Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood


Gracewood's Hollywood (NY Edition)

I’m not one to gossip, but -- it was a right old kiwi invasion last weekend in NYC, what with the premiere of Eagle vs Shark and the impending debut of the Flight of the Conchords series on HBO (where they will be taking over the slot just vacated by the Sopranos, which went out with both a bang and a whimper).

Just about everyone connected with both projects was in town, along with the Phoenix Foundation and a band of rogue ukulele-ists to provide the music.

So here you go, some bold-face sightings, warm off the presses after a full-on fifty-six hours in New York City and a couple of days getting over it...

WOWING the crowd at the legendary four-string freakshow that is the East Village's Ukulele Cabaret, three members of the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra: Gemma, Carmel, and co-pilot of the Conchords Bret McKenzie.

The winsome trio delighted the audience with a clutch of Kiwiana classics, including "Ten Guitars" and "Blue Smoke", then stunned the crowd later with probably the first hard-rock ukulele version of "Nature" ever to be sung along to by a darkened basement full of happy New Yorkers. Haere mai New York! Everything is ka pai!

All credit to homeboy Jason Tagg, co-instigator of the Ukulele revolution, who not only hosted the evening, but also many of the artists at his astonishing home in the former Murray Space Shoe factory in the West Village. That's him in the blond wig in the "Nature" video, and he's a real sweetheart.

OVERHEARD at dinner afterwards: “Blah blah blah what are you up to these days blah blah went to school with him blah blah blah works with blah blah last time I saw her blah blah next project?” Aah, the sound of authentic New Zealand gossip, or as we prefer to think of it, reknitting the social fabric to keep the whole world nice and warm. Sort of a verbal Swanndri.

SEEN on a T-shirt and nothing to do with New Zealand but we loved it anyway: "Go [HEART] Your Own Damn City."

HEARD, but barely, at the Saturday night premiere of Eagle vs Shark: Taika Waititi's aggressively understated welcoming spiel, which continued the fine Aotearoa tradition of radically underselling your product in a city devoted to the art of overselling. The laconic New Zealander may be the next big thing, but Always Be Closing, Taika! Your next backers were probably in the audience!

ACCLAIMED by the full house, which had to turn people away even though they had tickets and had already collected their free popcorn: Eagle vs Shark. Funny, deft, and beautifully made, it’s already a front-runner for the Oscar for Best Use of Appalling Wallpaper in an Excruciatingly Awkward Sex Scene. A winner, unless you're the sort of person who used to hide behind the couch when Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em was on, in which case avoid.

HOT TO TROT at the afterparty on the spectacular rooftop deck of the Delancy were Jemaine Clement looking handsome in red and Loren Horlsey impossibly pretty (and unrecognizable as her character Lily), while Cliff Curtis and Harry Sinclair cast an avuncular eye over the goings-on. And was that Michel Gondry in the corner, chatting to the producer of Frontseat? Bien sûr!

DRUNK at the same party, not just several hundred people, but many, many, many complimentary bottles of the sponsor’s fine product, something your columnist hadn’t tasted since sixth form, when it was the preferred alternative to Rheineck.

Oh yes, and BUSTED dancing like, it has to be said, a sixth-former, right up the front when the ethereal Phoenix Foundation took the stage downstairs: a blogger better known for her demure domestic preoccupations and long thought to be past all that. Didn’t she have children to get home to? This weekend, apparently not! My lips are sealed!


PS See the Conchords impress David Letterman here.

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