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'Mad Men' Star Elisabeth Moss' New Role Sparks Controversy in Australia

by Catherine Lawson, posted Nov 7th 2011 6:15AM
Elisabeth MossThe news that 'Mad Men' star Elisabeth Moss has signed on to star in upcoming new drama 'Top of the Lake' has led Australia's national broadcaster, the ABC network, to pull out of the project.

It had reportedly pledged around $600,000 to the miniseries on the assumption that the lead character, an Australian police officer, would be played by an Australian actress.

An ABC spokesman told the 'Herald Sun': "We went into this with the understanding the lead actor would be an Australian. But when that could not happen, we removed ourselves from the deal."

The spokesman added, "We love Elisabeth Moss, but she's not an Australian. We have a fine calibre of Australian actors available and we would have preferred to see one of them in the role."

Filming is due to start on 'Top of the Lake' in New Zealand in February. The six-hour mini series, which is a BBC Worldwide and Sundance Channel coproduction, reunites actress Holly Hunter and director Jane Campion, both of whom won Oscars for their work on 'The Piano.'

Simon Whipp, director of the Actors Equity Foundation, applauded ABC for taking a stand: "To cast an American in this is a really disappointing decision," he said. "I find it hard to believe they could not find a suitable performer in Australia or New Zealand, in their 20-30s, to perform this."

'Top of the Lake' follows Moss' character, detective Robin Griffin, as she investigates the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year old named Tui. Other non-antipodean actors have also been cast in pivotal roles, with Scottish actor Peter Mullan ('War Horse,' 'The Magdalene Sisters') taking on the role of Tui's drug-dealing father, and Hunter playing a guru at a local women's camp.

However, other roles in the ensemble cast have been filled by Australian actors such as 'Lord of the Rings' star David Wenham. Screen Australia, which has contributed more than $1.1 million, told the 'Herald Sun' it's disappointed that ABC pulled out, as the series will employ many Australians. UKTV has contributed the shortfall left by ABC's withdrawal.

'Top of the Lake' marks Campion's first project in her native New Zealand for many years. She co-wrote the drama with Gerard Lee ('Sweetie') and said in a statement "I am in love with the intense beauty of southern most New Zealand and am excited to be setting a story in this end of the world paradise. To be able to tell the story over six hours gives myself and my brilliant team a chance to make something truly absorbing and memorable."

It will be produced by Emile Sherman and Iain Canning's See-Saw Films ('The Kings Speech') and directed by up and comer Garth Davis ('Love My Way').

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It is a shame that Aussies apparently are biast against American actors when America hires Aussie actors in American films. It is nice to know that Jane Campion, a New Zealander, does not have this biast and is hiring the team of actors she feels is most suitable. Also, if ABC felt this way they should have been up front about it to begin with instead of just 'assuming' Ms. Campion would hire actors from down under...we have a saying about here in America about 'assuming' - Assume and you make an ASS out of you and me both.

November 11 2011 at 6:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Assuming the story is true, and today "journalists" are not necessarily credible and will shade a story to make it more "interesting" or controversial, I guess there are stupid people down under too.

November 07 2011 at 3:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Why won't AOL stop LL's shameless scamming/spamming? Please keep reporting her -- eventually they'll get the hint.

November 07 2011 at 2:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

So ABC Network is pulling out of this project because Elisabeth Moss is American? Didn't their recently cancelled Charlie's Angels star an Aussie playing an American? I'm just saying if you live in a glass house, don't pick up a rock! For shame ABC!!!!

November 07 2011 at 1:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rmdraz's comment

ABC is the *Australian* Broadcasting Company, moron.

November 07 2011 at 5:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As usual, the US welcomes Aussie/Kiwi actors in TV and massive blockbuster parts, but oh no, the Australians are too good to reciprocate. Tell you what ABC, why don't you shove it up you arse, keep your wonderful actors and give them the same opportunities over there, you hypocritical turds.

November 07 2011 at 1:09 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Screw ABC, their are plenty of foreign actors on American TV...

November 07 2011 at 12:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Let's go Riding

Bullsh!t! there a numerous foreign including Australian and New Zealand actors and actresses in American TV, theater and film. It smacks of hypocrisy to me!

November 07 2011 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sam Curcuro

Does this mean that me should demand that Hugh Laurie (House M.D.) give up his role and put an American in it? What crap. Actors act and they do it whenever and wherever they can.

November 07 2011 at 12:26 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

BOO! They Can Come Over Here & Take Our Jobs; BUT We Can'r Have Any Of Theirs!

November 07 2011 at 11:47 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Kudos to the Australians for supporting their industry. I hope they continue in the same vein.

November 07 2011 at 11:07 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

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