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The Spinoff presents a weekly pop culture podcast tackling everything from reality TV to real life here in New Zealand, hosted by Jane Yee and The Spinoff's Duncan Greive and Alex Casey. Sign up to The Spinoff's newsletter Rec Room for weekly recommendations along with all our latest videos and podcasts.
 
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To say Sam Neill has had a busy year is putting it mildly. He opened 2020 playing Phil O'Brien as guest star on Matinee Idle. After that, he shot off to the UK as a rather better paid guest star on the blockbuster Jurassic World. And then Covid happened. You'd think that would be the end of Sam's year - but he became an online sensation in his enfo…
 
For those of us listening to hourly bulletins throughout the year the statistics from the pandemic began to blur. It's hard to put the numbers into perspective. Hundreds of thousands of deaths, thousands of new cases being reported every day in specific countries and states. That fatigue is difficult to fight but it's important to remember that all…
 
Sometimes it feels like authors are in a race to see who can write the longest novel. In the age of Christmas market doorstoppers it can come as a relief to encounter a novella. You don't see novellas in the new releases list much anymore, but one this year has burst onto the bookstore shelves and shows that if you can tell one story well, the read…
 
The Alexander Turnbull Library is turning its eye towards the oil paintings in its care. The Library has a huge collection of oil paintings but because they don't deteriorate in care, and their value has historically been seen as part of the record rather than aesthetic, not much action has been taken to repair them. That's all about to change. A f…
 
The New Zealand screen industry - film, TV and now gaming - has exploded over the past 20 or so years. Where you could once probably fit our film-makers into a decent-sized bus, these days they'd fill a stadium. But it's still grossly unfairly rewarded. Women are still paid far less than men, often for seemingly very similar work. Hence the importa…
 
A new exhibition at the Christchurch Art Gallery uses retro pop music, and futuristic Artifical Intelligence to create a bespoke experience for every visitor to the gallery. In Kahoots is a multimedia, immersive collaboration between artist Judy Darragh and interactive video artist Sean Kerr. But what on earth is it all about? What does it all mean…
 
The Kiwi dairy has been a cornerstone of New Zealand life since the 1930's - not just a source of food, and household essentials, but a newsagent, a post office and a centre of the community. But are they still? A new exhibition at the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui is diving into the world of the corner shop. What's its future, squeezed between gar…
 
It's been a very tough year for performance artists. But for now audiences can go along to shows in New Zealand and kiwi performers who have returned from overseas are capitalising on it while they can. Dancer, choreographer and writer Alexa Wilson has been based in Berlin for the last 10 years, but she's back in Auckland now and is furiously organ…
 
Stewart Island Rakiura's museum was first built in 1960 - to house an abundance of island treasures. Back then, it cost the thousands of tourists coming to the island 50 cents to get in and see the displays which cover early whaling in the area, sealing, boat building, and natural history. But the Rakiura Museum ran out of room, and plans were hatc…
 
We think of New Zealand literature as matter of fact, no-nonsense, social realism territory. But beneath the stoic surface we seem to have an extraordinary fantasy life. Margaret Mahy, The Vintner's Luck, comic-books and comedy horror films. It took a Kiwi to come up with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and don't even mention the Lord of the Rings a…
 
When the Chinese dreamed up the terrible threat "may you live in interesting times" they were probably thinking about a year like 2020. In a world that's been locked down, divided and cut off, it's hard to find the silver lining. But - in the spirit of looking on the bright side of life - it can't be denied it's been a terrific year for New Zealand…
 
We like to think that art is a seamless connection between the mind or heart of the artists and their audience or public. But of course it's not. The writer has a pen or a keyboard, the actor has a script and crew, the artist has a paintbrush and so on. But what if the artist was taken out of the picture entirely. What if the mechanical device was …
 
Rachel Kerr's first novel Victory Park is set in an eponymous housing block where her protagonist Kara lives and works, looking after other people's children as well as her own. The story hinges on a relationship Kara forms with a new arrival to the block Bridget, who, among other things, is dealing with a dissolving marriage to a publicly shamed P…
 
