In a cinematic world where everything old is new again, it is easy to become disillusioned with Hollywood. Cashing in on the nostalgia of gen X, especially, seems to be the modus operandi of big-time producers. Remakes of classics (and remakes of classic remakes of classics) rake in box-office profits, aided by a cynical merchandising push that ensures the inculcation of a new generation of fans. But there is one series remake that rises above the others: Planet of the Apes. And its point of difference is Andy Serkis. The Briton, best known for playing Gollum in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, is a true pioneer of motioncapture technology. Philippa Hawker sits down with the ape-playing actor (Pages 12-13) to see what makes the master of therianthropy tick. The cream of Australia’s performing arts community will be on the edge of their red velvety seats on Monday night when the Helpmann Awards are announced at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre. Opera Australia and Sydney’s Belvoir are the big favourites, with 26 and 11 nominations respectively. The national opera company’s Julie Andrews-directed My Fair Lady scored nine nominations (one for the Mary Poppins star herself). Foxtel will again broadcast the event. It’s always a slick — if overlong — operation, made especially exciting in recent years by the advent of the Oscars-inspired seat fillers. It was only by accident last year I became aware of this glitzy development: returning from a trip to the foyer, I was surprised to find an infinitely better looking version of myself in my seat. The tux-donning adonis smilingly excused himself, and joined the small army of well-dressed models at the back of the theatre waiting to occupy any vacant real estate around the auditorium. On Monday night, however, there will be one nominee whose seat will remain empty for the entire evening: Cecil Beaton. The Oscar-winning English designer, whose costumes from the 1956 production of My Fair Lady were revived for the OA staging, is nominated in the best-costume category, despite his death, aged 76, in 1980. Lindy Hume’s Opera Queensland didn’t manage a nod at this year’s Helpmanns, but the outgoing artistic director will leave the post this year on her terms. Hume has a longstanding affiliation with regional arts, and today OperaQ hosts its annual push into the bush with Opera at Jimbour in the Western Downs region of Queensland. Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow, starring David Hobson and Emily Burke, will play at heritage-listed homestead Jimbour House. If you find yourself 300km west of Brisbane, on the road to Chinchilla, do drop in.