Kiwi coverband scores top Tinseltown gig

Coverband features Johnny Barker,  Matt Whelan, Wesley Dowdell  and Laughton Kora.
Coverband features Johnny Barker, Matt Whelan, Wesley Dowdell and Laughton Kora.

A New Kiwi TV show has been snapped up by Hollywood - even before it's hit our small screens.

The team behind Coverband jetted off to La-la land in January to pitch the show to comedy legend Adam Sandler's production company Happy Madison and Sony Pictures.

And the three members of The Downlow Concept - best-known for creating TV3's 7 Days and comedy series Hounds - Jarrod Holt, 35, Ryan Hutchings, 34, and Nigel McCulloch, 33, are now celebrating hearing last week that a US version of Coverband has been confirmed.

"It was incredibly exciting and daunting," says Holt, "going into the offices of your comedy heroes and talking them through this idea and having them listen is a mind-blowing experience in itself."

"It hadn't even played here. Normally they wait to see how it rated, how it broke down in demographics. As soon as we showed a few of the companies some of the episodes, about a half dozen came back saying they wanted it."

Doug Robinson, head of television at Happy Madison - the production company behind feature films such as The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates - said Coverband was "a fantastic show with a great mix of comedy and music".

"We are really excited to be working with the Downlow Concept on a stateside adaptation."

The comedy trio have been working together since 2002 - "We were broke anyway, we thought ‘why can't we just be broke together and write these stupid ideas?"' - and more success might just be around the corner.

Back in May they pitched another show to Ben Stiller's company, this month they've been working on two scripts for Channel Four in the UK, and in a fortnight they're heading off to the United States for another, secret, studio deal which Holt would only describe as a "workplace comedy".

"It's a strange one - the type of workplace really gives it away. All I'll say is it's a bit grim!"

The show is due to air on September 25 on TV One and features former Shortland Street strangler Johnny Barker, who first floated the idea for the show, Matt Whelan (Go Girls, 3 Mile Limit), Wesley Dowdell (The World's Fastest Indian, Outrageous Fortune) and Laughton Kora (from space funk-rock band Kora).

Sunday Star Times