“The television industry is run by men”

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“I think we can all agree that the television industry is run by men,” Margaret Pomeranz told the Women in Television breakfast at the ASTRA Conference this week.

“It is a big money industry, or it can be, and I believe that men in power believe the only way money can be generated is by men using the talent of a lot of women.”

The veteran presenter was joined by actress Marta Dusseldorp and food presenter Maggie Beer for an open discussion on women in the industry and their respective careers.

Pomeranz told the audience she had looked at the power structure in the television industry, but there were still gender gaps.

“Let’s face it, fellow women, we fall short in the power game,” she continued.

“How many women do we have in key roles in this industry? The shining light at the moment is Michelle Guthrie at the ABC. But if you look at the boards of the major television stations, there is an attempt at non-gender bias at most networks. But there are not a lot of movers and shakers who are women.

“There are powerful women in the industry, I’m not arguing with that, but the main power belongs to men. I am a feminist because I don’t think the world is such a good place as run by men, I think a few more women in there would be a good thing.”

Marta Dusseldorp said her 3 TV roles, in Janet King, A Place to Call Home and Jack Irish had improved on the days when females in dramas were forced to play victim.

All three were complicated and multilayered, which maintained her interest.

“I’m leaving my girls with, I think, a really rich, complex storytelling world that will only get more and more complicated, more and more diverse. Diversity is on the lips of every production company I speak to, theatre, television, film. That is all changing. Colourblind casting is very important now,” she explained.

“And the women’s roles I’m seeing and playing I really complex and the women I have mentioned already today are very vocal and have amazing emotional intelligence.

“And so do the men. There are some incredible men that we work next to. And there is a lot of respect and I never see it going back to that.”

Maggie Beer explained how working with producer Margot Phillipson had been pivotal to her success on The Cook and the Chef with Simon Bryant. She was cast in the role after producers initially approached her daughter.

“It’s wonderful working with women because they tend to see things you have travelled over before you actually talk about them yourselves, and that’s a lovely thing to happen no matter where you are working,” she said.

“But mine is such a small bit of television, my experience has been so positive with women.”

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Women in Television Breakfast transcript courtesy of ASTRA (includes typos):

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Good morning, everyone. I am very glad to be joining you again for this Women in Television Breakfast. Before we start, I know this is a women’s breakfast, but I would like to celebrate Mel Gibson and Bill Young for the critical success of their films ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ and ‘Hounds of Love’.

I attended that the festival for many years, there are rarely Australian films. This year there are three, I didn’t realise I was the jinx. I would have stopped going earlier if I had known.

Now to matters concerning us. I wrote a long intro which I sent to Bill Richards, my editor and Foxtel. I got galvanised. I thought about all that is going on in the film industry, focusing on representation of women in key creative roles in film.

I thought it might be a good time to cast an eye on television. It is good following on from Andrew this morning. I think we can all agree that the television industry is run by men. It is a big money industry, or it can be, and I believe that men in power believe the only way money can be generated is by men using the talent of a lot of women.

So I tried to look at the power structure in the television industry. This place we call home. Let’s face it, fellow women, we fall short in the power game.

There has recently been focused on the representation of women directors in film, it has been a confronting 16% or 17%. I know women in television have made their mark in recent times. I went to look at the director of ‘Secret City’, a recent Foxtel production. I had to search for the name of Emma Freeman, the director, it was not there. She has been responsible, as you know for ‘Party Tricks’, ‘Puberty Blues’, and here she is, not worthy of a mention.

How many women do we have in key roles in this industry? The shining light at the moment is Michelle Guthrie at the ABC. But if you look at the boards of the major television stations, there is an attempt at non-gender bias at most networks. But there are not a lot of movers and shakers who are women.

There are powerful women in the industry, I’m not arguing with that, but the main power belongs to men. I am a feminist because I don’t think the world is such a good place as run by men, I think a few more women in there would be a good thing.

Michael Idato ran a piece about the most powerful people in television, and it came to about 16 women. Even being generous it came to about 20%. How many heads of television have been women? I can remember three, maybe a fourth.

