Classic feature article on Tony and Mick

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Classic feature article on Tony and Mick

Post by Dufflecoat Supreme » Mon Apr 16, 2007 1:47 pm

Don't ask me how I have access to this but I tracked down an old feature article on Mick and Tone from the MartinMolloy days. This was published in the Australian on November 14, 1998.

I had to post it over two posts because it's so long
It really is a great read.
Enjoy:


Radio listeners are constantly delighted by the hilarious verbal shots of those apparent loose cannons Martin and Molloy, and shocked at the boundaries they breach on their national drivetime show. Richard yallop meets the men behind the mania
...
LISTENERS' gasps could be heard all around Australia on the notorious afternoon that Tony Martin and Mick Molloy, kings of national drivetime comedy, turned their attention to Monica Lewinsky, the presidential cigar and the windowless corridors of the Oval Office.
Before Kenneth Starr released his infamous report to the US Congress, Martin and Molloy picked up the story on the Internet and, in their perpetual quest for funny behaviour, decided to reveal all on that day's program, broadcast to 52 commercial stations around
Australia.
Molloy could see no reason to grant Bill Clinton presidential immunity so, firing off a magazine of gags and building to his familiar manic crescendo, he related what Lewinsky had allegedly done with the cigar.
He could see the newspaper headlines: a grinning Bill and Monica under the headline "Smoko!"; or a giant picture of the offending cigar accompanied by the headline "Cuban missile crisis"; or a sheepish-looking Lewinsky above the headline "I didn't inhale". Molloy's suggestion for a presidential gift for Lewinsky? Nicotine patches.
Martin visualised White House security staff upholding no-smoking rules and telling Lewinsky, "Take that outside, young lady. If you're going to do that to the cigar, go out the front, like everyone else."
One radio personality from another
Melbournecommercial station listened in amazement. How could these guys get away with stuff like this, when commercial radio was generally such a safe medium, in which everything, including the disc playlist and the target audience, was researched carefully and there was no room for f-words or body parts?
"In most cases, the stations see playing it safe as the way to make money, but Martin/Molloy have gone in the opposite direction," the presenter says. "Radio is so safe, but what they do is so unsafe.
They've been clever enough to remain themselves, rather than be shaped by management, and they can put their own slant on current affairs. They're considered bloody funny by most people in radio, who listen to them out of admiration rather than envy.
"I think a lot of people see them as really naughty boys."
That same radio personality had missed the segment on Martin/Molloy called "The Pleasure Machine", in which female listeners rang up to describe in clinical detail, and with no apparent embarrassment, how their husbands/ lovers pleasured them sexually. Even Molloy seemed taken aback the day one woman described how she called her husband "Nob the throb". It has to be said the tone was comic rather than salacious.
It depends what you find offensive, says Molloy. On the day The Australian went to interview the pair, a Melbourne daily newspaper was offering readers portraits of Diana, princess of
Wales, to mark the first anniversary of her death.
"That's offensive," said Molloy. "We call it Di-xploitation."
Martin/Molloy set the rules for their radio highwire act before it was launched on the airwaves in April 1994. A
Sydneypublicist came down to theMelbournestudios of FOX-FM, where the show is recorded, to discuss the press release the pair had prepared for the program.
When she saw the pot shot it took at "hot" actor Gary Sweet, she blanched.
Molloy recalls: "She said, `You can't do that: Gary Sweet's incredibly popular.'
We told her, `Our whole reputation is based on `going' people; that's what we do.'
