Saturday, 30 August 2008

1978: September 2-8

tvtimes_020978 Inside The Restless Years
Every Wednesday morning, Reg Watson from the Reg Grundy Organisation and Dennis Spencer from the 0-10 Network sit down to watch the latest episodes of The Restless Years and give their post-mortem on the show - keeping a close eye on all aspects of the show including actors' performances, technical quality, sets and continuity. Meanwhile, among those behind the scenes there are eight scriptwriters mapping out the direction each of the characters takes. And there is a constant stream of actors and actresses through the TEN10 studios as production continues... (Pictured on the cover are, from left, Malcolm Thompson, Sue Smithers and Graham Thorburn)

abc_black SA trial for news program
ABC is preparing a four-week trial run for its new local current affairs program, Six O'Clock Statewide, which is intended to run in each state as one-hour lead-in to ABC News. The trial is being run only in Adelaide but if it gets the green light after the trial, Six O'Clock Statewide will form part of the national broadcaster's revised current affairs line-up next year which will see the launch of Nationwide as the replacement of the long-running This Day Tonight.

hectorcrawford TV Violence: Case for the defence
Following last weeks TV Times' special report on violence on television, TV producers and executives give their views on the issue. Crawford Productions chief Hector Crawford (pictured) tells TV Times, "I don't know of any evidence that would lead me to believe that violence on TV has any detrimental effect on normal children." Ian Holmes, managing director of the Reg Grundy Organisation, also responded: "There has been so many studies in this area in all parts of the world, and there is no obvious, clear-cut informatiion as to what affect violence on TV has on children." The Nine Network's Len Mauger said that context is important when portraying violence on television - and that parents need to take an active role in controlling what their children are watching on television, particularly programs shown in adults-only viewing times.

annesemler Anne will wear wrinkles - or bust!
Busty blonde bombshell Anne Semler (pictured) says that, despite her curvy, sexy image, she would love to play someone like Grammy Clampett of the US series The Beverly Hillbillies! Semler, who has had minor roles in Number 96, The Young Doctors, and is about to appear in ABC telemovie She'll Be Sweet, admits that she would love to take on more comic roles: "After all, this" - referring to her more physical attributes - "isn't going to last forever." She'll Be Sweet is one of six telemovies being produced by ABC in partnership with American-based Transatlantic Enterprises.

Just briefly....
Many of the cast and crew from The Young Doctors are down with colds and flu!

The 0-10 Network has renamed its proposed new drama Prisoner - though not to be confused with the English program The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan.

Frank Gallagher, one of the key players in the upcoming mini-series Against The Wind, has a guest role this week on Cop Shop.

It seems unlikely that Happy Days star Henry Winkler will be interviewed by Don Lane via satellite as his Australian film distributor will not share satellite costs.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
"Night-time TV is disgraceful. I've had enough of police series such as The Rockford Files, Cop Shop, Starsky And Hutch, Charlie's Angels and so on. Unless you're a fan of The Restless Years - which is about as interesting as a cake of soap melting - there is nothing worth watching at night." A. Lumley, NSW.

"To people complaining that Soap is "vulgar" and "sick" - did they ever watch just one episode of any of the real soapies on TV, such as Number 96 and The Box and the daytime serials? What is merely talked about on Soap, the others left nothing to the imagination. Soap is a satire about such serials and is not meant to be taken seriously as some people seem to take it." A. Whitehead, SA.

"I am sick of people whingeing about things they don't even have to look at!" (name and address supplied)

What's On (September 2-8)
HSV7 on Monday night has The 1978 Truth-CUB Cazaly Awards, live from the Southern Cross Ballroom in Melbourne and hosted by Peter Landy and Lou Richards. The Cazaly Awards promises the biggest and richest awards in football, with prizes totalling $25,000.