It is amazing, so few people even remember having heard of Sandra Levy. It is extraordinary. Sandra was hounded out of her position by the press, and Medina was just hounded out. I hope Michelle Guthrie has a better time of it.

If you look at the head of Department across-the-board at every television network, the preponderance of men is overwhelming. I was pleased to see the results from ASTRA this morning about the representation of women in the subtraction television industry. 32% of directors, 22% of executives, we are sort of getting there.

I can remember my own time at SBS, the thought of applying to Head of Department was tempting, but the thought of sitting in meetings endlessly was mindnumbing. So I did not apply. I did however apply for the position of Head of Television, just to set the cat among the pigeons.

I remember Gerald Stone asking me how I would view advertising in programs. I did not go for it then, I do not go for it now. A public broadcaster has the position of being free. I am not decrying the position of women in the television industry, we work like demons, we sacrifice a lot for our craft. And we are amazingly successful. I want to congratulate you all.

I do not want this to be a whingeing feminist rant, but I do want to put in our minds just how powerless our position is while we have so much to offer.

Maybe men like power in a way that women don’t, I don’t know what the answer is. I know that the women I see in television, often with families to consider, have such demands placed on them it is no wonder we are happy to leave the power positions to the blokes.

I must at this point congratulate Graeme Mason and Screen Australia for their recent initiatives. Also the wonderful Natalie Miller at Sharmill Films.

We do have power, in our vision, our dedication to our craft, our sisterhood, our ability to survive. I salute you all. I am incredibly moved by the success of a woman in our industry.

We have with us this morning to women who epitomise that success, for whom I have great respect and great love. Marta Dusseldorp and I met a couple of years ago, and you only have to know her to know what a ball of fun she is. She is a one-off, feisty, driven and talented.

Maggie Beer I have not known personally, but I know her personality on screen. She is a talented person, a person devoted to her craft. It is with great pleasure I introduce them to you. Marta Dusseldorp and Maggie Beer.

(Applause)

MARGARET POMERANZ:
I think I have been asked to move the flowers. Why don’t you put them down on the floor? Well done.

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
I don’t think my microphone is on.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
It is.

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
Good morning.

MAGGIE BEER:
Hello, everyone.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
I thought it was interesting that both of you come from a non-television background. Your background is theatre, yours is in food, restaurateur, growing stuff, good stuff. And I wonder how you found the challenges of coming to television in the first place. Marta?

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
To me, I was glad it happened later. I had already been in the theatre for, I think, 14 years, doing back-to-back shows. And I had both my children by then. They were very little, but breastfeeding on set is always fun.

So I was ready. And I felt ready to take some risks, actually, and not worry about whether I was beautiful, funny, intelligent, approachable. I came at it from the opposite of just being ordinary, that people could understand and relate to me. And I wanted to show women in the characters I was given as being much more flawed and complicated and a little bit messy. But not quirky. I wasn’t really interested in quirky.

Because I don’t know, Australians are often represented as quirky and I don’t think we are. I think we are a highly intelligent, fabulous… So I wanted to take that out. I was really lucky to get three incredible roles early on. They were sustained and resurrected thanks to Foxtel with ‘A Place to Call Home’ and ‘Janet King’. The women have grown with me so now I feel like three or four women.

I am glad it came with me. You learn in theatre to just fall over and get back up. I was happy to fail.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Television gives you that opportunity in drama? If it doesn’t work on stage, that’s all you got.

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
I’m on stage at the moment and I have not been there for six years. It’s a completely different discipline. It is so exposing. Whereas television, you have a team of people around you to make sure that it all works and it looks fabulous. And they edit around you if you are bad. And they do close-ups if you are good.

But in theatre, it is a never-ending close-up, which I am finding is lots of different things. But I think it is expectation of yourself as an artist. You have to just do the best you can in the moment. Television is more premeditated. Which is good too, I think.

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MARGARET POMERANZ:
Maggie, how did your career on television start?