"That's the point at which you can capitulate and have an ordinary radio program, or say, `Sorry, if you don't like it, we'll go and do it somewhere else'. Had we done everything asked of us when we got here, I don't think the show would have been as popular as it is. Because we rated well early, I suppose the station had to go with it."
The most recent ratings, released last week, show the program continues to out-rate its drivetime competitors in
Sydney,Melbourne,BrisbaneandPerth-and, even after four years, the pair's popularity shows no sign of falling. The latest of their top-selling compilation albums from the radio program is released next week under the title Eat Your Peas.
Martin says: "There are two ways you can have a successful show: you can design it for the public by listening to research and focus groups -which is how a lot of radio is done; or you can do it our way, which is never to listen to research and do what you reckon is funny. We do what amuses us and hope that it works for the public."
It seems to. Their program is the most syndicated after John Laws's and their success has given rise to industry reports that the pair are on a $1 million annual contract with the Austereo network.
They will not comment, but Martin says money is not the motivation for the program. He points out that he and Molloy and the rest of D-Generation (
RobSitch,JaneKennedy, Santo Cilauro and Tom Gleisner) turned down $2 million to do another year of their Triple-M breakfast radio program in 1992. Instead they did The Late Show on ABC television, and Martin estimates he ended up earning $30,000 in the first couple of years.
In the four years they've been doing their drivetime show, Martin and Molloy have cast their acute eye and sharp wit over everyone from footballers to politicians. They were the first people to pick up Pauline Hanson's "Please explain". THE apparent spontaneity of the satire and the gusto with which it is delivered each day mask the fact that the pair are meticulously careful to avoid defamation proceedings. The only people to threaten legal action so far are the family of Senator Mal Colston, at the time of the travel rorts affair, and cricketer Merv Hughes, who took offence to something said by a listener.
Martin says: "As long as we play their music, management seem to leave us alone. We run our own show and it's left to us to judge what we do. We're careful and we have lawyers. People say we're unsafe and loose cannons, but we don't get sued."
Their professionalism makes it sound easy. Television comedian Russell Gilbert, who used to share a flat with Molloy and is now a regular guest on the show, says: "It's a well-oiled machine. No matter what happens, they're always fresh and they have such good teamwork."
Gilbert remembers how prolific Molloy was when they lived together and how hard he worked on the D-Generation radio show, getting up at
3amto write before the start of the show.
Most days the pair are at work in the studios by
11am, reading the newspapers and the listener e-mails and writing material. The program's air of barely controlled mania is as carefully calculated as it was with that British comedy classic,FawltyTowers. When Martin/Molloy hadFawltyTowersdirector Bob Spiers on the program, he explained that hours of planning lay behind every piece of Basilmania to make sure the gag worked.
Martin says: "The most common misconception was that the cast made it up as they went along. But it was a really clinical, dry exercise, and everything was worked out in advance. Our show works
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the same way; the chaos is a contrived illusion. Even when it sounds as though Mick's going off on some huge ad-lib rant, we've usually got one hand on the safety rail.
"It always gets to me when people see us as some sort of bizarre exception, saying Martin/Molloy can get away with that, but we have to do this. If those people were prepared to put in the hours we do, they'd be able to get away with it, too."
An almost fanatical love of the safari suit.