Wednesday 7.30pm is again dominated by variety specials on the commercial networks - a one-hour Cher special on HSV7, Frank Sinatra - The Main Event on GTV9, and a repeat of the 1978 Australian Popular Song Festival on ATV0.

Guest stars on ATV0's Peter Couchman Tonight during the week include Debbie Byrne, Denis Walter, Jane Scali and Cheetah. Diane Horder and Doug Ashdown are guest performers on The Naked Vicar Show on HSV7.

This week's Inside Story on ABC features the rise of Dick Smith whose electronics business has grown from nothing to an operation turning over $14 million.

ABC's weekend sports coverage includes everything from Drag Racing from Calder Raceway in Victoria, repeats of World Cup matches played earlier in the year, the first semi-final of the Sydney Rugby League and - brace yourself - half an hour of the 1978 World Chess Championships!

Sunday night movies are Travels With My Aunt (HSV7), Anastasia (GTV9) and Wait Until Dark (ATV0). Australian tenor Jon Weaving is choosing the songs on this week's Capriccio! on ABC.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 2 September 1978. ABC/ACP

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Mark Priestley

markpriestley Actor Mark Priestley, from long-running series All Saints, has been found dead in Sydney.

The 32-year-old Perth-born actor is believed to have suffered from depression and may have taken his own life.

Graduating from NIDA in 1999, Priestley worked in the theatre with the Bell Shakespeare Company and the Sydney Theatre Company, before guest roles in TV series including Water Rats, Blue Heelers and The Secret Life Of Us as well as mini-series Changi and telemovie Loot. He joined the cast of Seven's All Saints as Dan Goldman in 2004.

Priestley's death comes just days after his character was wed to hospital colleague Erica Templeton (Jolene Anderson) on an episode of All Saints, watched by over 1.2 million viewers.

In a statement on Seven's website, program and production director Tim Worner paid tribute to Priestley:

"Mark was such a brilliant artist. His work on stage and screen was admired by everybody who knew him. His death is such a sad loss. We at Channel Seven will miss his energy and smile.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Mark's family and friends."

Source: The Age
Picture: TV Week, 16 August 2008

Anyone suffering depression or personal problems can contact Beyond Blue or Lifeline

Sunday, 24 August 2008

1978: August 26-September 1

tvtimes_260878 Megan Williams' views on marriage
The Sullivans actress Megan Williams (pictured, with co-star John Walton) has good and bad news for Australian men. The good news: she is a romantic. The bad news: she is in no hurry to marry or settle down. The 21-year-old who shot to national fame in the teenage soap Class Of '74, followed by a role in the stage production of Wonder Woman, is tackling a more serious role in playing Alice Morgan in the 1940s war time drama: "I know I have a lot to learn about acting, and The Sullivans is helping a lot."

TV Violence: A Special Report
The average school-leaver has spent more hours watching TV than in school - a statistic that has parents, teachers, governments and even TV executives concerned about what TV is teaching children and how it affects their development. Research conducted on school-age children in Western Australia found that 5-to-8 years olds were watching TV more than their older and younger counterparts, and that they are predominantly being led to believe that we are living in a mean and violent society, and that by watching predominantly American programming that this may be affecting their notions of what Australia is like as a society.

patmcdonald Just Pat's cup of tea!
Former Number 96 star Pat McDonald (pictured) and Sue Jones, recently seen on ABC's The Truckies, have won the lead roles in the new comedy series The Tea Ladies, to be produced in Melbourne for the 0-10 Network. The series revolves around the team of tea ladies serving tea to Members of Parliament. For McDonald, the new role will be a welcome change from the dotty Dorrie Evans who was part of Number 96 for its entire five year run: "Edna is a completely different character part. She is nothing like Dorrie." The Tea Ladies is being produced by Maurice Murphy (whose credits include Aunty Jack and Alvin Purple), and written by British writers Ray Galton and Johnny Speight, with additional topical material being provided by Australian writers.