MAGGIE BEER:
Just by accident. In fact, when I think back, other than a few promotional things, just wrestling with an octopus on television for one segment of a food show, what really happened was the ABC contacted my daughter, who is young and beautiful, and said they wanted her to go on this show called ‘Beat the Chef’ and she said, “I’m not doing that, ask my mum.”

So I only got asked because my daughter wouldn’t do it. I went along to this funny little show, where I was pitted against two amateurs and I went in to have fun. After that, I did two of those, and then Margot Phillipson, my Executive Producer, the Executive Producer in Adelaide said, “I want you to do a show on food,” and it was just to be me.

And I knew enough about myself, and this is where coming to me at a mature age helps so much, because I said, “I’m not going to do it on my own. I need someone to bounce off.”

And I knew Simon Bryant very casually, but Margot had the genius to put us together. Two of the most unlikely people that ever could be. He is short and skinny and I’m me. (Laughs) And that was just magic.

But part of it just coming by chance and at the age that it did, I knew what I felt comfortable with and I said, “Well, only if nothing is repeated. Everything is shown, including…” I am the messiest cook in the world and I wanted it to be real. And I just, I am me.

That’s how it happened and that of course led to ‘The Bake Off’ on Foxtel.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
It was interesting. You and I are in reality television, really. And I remember, it wasn’t even in my headscape to be on television.

I can remember, it was terrible and thank God no one watched the early parts of ‘The Movie Show’, but we used to look forward to it very early in the morning and I used to have to have a sip of whiskey at 7 AM to get me through. And I want to know what your tipple was.

(Laughter)

MAGGIE BEER:
It was champagne! Margot used to allow me half a glass because I was so nervous. I was so, this is not my world. I got over that probably after a month or so. But I did, she allowed me half a glass and I needed it.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
I did too, but only for about a year or two.

(Laughter)

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Marta, congratulations on ‘Gloria’, which is the play you are doing at the moment and you are getting rave reviews. And in fact, you’ve got this really interesting career where you never seem to put a foot wrong.

It’s true, you think about it. ‘Jack Irish’, ‘A Place to Call Home’, ‘Janet King’ – how do you choose? How do you not put a foot wrong?

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
It’s not me. It’s the creative team. Each of these shows have amazing writers. If I take for example, ‘Janet King’, Greg Haddrick is the creator of it but next to him are five women. I muscled my way in in season two as a producer and it was purely a title to say that I was welcome. I thought, I do it anyway, I am on set, writing, talking, discussing the storyline.

And that was great. I was in the plotting room right from the beginning. Right now, Michelle will be happy to know we are plotting season three and I have got the first four episodes, second draft, sitting next to my bed and I have started reading them.

It’s a huge collaboration and it comes at a trust. And I think how I, as you put it, don’t put a foot wrong is we all respect each other, there is trust, there is no warring.

The people in our television community are so intent on making the best Australian stories for Australians. I know that sounds like a PR thing, but it’s actually true. We are so dominated by American products and European more and more, thankfully, that we really need to stamp quite loudly when we tell our Australian stories.

And especially about women. I mean, I’m one of the luckiest actresses, I think, at the moment, do have these incredibly strong leading women in cahoots with men – it’s not like they are not relevant to it – but they have given my characters such a podium and they are all different in different ways. And they all have really interesting things to say.

And that comes from the group. That’s also the cinematographers, the designers, the producers working so hard behind it. Penny and Julie sit at the table for ‘A Place to Call Home’ and they are there every time I am with Chris Martin Jones, and Catherine Thomson, and we sit around and talk.

We talk like grown-ups. We tried to create the best stories for everyone here to recognise themselves and feel proud of being Australian and the history of Australia, so it’s absolutely a group effort.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
How do you balance three series per year? I’m sorry…

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
My husband is a very patient man. My children are very forgiving. Maggie is quite shocked that I have dark hair under here. She said, “Mummy, don’t you need to go to the hairdresser soon?” Thankfully Gloria doesn’t get her hair done so I’m out of the salon horror for a while.