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Post by Dufflecoat Supreme » Mon Apr 16, 2007 1:47 pm

One radio industry figure suggests Martin/Molloy are the cult comedy figures of the 1990s in the way that Paul Hogan was the cult figure of the 1980s. They have the everyman appeal of Hogan, but with the intellect of Woody Allen.
"They're really clever, but they can sound like bricklayers," says a radio observer. "Mick and Tony are definitely part of young people's culture in
Australia, whereasRobSitch& Co appeal more to the elites."JaneKennedy, part of Sitch & Co, describes Martin/Molloy's appeal as "unpretentious" and considers their style to be part of a generational change in Australian comedy. "I think it's refreshing that they talk about things other people don't. Anything that sounds uncouth isn't said without thought, and being funny. If it's not funny, they don't use it."
Kennedy says that while they are markedly different people outside work, they share a generosity of spirit. In person, both are "good-bloke" material.
An attraction of the show is the way it sounds like a couple of good mates sitting down to crack a few jokes and have a good laugh, and it's much the same when you meet them.
Martin seems irrepressibly buoyant and his imagination endlessly fertile, while the sleepy-eyed Molloy goes through periods of quietness before unleashing his great rants. Martin -tall, thin, and bespectacled -is the film buff, whose idea of heaven is half an hour in the local video shop, while Molloy, unshaven, unkempt and of burlier build, is the football, golf and beer nut.
Martin says: "I'm a sporting dyslexic; I can't understand it at all. I'm just a boring film buff. I love the video shop; it's the neighbourhood art museum for me." He runs through some of his favourites: Spinal Tap, Sweet Smell of Success, Midnight Run, Bikini Shop, The Love God.
Molloy, meanwhile, is a Richmond Aussie rules fan and a 27-handicap member of the exclusive National Golf Club on the
MorningtonPeninsula(entry is through purchase of a $12,000 share). "Golf is such a mindf . . .," he says. "I do hit a big drive, but I can't tell you where it will go."
Kennedy questions the appropriateness of the description "blokey" for Molloy. "He likes sport and alcohol and going out, which are things I like, too," she says.
IN looking for a common source of Martin and Molloy's comedy, the one thing they share is that both had absent fathers.
Martin was born in the small
New Zealandtown ofTe Kuitiand his father left when he was five weeks old. Molloy's father, an airline pilot, was frequently away from the family home inMountEliza, an affluent bayside suburb in outerMelbourne. He subsequently separated from Molloy's mother.
Martin had a succession of stepfathers and left home to work in
Hamiltonwhen he was 15. "The family tree is very rotten at certain points," he says. "My mum is really the only remaining member of the family who's not insane. Am I the sad clown crying on the inside? No! I don't feel the comedy was mined from any childhood experience. Most of our material is based on what's going on in the news. We're just looking for funny behaviour."
He had an early job as a tea boy at an advertising agency and he amused himself one day by hanging a dead rat outside the office window. The managing director demanded a "please explain"
letter and was so impressed by it that he offered Martin a job as a copywriter.
Martin was also very good at doing imitations of the then New Zealand prime minister Robert Muldoon and Sean Connery playing James Bond. He used his talents at an amateur dramatics club in
Hamilton, where he met his first girlfriend, Janine Evans.
She says: "Our first date was me listening to his
Peter Sellers records, and our first weekend away was inAuckland.
We watched five movies in a day."
She found Martin a natural comic, but seriously obsessive about tidiness. "He's the opposite of Mick. When I first met him, he would iron everything -towels, underpants, pillowcases. The towels had to be folded in the right way. I remember one night he came home quite drunk but he couldn't go to bed until I'd unlaced his shoes and put them back in the cupboard.
"He was a very thin, weedy kid and I think he felt that if you could make someone laugh you immediately got them on your side. I think he's a cross between Jerry Seinfeld and Woody Allen. He hasn't changed much since I first met him, except that he's more serious about his comedy. He's a very nice, gentle, generous person. He's always worried that people won't find him funny, so he's planning what to fall back on. His first fall-back is working behind the counter in a video shop."
Evans says that Martin, who met his wife Annie while she was working on The Late Show, is happy to leave the sexsymbol status to Molloy, whose partner is actor Sophie Lee. There are elements of the grizzly bear in Molloy, cute and cuddly in repose, but beware when he lashes out with his lampoons of Mal Colston, Boris Yeltsin, John Howard or Bill Clinton.
The pair's comedy is an expression of anger, as well as the ridiculous. "The show's like therapy for me, in a way," says Molloy. "I don't think too much about what I do, but anger's definitely part of it."
Martin says he keeps a fire-extinguisher in the studio to hose down Molloy after he's given one of "Mick's serves". Molloy gave some clues to the subversive behaviour to come when he was a student at
PeninsulaSchool, outsideMelbourne. He was a high achiever, being dux of humanities, a prefect, a talented debater and a member of the football and cricket first teams.
But there was another side, which he showed in one school swimming match.
After each race he was supposed to hold up the letters
PENINSULAat one end of the pool. To inject some variety, at the end of one race he decided to hold up the letters PENIS. He was summoned before the pastoral care committee and given a severe reprimand.
His English teacher, Richard Jackson, who is now at
CamberwellGrammar School, recalls: "He was a be-blazered young man who called everyone `sir' with a wonderful touch of irony. A lot of boys adopted irony as a defence.
"Michael's schoolboy wit was very funny, but I noticed it became much more cynical as he grew older. He seemed to lose that boyishness and a sadness entered his eyes.
I think he felt almost cheated at times that there wasn't something more, or grander, to life. He was the model student, but not the sort of material to be head boy; it was too risky. The boy chosen that year was of stuffier material."
Molloy went from
Peninsulato theUniversityofMelbourneto study arts/law.
He met Sitch, Cilauro and Gleisner through university revues and then Martin through D-Generation. Martin had been offered a job on
Brisbanecommercial radio by a station executive who heard him doing his funny voices inHamilton, and he moved toMelbournelater.
Their next ambition is to do films, but in the meantime they are pondering whether to commit themselves to a further year of radio, which would give them a financial safety net for future movie projects. The one certainty is that if they leave radio, it will be because they have decided to jump and not because they have finally fallen off the highwire.
An almost fanatical love of the safari suit.