raymartin78 Zero hour for $2m venture
The Nine Network is putting the finishing touches to its ambitious new current affairs program, 60 Minutes. Executive producer Gerald Stone has announced his team of eight producers and four reporters - ABC's New York correspondent Ray Martin (pictured) and former A Current Affair reporters George Negus, Ian Leslie and Kate Baillieu - for the new show expected to debut later in the year. Among the producers for the program are Peter Meakin, formerly of TVW7 Perth and TEN10 Sydney before joining Nine's A Current Affair, Gordon Bick, one of the founding members of ABC's This Day Tonight and also formerly of Four Corners, and former This Day Tonight and Holiday reporter Jeff Watson.

TV probes jail, hospital dramas
ABC has announced plans to produce a documentary series about hospitals. The network has held discussions with a Sydney hospital about the feasibility of producing a series following the day-to-day operations of the hospital. The program, to run for six episodes in the new year, is expected to cover surgical, casualty and geriatric wards as well as industrial relations and perhaps some of the lives of some of the doctors and nurses. ABC has also taken cameras inside Parramatta Jail for a BBC program Jailhouse Shock, which also follows a rehabilitation scheme being adopted in an American prison.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"I would like to congratulate Roger Climpson and the producers of This Is Your Life for featuring someone like Dr William McBride, who has done so much for science, instead of nearly always having politicians or actors." M. Ford, SA.

"Lately there's been a lot of fuss about the conversion to metrics. Although personally I am against this conversion, I would be interested to know why, in quiz programs (in most cases), they still use the imperial measurements. I have just been watching It's Academic with Sandy Roberts and always there were many occasions where metrics should have been used, not once were they. This is hardly fair to the young contestants when they are getting metrics pushed down their throats by their teachers and the media." P. Newey, SA.

"I enjoy watching the live telecast of Sydney Rugby League, but have to turn down the sound to cut out the inane and unfair comments of Reg Gasnier and Rex Mossop." J. Watson, NSW.

What's On (August 26-September 1):
ABC
's talent series Quest, hosted by Peter Regan, begins a new season with a look back at the winners from the 1977 series and interviews with the series judges, Dame Joan Hammond (opera), Bryan Ashbridge (ballet), Peter Rorke (instrumental) , Joe Latona (open), Brian May (popular vocal) and Betty Pounder (musical comedy).

HSV7 presents a documentary Woodchipping: Can We Afford It? New techniques of using forests for woodchipping is having a drastic effect, and this two-hour special brings to the Australian public the significance of woodchipping and its long-term effects on Australia.

Wednesday 7.30pm seems to be a programming void with all three commercial channels offering one-off specials: Lindsay Wagner - Another Side Of Me (HSV7), The Great Moscow Circus (GTV9) and Paul Williams In Concert (ATV0).

A Woman In The House is this week's Stuart Wagstaff's World Playhouse production, starring Neil Fitzpatrick, Penne Hackforth-Jones and Wendy Hughes.

Sunday night movies are The Defection Of Simas Kudirka (HSV7), F. Scott Fitzgerald And The Last Of The Belles (GTV9) and the 'modified TV version' of Sunday Bloody Sunday (ATV0). Actor John Waters is the guest on ABC's Capriccio!, joining Jennie Cullen, Rod Dunbar and Geraldine Turner in singing songs by Jacques Brel.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 26 August 1978. ABC/ACP

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Alan Dale attacked by zombies!

alandale Is there no stopping Alan Dale?  For twenty years he was the stalwart of Aussie soaps with long-running roles in The Young Doctors and Neighbours (as Jim Robinson, pictured).  Then he went overseas and has continued to pop up on our screens ever since - 24, The OC, Lost, The West Wing, Ugly Betty and Torchwood, just to name a few, before coming back home for the second series of Nine's Sea Patrol.