I don’t know, just try and be kind and say sorry to the kids and jump into bed with them.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Is it a major juggling act, though? It is pretty relentless, I would have thought.

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
Yes, but I feel like strike while the iron is hot. It’s good for the girls to see me work. They understand Mum goes to work. If the women I’m playing were not so complicated and interesting and multilayered, I don’t know that I would keep going. But it’s hard not to. Because they go into such amazing territory.

And like I say, the vigilance behind the scenes to make that the case is addictive.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Maggie, your career started… I thought it was so interesting that you made them come to you. I thought you went to a studio in Adelaide, but you called the tune with the ABC then.

MAGGIE BEER:
And that’s all about the fact that I didn’t need to do it but it was nice if I did. And knowing myself, really understanding that it would have put too much strain on my business life and my family. ‘Balance’ is a word I don’t know and I am still grasping for it. But I’m enjoying it, I’m enjoying life while I look for it. One day I will find it.

But I absolutely knew I didn’t want to go down to Adelaide and spend days at a time. Also, if I was going to do this, it had to be what was real to me, which was the Barossa Valley. So I put further constraints on them by saying that I was shocked they wanted to do this 40 weeks per year. You know, that was really something!

But my whole thing was, OK, it has to be about seasonality to such an extent that when it goes to air, whatever is the hero produce – say that was beetroot or asparagus – that it had to be available in the marketplace for Australia.

For me, it was a subliminal message to everyone, “This is what the seasons are.” And the other thing that I put on them and Margot Phillipson was so fantastic about this, she got it straight away, is that I would conceptualise the year based on seasonality because I lived it and I knew it. And she would deal with Simon on, OK, its asparagus, what are you going to do? Then I would say what I would do. We never knew what the other one would do until Simon walked in.

And I knew that was really important. That we needed spontaneity because that is what I felt comfortable with. And so we forgot the camera was ever there. It was just learning from each other. So it was fun. Although, he is so cheeky. I never knew what was coming next.

But they were the things that I was able to put down as my conditions. It sounds quite…

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Tell me, this is just for my interest, really, did you record two per week or what? And how soon did it go to air?

MAGGIE BEER:
That was really difficult for the ABC on some ingredients. Some ingredients were available from long time. But things like pomegranates and persimmons, we had a three-week window to get it edited and out. You can imagine how tight that could be. The whole audience could understand how tight that could be.

But the way we did it come because I found it very tiring, is we did once a month, we would do two shows, 15 hour days on the Friday. I would have the weekend to recover and then we were to Monday. So that was my way of being able to cope… I can do long days any time but it is stressful in terms of getting everything done, making sure the preparation is OK, just being on and that’s how we did it.

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
With seasonality, we often shoot summer in winter, and winter for summer. We are wearing little dresses and it is freezing, or heavy coats. Sometimes you end up sweating or shivering. I thought that was interesting, a little TV seasonality.

MAGGIE BEER:
I have done that with one of my ‘Bake Off’ dresses.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
I was going to ask you, from your very controlled place in the Barossa, how is that different? How is that experience different?

MAGGIE BEER:
It is very different. You say controlled environment, but it did not feel that way. Every time I do ‘Masterchef’, I look behind me, who are they so excited about? There is the thrill of walking in there, these young people that want to change their lives. It is really lovely. The boys are fabulous, but there is a lot of hanging around.

Come to ‘Bake Off’, the thing about ‘Bake Off’ is we laugh so much. We have got Claire and Mel, that absolutely makes it, with the lovely contestants. I can always cope with it because of the humour.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
When I started in this industry, however far back, I won’t mention the year, I started as a screenwriter. I felt I was bottom of the pile. I was not even allowed into studio control to see what was being made of what I had written. It was never edited, I knew it was crap. I didn’t get the guidance or mentoring.

When I got to SBS I had the chance to have some control over my career. Marta, how important was that for you?

