The Diary
Rachel Glucina looks at the top events and newsmakers of the day.

The Diary: From Westie to estate agent

Robyn Malcolm comedy explores Kiwis' love of property.

Robyn Malcolm, with Roy Billing and Adam Gardiner, works as a real estate agent in Agent Anna. Photo / TVNZ
Robyn Malcolm, with Roy Billing and Adam Gardiner, works as a real estate agent in Agent Anna. Photo / TVNZ

Buying and selling property is arguably our second favourite pastime after rugby and actress Robyn Malcolm, 47, is riding the wave with her new television show Agent Anna.

The six-episode comedy series, about a divorced real estate agent from Mt Roskill trying to resurrect her life and make a buck, premieres on TV One on January 31.

Malcolm said Kiwis' relationship with money and obsession with real estate has always fascinated her, as has the bad reputation agents receive. "It seems to me that the occupational hazard is simply the fact that the commission drives everything. "Money drives everything. This means that anybody is capable of becoming the shark," she said.

The concept for the show stemmed from Malcolm who pitched it to production company Great Southern Television, makers of hit series Million Dollar Catch, The Apprentice and Rescue One.

They were awarded $1,359,850 from NZ On Air to make the series, and Malcolm holds an associate producer credit.

"I was, to a limited degree, involved with the development of the scripts which I absolutely loved. I've been wanting to learn more about the pre-shoot part of television production and this was a great place to start," Malcolm said.

Great Southern producer Rachel Gardner says the comedy series follows our love of real estate, but dislike of real estate agents. She says the characters are humorous and their stories will resonate well with Kiwis.

"We all have horror stories about the houses that got away, houses we paid too much for or sold for too little and the agents who ripped us off," Malcolm said.

Her return to the small screen heralds both a switch in networks and a new vehicle with which to drive her local TV career.

Outrageous Fortune, the show that made her a household name in New Zealand and collected her a gaggle of gongs, was a firm fixture on rival TV3 - until producers from South Pacific Pictures, makers of the show, pulled the plug on the hit series after six seasons.

The cancellation was alleged to stem from disagreements with the cast on contract negotiations and union demands. The production company created a new telly series, The Blue Rose, starring Outrageous actresses Siobhan Marshall and Antonia Prebble, which premieres next month on TV3.

If Malcolm was miffed, she didn't show it. She got the last laugh. The actress filmed the comedy series Upper Middle Bogan for Australia's ABC network in Melbourne where she plays the matriarch of a bogan family keen on drag racing. Sound familiar?

However, it's Agent Anna which will rightfully return Malcolm home to Kiwi primetime television.

TVNZ executive Andrew Shaw predicts a big hit for the network. "Agent Anna is a funny and heart-felt New Zealand comedy starring one of the country's most loved actresses among a fine cast." Tellingly, it is as much about a woman resurrecting her life as it is Malcolm resurrecting her primetime career.

A special family affair
The investiture ceremony for Paul Holmes this afternoon at his Hawkes Bay home will be a celebration with friends and family, his wife Deborah told The Diary. "Paul is really honoured and excited, and it's nice everyone will be there. We're looking forward to it."

The knighthood proceedings, at 2pm today, were brought forward because of Holmes' ailing health. His children, Millie and Reuben, will lead about 150 friends and family members in the celebration, including media colleagues from Newstalk ZB and TVNZ.

Prime Minister John Key paid homage to the broadcaster, telling The Diary the acknowledgement holds even more significance now. "He's an incredible New Zealander going through a tough time and that makes this honour even more special."

Get over yourself
Riding the wave of Ben Affleck's Golden Globe success, New Zealand's "golden boy" actor/director Taika Waititi took to Twitter yesterday to make a tongue-in-cheek comparison. "As the Ben Affleck of New Zealand I'd like to say that the Ben Affleck of America is awesome," he tweeted. Humble.

Dinners a smash hit
The glittering gala dinners for tennis superstar Andre Agassi next week in Auckland and Christchurch have lots of celebrities attending, including reality TV star Tem Morrison and Olympian Mahe Drysdale.

A handful of tickets to the Auckland black-tie evening are still available, but the Canterbury event sold out instantly. Insiders say Agassi is expected to spend some time in the quake-ravaged city.

"He decided to skip the Heineken Open completely, and come later and spend a couple of days in Christchurch."

The tennis legend, who retired in 2006 and wrote a tell-all autobiography, will impart some tidbits from the controversial tome. This week he passed on his thoughts about the Australian Open in Melbourne, picking Andy Murray "to raise standards".

That will be welcome news to the Brit who was reportedly such a fan of Agassi and his mullet when he was growing up that he used to wear denim shorts and a baseball cap with a ponytail attached to the back.

The Mad Butcher presents An Evening with Andre Agassi, in association with Paper Plus, on January 23 in Christchurch and 24 in Auckland.

- NZ Herald

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