Now the New Zealand-born actor has signed up to appear in the UK ITV1 network's satire Moving Wallpaper and its new companion production Renaissance which replaces soapie Echo Beach (which co-incidentally starred one of Dale's former Neighbours off-spring Jason Donovan) which was not renewed for a second series.

Renaissance, a "completely and utterly ridiculous" send-up of the horror genre, will feature Dale and British TV presenter Kelly Brook as airline passengers whose plane is attacked by zombies. 

The second series of Moving Wallpaper, to screen on ITV1 in the new year, will again feature producer Jonathan Pope (Ben Miller) as he now heads the team behind Renaissance.

It is not known when ITV1 will schedule Renaissance, but unlike Echo Beach it will be a one-off production which will not be shown back-to-back with Moving Wallpaper .

The first series of Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach have just finished their run in Australia on ABC2 but are available to download via ABC iView.

Source: Media Guardian
Related: Jim Robinson 'spotted' in UK Channel 4 promo

Monday, 18 August 2008

1978: August 19-25

tvtimes_190878 Gil is an actor by accident
In the Seven Network's police drama Cop Shop, Gil Tucker (pictured, with co-star Paula Duncan) has taken on one of TV's biggest challenges - character comedy - but the thirty-year-old admits that he only got into acting by accident. It was only after a near-fatal fall from a sportscar that led to a lengthy hospital stay that prompted him to reflect on life and that it was going nowhere. Soon after leaving hospital he played a minor role in the production of Othello for Sydney's Independent Theatre and the acting career moved on from there with a stint at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), more theatre roles and then an appearance in ABC's Power Without Glory before scoring the role of the bumbling Constable Roy Baker in Cop Shop.

corneliafrances Scott free!
After two years as the over-efficient Sister Grace Scott (pictured) in The Young Doctors, actress Cornelia Frances is leaving the series to move to Melbourne with her husband whose job had transferred there. "I've grown very close to the people I work with and our friends are in Sydney, so it's a nasty uprooting. But, of course, we'll make new friends in Melbourne," she told TV Times. Producers of the series insist that Sister Scott will not be written out permanently and that the door will be left open for her to return.

Ready, set, go for two quizzes
A honeymoon around the world and $25,000 are the two major prizes being offered by the Grundy Organisation in its two new quiz shows, Perfect Match and The Pyramid Challenge. Both programs, to be produced at TVQ0 Brisbane, are expected to debut next month across the 0-10 Network. Perfect Match intends to feature newlywed couples and question them separately about their relationship. The winning couple will be the one with the most, or closest, matched answers. The Pyramid Challenge, to be hosted by former Coles £3000 Question compere Malcolm Searle, promises to be a general knowledge quiz where contestants can work their way up a pyramid from one level to the next to win a potential prize of $25,000.

Travolta by satellite
John Travolta will be one of the first international stars to be featured in a new series of satellite interviews to be conducted on The Don Lane Show. Producer Peter Faiman said that about 10 satellite interviews were in planning, with others to feature Lucille Ball, Burt Reynolds and the Bee Gees.

7_black Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"I would like to complain about something that I have noticed recently on ATN7 Sydney - that Channel 7 can't spell 'colour', but insist on writing 'color'. By the time you get to be grown up, I think you should be able to spell a simple six-letter word: 'Color' is the American way. Wake up Channel 7! Have you realised this is Australia? I am only 11 years old, but a spelling mistake on TV sticks out like a sore thumb!" M. Fenley, NSW

"We three disappointed fans, who watch The Restless Years every week, were very sorry to see Penny (Deborah Coulls) has suddenly dropped out of the show and her replacement, Sue Smithers, does not resemble her in any way and her personality is completely different. We think the show is fabulous and the acting excellent apart from this." The Leoni family, QLD.

"I would like to say how much I admire Ian Meldrum's work on the TV documentary concerning heroin (TV Times, 1 July 1978). I think there should be more people to make a stand against the drug scene." S. Shields, TAS.

