in for­mat rights.

‘‘With the world­wide re­ces­sion, com­edy is the or­der of the day,’’ Gann says.

The first se­ries of Mark Loves Sharon has just been re­leased on DVD and Gann is in ne­go­ti­a­tions for a sec­ond se­ries.

Joke jock: Ja­son Gann as trou­bled sports star Mark Wary.

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