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MARTA DUSSELDORP:
I think it is important, especially for ‘Janet King’. It’s a 70-hour week and that’s a lot. I get home and have a few hours to eat, sleep and see my kids. Once I went into the plotting room, when it came to shoot it it meant so much more than me. It was inside my DNA, I had lived with it for so long.

I barely had to learn my lines, and Janet never shuts up, there are a lot of lines to learn. I had absorbed them much earlier on.

We don’t have much money to make these shows that everyone sees and judges alongside the millions and millions in American monoliths. Things would go down, we would have 2 minutes to shoot a 20 min scene. That is about knowing right down into your shoes that you have got to get it right, there is not going to be a cut.

So ‘Janet King’, the finale, I face-off with this woman who has taken my children, we did it in one take. That was not just a time constraint being, the director felt we had got it. But I could not do it without six months of talking about that moment, where a woman loses her children and someone knows where they are.

People worry actors will come in for the wrong reasons and ask for the wrong things. I don’t know any actors in Australia that do that. Most actors in Australia are there for the right reasons. I have not really met one that has that alterego I have heard about in other countries.

I was there for the right reasons.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Was there resistance to you taking on that role?

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
Yes, but only because I hadn’t created it. But I said, well, I am now. Now, of course we are family. That is the other thing, it created a family environment, which similarly I have with ‘A Place to Call Home’. When I came on board, I signed for two seasons, there was total collaboration.

Now we are going to season five, maybe. That will be announced soon.

(Laughter)

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
Sorry! Forget I said that.

Because of the family environment. A bit like you are talking about, Maggie, and certainly what I saw on ‘The Movie Show’, that family you made, that is the only way you can keep going.

MAGGIE BEER:
I agree, on ‘The Bake Off’, it is the most family environment, every single person that is involved with it. It is great to go in even for 15 hour days.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Maggie, there is an advantage to being mature in this industry, having that confidence to exert the sort of control you want over your career. Do you find that?

MAGGIE BEER:
Absolutely, it took me a long time to find that, to have confidence in myself. I know Simon had more confidence in me than I ever did until I was more mature. If it feels good, it is good. I am all about feel. I cannot take negative environments, I just… But I can go with the flow if it is a good family, a good environment.

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
I think we come from a place of working hard. Where I came from in the theatre, we worked really hard all the time. I loved that. One of the things I have brought to television is working hard all the time. Some of the young ones, I see them want it now, they deserve it, they are just here until they go to America.

I kind of go, yeah, apprenticeship has come out of the equation somehow. Which for me is fundamental for anything you do, that you learn from the bottom up. I don’t know about entering…

MARGARET POMERANZ:
It is the hard yards. Everyone says, “You are so lucky,” but it does not manifest from the air. You have to work in this industry. Everybody worked those long hours, the editing room until two o’clock in the morning, no thanks.

MAGGIE BEER:
That is the same in the food industry. I did my apprenticeship there, even though it was my own business and I never worked in anyone else’s. The hard work is essential to your growth. Everything in life is a jigsaw, it all comes together when you find something you want to do and you’re comfortable doing it. But hard work is part of us.

Be proud of it, as long as you are enjoying it. That is the important thing.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
It is sort of interesting. You were saying your daughter was approached.

MAGGIE BEER:
(Laughs)

MARGARET POMERANZ:
She said, “No, no, no. Get Mum to do it,”so there is an element of luck. But once that happens, you have got to make it work, you have got to take it on board.

MAGGIE BEER:
I do believe in that, actually. I think luck has been very much a part of my life. Starting a restaurant with absolutely no experience, in a time when all I had was a love of food, and instinct. That was great luck, a long, long time ago, 1978.

It has been a long-time happening. But the luck does come. It is whether you say yes to opportunities that feel good. But I don’t deny luck, ever.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Another thing, I was so self-conscious when I first went on television. I used to get in the daggy tracks and go running through Balmoral, I can’t do that any more. I can’t leave the house without make-up.

How do you deal with that?

MAGGIE BEER:
It is funny, I am so used to people saying, “You look much better than on television!”

