DIANNE BUT­LER

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Cover Story -

OFF­SPRING isn’t in bet­ter shape with­out Dr Chris and tele­vi­sion isn’t go­ing to be im­proved by the end of East West 101, an in­tense cop show where the word gritty could ac­tu­ally be le­git­i­mately de­ployed. The com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor here is Don Hany — pro­nounced Honey (not a co­in­ci­dence).

He’s now based him­self, will­ingly, in Los An­ge­les to fi­nally take ad­van­tage of a cou­ple of years of vis­its and con­tacts and call­backs.

‘‘ I’m sort of nav­i­gat­ing my way through this skir­mish of meet­ings and au­di­tions,’’ he says. ‘‘ It’s been a pos­i­tive few months here and so I’m stick­ing it out a bit longer.

‘‘ I’ve been com­ing back and forth and ev­ery time I’m here I recog­nise the op­por­tu­ni­ties that present them­selves and the pros and cons with them.

‘‘ You don’t get the chance to do some­thing like East West, but it’s funny how if your pro­file has an Amer­i­can cur­rency, it has a rip­ple ef­fect that’s global, whereas in Aus­tralia the work you do there . . . it doesn’t reg­is­ter on a lot of peo­ple. Which is such a shame be­cause, you know, East West is just one of the great shows we make in Aus­tralia.

‘‘ There are so many. Not all of them get seen on com­mer- cial TV, let alone by peo­ple over­seas. It’s kind of about op­por­tu­nity and I’ve kind of got to go where the work is.

‘‘ I’m here for a bit, but it’s in­def­i­nite. I’m just not sure what’s go­ing to hap­pen next.’’

So, does he just smile a lot? Whore him­self around?

‘‘ I do. I un­pack my heart, as Ham­let would say. But, you know, it’s funny,’’ he says.

‘‘ There’s a dif­fer­ent kind of re­spect for Aus­tralian ac­tors here. This is a town where the fever about Aus­tralians hasn’t di­min­ished, it seems to get stronger all the time.’’

Ex­hibit A: Si­mon Baker, cur­rently the high­est-paid ac­tor in a US tele­vi­sion drama. ‘‘ He’s a phe­nom­e­non, man. He’s a real movie star. He’s in­cred­i­ble,’’ Hany says.

‘‘ And funny you should men­tion him, we’ve got the same agent here, so he’s kind of pushed me into this TV direc­tion. Be­cause it’s true — if you build an au­di­ence in TV, then so much more be­comes avail­able to you.’’

Yes, even an in­signif­i­cant au­di­ence in the States is three, four, five mil­lion peo­ple . . .

‘‘ I know!’’ Hany says. ‘‘ Those shows you’re talk­ing about, the ones that win all the awards — Mad Men and Break­ing Bad — no one watches them. It’s no dif­fer­ent to back home.’’

He knows of which he speaks. East West 101 has had tiny au­di­ences, but won plenty of tro­phies. Its scope across the three se­ries has been am­bi­tious, but am­bi­tion ful­filled.

This fi­nal se­ries, as Hany puts it, is about the net ef­fect on our lives from the role that we’ve played in Afghanistan and Iraq and those two wars.

‘‘ There’s still an idea in Mus­lim, and also non-Mus­lim, com­mu­ni­ties that Is­lam is alien to Aus­tralia,’’ he says. ‘‘ I think Arab and Mus­lim are two con­cepts that largely Aus­tralians use syn­ony­mously. Peo­ple, I think, as­sume all Arabs are Mus­lim, and they’re clearly not.’’ East West 101 Wed­nes­day SBS 8.30pm

Net ef­fect:

has had tiny au­di­ences, but won plenty of tro­phies.

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