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Julia Billington celebrates diversity in Monica Zanetti’s ‘Ellie & Abbie’

Julia Billington

When Julia Billington was at the National Institute of Dramatic Art there was a tacit belief among sections of the screen industry that a gay actor could not come out.

“It wasn’t spoken about but it was an undercurrent, a hangover from the past decade,” she tells If. “If you were queer, you should keep it on the down-low.”

Since she graduated from Nida in 2008 clearly there has been growing acceptance of the Lgbtqi community, although it’s far from universal.

Citing the 38.4 per cent of respondents who voted no in the same sex marriage plebiscite in 2017, she says: “We can pat ourselves on the back but there is still a long way to go.”

Currently Billington is relishing playing Tara, a lesbian who died in the 1980s and is reincarnated as a fairy godmother in Monica Zanetti’s rom-com Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt).

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Marta Dusseldorp, Julia Billington star in Monica Zanetti’s gay rom-com

Top (l-r) Sophie Hawkshaw, Zoe Terakes; Bottom (l-r) Rachel House, Marta Dusseldorp.

As a teenager Monica Zanetti searched in vain for gay rom-coms which she could watch with her mother, while Neil Armfield’s same-sex romantic drama Holding the Man was a major influence.

That has inspired the writer-director to make her feature directing debut on Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt), which, unlike Armfield’s film has a happy ending.

Shooting in Sydney started today, starring Marta Dusseldorp, fellow Janet King alumni Julia Billington, Kiwi Rachel House, Zoe Terakes and newcomer Sophie Hawkshaw.

Zanetti adapted the screenplay from her eponymous play which was staged in 2017 at The Depot Theatre in Marrickville, her second feature credit after Jonnie Leahy’s 2014 drama Skip Deep.

Hawkshaw’s Ellie is 18 and struggling to find the courage to ask classmate Abbie (Terakes) to the formal. Luckily her aunt Tara (Billington), a lesbian who died in the 80s,
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North American deals for ‘Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears’, ‘Ms Fisher’ telepics

Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher.

Every Cloud ProductionsMiss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears will get a cinema release in the Us before premiering on the streaming service Acorn TV.

The Svod platform also acquired the four Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries telepics, which launch on the Seven Network at 8.30 pm on February 21.

Tony Tilse directed the feature film spin-off of the ABC series and novels by Kerry Greenwood, which stars Essie Davis, Rupert Penry-Jones, Nathan Page, Miriam Margolyes, Jacqueline McKenzie and Ashleigh Cummings.

Acorn TV, which is home to the Miss Fisher series, bought the film sight unseen from the distributor All3Media International and will book Us cinemas after the Australian distributor Roadshow sets its release date. It is the first deal for the movie, which is yet to be screened for international buyers.

“It’s a perfect marriage,” Fiona Eagger, who produced the film with Deb Cox,
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Acorn TV Boards ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries’ Spin-Offs – TCA

  • Deadline
Acorn TV has boarded two spin-offs of Australian period drama Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

The U.S. Svod service has taken the North American rights to Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries and feature film Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears.

The company has struck the deal with All3Media International and revealed the news at its TCA session.

The Modern Murder Mysteries series moves the setting to the 1960s. In 1964, when the famous aunt she never knew, Phryne Fisher, goes missing over the highlands of New Guinea, the gorgeously reckless Peregrine Fisher, played by Geraldine Hakewill, Wanted inherits a windfall. Peregrine sets out to become a world-class private detective in her own right with the unerring guidance of The Adventuresses’ Club, a group of exceptional women of which her celebrated aunt was a member. The series co-stars Joel Jackson (Deadline Gallipoli) as ambitious cop Detective James Steed and Catherine McClements (Wentworth) as Birdie,
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Fremantle raises the bar for blue-chip dramas

Chris Oliver-Taylor on the set of ‘Neighbours’.

Since taking the helm of Fremantle’s Asia Pacific operations last September, Chris Oliver-Taylor has been busy realigning the Australasian business.

Adhering to Fremantle’s global mantra as “the place creatives call home,” the CEO has significantly upped the drama development budget and is prepared to commission blind scripts, i.e., before a network is aboard.

Oliver-Taylor and his team led by Jennifer Collins, the Australian director of content, are discussing projects with a host of A-grade writers including Robert Connolly, Giula Sandler, Katherine Thomson, Tommy Murphy and Matt Cameron.

“We want to work with world-class writers, predominantly but not exclusively Australian,” he tells If in his first interview since moving over from Matchbox Pictures, succeeding Ian Hogg.

“The second part of the strategy is having great IP, whether it’s a book, a play or an original idea. The third is a strong financial strategy.
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Nicole Kidman, Simon Baker, Deborah Mailman to attend Aacta Awards

Nicole Kidman and Simon Baker.