(Laughter)

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
Better than televison, you’ve got makeup artists! That happens to me too.

MAGGIE BEER:
I always say, 10 years, 10 kilos.

I am just a person in the valley. When I am in a city, that is different, I gravitate towards home.

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
It is always positive. Sometimes there are tears, when I play Sarah Adams, she represents a community that has suffered in such a profound way. That happens to me in Coles. My kids are very worried then. “Mummy, is she OK?” “Yes, sweetie, she is crying with happiness.”

A new thing for me is bringing people from television to the theatre. You have to stay to the end to understand it, so if you have got tickets we stay.

Going down the stairs saying, “Well, that’s not like ‘Janet King’ at all!”

I am really happy I have grabbed a few people, it is only a 100-seater, because no one knew if it would crash at all. I am loving that sense of fame, people coming for no other reason.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Ruth Cracknell played that Beckett play. It is like, what is it, not ‘Endgame’, but it is reality theatre. The theatre is packed, halfway through the first day this guy goes, “When I you going to say something to make us laugh?”

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
That is the curse of playing a role which defines you completely. Which is why I am happy to have three women going around, you don’t get boxed into one thing.

MAGGIE BEER:
It is the same as ‘A Place in the Sun’, amazing series.

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
People seem to think I am funny.

MAGGIE BEER:
Do you ever wish you could represent yourself?

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
No, I have got Margaret Cuneen for that. The woman I am playing at the moment, Gloria, unfortunately we reference to the Fritzl case. I have to go into the cellar, all the research I have done, it stays with me, it is horrifying. But taboos are fun to bust out in storytelling.

It is important to the things that are happening in the world.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Do you think women are gaining power in the industry through coming from the outside, through their production companies? There are an incredible number of women heading up these production companies. A lot of very good producers, a lot of very good directors. And I certainly think that content is king. Not ‘Janet King’ but… Do you know what I mean? You must see it up close full stop and you too, Maggie.

MAGGIE BEER:
A little. I’m like you to work with great directors and EPs and with ‘Bake off’ with Nicole Rogers. It’s wonderful working with women because they tend to see things you have travelled over before you actually talk about them yourselves, and that’s a lovely thing to happen no matter where you are working.

But mine is such a small bit of television, my experience has been so positive with women.

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
We were talking backstage, Maggie and I, about emotional intelligence and how women have that in spades. I was saying to you, Margaret, yesterday, the women I used to audition for were victims. If you could cry and you are happy to run through the forest in your underpants with a man chasing you with a gun, you might get the role.

It does change. It really has. The women I play, one of them is a lesbian and has beautiful children and a gorgeous girlfriend, who may or may not return. We will wait and see.

But the women now leading these roles are so complicated and representative of all sorts of women. So I have been really lucky, again, I feel really privileged to be the age I am, where drama is at the moment. And I don’t think it can ever go back. And that’s what I love.

I’m leaving my girls with, I think, a really rich, complex storytelling world that will only get more and more complicated, more and more diverse. Diversity is on the lips of every production company I speak to, theatre, television, film. That is all changing. Colourblind casting is very important now.

And the women’s roles I’m seeing and playing I really complex and the women I have mentioned already today are very vocal and have amazing emotional intelligence.

And so do the men. There are some incredible meant that we work next to. And there is a lot of respect and I never see it going back to that.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Television drama, certainly, over the last 20 years has skyrocketed. It used to be the poor cousin and you didn’t have some of the best directors in the world, or any of the best actors in the world, working on it.

Now you do. Now you have directors who prefer… You know, I’m just watching Soderburgh’s ‘The Knick’ at the moment. Do you feel television has come ahead in leaps and bounds in terms of drama? And why is that? Is it in the writing?

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
I think it is people’s desire to binge. It has been this massive phenomenon that has taken over free to air television and they are struggling with that at the moment, how to cope with that. So eventually I think everything will slip online.

The world is changing fast.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Do you binge, Maggie?

