Andrew Denton

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Andrew Denton
Andrew Denton (cropped).jpg
Birth name Andrew Christopher Denton
Born (1960-05-04) 4 May 1960 (age 54)
Sydney, Australia
Years active 1980s–present
Spouse Jennifer Byrne
1 child, Connor (born 1994)
Notable works and roles Blah Blah Blah, The Money or the Gun, Enough Rope with Andrew Denton, God on My Side, Triple M Network

Andrew Christopher Denton (born 4 May 1960) is an Australian television producer, comedian, Gold Logie-nominated[1] television presenter and former radio host, and was the host of the ABC's weekly television interview program Enough Rope and the ABC game show Randling. He is known for his comedy and interviewing technique.[2] He is also responsible for introducing the troupe The Chaser to Australian audiences.

Early life[edit]

Denton is the son of Kit Denton, writer and the author of the novel The Breaker, about Australian soldier and folk hero Breaker Morant. He went to Roseville Primary School in Sydney, before attending Blue Mountains Grammar School in Wentworth Falls NSW. In 1977 he attended Guildford Grammar School. He studied media and communications at Mitchell College of Advanced Education (MCAE) (now the Charles Sturt University) in Bathurst NSW for a Bachelor of Arts in Communication - graduated 1982–83.[3] He was involved in the campus radio station, 2MCE.

Career[edit]

Radio[edit]

Andrew Denton worked on Australian radio stations early in his media career. Beginning as a writer for radio personality Doug Mulray on Triple M, and later appearing on the show as "Andrew the boy wonder from indoor cricket", he went on to write and host his own show. He had an early involvement in the Sydney Theatresports movement.

Denton had an extended stint as a morning radio host for the Triple M Network in Sydney, with the assistance of Amanda Keller (who had regularly appeared on Denton). Segments included musical challenges. His time on Triple M included the infamous "House from Hell!" competition, in which various contestants were placed in a house together and involved in various stunts, tricks and tortures. Denton has said in radio interviews that he regrets being involved in the program, due to the unacceptable level of human manipulation.

Television[edit]

Denton made his first television appearance as an extra on the ABC television series The Investigators, and progressed to being a member of the team that was runner-up on the Australian improvised comedy show Theatresports in 1987.[4]

From the late 1980s into the 1990s, he hosted a number of TV shows, including Blah Blah Blah (1988), The Money or the Gun (1989–1990), Live and Sweaty (1991–1995), and a comedy talk show, Denton. The first three of these appeared on the ABC, while the last was on the Seven Network. These shows were talk-based, but often featured other segments. Live and Sweaty focused on sports and was a panel-based television show. Each had comic undertones - even when dealing with serious subjects - such as the Money or the Gun episode dealing with kids cancer sufferers.

Each week on The Money or the Gun, Andrew had a musical guest play a cover version of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" in a different musical style, usually the genre of the guest's own musical style. The song was played in styles ranging from grand opera to the quirky pop of The B-52's. This resulted in an album with 22 of the covers and a video with 25 (three highly visual covers, including the Castanet Club's "pirate" themed entry, were not included on the album).

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, musicians from Led Zeppelin, later appeared on Denton to perform a Rolf Harris song (Rolf performed a notable version of Stairway, with wobble board solo). Denton saw the beginning of the Musical Challenge segment, and challenged musical guests to perform a song from a barrel full of well-known songs. This segment evolved during his time on Triple M, resulting in three albums with tracks including Tina Arena singing "Cheap Wine", The Wiggles singing Long way to the Top, Neil Finn performing Sexual Healing, James Reyne performing Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights, Barenaked Ladies performing Prince's When Doves Cry and Paul Kelly performing Prince's Little Red Corvette. Two volumes were released on CD titled Andrew Denton's Musical Challenge.

While presenting Denton (the television series), he launched a public subscription scheme to hire a bounty hunter to capture fugitive businessman Christopher Skase, who was attempting to avoid extradition to Australia at the time. When told that his repeated statements against Skase could expose him to legal action, Denton said, "If he's got a problem, he can come here and sue me". He had a cameo appearance in the Australian film Let's Get Skase.

In 2003, Denton began hosting Enough Rope with Andrew Denton, which became a hit for the ABC. He was executive producer and script editor for ABC's The Election Chaser and CNNNN. In an audience development survey in 2004, respondents named Denton as one of the "most liked and recognisable" personalities on Australian television. Enough Rope ended in late 2008.

