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Public arts and culture funding to the tune of $1.6 million will partly pay for the New Zealand's Got Talent reality television series.

Developed by Simon Cowell, the series is famous for discovering unlikely star Susan Boyle in the British series. It will screen on TV One.

Government agency New Zealand On Air said its support was a smart use of the public purse.

Chief executive Jane Wrightson said it was a "wonderful opportunity for many types of New Zealand performers to entertain a nationwide audience".


Ms Wrightson was unavailable for further comment yesterday, however media spokeswoman Gina Rogers said the agency had no problem using arts and culture funding to reproduce a foreign format locally.

"The thing about formats is they are proven overseas. We're keen to support new ways of getting New Zealand talent and talent-based acts on to prime time."

The New Zealand's Got Talent commitment is subject to a full budget being confirmed.

Head of TV One and TV2 Jeff Latch said the scale of the programme meant other funding streams were needed to make it happen, and multiple commercial partners were being sought. Imagination TV will produce the show, which does not yet have a start date.

TV3 has the rights to rival talent show X Factor, a format also associated with Cowell.

NZ On Air has not received an application from TV3 for funding, But Ms Wrightson has said she could not rule agency funding out.

TV3 spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer said the broadcaster was more focused on producing renovation competition series The Block this year, while X Factor was a longer-term prospect.

Talent-based reality shows such as Dancing with the Stars and New Zealand Idol have been ratings winners for TVNZ in the past. NZ Idol had a three-season run.


Some suggestions for the casting hat
Pauline Gillespie, aka Polly from ZM

Straight shooter. Not likely to give contestants inane platitudes made famous by judges such as Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger.

Sports broadcaster Willie LoseBooted off a radio job recently for Tony Veitch. Has a lovely voice.

Paul Henry

News of the World editor Piers Morgan was a judge in the UK and US versions of the show, so a broadcaster/journalist wouldn't be totally out of place on the panel. Paul Henry has made a career out of putting his foot in his mouth and not being bothered. Hosting Breakfast across the ditch makes it an unlikely prospect.

Bill Ralston fun

Once read out hate mail that he'd received on TV3 which complained in great gruesome detail about his looks. Classic.

Che Fu

Possibly too talented to be a reality show judge, though he'd be great on TV. Old enough to have something to say, young enough to be relevant.

Lana Coc-Kroft

A retro pick.

Jason Gunn

Perennially popular.

Dominic Bowden

LA-based. Missed out on fronting the recent first US season of X Factor to Welshman Steve Jones. Former New Zealand Idol host.

Matai Smith/Te Hamua Nikora

Both engaging presenters who have worked together on Maori TV's talent show, Homai Te Pakipaki.