What's On (August 19-25)
ATV0 presents The Australian Film Institute Awards, live from Perth's Entertainment Centre. Finalists for the Awards' Best Film category are The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith, Newsfront, Mouth To Mouth and Patrick.

Monday night, ATV0 presents the curiously titled Thank God It's Friday At The Zoo, a variety program with a focus on local and overseas disco performances, hosted by Sydney radio personality Ian MacRae.

HSV7's Wednesday night movie is the Canadian documentary Games Of The XXI Olympiad 1976, reviewing the Games held in Montreal depicting some of the great personal triumphs and challenges not seen in the mainstream coverage of the fifteen-day event.

A number of celebrity specials during the week including Gene Kelly - An American In Pasadena (GTV9), Lucille Ball - The First 25 Years (ATV0), and Glen Campbell And Olivia Newton-John - Down Home, Down Under (GTV9).

Sunday night movies are The Jerusalem File (HSV7), Can Can (GTV9) and How Sweet It Is (ATV0). ABC's Sunday night variety show Capriccio! features music chosen by former cricketer and commentator Richie Benaud and performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 19 August 1978. ABC/ACP

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Where's the royalties, Skip?

tonybonner Yesterday's newspapers reported that veteran actor Tony Bonner has lodged a claim with the NSW Supreme Court seeking residuals from forty years of syndication and merchandising of the classic children's TV series Skippy The Bush Kangaroo.

Bonner (pictured, in 1968), who played helicopter pilot Jerry King in the show's first series - it went for three - is reportedly seeking an amount that could reach into the millions given the amount of merchandising and overseas sales the series has generated.

More than 120 countries have seen Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, although it is many years since the original series has been shown on Australian TV despite almost continual reruns during the 1970s and 1980s. The series was remade in the early 1990s as The Adventures Of Skippy, and in more recent times all three series of the original Skippy production have been released on DVD.

The now 64-year-old actor, who went on from Skippy to appear in numerous other series including Cop Shop, Skyways, Carson's Law, and Anzacs and more recently seen in a series of McDonald's commercials as fictional 'burger naming legend' Ken Thomas, claims the lawsuit isn't about money ("anybody who knows me will testify to that") but would like to be formally recognised for his contribution for a series that has become an Australian icon:

"When I signed on for the first season of Skippy I was a young, and probably naive, actor, and I was given a verbal agreement that if the show was successful after the first season then we'd talk about a few more bikkies in the bikkie tin. When it did become successful I soon realised there wasn't going to be anything forthcoming."

"For years people have thought I was earning a lot of money from the show, but I haven't received a single cent since my last pay cheque from Fauna (about $200) in 1968. When I saw the latest boxed set of DVDs I thought, 'I've had enough'."

The actor's claim for residuals is a familiar cry from actors who appeared in early TV series that have seen their work paraded in syndication and re-runs for decades, but their original contracts made no provision for residual payments.

Source: News.com.au

YouTube: TVTV, Gretel and Logies

An interesting find on YouTube this week with two clips from an ABC series of the 1990s - TVTV.

TVTV, initially hosted by Simon Townsend but later replaced by Mark Mitchell and Tiffany Lamb when production moved to Melbourne, ran from April 1993 to June 1995 and was a nightly review of all things TV - sort of like a '90s version of today's websites like TV Tonight - and being on ABC allowed it to take an objective view at all the commercial networks' offerings as well as discussing programs seen on ABC and SBS.

In 1994, TVTV took to reviewing the upcoming TV Week Logie Awards, with a segment featuring guest presenter Gretel Killeen who, of course, became far more famous in later years as host of Big Brother, but in the early-'90s was known as a comedian and voice-over artist, and had been a regular on Midday With Ray Martin and was also one of three co-hosts of Nine's Coast To Coast which continued for a brief period after Graham Kennedy resigned at the end of 1989.

