The female customers at Shawty's Cafe in the sleepy Canterbury town of Twizel are swooning with a dashing Hollywood star in their midst. Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, X Men: First Class) is in Twizel to shoot his film Slow West, but he's quickly making friends among the locals for his lack of airs and graces.
"He's so beautiful," said one local grandmother. "He's got lovely big blue eyes and a gorgeous smile. He smiles at us every morning when he comes in to Shawty's to get his morning coffee.
"You wouldn't know he's a big Hollywood star. He talks to people and is really friendly and chatty. He's been here about three weeks now."
Principal photography got under way this week, with Twizel doubling as 19th- century Colorado. Filming on the Western - about a 17-year-old travelling across the American Frontier to search for the woman he loves, accompanied by a mysterious traveller - will also take place in the Scottish Highlands.
Cast and crew of the UK-NZ feature film, which has financing from the New Zealand Film Commission, are staying in various houses around town. But it's Fassbender locals want to see.
"He's been great for business," laughed Shawty's proprietor Troy Sheridan. "He's very modest and shy, but he laughed when my wife told him he's bringing in customers. Mostly the ladies, of course."
Fassbender, who grew up in the small Irish settlement of Killarney, is enjoying working in the small South Island town. "He's so accommodating and approachable," Sheridan said. "He comes in every day. He said he loves Twizel. He loves small towns. He's from a small town himself with only 12,000 people."
Fassbender plays both lead actor (the mysterious traveller Silas) and debut producer on the film, through his private production company DMC Film. He joins producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman from See-Saw Films, a London- and Sydney-based production company behind the Jane Campion-directed TV drama Top of the Lake, and Kiwi film and television producer Rachel Gardner.
Other Kiwis on production include Academy Award-winning art director Kim Sinclair, Whale Rider costume designer Kirsty Cameron and The Hobbit make-up artist Dannelle Satherley.
Look who's back on the telly
If you've missed Paul Henry from the telly, don't fear, he'll be back next year - every night! The Paul Henry Show will screen weeknights on TV3 next year with a satirical approach to news and entertainment. Execs are remaining tight-lipped about specifics - including timeslot - only announcing its impending arrival at TV3's new-season launch last night, when Jeremy Corbett and Hilary Barry played MC.
New Zealand's newest WAG, Zoe Marshall (wife of Benji), joins the TV3 stable, too. She will host The Great Food Race, which will be one of TV3's big new event television shows, alongside a third series of The Block NZ. X Factor returns in 2015, but there's no comeback planned for former WAG Sally Ridge.
Rap remix for Lorde's chart-topper
First it was pop artist Pebbles Hooper, now it's pop star Lorde. American gangsta rapper Rick Ross (the proud subject of a Hooper portrait) has paid tribute this week to Lorde's anti-avarice hit song Royals but given it a "materialism-toting remix," says Billboard. Not that the teen (who turns 17 next month) will be miffed. The song sits in the Billboard Hot 100's throne for a fourth consecutive week, making it the longest rule by a woman this year.
Bland brand for NZ On Air
How ironic that director Joel Kefali is a finalist at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards in the NZ On Air Best Music Video category for his vid for Lorde's single Royals. Paradoxical, somewhat, because the singer and her manager Scott Maclachlan didn't use NZ on Air funding for her videos, telling Metro's Duncan Greive they didn't need the cash - nor the association.
"You know how much negative power that logo has for my generation?" Lorde said.
Greive observed the incongruity this week, tweeting: "Am certain that'd be the first non-funded video ever nominated".
NZ on Air is paying for the privilege to sponsor the award - and the associations that come with it. Lorde included. But it might be better spent understanding her brush off, and others like it.
Music videos funded by NZ on Air must display their logo, but that doesn't ensure a mark of quality, says blogger Robyn Gallagher. She suggests NZ on Air has a brand problem. "It's more that the logo has come to represent such a broad range of music videos from 22 years of New Zealand music that it's come to represent business more than art."
Lorde may snub state funding but her songs and videos are evidently making an impact on rivals. Miley Cyrus - whom Lorde labelled her favourite Disney star - paid tribute this week, of sorts, to express her own emotional state. The 20-year-old pop star, who was dumped by fiance Liam Hemsworth, forlornly took to Instagram, writing: "I've never felt more alone. It feels so scary getting old."
They are lyrics to Lorde's single Ribs, but could also be applied to NZ on Air's current state of mind.
Scary stuff for Halloween
Halloween is around the corner, and while two droll media stars are creating low-cost "Sally and Jaime Ridge" costumes (think chinos, chutzpah and fake bakes), more topical costumes include the "Mayor and Mistress". Another wit is turning on the Italian Stallion tap with a homage to Luigi Wewege. Meanwhile, Our Rach and pal Fleur Saville went clad as crustaceans on a recent cruise in Los Angeles. The aquatic antipodeans channelled considerably less controversy.
Muppets draw both Conchords
Oscar-winning songwriter Bret McKenzie has contributed original scores for the Muppets sequel, Muppets Most Wanted, but he's not the only Flight of the Conchords star to join the cast - Jemaine Clement is in too. The film, which is scheduled for release in May 2014, features Clement alongside Hollywood stars Ricky Gervais, Christoph Waltz, Tina Fey, Ty Burrell, Selma Hayek and Ray Liotta. There's a slew of big music stars in cameo roles too - Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Sean Combs and Usher.
Clement makes an appearance in the official trailer to the film with Fey as Nadya, a feisty prison guard. So does Burrell (Modern Family's Phil Dunphy), who told Empire Online he was keen to get in on the movie's musical action.
"I have a song, written by Bret. Mine is more of a patter song, but really fun and funny. I've done a couple of musicals in my life, but they were back in college, so this was truly fun."