High school original

Chris Lilley, whose Summer Heights High is now a weekly fixture on HBO, has spoken about his resistance to selling the format, despite the offer of big bucks.

“It felt completely wrong to do,” he told Televisionary blog. “It was a hard decision to make because there were lots of people around me saying that there’s lots of money if you do sell the rights.

“I got flown over here [to the States] to meet all these people and everyone is saying, ‘No one in America is going to buy this show. They’re never going to watch it,'” said Lilley.

“The first thing they said was, ‘You need to come here and redo it in an American accent,’ which to me was just so wrong. And just the thought of someone else playing these characters, I couldn’t handle watching it or living through it, it felt so wrong. Because I’m not just playing them, they’ve been with me for ages and I think about them constantly, and they’re me. I’m the reason they came to life. So someone copying that just makes no sense.”

Still, admits Lilley, “I am probably going to be less rich and famous because of it but I just don’t want to have to live seeing someone else copy it.”

The series is currently re-screening on ABC Wednesdays at 9:30pm.

Source: Televisionary

11 Comments:

  1. ka-ching – They’re completely relateable. Is the American Kim the same as the Australian Kim? No. They are completely different characters (albeit they share a name), yet they serve a similar function in regards to the show’s format. Is the 7th place getter on American Idol the same as the the 7th place getter on Australian Idol? No. They are completely different characters (albeit they may share a name), yet they serve a similar function in regards to the show’s format.

    You argue all you want for characters versus contestants on scripted versus reality programming, but they are all constructed entities created, altered and changed at the whim of a producer.

  2. Yeah, I also believe it’s fantastic that he is keeping it australian, and not selling off the rights..

    I agree with most of the opinions here, but I’m a bit two minded.. as i really quite like the US version of The Office, and i couldnt get into the UK one.. And i really dont think the US adaptation has destroyed any part of the office.. It has essentially just bought the initial idea, and then elaborated on it with their own creative team..

    So in one way it’s good he has kept it australian, but would it have really been destroyed if they did buy it off?? I suppose the eccentric and different nature of Chris’ characters cant really be compared to the office characters, as his are fairly different in nature. But yeah, good on Chris! I reckon he’s still made a great decision to keep it his 🙂

  3. Personally I am glad he stuck to his guns and didn’t let them re-cast his characters amd re-make his show. Our family loves both We Can Be Heroes and Summer Heights High for the quirkiness and brilliance of Chris Lilley. If the American public en masse don’t like it as is, simply because of the Aussie accents and places, then they are just not meant to like it. We have watched shoes set in the U.S. for years and I go back a long way – Petticoat Junction and The Andy Griffiths Show were childhood favourites – now we have CSI Miami & NY etc etc etc.

    As for a comparison with franchises such as BB and Idol – it’s not the same at all. They are not re-casting characters, the contestants aren’t acting but being themselves and whatever accent they have doesn’t matter at all. It’s a franchise which involves the “format” of the show – not the actual characters like Kath, Kim, Mr G, J’Amie & Jonah.

    Reports I have read on line today seem to be indicating that Summer Heights High is finding an audience as is. Great effort Chris! Succeed or fail it’s your work.

  4. Or alternatively, he could just be slightly butthurt that noone actually offered money for his crappy show and decided to act all “I am so much better than that”.

    Seriously, the sooner we stop lauding this unfunny dork as some sort of comedy genius, the better we’ll all be.

  5. Yeah, re-do with an american accent is crap. And you couldn’t have anyone else do the characters. Only way to remake it would be, quite different, and not quite the same characters, and by different people. A big retooling so it’s essentially just the story concept idea of the show not with a central performer. But then why bother?
    I do see you could sell off a show loosely based on it.

    Only way would be if you took some of his characters into an American environment.

    Or if he had characters and a new show which would be bought by US networks. I think this is where it’d go. Just get the US networks to back a new project of his.

  6. I just don’t understand that kind of attitude…

    A remake doesn’t affect the original, it doesn’t encroach in on it in any way – at the end of the day, it still is what it is, and it’s still Lilley’s work.

    If a format was bought and a production team proceeded to pour their heart and soul into making their very own special piece of televisual art, isn’t the difference in the interpretation between them going to be a beautiful thing to analyse and dissect for an audience member, and even for Lilley himself?

    Plus…. mula a plenty!

    Let’s not forget that remakes have given us the extraordinary Battlestar Galactica and The Office, hell even Australian Idol and Big Brother have reached dizzying emotional heights – under the eye of the right creative team, a remake can become it’s completely own entity, and a powerful one at that. If you’re concerned about your concept, make sure it goes to a team you respect and admire!

    A locally produced version of a show has wider appeal than a foreign one. Plus it’s produced by them, employing Americans (or Australians, or wherever the hell the thing is being made for) and thus helping keep their economy pumping along, and their industry functioning.

    I hate that elitist, self-absorbed and culturally superior attitudes that come out with remakes. It’s just entirely unnecessary.

  7. You know I fairly care about this show but thank god someone has finally put a cork in this whole ‘format rights’ business.

    It annoys me to no end that the Americans cannot just watch the original. I would never want to see an adapted version of Seinfeld or Friends what makes the yanks think that their viewers want this sort of chicanery.

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