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Post by SandhurstMachinery » Mon Apr 16, 2007 4:55 pm

Thanks for posting that. Brings back memories. How can you forget David Colston's unforgettable "get the f*ck off the property".
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Post by seewhy » Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:36 pm

Fantastic read. Thanks for posting it! :D
You tell me... who could have predicted the flannelette boom of '89?

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Post by Dufflecoat Supreme » Tue Apr 17, 2007 2:20 pm

I've found others on working dog etc. Even one a couple of years back on Jason Stephens.
Do you guys want them?
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Post by seewhy » Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:31 pm

Sure! I for one would love to read them :)
You tell me... who could have predicted the flannelette boom of '89?

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Post by eck » Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:07 pm

That would be terrific if you could...
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Post by 13 schoolyards » Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:32 pm

Hell yeah, keep 'em coming. I for one can't get enough of this stuff.

By the by, anyone got copies of the columns Mick Molloy wrote for The Truth newspaper inbetween the first and second seasons of TLS?
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Working Dog feature

Post by Dufflecoat Supreme » Tue Apr 17, 2007 9:36 pm

This must've been done around 98-99. Once again, spread over a couple of posts



WORKING WONDERS
By: GERARD WHATELEYThey play together, and have stayed together, for an extraordinary 15 years.
And these old Dogs are still coming up with new tricks.
GERARD WHATELEY goes behind the scenes with this growing force in Australian entertainment
As far as I can tell, what you have is a movie director who is too restless and lazy to be ambitious, a frustrated chef who dreams of producing a cooking show, a fisherman (moonlighting as a chat-show host) on the verge of becoming a gay icon, and a soccer fanatic with a pocket full of vomit.
The director thinks the best part of soccer is the way the groundsmen cut the lawns.
The wants the fisherman to spend less time catching and more time cooking.
The chat-show host thinks what the world really needs is more cricket books.
And the soccer fanatic asks no more of life than to come to work with his friends and get between five and 10 good laughs each day.
And if Italy could win the World Cup, well, that would be heaven on Earth.
Are you having fun yet?Welcome to Working Dog, the outrageously successful production company of RobSitch, Jane Kennedy, Tom Gleisner and Santo Cilauro.
What started with sketch comedy in university revues 15 years ago, at which time each had a "real" profession to fall back on, has grown to become the yardstick of cross-media creativity in Australia.
From the collective minds at Working Dog has come a top-rating radio program, a couple of the great television shows of recent times, a modern movie favorite and a best-selling sports book.
And the truth is, they're just getting warmed up.
The Castle is soon to be released in England and America, the company is planning to shoot one, if not two, movies this summer, three TV shows are in production, Gleisner is writing, Kennedy is plotting her cooking extravaganza and Cilauro is fulfilling a lifetime dream by simply being at the World Cup in France.
All this while Sitch and executive producer Michael Hirsh have been rejecting overseas advances to move the entire set-up to foreign shores.
The boutique production company represents the cutting edge in Australian entertainment, with an uncanny ability to successfully create what audiences are ready to embrace.
The walls of the South Yarra headquarters are testament to television shows such as D-Generation, The Late Show, Frontline, Funky Squad and A River Somewhere.
But it is their latest effort, The Panel, pioneering the genre of drive-thru television, which most clearly demonstrates not only the power Working Dog wields within the industry, but the affinity it has with the public.
Channel Ten required only a description of the program before offering Working Dog a prime-time slot.
Eyebrows were raised after episode one, ratings numbers were average and the critics' knives were sharp.
A dozen weeks later and The Panel has a substantial and loyal audience and Working Dog has another success.
Really, we shouldn't be surprised.
In the entertainment world, not too many partnerships last 15 years.
To be producing your best work after such a long time is rarer still.
The bond at Working Dog is more significant.
Sitch and Kennedy say they would be unable to write comedy on their own, but it is Cilauro who gives perspective to the partnership.
"I love going and seeing Barry Humphries shows," he says.
"But I always feel a bit sad at the end because I walk away and I'm thinking he's down there in the dressing room by himself wondering if that was a good show or not.
"The comedy aspect to me is a shared thing and therefore when something doesn't go well it is dissatisfying in many ways, but at least it is a shared experience.
Maybe it's the Sicilian background of mine, that a shared experience is a good experience.
"Well documented is the writing style within Working Dog.
On all the major projects two people write and the other two edit.
