John Howard and Kerry Armstrong head back to SeaChange

John Howard and Kerry Armstrong head back to SeaChange

May 12, 2019

Familiar faces in SeaChange reboot

Nine's new version of SeaChange has begun to take shape, with the announcement last week that original cast members John Howard (Bob Jelly), Kerry Armstrong (the long-suffering Heather Jelly) and Kevin Harrington (Kev) would be joining Sigrid Thornton (Laura Gibson) in the reboot. They will be joined by Brooke Satchwell, Dan Wyllie, Darren McMullen, Katrina Milosevic, Ella Newton, Kate Lister and Alex Tarrant. The reboot takes up the story 20 years later, with Laura returning to the close-knit yet eccentric community of Pearl Bay. It will be filmed in Byron Bay (in the original the seaside scenes were shot at Barwon Heads near Melbourne) with original co-creator and co-writer Deb Cox serving as executive producer alongside Thornton, Fiona Eager, ITV's David Mott and Nine’s Andy Ryan and Jo Rooney. Lois Randall is producer with Wayne Blair as set-up director.

Kevin Harrington, John Howard and David Wenham in a scene from the original SeaChange.

Downton across the pond

HBO has picked up the rights to The Gilded Age from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. Set in 19th-century America, the 10-episode series is about ambition, envy and love amid immensely wealthy families who wield social and political influence. It was originally to air on NBC. Casting is yet to be announced.

Penfold signs off

With a suitcase full of stories – from Cyclone Tracy in 1974 to the inauguration of President Donald Trump, via visits to the Queen at Windsor Castle – veteran foreign correspondent Robert Penfold is stepping back from full-time duties, Nine news director Darren Wick announced last week. He will remain in Los Angeles and continue to work on a part-time basis as a special reporter and journalism tutor.

Fresh showing for World Movies

Free TV has a new/old channel, with the rebirth of SBS World Movies on July 1 on the digital channel 32. The 24-hour channel will feature a range of international movies, including European art-house, Bollywood and anime, at least half of which will be in languages other than English. In effect, this is a relaunch of the subscription movie channel once carried by various pay-TV operators, which was shuttered in January 2018. It will be available in HD on the channel that currently carries the standard definition broadcast of SBS Viceland.

Back on the case

From the everything old is new again files comes the casting of Matthew Rhys in a reboot of Perry Mason, alongside Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) and screen and stage veteran John Lithgow. According to Variety, Lithgow will play Elias Birchard “E.B.” Jonathan, a personal attorney at the nadir of his career and a semi-regular employer of Rhys's iconic investigator Perry Mason. Robert Downey jnr was originally set to play Mason in the limited HBO series, but stood aside for scheduling reasons. Tim van Patten (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire) will direct and executive produce the series. Rhys is best known for playing spy Philip Jennings in six seasons of The Americans.

Sweet for Thornton

Two years after winning a standing ovation and jury prize at the Venice Film Festival, as well as a string of local awards, Warwick Thornton has won the top gong at the Australian Directors Guild Awards for his film Sweet Country. Indigenous filmmakers dominated several categories, with nods to Rachel Perkins for the ABC drama Mystery Road, Paul Damien Williams for the documentary feature Gurrumul and Nicholas Verso for the NITV children's drama Grace Beside Me. Jeffrey Walker won best direction in a mini-series or telefeature for the ABC gay rights drama Riot. In the TV categories, Cian O'Clery won for the ABC's Employable Me, Colin Cairnes for the Nine comedy True Story With Hamish and Andy and actor-director Scott Major for Ten's Neighbours.

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