Fox Studios Opening
Stars in our eyes
Up, up and away . . . the gala opening of Fox Studios will be truly spectacular
The glitterati will be out in force for one of Sydney's great opening nights.
BROOKE WILLIAMSON reports
It will be the night the Emerald City sparkles brighter than ever, with stars on the red carpet, stars in the spotlight and stars behind the scenes ensuring there are no flaws in Sydney's most important close-up to date.
6.30pm, Fox8: Live red carpet preview of Fox Studios Australia Grand Opening, hosted by Antonia Kidman
7.30pm, Fox8: The Making of Fox Studios Australia
8.30pm, Fox8: Fox – the First 50 Years, hosted by Bill Collins
8.30pm, Nine: Live broadcast of Fox Studios Australia Grand Opening
10.30pm, Fox8: Fox Studios Grand Opening
The gala opening of Fox Studios on Sunday night, to be televised live on Channel Nine at 8.30pm, will be the most glamorous and celebrity-studded event ever held in the city.
The evening begins with more than 4000 guests – stars, celebrities, the movers and shakers of entertainment from around the world – walking up a red carpet that will run from the gates of the studios to the Showring (so familiar to all those Sydneysiders who used to traipse out to the old RAS grounds for the annual Easter Show).
Along the way, many of the more familiar stars – count among them Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Benjamin Bratt, Leonardo DiCaprio and John Leguizamo – will be interviewed by Richard Wilkins and Marie Patane.
The guests will then sit in the Showring for a two-hour spectacular of song and dance, to be hosted by Hugh Jackman, fresh from Ontario and the set of his latest movie, X-Men.
Glamour ... Tom and Nicole
Celebrity ... Benjamin Bratt
Idol ... Leonardo DiCaprio
The theme of the evening will be a "Tribute to the Movies" with a cast of hundreds of performers, and headline acts including Kylie Minogue, Kate Ceberano, David Campbell, Marcia Hines, Human Nature, Tina Arena and Jon Stevens. A special guest will be Shirley Jones, one of the biggest stars of the musical movies of the '50s and later the star of the popular family TV show, The Partridge Family.
Just before the start of the concert, Nine will screen a five-minute musical production, conceived and directed by internationally renowned director Gillian Armstrong and Sydney Dance Company director Graeme Murphy.
This segment will give an insight into the processes of film-making via glimpses to various locations on the Fox lot.
Armstrong, who confesses she is a movie and musical addict, says she thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to direct the musical.
"I did Starstruck a while ago, so I have had one go at doing a musical and it's always fun.
"And it's been fantastic working with Graeme Murphy, a complete delight. I'd love to direct another one, but of course at the moment we're all sitting back and waiting for Baz Luhrmann's [Moulin Rouge, currently in production at Fox Studios] which I'm sure is going to be wonderful. It should be a fantastic concert, with wonderful performers like Kate Ceberano and David Campbell, who are doing a brilliant job. But then, they'll have a great night of many other wonderful performers out there singing and dancing live."
Murphy likens the production to a 1940s big Busby Berkeley-style number. "It's got glimpses of the fabulous Fox lot and all the locations with little snippets of Hollywood-type razzamatazz numbers," he says. "There is quite a bit of glamour but it's also about behind-the-scenes movie-making too – some of the processes are revealed and that's fun.
"Really though, Gillian's sense of theatre and sense of play has really come to play in this one and I'm just over the moon to be on board with this one."
Murphy says he loves being able to cram many different styles and eras in the segment, which will feature highlights from 20th Century Fox classics such as Titanic, Star Wars and The Sound Of Music.
"Stylistically it's very varied but that's what's so much fun about it because every section has a different feel, a different look," he says.
"I like the aspect of having amazing locations, with big production numbers, because it's something you don't always get to work with especially during these days of more austere budgets, as opposed to Fred Astaire budgets."
Other features of the night's entertainment include tours with Steve Bisley, Gina Riley and Catriona Rowntree of the Backlot, which Fox Studios has designed as the ultimate movie experience for the public.
The Backlot includes an intriguing streetscape designed by Catherine Martin, the set of Babe: Big In The City, plus replicas of sets of Water Rats, Home And Away, NYPD Blue and The X-Files. There is also the Star Dressing Room, The Simpsons Down Under, the Sound Stage, the archival Hall of Cool Stuff, the interactive Lights! Camera! Chaos!, plus the stunning Titanic attraction.
Interspersed through the song and dance will be tributes to the world of entertainment from such huge local stars as Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett.
The evening will finish off with special appearances from C3PO and R2D2, then a fireworks display.
Fox Studios Grand Opening, Sunday, Nine, 8.30pm