The second clip from the same program includes a report by Kay Stammers, featuring previous TV Week Gold Logie winners Daryl Somers, Rowena Wallace, Barry Crocker, Don Lane and Bobby Limb, former Logies host Bert Newton and an interesting insight into the early "rigging" of TV Week Gold Logie votes by former magazine editor Frank Crook.

YouTube: beanisacarrot

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

1978: August 12-18

tvtimes_120878 Diana: The inventors' dynamo
A Sydney radio presenter famously dubbed her "Bubbles", and for Diana Fisher of ABC's The Inventors, the nickname rings true - particularly given her belief in the restorative powers of champagne to cure anything from jet lag to a broken heart. But don't be fooled by her effusive and happy manner, her colleagues remark that she is highly energetic with a fierce capacity for hard work and self-discipline, and is proud of the fact that she's not missed taping a single episode of The Inventors in its eight years on-air. (Pictured: Diana Fisher and The Inventors' host Geoff Stone)

geraldstone 60 Minutes is ticking over
"It's highly unlikely I'll be on camera," says Gerald Stone (pictured), executive producer of the new Nine Network current affairs program 60 Minutes which goes into production later in the month: "With a budget of $2 million and a staff of 28, it'll be a full-time job organising and running the show." Stone is working toward an on-air launch in November, and while the actual date and timeslot are "a heavily guarded" secret, some hint might be taken from its US namesake which is shown in prime time on Sunday nights. Stone also would not name any of the "three or four" reporters that would make up the show, although it appears certain that former This Day Tonight and A Current Affair political commentator George Negus, will be one of them.

Dear Star....
Fan mail comes from all walks of life and can be the barometer of success or popularity. Tony Alvarez - Dr Tony Garcia in The Young Doctors - receives regular fan mail from a nun in a Brisbane convent and her letters are his most treasured. Former Number 96 star Bunney Brooke once received ashes in the mail to replace the ashes of her character Flo Patterson's cat when dotty Dorrie Evans (Pat McDonald) thought it was garlic salt and threw the ashes away. Blankety Blanks' Ugly Dave Gray receives applauds for his jokes from the show, and receives suggestions for material that he admits are "the filthiest thing you could imagine and there's no way I could tell it on TV." And Melbourne HSV7 weather girl Ilona Komescaroff is often held accountable for Melbourne's ever-changing weather, with some viewers tending to think that she orders the weather, rather than report it.

Whatever happened to Alvin Purple?
Graeme Blundell, the actor who played the little man that women found irresistable in Alvin Purple TV series and movies, is being kept very busy with commitments with ABC's new series The Truckies, his work as director for Sydney's Hoopla Theatre company, and preparing for work on the new movie The Odd Angry Shot, although he admits that the role he most wanted in the movie ended up going to Graham Kennedy.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"I am complaining about certain shows being taken off the air. The Incredible Hulk is one of the best shows on TV for a long time. My family and I looked forward to Monday nights to see it, when suddenly it's taken off the air! What is wrong with people in TV? They get an original show and then take it off and all we ever see are police or doctor shows or re-runs of movies." H. Smith, QLD.

"Being a recuperating stroke case myself, I am interested in the case of Dr Tom Horton in Days Of Our Lives. If he was, say, 25 when Addie was born, and Addie was 25 when Julie was born, Tom would then be 50. Then another 25 years till David's birth makes him 75. As David appears to be about 30, Tom would be 105! Rather old to be going back to work as a doctor. And poor Alice is about to have a hysterectomy at about the same age. American medicine must be far more advanced than ours!" L. Jones, NSW.

"It is difficult to put into words exactly what one feels about a TV show, especially one like Flashez which used to provide entertainment, information or just give us a glimpse at anything interesting. Although this show was taken from us more than seven months ago, I still think about it. Some people might say the comperes were off their heads - I agree, but I don't think this is any reason to damn the show. Anyway, I love people who are off their heads!" J. McMahon, NSW.

