Auckland businessman Murray Bolton is behind a controversial reality television show set to be picked up by a Hollywood production company.
Bolton, who is an avid guitar collector and has homes in Remuera and Sanctuary Cove, spoke to The Diary from California yesterday.
He has joined forces with friend Martin Cleave, a reality television producer. The pair met on the show Rescue One. Bolton is the board chairman of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.
Paul Dodge, who worked with Julie Christie on TV show The Chair, has joined the pair as a silent partner in Bolton Productions. And ex-TVNZ programming boss Jane Wilson was briefly commissioned as a consultant.
They were in Cannes last month at MIP - a television content market - pitching their show, which has some questioning its morality.
The programme, called Find My Baby A Home, focuses on a group of couples in competition to win a baby. "It poses all sorts of ethical questions," a source said. "It can't fly."
Cleave is aware of the controversy. "It is one of those ideas that's so wrong, it could be so right," he told The Diary. "Yes, someone will win a baby."
He admitted the concept was tough for some to swallow. "Look, it was a very hard sell. The TV people struggled with the idea at first, until they saw our sizzle reel, and then they saw the emotional journey and the positive story."
Cleave said an adoption agency will select and screen a number of couples looking to adopt a child. Bolton Productions is not involved in that process.
"The couples selected will go to a retreat, like on The Bachelor or Survivor, and there is a judging panel who advise the pregnant mother on which couple she should choose to win her baby," he said.
The panel comprises the mother at full-term, her friends and family, a representative from the adoption agency and a psychiatrist.
It is hard to fathom: Win a baby on national television. Has reality TV come to this?
Dominic Bowden, the face of NZ Idol, was host on the Find My Baby A Home show reel.
Cleave said he was on the verge of inking a deal with a major American production company, which he declined to name.
"Everything will be done out of America. I'll be an executive producer."
Wilson was added to the team for her connections with international TV companies. She left TVNZ in April last year. Her role as programming boss at the state broadcaster remains unfilled.
PAUL HENRY'S SHOW SINKING
Paul Henry's Channel Ten Breakfast show is struggling. Another name has been added to the line-up in the hope of boosting the ratings.
Veteran newsreader Ron Wilson, 59, has joined Henry on the show - alongside Kath Robinson, Andrew Rochford and weather girl Magdalena Roze.
Wilson will read the news and sport (think Peter Williams) and the others will host. Robinson previously read the news from the couch.
The new addition is seen as a desperate attempt to save a sinking ship. Ten said it was a "tweak" to the show to boost ratings.
Henry, the highly paid drawcard, has failed to win over the Aussies. Channel 7's Sunrise reportedly has an audience of 313,578, whereas Henry's Breakfast has ratings of just 31,000.
SMALL GENE POOL
Mayor Len Brown made a series of passionate speeches in the nine-hour marathon debate over his $58 billion budget report on Wednesday.
Citizens and Ratepayers leader Chris Fletcher and right-leaning independent Cameron Brewer led the charge against Brown's vision. Brown dubbed them "do-nothing naysayers".
Fletcher and Brewer seem to be working closely these days, putting out joint statements and holding hushed conversations during debates.
It's a big thaw in what was once a frosty relationship. Brewer worked for John Banks, who'd kicked Fletcher out of office, and he stood against C&R to win their prized seat of Orakei.
Perhaps it's a case of blood being thicker than water. Fletcher and Brewer's great-grandmothers were sisters - such is the small gene pool that is New Zealand politics.
Lovely Bones star Rose McIvor has filmed an episode of hit show CSI and says working with Hollywood star Ted Danson was a highlight. "I know him from Curb your Enthusiasm, not Cheers, which really shows my age".
The 23-year-old Kiwi has also finished shooting two independent films. She told The Diary that Hollywood was thrilling, but she still gets homesick.
"It's exciting to be working here in the States, but I sure miss all the familiar faces on film sets back home," she said.
GOING FOR GOLD
TVNZ star Heather du Plessis-Allan, who is fronting the One News team at the Olympics, has hit the gym in preparation.
"I'm a little afraid of being surrounded by buffed and toned athletes so I've started my own training regime," she told The Diary. "I thought I was on fire with four sessions a week, until I found out the hockey men are already up to 12 sessions a week!"
She will be joined by Simon Dallow, Garth Bray, Paul Hobbs, Craig Stanaway and Irena Smith.