"Flight of the Conchords" defy struggling TV story

Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:58am EST
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. cult hit television show "Flight of the Conchords" follows the travails of a marginally talented musical duo from New Zealand trying to make it in New York City, but in reality the pair are far from struggling.

Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie already have one Grammy, have been nominated for another and the second series of their Emmy-nominated show returned to HBO cable network this month after an absence of more than a year.

James Bobin, co-creator and executive producer, said the second series was delayed by the 14-week writers strike, which ended in February last year, and "the boat to New Zealand," chimed in McKenzie at the show's red carpet launch this week.

McKenzie, 32, and Clement, 35, university friends who formed "Flight of the Conchords" a decade ago to improve their guitar skills, said they set out to make a "funny and musical" TV show and that creating the second series was a little easier.

"When we first started we didn't know what we were doing," said Clement. "We watched lots of sitcoms on video because we had never written one, none of us had written one before."

That first series has now been shown in at least 18 countries -- "apparently it's popular in Sweden and Singapore," said McKenzie, who "like most New Zealanders appeared in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but Bret is most well-known for wearing his stripy sweater," according to the HBO website.

The duo's self-titled debut album of songs from the first series set a new record for a New Zealand act when it opened at No. 3 on the U.S. pop chart in April, surpassing the No. 12 peak for pop-rock trio Crowded House's self-titled 1986 debut.

"It's like the first time a kid beats his father in sports, some pride and some disappointment at the same time," Clement said of the achievement by their debut album.   Continued...

<p>Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie (L) of the cult hit television show "Flight of the Conchords" in an undated photo. REUTERS/Handout</p>