Directing duties are shared. While those are the cold practicalities, rarely have the partners exposed more.
Where does the balance of power lie? Is the group more important than the individual? How does the work stay fresh and original?These interviews are conducted in pairs, first Sitch and Cilauro, then Kennedy and Gleisner.
In the twosomes the banter is lively.
Sitch and Cilauro have a habit of falling back into the guises of Graham and the Colonel from The Late Show.
Kennedy and Gleisner have the lines bouncing back and forth, quite happy to give each other a bit of stick.
Asked what is the most difficult thing in being part of the same production team for so long, Cilauro pauses before offering: "Actually agreeing on what we are going to have for lunch when someone is picking stuff up.
" It's funny, but he means it.
"That's about as difficult as it gets.
When someone says something, there's no ulterior motives.
When someone says something that an outsider might consider to be slightly hurtful, you know that it's not because that person has been your big brother for a long time.
"Also, we are four vastly different people, so in many ways we actually complement each other in terms of our attitudes towards things and our feelings towards programs.
"Such diversity of character leads to an abundance of ideas.
Sitch rattles off half-a-dozen projects residing in the backlog basket, and he doubts they will ever have the energy or the time to work them into television shows.
Says Kennedy: "I guess because we are around each other all the time and socially we see each other as well, it does mean we do continually talk about ideas.
I think there's something about being in a group dynamic which is really healthy.
I find it incredibly difficult to write by myself or to do anything by myself.
"There is no hierarchy within the company.
If someone is passionate about an idea, the rest of the group will be supportive.
"People want to know who's the boss, who's the leader," Kennedy says.
"Well, no one.
That's just the way it works.
It's a very democratic way that we work through things, anything from 'Do we get a cappuccino machine?' to 'Who are we going to get to distribute the film?'.
"Then again, to cut across all that, if there is one person truly passionate saying, 'No, I reckon this', the rest of us will go, 'Fine, done.
You've made the decision, we're happy with that'. "The masterstroke within the Working Dog structure is the freedom for each member to undertake individual projects.
Gleisner's The Warwick Todd Diaries and Cilauro's 1996 election documentary The Campaign were tremendously successful undertakings which further boosted the stocks of the company.
"It is scary to ask if we'll always work together," Gleisner says.
"I think we will in one form or another, but we have our soloprojects.
With A River Somewhere, there was no way Rob and I were going to drag Jane and Santo up alpine streams in search of fish, but they are still here at the other end to look at the stuff we bring back and offer advice.
"There are all sorts of possibilities like that.
I'm quite sure one of us will come up with an idea for a film they will passionately want to do, but it won't be an all-in thing.
So there's the freedom there.
It's not like we are all strapped together.
"However, it is a very comforting arrangement to have.
It would be very tough to be out there on your own. "In addition to being comforting, it makes them brave.
Twice, against significant pressure, Working Dog has baulked at going back to the well for a third season of The Late Show and a fourth of Frontline.
"We always get judged on our previousprojects," Gleisner says.
"That means if you let that get to you, you would only do the same thing.
Once you'd come up with Frontline just keep churning it out, because the moment you poke your head out a new hole you seem to get it whacked off.
No, we'll try new things. "The protection-in-numbers theory has also allowed Working Dog to step from the confines of comedy.
Sitch writes a weekly column for Business Review Weekly; A River Somewhere is a cross between a travelogue and a fishing show; and Kennedy is preparing a documentary series about Australia's working dogs.
The Movie Director In his first appearance in US movie magazine
Premiere,
RobSitchis quoted: "You never want to forget why we really got into the film industry, and that's to meet Cameron Diaz.
"Having studied medicine at MelbourneUniversity and done a year of hospital rounds in his early 20s, Sitch is now a name in Hollywood.
He appears seriously underwhelmed.
Is he ambitious at all?"Not for tokens, not for the medals.
Pure ambition is actually a really boring commodity.
I think I'm restless and I'm also lazy, so somehow my restlessness fights my laziness.
"With the sale of The Castle to Miramax, Sitch spent time with owner Harvey Weinstein, possibly Hollywood's most eccentric character.
Asked to retell his best Weinstein story, Sitch begins: "I had to introduce the film at several screenings and I was trying to make it different.
I thought, 'What would Harvey's concern be?' So rather than talk to the 400people, I'd have something specifically to appeal to him.
I said: 'People said it wouldn't work in America.
I said, 'What, they don't have families over there?'"Harvey's partner is his brother, they named the company after his parents and all that sort of thing.
At the end he came up and said, 'How do you do?' and grabbed my arm, pulled me in close and whispered in my ear, 'I like the film, but your introduction, I liked that a lot'.
An almost fanatical love of the safari suit.

