Jeremy Wells is looking forward to getting to know Mike Hosking more intimately.
The Hauraki host has unveiled a new-look puppet for his WatchMe show Like Mike, a parody that features Wells impersonating the Newstalk ZB and Seven Sharp host with a series of Hosking-style witticisms and cliches.
But Wells says he's still bonding with his new Hosking puppet.
"To really get to know a puppet, you've got to spend a huge amount of time," he says.
"You've gotta do a lot of mirror work. You've gotta sleep with the puppet, eat with the puppet. You have to do all sorts of things that it's best we don't discuss."
Wells says his puppet version of Hosking, made by real puppeteers, cost "several thousand dollars" but is worth every cent.
"Our last puppet was ventriloquist-style, kind of evil-looking and quite hard to use. It's an amazing likeness, it's quite freaky, but you can't take that puppet out and about," says Wells.
The new puppet lets Wells take Hosking on adventures out of the studio. The first episode debuted on WatchMe this week and had Hosking driving a yellow Lamborghini while listing his daily routines: rising at 4am, eating a breakfast of seven and a half raw almonds, and winding down with a $100 bottle of French wine every night.
Wells say the puppet has the same feel as his favourite Sesame Street characters, with a "Guy Smiley vibe" that makes him appear more lifelike.
"We had lengthy conversations with the puppet-maker. He wanted to know more than what he just looked like: he wanted to know how Hosking thinks and feels. Some of the questions we couldn't answer.
"What does Mike Hosking like to do in private? It's difficult to say. I had to speculate on a number of those things, and this is what they came up with."
If it sounds like Wells is taking the piss, he most definitely is. He has a history of taking news personalities to task across eight seasons of his cult TV2 show Eating Media Lunch.
But Wells admits he's a "massive fan" of Hosking, citing his home collection of Hosking material - including tapes of Seven Sharp and his Newstalk ZB segment Mike's Minute - as inspiration. "He is our greatest broadcaster - there is no doubt about that," says Wells.
One thing Wells doesn't know is exactly what Hosking thinks of his long-running parody.
"I'm not sure if he's just being polite to me, or actually likes it ... he's a very polite and nice man."
While rumoured to be a Like Mike fan, Hosking claimed he was seeking legal advice in a statement to the Herald.
"Like Mike is a flagrant rip off of my incredibly intellectual, intellectual property, constructed by morons whom clearly are not capable of forming even one original idea amongst themselves," he said. "I am seeking legal advice on the matter."
Until that happens, Wells is enjoying getting to know his new puppet, who has become a star attraction on his desk.
He's happy for fans to look - but not to touch.
"People are very keen to meet him but he's obviously very expensive and I don't want him ruined," he says.
"Anyway, I'm building a special relationship with him."
* Watch episodes of Like Mike here.