Nicole Kidman, Simon Baker, Deborah Mailman, Bruce Beresford, Nash Edgerton, Celia Pacquola, Aaron Pedersen, Tina Bursill, Wayne Blair and Leah Purcell are among the nominees who will attend the 2018 Aacta Awards in Sydney on December 5.

Host Stephen Curry will be joined by an array of presenters including Rebecca Gibney, Marta Dusseldorp, Jack Thompson, Sigrid Thornton, Shane Jacobson, Rodger Corser, Erik Thomson, Nazeem Hussain, Kat Stewart, Julia Zemiro, Gina Riley, Jane Turner and Magda Szubanski.

Among other attendees at The Star Event Centre will be Phoebe Tonkin, Isabel Lucas, David Berry, Shaynna Blaze, Susie Porter, Nicole Da Silva, Daniel Henshall, Melina Vidler, Sara Wiseman, Ada Nicodemou, Gracie Otto, Matt Okine, Madeleine Madden and Lily Sullivan.

After wrapping his 8-month, 83-date ‘Nation of Two’ world tour, Vance Joy will perform, as will five-time Aria Award winner Katie Noonan in an ‘In Memoriam’ tribute.

Joel Edgerton and Simon
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Fremantle signs development and production deal with Marta Dusseldorp, hires Jono Gavin

Marta Dusseldorp.

Fremantle has signed an exclusive development and production partnership with Marta Dusseldorp, with her original ideas and projects to be developed and produced as part of the company’s drama slate.

Fremantle Anz CEO Chris Oliver-Taylor said: “We are incredibly excited that Marta is partnering with us at Fremantle to develop and produce her scripted projects. Marta has a unique and special combination of talent, creativity and foresight which we will embrace at Fremantle. Our scripted team, led by the remarkable Jo Porter, is striving to partner with the very best creatives, of which Marta most certainly is.”

Dusseldorp said: “I have always admired Jo Porter for her story telling intelligence and overwhelming commitment to Australian drama. She is one of the leading producers in the country making smart, unique and daring television. I am thrilled to be collaborating with her and the fabulous scripted team at Fremantle.
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Foxtel rebrands showcase as Fox Showcase, the streaming home of drama

‘Mr Inbetween’ (Photo: Mark Rogers).

Foxtel today launched Fox Showcase, a rebrand of the showcase drama channel, designated as the streaming home of the best drama from Australia and around the world.

One pillar of the new channel will be Foxtel Originals starting with Goalpost Pictures’ Fighting Season, which premieres at 8.30 pm on October 28, plus the seventh season of FremantleMedia Australia’s Wentworth and the second series of Matchbox PicturesSecret City: Under the Eagle.

Currently in post-production, Lingo Pictures’ four-part Lambs of God follows three nuns, each a generation apart, living in an isolated convent who are interrupted by an unwelcome visitor, a priest. Directed by Jeffrey Walker and written by Sarah Lambert, the show stars Anne Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale), Essie Davis (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries), Jessica Barden, Sam Reid, Damon Herriman, Sigrid Thornton, Kate Mulvany and John Bell.

Lingo Pictures will soon start shooting Upright,
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Isla Fisher takes out Aacta Trailblazer Award

Isla Fisher..

Aacta has named Isla Fisher as the recipient of this year.s Aacta Trailblazer Award, designed to recognise .the achievements, abilities and successes of an Australian screen practitioner who inspires others with their portfolio of work."

The Aacta Trailblazer Award is a discretionary award, determined by the board and president of AFI | Aacta..It was first awarded to Rose the 4th Aacta Awards.

After her start on Home and Away, Fisher broke in the States with 2005 comedyThe Wedding Crashers. She has since gone on to star in the likes of.Definitely, Maybe; Confessions of a Shopaholic;.and The Brothers Grimsby.alongside husband Sasha Baron Cohen. Despite being a self-described 'comic actress', Fisher has also appeared in.The Great Gatsby and the recent Nocturnal Animals.

Outside of acting, Fisher also published two teen novels at age 18; 'Bewitched' and 'Seduced by Fame'. She has also co-written two scripts
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Marta Dusseldorp returns with Season 4 of A Place to Call Home

The Australian period series A Place to Call Home has found a dedicated audience both at home and abroad thanks to its inventive multiple storylines, great writing and the presence of the gifted Marta Dusseldorp as the series lead. Set in the fifties, and shot with an eye to the natural beauty of the rustic outback of Oz, the show tackles the zeitgeist of that not so long ago time when racism, sexism and intolerance was simply part of the social fabric, a normal part of everyday life. There’s a lot going on in Inverness, the small village to more
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Production begins on third season of Janet King

Marta Dusseldorp as Janet King..

