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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Sunday June 9, 2019 

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FOX BACKLOT - THE OPENING REPORT

Proven by the fact that some of the lesser VIP guests had to stand for lack of seats during the live show, the Fox Backlot opening night was a major attraction, enticing everyone from the Murdoch camp's opposite number Kerry Packer to writer David Williamson to attend. Urban Cinefile's Andrew L. Urban and Louise Keller were there, too, grabbing red carpet interviews for the WEBCAST effected through the technology of Fox Studios and Telstra.

The old showring at what used to be the Sydney Showground was tested on Sunday night in its new role as the live entertainment centre of the Fox Studios Backlot - the public space adjacent to the professional studios. The organisation was extraordinary, considering the logistics, except for the inexplicable shortfall in plastic chairs in the centre for the 4,000 guests who were entertained by a 90 minute stage spectacular that included everything from Hugh Jackman's down to earth humour to a pyrotechnic finale that spewed designer confetti on the crowd.

Before the confetti landed, so did one of the X Wing fighters from Star Wars, hoisted into space by a giant crane and lowered on musical cue to the giant stage, with Maestro Tommy Tycho leading his orchestra into a perfectly timed crescendo.

"a bravado of Australian talent"

Chairs aside - your world weary correspondents managing to rescue two plastic chairs beside a giant speaker stack and drag them to a useful spot - the evening paraded Fox's confidence in the venture, coupled with a bravado of Australian talent that made it happen - and made it happen with an Australian accent. If you pardon the trifling slip of having r2d2 and cp30 from Star Wars actually perform the opening act in front of Rupert Murdoch ("a US toy doing the opening," as one Australian filmmaker mumbled on the way to drinks) you have to admire the sheer magnitude of the undertaking. And the risk, as Chief Executive Kim Williams told us in an interview recorded in the lead up to the opening.

The show - featuring Kylie Minogue for openers, (with a tribute to Marylin Monroe with a showstarting rendition of Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend, complete with a dozen male dancers), Jon Stevens, Shirley Jones, Human Nature, Marcia Hines - also paid tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein. But perhaps the most blood-pumping sequence was the theatricalised tribute to Baz Luhrmann's own Rome + Juliet, combining film footage (in montage) with live performance, props and stage effects.

When it was all over on the stage, the crowd jostled (comfortably) to the Backlot, mingling the length and breadth of Bent Street and chomping fresh king prawns, oysters and crab rolls, washed down by Yellow champagne, all sorts of beer and wine. Some went to explore the Titanic Experience, others just drank and networked. The film industry was out in force, as you could tell on Monday morning when the phones stayed silent.

"the level of Australian creative energy"

It is easy to be cynical and critical, wondering what does all the excess mean, but you could say that about a backyard barbecue, if you flipped open the latest Amnesty newsletter. What did stand out was the level of Australian creative energy utilised in the making of the Backlot, which collectively put the r2d2 opening episode in the shade.

But it's open now: go and check it out for yourself.

See our OVERVIEW of the Backlot. Also, see HOYTS at Fox.

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Hugh Jackman


Cate Blanchett


Baz Luhrmann


Shirley Jones


Cate Blanchett, Shirley Jones, Hugh Jackman, Marcia Hines

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A selection of the red-carpet interview subjects, in order of interviews:

Hugh Jackman

Kylie Minogue

Mitch Pelaggi (Skinner, The X Files)

Shirley Jones

Nicholas Whitlam

Richard Glover

Steve Vizard

Rupert Murdoch & Wendy

Steve Bastoni

Lachlan Murdoch

Richard Roxburgh

Marcia Hines

John Laws

Pat Rafter & Elizabeth

John Howard

Jack Thompson

Bill Collins

Molly Meldrum

Barrie Kosky & Carmen Cockatoo

Deborah Mailman

Tom Cruise

Kerry Packer

Baz Luhrmann

David Williamson

Sam Neill

Rob Sitch

David Wenham

Charlie Sheen

Ewan McGregor

Dougray Scott

Michael Pate

Yahoo Serious & Lulu

Matt Day & Kirsty

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Interviews: Andrew L. Urban

Line production: Louise Keller

Camera: Greg Kay

Sound: Ben Hooft

Web production: Will Berryman (Fox Studios), Michelle Hayden and Susan Martin (Telstra).

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