Open sea­son

Good­bye Kim Craig, hello Gina Ri­leyano. Co­me­dian Gina Ri­ley tells ANNA BRAIN how her ob­ses­sion with The Real Housewives of Mel­bourne be­came a comedic re­al­ity.

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - NEWS -

WHEN co­me­dian Gina Ri­ley watched

The Real Housewives of Mel­bourne (“I’m ob­sessed, ob­sessed!” she says), one char­ac­ter stood out. It was Gina Liano, the bar­ris­ter with huge hair and for­mi­da­ble drag-queen style.

“Some­times you watch a show and think, ‘Yes, I could do that, I know the essence of that per­son’,” Ri­ley says. “And of course the look is so mag­nif­i­cent.”

In a cloud of spray tan and with some clever wig work, her al­ter ego, Gina Ri­leyano, was born. The char­ac­ter is one of many to ap­pear on Fox­tel’s

new sketch com­edy, Open Slather. Pro­duced by Rick McKenna ( Kath & Kim) and Laura Wa­ters ( We Can Be

He­roes), it brings an old gang to a new show with a big ask – to make an hour of sketch com­edy each week, for 20 weeks.

“We’ve al­ways said we’d love to do an­other sketch show, so be care­ful what you wish for,” Ri­ley, whose ar­guably most iden­ti­fi­able role came as the inim­itable Kim Craig on cult Aussie com­edy Kath & Kim, says. The cast re­unites sev­eral of Ri­ley’s

Fast For­ward co­hort, in­clud­ing Jane Turner, Magda Szuban­ski, Marg Downey, Glenn Rob­bins and Michael Veitch. New to the group are Stephen Curry and Shane Ja­cob­son, and there’s a solid list of up-and­com­ers, such as Emily Ta­heny ( Mad As Hell) round­ing out the num­bers.

“Rick had this idea that maybe it’s time to do a sketch show, but get re­ally

fan­tas­tic young guns to do it,” Ri­ley says. “And get the old clacks in as well, we can do all our party pieces.”

While she won’t name names, Ri­ley con­firms that some old favourite char­ac­ters will make a come­back in Open

Slather. In ad­di­tion to play­ing the cos­tume-in­ten­sive Gina Ri­leyano (“it takes a vil­lage to get me done”), she’ll also take on would-be US Pres­i­dent Hil­lary Clin­ton.

“My Hil­lary [im­pres­sion] is all right, it needs a lit­tle work. I’m just get­ting the wig right and all that. Oh my god we’re ob­sessed with wigs, to­tally. A good wig goes a long way.”

Ri­ley has been ab­sent from our screens for a cou­ple of years, last seen in 2012’s Kath & Kimderella. In March 2013, she re­leased a state­ment to an­nounce she was un­der­go­ing treat­ment for breast can­cer, urg­ing oth­ers to get a check-up, “prefer­ably by a health pro­fes­sional”.

“I know when­ever I read of other women find­ing breast can­cer I want to know, how it was found and were there any warn­ing signs?” the state­ment read.

“The can­cer has been found early and is treat­able and for that I feel lucky and grate­ful. I am be­ing looked af­ter by an amaz­ing med­i­cal team.”

An in­tensely pri­vate per­son, Ri­ley made it known she would not com­ment on her ill­ness again. Though she is an ex­tro­verted per­former, she says be­ing her­self in public “doesn’t come nat­u­rally to me”.

“My ca­reer is one thing, I’m a char­ac­ter ac­tor, I’ve come to re­alise that’s what I am. I write and I’m a char­ac­ter ac­tor. And I don’t like be­ing my­self in public. I feel like they’re two very sep­a­rate things, and I feel very happy with that.”

Though she’s get­ting back to her com­edy roots, Ri­ley’s work­ing life is also headed in an ex­cit­ing new di­rec­tion. She is cur­rently film­ing ABC drama A Beau­ti­ful Lie, a con­tem­po­rary re-imag­in­ing of Leo Tol­stoy’s Anna Karen­ina.

“I re­ally wanted to broaden what I’m do­ing and work with some other peo­ple. Kath & Kim took up 12 or 13 years of my life com­pletely, pro­duc­ing and cre­at­ing.

“This came up and I’m in the mid­dle of do­ing it, it’s been such an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s real act­ing, no wigs. No wigs!

“I’m kind of up for all new ex­pe­ri­ences, which is the great thing about Open Slather. We can come and do our party bits, then have a week off to do some­thing else. I’m lov­ing that as­pect of it.”

OPEN SLATHER

TONIGHT, 7.30PM, COM­EDY CHAN­NEL

Sketchy: Shane Ja­cob­son,

Magda Szuban­ski, Glenn Rob­bins, Gina Ri­ley and Michael Veitch will line

up the laughs in

OpenSlather.

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