The third season of Screentime.s ABC drama Janet King, starring Marta Dusseldorp, goes into production this week.

Joining the established cast of Damian Walshe-Howling, Peter Kowitz, Christopher Morris, Andrea Demetriades, Anita Hegh and Hamish Michael for the third instalment will be Don Hany, Robert Mammone, Susie Porter, Andrew Ryan, Huw Higginson, John Bach, Steve Le Marquand, Arka Das and Adam Demos.

This season, Janet will confront .a hornet.s nest of illegal gambling, organised crime and money laundering, while investigating the tragic death of a young sports star..

Written by Greg Haddrick, Felicity Packard, and Niki Aken with Alexa Wyatt as writer/script producer, the season will be directed by Peter Andrikidis, Grant Brown and Catherine Millar.

Janet King is produced by Karl Zwicky and Lisa Scott with Hilary Bonney and Marta Dusseldrop as associate producers. Screentime.s Haddrick, ABC.s Sally Riley and Kym Goldsworthy are executive producers.
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Janet King returns for a third series

Marta Dusseldorp as Janet King.

The ABC has given the greenlight to a third season of Janet King, with shooting expected to begin in the second half of this year..

The show stars Marta Dusseldorp and is produced by Karl Zwicky, and is made with the financial assistance of Screen Nsw, with Dcd Rights handling international sales. . .

Screentime.s Greg Haddrick and the ABC.s Kym Goldsworthy and Alastair McKinnon are executive producers, with Hilary Bonney and Dusseldorp as associate producers.

.We are delighted to have audience favourite Marta Dusseldorp bring her immense talents back for a third season of thrilling drama in Janet King", ABC TV.s Acting Head of Fiction Alastair McKinnon said.

Screentime.s Head of Drama Greg Haddrick commented that .Janet King has been embraced by audiences and critics alike, and we look forward to her continued quest for justice with an innate ability to unravel
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Andrew Knight on Jack Irish: "I'm really pleased with it"

Guy Pearce and Roy Billing in Jack Irish.

Asked how he's doing after a whirlwind year, screenwriter Andrew Knight is characteristically understated:.

"I'm alive and trying to construct a breakfast at the moment".

In between film work last year, Knight wrote new seasons of Rake and Jack Irish simultaneously, a process he calls "a blur"..

The new Jack.begins this Thursday - a six-part series instead of the earlier telemovies.

Knight calls the change "liberating"..

"We had more time to tell a story. The hard part was working out where everything would fall. We had an overall story, but assigning things episodically was a constant trade-off and shifting game"..

"I worked closely with the other two writers, Matt Cameron and Andrew Anastasios. The three of us would go away and write our bits, then we'd come back and say - that needs to move, this needs to shift"..

"If you're just writing a tele-movie,
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X Factor winner Cyrus to perform live at Aacta Awards

X Factor winner Cyrus will perform live on the red carpet at this year's Aacta Awards.

Rachel Griffiths and Teresa Palmer have also been anounced as presenters at tonight's ceremony at The Star Event Centre in Sydney.

Griffiths and Palmer will join guests and presenters including Mel Gibson, Radha Mitchell, nominee Patrick Brammall, Stephen Peacocke, Magda Szubanski, Megan Gale and Home and Away's Georgie Parker and Bonnie Sveen.

A highlight of the show will be the presentation of Australia.s highest screen award, the Aacta Longford Lyell Award, to Cate Blanchett..

Hugo Weaving (nominated for his performance in The Dressmaker) and Richard Roxburgh will present the Award, with a tribute from Gillian Armstrong and filmed tributes from Martin Scorsese, Robert Redford, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Ron Howard.

In a record-breaking year for Australian films at the local box office, anticipation around who will take home a golden statuette is hot.
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Mel Gibson to present at Aacta Awards

Mel Gibson is set to present at the 5th Aacta Awards in Sydney next week.

Gibson, who is currently filming World War II film Hacksaw Ridge in Nsw, will be joined by Manu Feildel, Magda Szubanski, Megan Gale, Erik Thomson, and Brenton Thwaites.

Emma Freedman will host the show.s red carpet.

Birds of Tokyo and UK dance group Rudimental will also perform live at the Ceremony..

Since releasing their debut album Home in 2013 (which sold over half a million copies) Rudimental has received a swag of Awards, including a Brit Award for Best British Single for .Waiting All Night...

Justice Crew recently recorded the Aacta Awards Ceremony show opener on location in Sydney off the back of their brand new single, Good Time; a rhythmic urban track written by Dante Jones and Andrew Bolooki..