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Post by Dufflecoat Supreme » Tue Apr 17, 2007 9:38 pm

Jane Kennedywas the newsreader on the Triple M breakfast show when the D-Generation began at the station.
Her chemistry with the team was such that she was asked to join the on-air mayhem.
Kennedy and Sitch have long been an off-screen item, which makes the chemistry within Working Dog all the more fascinating.
Neither has ever discussed the relationship publicly, not even to confirm it.
Kennedy's fascination with producing a cooking show for television appears to be the running office gag.
For now, she is working on a special project to be pitched at the ABC.
"It's a series on working dogs and how important they are in rural communities around the country," she says.
When The Panel first went to air, viewers were miffed that Kennedy wasn't sitting at the desk.
She was on the other side of the camera producing the show. "I think the expression is, 'Creatively Jane didn't want to be on camera'," she says.
Ironically, when Sitch and Gleisner went away recently to film A River Somewhere, Kennedy took over the hosting duties and shone.
The FishermanEvery time the Australian cricket team is required to provide urine samples for drug tests, a mysterious bottle carrying the name Warwick Todd is submitted.
It contains beer. "It's always pleasing when you do something like this and people get the joke pretty early on," Tom Gleisner says of the reaction to The Warwick Todd Diaries.
So popular was the book when it was released in December it sold out before Christmas.
Never fear - he'll have another diary at the end of the year documenting the tour of India, and the Commonwealth Games.
Asked about his method of research, or the existence of a spy, Gleisner responds: "The same as Frontline, really.
Everyone assumed we had someone on the inside.
I've read a lot of cricket books, which has basically been my research.
I was lucky because the premise of this was everyone in the Australian cricket team seems to have a book out.
And last Christmas it happened.
It was extraordinary the flood of cricket-based publications. "Gleisner's other passion is the second season of A River Somewhere, which will air next month.
"It's a total package: the travel, the fishing, the cooking, the wine.
I think Rob and I are becoming gay icons.
We've just shot a sequence in New Zealand where we are swimming together in a thermal pool and, I'm telling you, if that doesn't do it ..."Roars of laughter prompt talk of TV's Outback adventurer Troy Dann, whose escapades in a g-string have given him gay icon status.
The Soccer Fan Santo Cilauro is enjoying the finest production of his career, his five-month-old son Benito.
Not even a pocketful of crunchy week-old baby vomit in his jacket can dampen his enthusiasm.
"It's sort of business as usual but you are happier because you get an injection every morning of a little kid smiling at you," he says.
Then, with a cheeky grin: "My boy is going to come to the World Cup with me.
I know he's a little bit young, but..."Eventually all discussion must return to the World Cup, from whence Cilauro will file reports for FOX and 2Day FM's Martin and Molloy.
He agrees his life has panned out far better than if he had chosen to practise law, as he had studied to do.
"I've got to say that the baby only just marginally is superior to this feeling of going over there; it has been a dream.
"In fact, Cilauro's favorite film, and one of which he has a rare original 16mm print, is the 1970 semi-final between Italy and Germany.
"I remember my dad and I went to the Italian cinema in Clifton Hill together with all the other crazy Italians about three months after the game was played.
We all went with our scarves and everything as if we still hadn't lost the final the day after against Brazil.
It was an amazing 4-3 win.
It was almost vindication for what happened during the war. "Recently I helped a lady sell her cinema after her husband died.
She brought me into the basement and said I could have any film.
There were all these Pasolini films and Hercules films that I loved, but when I saw the Italy v Germany film, I said, 'That's the one I want'.
" It was not initially clear how important The Castle would be to the future of Working Dog.
By now it is.
The Castle has taken its place in the annals of independent filmmaking in this country.
The vital statistics include: written in two weeks, shot in 12 days at a cost of $700,000 - and one of fewer than a dozen Australian films to have grossed more than $10 million at the domestic box office.
Then at the Sundance Film Festival in January, the film became the subject of a bidding war, eventually secured for international release by Miramax for a reported $9 million.
The film is undergoing subtle changes for the international market and will be released in Britain on July 31 and in the US by November.
