The ABC’s highly respected head of comedy Rick Kalowski today announced his resignation after more than six years in the post.
After commissioning and overseeing the production of 80 titles, spanning pilots, series, digital content and podcasts, the executive tells IF he is exhausted and needs a break.
He will stay in place until February to give the ABC ample time to recruit a successor and will pursue new career opportunities in the Australian and global screen industry. He’s having discussions about his next move but nothing is locked in.
Arguably he will step down after one of the ABC’s most distinctive and successful years in comedy, with hits such as Frayed, the fourth season of Utopia, the second of Squinters and the finales of Get Krack!n and The Letdown.
Among other shows produced under his watch, including several commissioned by his predecessor Debbie Lee, were Rosehaven, Please Like Me, Upper Middle Bogan, Wrong Kind of Black, The Moodys and Ronny Chieng: International Student.
Perhaps most notably he worked with Netflix, Amazon, Sky UK, Google, Comedy Central US, Participant Media, NBCU, AMC/Sundance and the BBC to greatly expand international investment in ABC scripted comedy.
“Being ABC head of comedy has been the great honour of my professional life. To work with some of the most brilliant comedy minds in the world, to help nurture the careers of new comedy talent of every background, has changed me not just as a creative but as a person,” he said.
“Departures are never easy. But after the banner year ABC scripted comedy has enjoyed with audiences and awards, the time felt right for new challenges (and some sleep). I will dearly miss my ABC colleagues and wish them every success.”
Michael Carrington, ABC director of entertainment and specialist, said: “Rick has a lot to be proud of. His dedication, drive and sheer force of will have delivered outstanding Australian comedy content to our audiences, winning plaudits here and overseas for the strength and diversity of our programs. He has helped Australians laugh more, which is no mean thing.”
Sally Riley, ABC head of drama, comedy and Indigenous, added: “Rick’s commitment to remarkable Australian content is boundless. He has helped lift ABC Comedy to great heights, cementing our reputation as the home of ‘krack!n’ comedies and creativity.
“His passion for supporting emerging and diverse talent has seen a whole new generation of Australian comedians and creatives shine on the local and international stage. His hard work and unbridled enthusiasm for making people laugh will be sorely missed.”
The former lawyer turned his hand to screenwriting, starting with Ted Emery’s satirical movie The Honourable Wally Norman, co-written by Andrew Jones, which starred Shaun Micallef, Kevin Harrington and H.G. Nelson.
Among his other credits he was head writer and co-creator of the Seven Network’s sketch comedy Big Bite and head writer of Nine Network’s sketch comedy Comedy Inc – The Late Shift.
In 2010 he was appointed creative director – scripted and light entertainment at Quail Television, where he co-created and co-wrote the ABC sitcom At Home with Julia, starring fellow co-creators/co-writers Amanda Bishop and Phil Lloyd.