TV executive Andrew Shaw is about to be formally be handed the title he probably warranted about 30 years ago. The New Zealand TV Awards have named him the TV Legend for 2020. It's an award given to a person or organization making a significant contribution to the television industry over the years. Simon Morris speaks to Andrew about a career spen…
 
Writer Jenny Robin Jones - like so many people - was always fascinated by the United States - just the idea of it intrigued her. And like anyone who's even passed through the country, you soon discover there are so many states of America - figuratively and literally. So she decided to pick just one, and maybe draw some conclusions from it. And the …
 
Julia Parnell is the director of Six60: Till The Lights Go Out, a documentary that charts the band's meteoric rise. Six60 are the biggest local band ever - even if they're yet to crack it overseas. And yet the critics generally hate them, for reasons that remain a little unclear. They are the ultimate example of the old showbiz saying - nobody like…
 
There's nothing quite like a Christmas pantomime - England's major contribution to the holiday season. But we seem to like it in New Zealand too, especially at Wellington's Circa Theatre. There's singing, there's dancing, there's magic for the kids, and risqué jokes for the grownups. Long-time Panto Dame - and now frequent pantomime writer - is Gav…
 
Auckland's Basement Theatre has long been an important part of the city's theatre scene, not least for promoting New Zealand material and encouraging exciting young talent. Now Executive Director Elise Sterback is about to step down after seven incredible years driving the Basement. Seven years of highs and lows, including the last challenging year…
 
Many of New Zealand's endemic birds may not fly well if at all, but they're still a challenge for artists wanting to sketch them in the wild. The nocturnal species pose an extra degree of difficulty for artists wanting to sketch en plein air. Nicolas Dillon knows that feeling well. He's out in the snow and the sun, in hard to get to places all to o…
 
Writer Owen Marshall, artist Grahame Sydney and poet Brian Turner have combined forces to produce a colourful and golden book called Landmarks. It's an ode to Central Otago and the people who live in it. It's a spiritual sequel to the collaboration the three friends made in 1995, titled Timeless Land, and they've returned to find that maybe time do…
 
A new collection of Bill Manhire poems is undoubtedly an event. Even if our first Poet Laureate includes a very backhanded compliment on the cover: "Being the leading poet in New Zealand is like being the best DJ in Estonia!" Bill's new collection has a musical connection too. Borrowing from a Kate Bush title, it's called Wow, and it's full of gems…
 
Film lovers - not just here but around the world - were shocked and saddened by the news of the death of Bill Gosden yesterday. Bill was the long-time director of the New Zealand International Film Festival, which may or may not have been the biggest of its kind, but in many people's opinion was certainly one of the best. Under Bill's impeccable le…
 
London's King's Head Theatre has a special place in England's live drama scene. When it opened in the early Seventies it was described as the first pub theatre since Shakespeare's day, and it went on to triumph with award winning productions of everything from Stoppard to Trainspotting and grand opera. And it's also where actor/writer/director/prod…
 
Author, poet and playwright Fiona Farrell has been publishing poetry in New Zealand since 1987 when her first collection Cutting Out arrived on New Zealand shelves. She's also known for her scree of novels and plays and has been publishing, it feels, almost constantly since the 1980s. But it's to poetry she's returned with her new collection Nouns,…
 
This summer is going to look very different for regional tourism around New Zealand. Gone are the throngs of international tourists in campervans and buses. But with no one going overseas either, destinations around New Zealand are hoping for an influx of domestic tourists. Tohu Whenua is looking to capitalise on domestic tourism to draw New Zealan…
 
Cinemas are doing their best to try and get people out of their houses and back into movie theatres. But how do you do that when the big ticket films from overseas aren't arriving the way they once did? One way that cinemas and distributors are trying out is hosting festival events. Simon Morris speaks to Kelly Rogers from the British Film Festival…
 
Simon Morris speaks to the winners of the Ngaio Marsh crime writing awards which are to be announced on Saturday the 31st of October at the Word Christchurch Festival. Becky Manawatu won the award for best crime writing for her novel Auē and R.W.R. McDonald has picked up the award for best new crime writing with his debut novel The Nancy's. They bo…
 
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