Asked about the best skill an interviewer can bring to the job, Denton said: "Research, clearly. Listening, obviously. And leaving myself open to the possibility it won't go the way I expect."[5] Asked if there was an interview he wished he could do again, he said: "I did an interview with Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and it was a crap interview because I am not very interested in royalty. Having accepted to do the interview, I should have found a way to get myself interested. If I wasn't interested, why would the audience be? That was a great kick up the bum for me. It's a lesson – I've learned it many times, but you always have to relearn it – just when you think you're good at something, you find out what you're not good at. It just reminded me, you can't ever be lazy about it."[5]

In 2009, Denton hosted the second season of Elders, a series of interviews with ageing notable Australians. After this series finished, Denton took a few years off being in front of the camera and spent more time behind the scenes. In 2012, he returned to hosting duties, to ABC's game show, Randling.

In 2014, Denton appeared on SBS TV program, Who Do You Think You Are?, tracing his Jewish family line to Poland.[6] He visits Treblinka extermination camp and contemplates on what his fate would have been had his grandfather not moved to England[7]

Film[edit]

Denton's first feature-length documentary, God on My Side, documents his visit to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention. It was first shown at the Sydney Film Festival in June 2006 with plans to show it as a TV special on ABC's Enough Rope. It was screened in Australian cinemas from 2 November 2006. Denton insists he is not anti-Christian.[8]

In 2011, Denton served as executive producer on the crowd-funded horror film The Tunnel, which was released on DVD, TV and through BitTorrent online downloading platforms on 18 May 2011, simultaneously. The film was directed by Carlo Ledesma, co-written, co-produced and co-edited by Julian Harvey and Enzo Tedeschi, and produced with Denton's production company Zapruder's Other Films.

Stage[edit]

Denton appeared as Malcolm Turnbull in the Belvoir St Theatre production of A Royal Commission into the Australian Economy, written by John Clarke and Ross Stevenson, and participated in the early years of the ABC's World Series Debating.

Production[edit]

Zapruder's other films is a production company founded in 1989 by Denton, Anita Jacoby, and Peter Thompson.[9] The company was named for Abraham Zapruder, the man who famously filmed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Works produced by the company include:

In early 2012, Zapruder merged with Cordell Jigsaw, and in June 2013 Andrew Denton sold his share of the company at the same time that he announced he was quitting television.[10]

Awards / Logies[edit]

Denton has been involved in the Logie Awards, hosting the awards ceremony in 1999 and 2000. Denton was nominated for several Logie awards:

Personal life[edit]

Andrew Denton lives in Sydney. He and his wife, presenter Jennifer Byrne have a son, Connor, born in 1994. Byrne and Denton separated for six months in 1997.[11] Denton is 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in) tall;[12] he is a supporter of the South Sydney Rabbitohs.[13] Denton was raised Roman Catholic but is now an atheist.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ Mose, Alexa Mose (26 February 2005). "No more Mr Funny Guy". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved 4 February 2011. 
  3. ^ [2][dead link]
  4. ^ Dino Scatena. "Do Not Adjust Your Set". Australian Rolling Stone (Sydney, NSW: Tilmond Pty Ltd) (March 1994): pp. 40–45. 
  5. ^ a b Dow, Steve (2 October 2005). "Interviewers: Andrew Denton". Archived from the original on 4 February 2011. 
  6. ^ "Andrew Denton | Episode 1 | Season 6 | Who Do You Think You Are on SBS". Sbs.com.au. 2012-08-15. Retrieved 2014-07-15. 
  7. ^ Andrew Denton (2014-07-05). "The Last witness". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2014-07-08. 
  8. ^ "Andrew Denton's very Christian anti-Christian film". Eureka Street. Retrieved 2014-07-15. 
  9. ^ [3][dead link]
  10. ^ "Andrew Denton sells out of Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder and quits television". The Australian. 26 June 2013. 
  11. ^ Moses, Alexa (26 February 2005). "No more Mr Funny Guy". The Age (Melbourne). 
  12. ^ "Andrew Denton". Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. Retrieved 17 November 2008. 
  13. ^ "The Resurrection of the Rabbitohs". Nine Network, Sunday. Retrieved 17 November 2008. 

External links[edit]