Early reviews have predicted it will be this year's The Full Monty.
What it all means is Working Dog is poised to be the next major force in Australian filmmaking.
Not surprisingly, there is no shortage of ideas and scripts.
Even less surprising, they are not sharing the specifics just yet.
"We've probably toyed with three or four scripts for a long time," Sitch says.
"We're not working to any agenda," Gleisner says.
"Summer is the movie-making time in this country with the long hours.
I like to think we'll be out there with a camera sometime then.
There are three scripts kicking around at the moment, one or two of which we might do this year.
""I'm getting a bit itchy," Kennedy says.
"It would be great if it could be summer.
It's exciting, but there's also enormous frustration which comes with filmmaking, how long it takes from inception to putting it on the screen.
I think we kidded ourselves with The Castle.
I don't think it will ever be that quick again. "Within the film industry it is a long-held belief that the second film is the toughest.
At Working Dog they call it the "Almost an Angel syndrome", referring to Paul Hogan's ill-fated follow-up to Crocodile Dundee.
Gleisner says the best way around this is to ensure the second film is nothing like The Castle.
"I think that's often where you fall into the trap that you try to recreate the success of one project by echoing it," he says.
What is obvious is the future at Working Dog is in film.
With four ready-made and experienced directors, the prospect of making multiple films in a year is real.
Sitch is unconcerned about the fear of failing to live up to expectations on the big screen.
"You can't be tentative about them," he says.
"There's no way anyone gets it right anyway.
In some ways I think movies are a more comfortable thing because everyone stuffs up with movies.
"I mean, you see Spielberg, who has probably the best strike rate, and you watch 1941 and it is a total mess.
"Then you read about it and you find out he was just totally frazzled and lost confidence with the film and it all went wrong.
Everyone stuffs up. "And you watch, when we stuff up it will be ugly viewing.
But the good thing about movies is nobody goes, whereas if you stuff up on television everyone watches.
" There were plenty of critics willing to tell you The Panel was Working Dog's big mistake.
Not anymore.
All audiences needed was a chance to adjust. "There's not much chat for our generation on TV," Kennedy says.
"There's a lot for the older generation, but not for us.
"The idea for The Panel has been kicking around at Working Dog for five years.
Sitch had even considered screening the show on Channel 31 before Ten came on board.
"I tried to haze friends into doing the show because I love nothing more than that - I love chat shows," Sitch says.
"It's totally disposable.
I doubt that one second of it will ever be repeated.
It's just total drive-thru television. "Everything we've ever done has been so script and written-driven.
It's as simple as this: on a Wednesday night when you're sitting at home and you don't want to watch a drama you can just watch a bunch of people mucking around with no purpose.
"Sitch was struck the other day by the fact they had been doing TV for 13 years.
But he has no fear age (all are in their mid-30s) will temper the cutting edge of their productions.
"No, I reckon you only get good at this stuff after a bit of time," he says.
"I remember when Ben Elton said when he was a struggling artist railing against Thatcher it was natural.
When he became a multi-millionaire he didn't pretend, he didn't hang on to his stand-up from his struggling student days, he just moved on.
"As long as you are honest on that level, I think you are fine.
"Film has offered Working Dog an international profile.
As Sitch points out, television rarely travels unless it is an American or British sitcom.
But while the opportunities might expand, the company is not waiting at the docks to ship out.
Says Cilauro: "When Rob and Hirshy got back from LA, they said there was an interest in us, and people have said, 'Do you want to come over and do this'.
"And Rob said, 'Why would we want to do that?' If we are happy going to the football here and comfortable É we are at that age where we are just happy doing what we are doing.
"Sometimes you can be ambitious for the simple things, and I think we have achieved that.
As long as we come in to work every day and have between five and 10 good laughs and we are doing something we would otherwise be doing as a pastime and you are working with your friends and it is going successfully enough to be able to make enough money to make your next project, I can't ask for anything more than that."
The Panel screens 9.30pm Wednesdays on Ten.
A River Somewhere returns to the ABC in July.
An almost fanatical love of the safari suit.

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