The Diary: Conchords go busking in NY's Times Square

McKenzie and Clement hit streets ahead of US tour

Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie hit Times Square as part of a segment for tonight's TV3 special,  Comedy For Cure Kids: Good Sports .
Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie hit Times Square as part of a segment for tonight's TV3 special, Comedy For Cure Kids: Good Sports .

They're professional musicians with a Grammy and an Oscar to their credit, but The Flight of the Conchords turned to busking in New York's Time Square on Wednesday ... all for a good cause.

Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement hit the bustling landmark to sing their song Feel Inside (and Stuff Like That) as part of a filmed segment for tonight's TV3 special, Comedy For Cure Kids: Good Sports. And they roped in plenty of passersby to participate, including the Naked Cowboy (aka Robert Burck).

The 42-year-old street performer (who wears only a Stetson, cowboy boots, undies and a helluva lot of chutzpah) strummed his strategically-placed guitar and sang along to the lyrics.

Last year, the charity single was recorded for Red Nose Day and entered the New Zealand singles chart at No1, going platinum and selling over 15,000 copies in its first week.

This year, Jeremy Wells, wearing his Newsboy hat and deadpan delivery, has interviewed many of the Auckland and Wellington school children who participated in the hit, and the celebs who performed it. It's a reunion, of sorts, in typical mockumentary-style.

As for the Conchords, they're taking the States by musical storm - again. They performed three sell-out gigs at New York's McKittrick Hotel earlier this week, and tonight will take to the stage in Austin, Texas, alongside Dave Chapelle and others as they embark on a 13-stop Funny or Die's Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival tour across America.

It's a long-awaited tour for FOTC fans. Their last tour, only a year ago, didn't include the US. This time the comical singing duo will head to Illinois, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts, Colorado, California and Arizona.

Meanwhile, back in Auckland, Comedy For Cure Kids will broadcast live from Q Theatre tonight (7:30) with 7 Days' Jeremy Corbett and Paul Ego playing hosts and a line-up of global Kiwi stars, including Stan Walker, Kimbra, Ladyhawke, Craig Parker, Anna Hutchinson, Fleur Saville, Zoe Bell, Lucy Lawless and the All Blacks.

Russia buys into Kiwi Cult

New Zealand-Russian relations can't be too bad. They may be disgruntled about our dairy products, but they've fallen in love with one of our hit TV shows.

Russian state broadcaster Rossiya 1 announced yesterday it has commissioned a full remake of major New Zealand drama series, The Cult.

The show, made by Great Southern Television and screened on TV2, has been acquired by state-owned Rossiya 1 and will be filmed in Russia this year. The network boasts the second largest TV audience, viewed by 75 per cent of urban Russians.

The Cult, devised by GSTV's Philip Smith and produced by Rachel Gardner, is about four young people who vanish one night and later become members of a mysterious and dangerous cult. Smith, who lives in Queenstown on a lifestyle block, said he "based it on experiences with [his] neighbours on a farm, who were actually a cult-like group".

The show - winner of eight Qantas Media Awards - has always had strong interest in Europe, he told The Diary. "It will be fascinating to see how the Russians translate the series. They'll do a rewrite and set it just out of Moscow," Smith said. But a show about a Russian cult will undoubtedly be more chilling than a fashionable faction running amok in an NZ forest.

Boating reps rely on babes

Scott Dixon may be popping into the Team New Zealand base after his Indy Car race at the Sonoma Grand Prix on Sunday, but word is, his wife, Emma Davies Dixon, a former international 800m runner, is proving a bigger drawcard among the fluttering-hearts set (read males).

"She has a bigger following than her hubby among Indy Car fans because she's such a babe," cooed one member of the international press in San Francisco, in buoyant anticipation of the brunette's arrival.

Another beauty with an open invitation is Our Rach.

Well-placed sources tell The Diary the America's Cup Events Authority are keen to foist Rachel Hunter on Team NZ for some media hype.

"With things getting ugly off the water they are desperate for positive publicity, and after seeing what a splash Tom Cruise made when he went for a ride on the boat they're trying to line up more celebs," said the insider.

Hunter, who took to Instagram this week to show she's busy working on her tan, has apparently been approached by the ACEA to visit our base and go out on a chase boat. No word on whether she'll take up the offer. A life jacket and a helmet are not really conducive to tanning.

Jackson mortgaged to hilt

In an interview with the Directors Guild of America Quarterly, filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson, who co-owns a visual effects company and a movie studio (among other businesses), skited about working five minutes from his Wellington home - a luxury fellow filmmakers in LA or London don't have. "There are no traffic lights, and no rush hour, and I can literally be home in five minutes after driving out the gate. Those benefits are huge for my lifestyle."

Jackson, a nester, wanted to buy a studio close to home. What is now Stone St Studios, a lavish studio complex with four soundstages, was, back then, a former dilapidated paint factory with a very expensive price tag. Before LOTR even got green-lit, Jackson went shopping brimming with optimism.

"At the time it was just Fran and I, and if we committed to it and for some reason the film didn't happen, we'd be in big, big trouble. I mean, we were mortgaging our house just to make the down payment on the place.

"One day the real estate agent was showing us around; the paint factory had been closed for six months, so it was mothballed and covered in dust. The cafeteria was dull and gray, and there were a lot of old Formica tables with chairs stuck up on top of them.

"Just before we left, I saw a paperback book sitting on one of the cafeteria tables - it was a copy of The Lord of the Rings. I called Fran over and pointed to it, and we looked at each other and then said to the guy, 'OK, we'll take it'." And that became Stone Street Studios ... and, as they say in Hollywood, a very happy ending.

Mika, toast of NYC

Maori artist Mika will perform at Couture Fashion Week in New York next month in the Grand Ballroom of the New Yorker Hotel in the heart of the city's fashion district. He's performing as part of the New Zealand Hat & Hair Art runway show, entitled RAW, and told The Diary it will be an opportunity to showcase his cutting-edge Maori art on the world. "I can't wait to unleash the Mika experience on the fashion queens of New York City."

- NZ Herald

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