TelevisionDecember 6, 2016

Old mate alert: Goldstein from the ASB ads is in Mozart in the Jungle


Alex Casey rejoices in the return of a humble New Zealand television icon to Mozart in the Jungle, of all places. 

The other day my beloved colleague Madeleine Chapman regaled me with her joy at seeing the return of fruity fizzy drink ‘Mirinda’ to the shelves of her local Pak ‘n Save. I have to agree. Like Gilmore Girls and overalls, it’s a rare jolt of joy when a relic of the past pops back to say hello in 2016. Maybe everything will actually be fine because Mirinda is back and everything was fine the last time we had Mirinda because we were six years old and at a birthday party.

The same thing happened recently when I was catching up on the charming wee show Mozart in the Jungle. I was recently made aware that a New Zealand television hero pops up for a cameo in the first season of the original Amazon series. Sure, there’s sex, drugs and piccolo as we chill out with the characters behind the New York symphony orchestra… but there’s also someone else… someone great.


It’s only everyone’s favourite buffoon Ira Goldstein from the bloody ASB ads! The face of ASB for a decade, the bumbling Yank who made his way here to find out about banks, bagels and beers.

And now, he’s made his way to Emmy-award winning telly. At first you won’t know what has hit you, as Rodrigo and Hailey check in to a seedy motel on their journey to track down the tumultuous Anna Maria. There’s a shot from behind of a shadowy concierge figure. A bit part, nothing major, probably not even a real person. Probably a mannequin to cut down on costs.


The pair request a room from the mannequin challenge merchant, and he replies. “I checked the system and we’ve only got one room left at the inn. You two want it?” I know that face. I know that voice. That is the voice that launched 1000 New York bagels, the face that weathered a thousand shouts from the scary boss man back home.


Goldstein then utters about two or three more lines about saunas and Toblerones – classic Goldstein fodder – delivered to perfection. Gael Garcia Bernal looks him dead in the eye and, for one moment, they are equals. But Gael Garcia Bernal surely knows nothing of the time that Goldstein dipped his foot in a hotpool, bought a whole Southern pub a round of beers, or banged his head on a ute bonnet.

“Don’t you know who I am?” – Goldstein tells it like it is

However brief and exciting it was to see perhaps one of our most famous advertising characters back on screen, Goldstein’s brief Sasquatch-like sighting raises more questions than answers. How long has he been there? What happened to his grumpy boss that we only know as ‘Sir’? Or is there something more sinister afoot… just how long has he been in that hotel?


Guess we’ll have to wait for the next season to find out…

Catch up on Mozart in the Jungle exclusively on Lightbox, before the third season arrives Dec 10.


This content, like all television coverage we do at The Spinoff, is brought to you thanks to the excellent folk at Lightbox. Do us and yourself a favour by clicking here to start a FREE 30 day trial of this truly wonderful service.

This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our members. If you value what we do and believe in the importance of independent and freely accessible journalism – tautoko mai, donate today.

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

Get The Spinoff
in your inbox