MAGGIE BEER:
I do… I’m not going to answer that. No, mainly because we have no commercial television. We are in the lee of the hill and between ABC, SBS and Foxtel it’s not part of our lives. I’ve got a lot going on in our lives between the business and the Foundation.

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
Which is why people binge, I think, because we are so time poor in our everyday lives.

I thought it was fascinating when Jodi Foster was out, you spoke to her, and she was saying how television is taking over cinema. And that’s because you get eight hours, or six hours of story arc with people. And we want that more and more. The novel of television is becoming something people just want.

They want to sit with these people for that amount of time and it’s a privilege to play them for that amount of time, I have to say.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
It’s interesting, turning a film into that series that Tom Hanks did. And I thought, how is that going to work. But in fact, the writing was able to sustain it. And with fabulous performances.

Tell me, frustrations with television, any negatives? Let’s get it out there.

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
Maggie doesn’t like negatives.

MAGGIE BEER:
No, I don’t. The only negative for me is time away from home. And that is really hard for me to do. And hanging around. Not being busy all the time. I’m so used to being busy all the time, I’m sort of like a whirling dervish. I have to slow myself down. That is my only negative.

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
Um… Ah… Negatives, I know it sounds pat but I feel a bit lucky at the moment. Apart from the hours, but everyone works hard, right?

When my knitting is interrupted, when I knit pearl on a pattern.

The characters I play work all the time. So I don’t sit around very much. And I get to work with everyone. I get to talk to everyone. It is constantly new and fun for me because I am never playing just opposite one person.

Going to Manila was hard, on’Jack Irish’, if I had to whinge about anything. The traffic was horrendous and they had a security detail. They were saying, “Don’t you know who you are?” And I was like, “No.” And then we shot overtime and they left.

(Laughter)

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
They were saying, “You will get kidnapped,” and then they left! They made me feel like I was going to be captured.

Oh, yes, once, in the jungle of Manila, accidentally two blank bullets were put into a gun instead of one. That got a little bit scary for a second but everyone was alright.

That would be my only whinge. People get tired and sometimes things go a bit awry. But like I say, no, it is really good.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
What do you think generally about the state of television in this country? Do you think we are doing OK?

MAGGIE BEER:
As a viewer, even though it is not as a binge viewer, but a viewer, and lucky enough to have ABC, SBS and Foxtel, I think we have got some fantastic things. Both in drama and food. Of course, we can always have more. But that’s where I go to naturally.

I think it’s good but I’m on the outside looking in.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
What is this thing with food on television?

MAGGIE BEER:
The thing about food is everyone is hungry for knowledge. Our lives are so incredibly busy that we have lost, many people have lost that knowledge being passed down about cooking. And then their lives are so busy, they think they have to have expedient food. Fast food or things already made.

Whereas television helps to give them ideas. And of course, it’s also entertainment as well. But it’s really about the right shows are really about learning about food and we are much more sophisticated than we were.

MARTA DUSSELDORP:
Some of those shows, what they create on those shows, my jaw dropped.

MAGGIE BEER:
Some of those youngsters – I call everyone youngsters these days – but those on ‘Bake off’ and ‘Masterchef’, where they turned their lives around in six months if they go through, they are just amazing. They do things I could not do. My cooking is much more simple than that.

I am in awe of their creativity and their knowledge, without having done an apprenticeship. It’s sort of… You know, that topline knowledge that they have. It’s just an amazing phenomena in Australia.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
It is, really.

MAGGIE BEER:
But I think we do it well too. And I think that has got so much to do with it.

MARGARET POMERANZ:
A big part of it. Someone said there was a clock here that would tell me when it was 8:55 AM and it is. Isn’t it?

(Laughter)

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Please thank these women. They are quite extraordinary.

(Applause)

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Thank you so much.

(Laughter)

MARGARET POMERANZ:
Enjoy the rest of the conference.

[Tim.Captioner is Live]

2 Comments:

  1. spectrum warrior

    Television or any other industry is run by people! Until these people loose their sexist view points there will never be equality. Be ashamed, be very ashamed.

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