The show opener also features top favourite TV talent including Mandy McElhinney, Home and Away
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Docklands Studios wraps filming on three productions

Tomorrow When The War Began has finished filming at Dockland Studios and is scheduled for ABC viewing next year.

John Marsden.s popular stories of teenagers, who return from a camping trip to learn that their country has been invaded by a foreign power, will star Molly Daniels ( Skitting Me, The Librarians) as Ellie and Jon Prasida (Hiding) as Lee..

They will be joined by Deborah Mailman, Sibylla Budd, James Stewart and Alison Bell.

Also shot at Docklands Studios, Aquarius Film.s The Berlin Syndrome, is now in post-production..

The film, directed by Cate Shortland and based on the novel of the same name by Australian writer Melanie Joosten, was shot at the Studios following a period on location in Berlin..

A psychological thriller, The Berlin Syndrome examines the themes of obsession, captivity and truth as a young Australian photojournalist, Clare (Teresa Palmer) meets a charismatic stranger, Andi
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A Place to Call Home delivers for Foxtel

The premiere of season 3 of A Place to Call Home on Foxtel's SoHo has attracted a a consolidated cumulative audience of 500,000 viewers.

According to OzTam figures, that ranks as the third most watched drama series in subscription TV history, trailing Game of Thrones and Wentworth.

The Sunday September 27 broadcast of A Place to Call Home scored. an overnight consolidated audience of 255,000, the most watched program ever on SoHo and the fourth most popular series on pay TV this year behind Game of Thrones, Selling Houses Australia and The Flash.

The figures vindicate the decision by Foxtel executive director of television Brian Walsh to commission two series of the Seven Productions show created by Bevan Lee after the Seven Network elected not to renew it..

Walsh said: .We are knocked out by this outstanding result. It is a timely reminder that Australians love great Australian story telling and quality drama which is well conceived,
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Janet King starts production

Janet King season 2 begins production this week with Marta Dusseldorp reprising her lead role.

In the second series, King is seconded from the Dpp to lead a Royal Commission into a deadly upsurge in gun crime..

King is joined by conscripting solicitors Richard Stirling (Hamish Michael) and Lina Badir (Andrea Demetriades), and the ambitious Owen Mitchell (Damian Walshe-Howling) as Counsel Assisting.

With coercive powers Detective Andy Campbell (Christopher Morris) can only dream of, King and her team peel back the complex layers of intrigue underpinning the illicit trade in weapons..

Completing the cast are Peter Kowitz, Leah Purcell, Terry Serio, Philip Quast, Anita Hegh, Aaron Jeffrey, Genevieve Hegney, Nicholas Hope and Ewen Leslie.

The series is produced by Screentime, a Banijay Group company, and series produced by Karl Zwicky, produced by Lisa Scott, with Hilary Bonney and Marta Dusseldorp as associate producers, and Greg Haddrick as executive producer..

It is written by Haddrick,
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The luck of the Irish for Darcy-Smith

Based in the Us for the past three years, Kieran Darcy-Smith had not seen the Jack Irish telepics when he was offered the gig as set-up director of the spin-off series starring Guy Pearce as a former criminal lawyer turned private investigator and debt collector.

After watching the telepics and reading the scripts for the 6-part ABC series by Andrew Knight, Matt Cameron and Andrew Anastasios, Darcy-Smith readily agreed.

In his first TV drama assignment, the director whose breakthrough was Wish You Were Here is directing two episodes and Mark Joffe and Daniel Nettheim are each helming two. Essential Media and Entertainment.s Ian Collie is the series producer.

.The scripts are sensational; this is as good as TV drama gets,. Kieran tells If as shooting is underway in Melbourne to be followed by a week in the Philippines. .I am working with the A-team..

The plot is under wraps so Darcy-Smith is circumspect,
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Five drama commissions from ABC

ABC TV has confirmed new series of. Janet King, Rake, Jack Irish, The Code and The Doctor Blake Mysteries.

Marta Dusseldorp will star in the second series of Janet King, Richard Roxburgh returns as Cleaver Greene in the fourth series of Rake and Guy Pearce stars in a six-part series based on the crime novels by Peter Temple in Jack Irish: The Series, a spin-off of the three telepics. Craig McLachlan returns as. Dr Lucien Blake in the fourth outing of The Doctor Blake Mysteries, together with Nadine Garner as his housekeeper Jean Beazley. Dan Spielman and Ashley Zuckerman are back for the second season of The Code. ABC Head of Fiction Carole Sklan said: .ABC TV is very happy to be able to bring back this collection of hugely entertaining, favourite dramas. They feature such a wonderful, eclectic mix of indelible characters.. Head of Programming Brendan Dahill said: .This
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