What's On (August 12-18):
This week marks the first anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley, and various movies and specials are programmed as a result. On Wednesday night, 16 August, HSV7 screens a three-hour special Memories Of Elvis, presented by Ann-Margret, including footage from Presley's first TV special from 1968, and the 1973 special Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii. Later in the evening, HSV7 screens the movie documentary Elvis That's The Way It Is and on the following night, HSV7's Norman Gunston Show features a special tribute to Elvis. On Friday night, ATV0 screens a Presley movie double, Change Of Heart followed by Kid Galahad.

The Commonwealth Games from Edmonton, Canada, are coming to a close with live and delayed coverage all day Saturday, and the closing ceremony going to air live on ABC at 6.00am Sunday morning with one-hour highlights at 11.05pm Sunday night.

Federal Treasurer John Howard is announcing his Budget for the year and all networks are planning coverage, with ABC planning a half-hour special report presented by newsreader James Dibble and featuring interviews with Mr Howard and Opposition leader Mr Bill Hayden. HSV7 has a Budget Update in the mid-evening, followed by a late-night round-up with political correspondents Laurie Wilson and Mike Peterson. GTV9 has a 45-minute National Nine News presentation The Budget And You, with Peter Hitchener in Melbourne joined by Canberra correspondent Peter Harvey interviewing Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, Opposition leader Bill Hayden and ACTU President Bob Hawke. ATV0 keeping its coverage understated with a five-minute update at 9.30pm and a fifteen-minute summary of the Budget at 11.30pm.

Sex shockers like Number 96 and The Box might now be things of the past, but ATV0 is still not averse to stretching the boundaries with a one-hour special Queensland Exposed, exploring nude sunbathing on the Gold and Sunshine coasts and interviews with people at a nudist colony called The Sunshine Families. Beach inspectors and business people also offering their views on what is seen as an alternative lifestyle.

Sunday night movies are Vanishing Point (HSV7), Vampira (GTV9) and Hunters Are For Killing (ATV0), although there's also some big movies during the week with GTV9 screening the TV premiere of The Godfather over two nights, with the second night up against a repeat of The Great Escape on ATV0.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 12 August 1978. ABC/ACP

Sunday, 10 August 2008

TV and the Olympic Games

olympics_2008 The Games Of The XXIX Olympiad have kicked off in Beijing in an opening ceremony exhibiting Chinese history and culture in a show of technical marvel and precision. Now, for the next two weeks, Australian viewers will be served by wall-to-wall coverage across two networks, Seven and SBS, both promising around fourteen hours a day of coverage. Plus there is radio coverage and Seven's Olympic program is also being made available via a certain mobile telephone provider. And a mountain of websites are being updated constantly with all the latest news, controversies and results.

It's easy to take this level of coverage for granted but of course it was not always this way.

memory01 The first Olympic Games to be televised in Australia were, of course, the Melbourne Games of 1956 (athlete Ron Clark lighting the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony, pictured) with channels ABV2, HSV7 and GTV9 all barely on the air, and yet providing hours of coverage each day.

But later Olympic Games would be held in Rome (1960) and Tokyo (1964) and saw the various networks embark in a rare co-operation to get coverage back to Australia, but even then the amount of coverage was extremely limited and film would arrive in Australia for screening whole days after the events took place.

mexico_1968 Forty years ago, October 1968, the Games of the XIX Olympiad (official Games poster, pictured) were held in Mexico City. Bringing Olympic Games coverage to Australians was again a co-operative effort between ABC and the commercial networks, but the cost of using the fledgling satellite technology was extremely prohibitive and the networks had to rely on film being sent over from Mexico.

In Melbourne, the first glimpse of the 1968 Olympic Games was a 40-minute highlights package of the opening ceremony which was shown on ABC on Tuesday 15 October 1968, three days after the ceremony actually took place. HSV7 also aired a half-hour package of the opening ceremony the same night.

mexico_1968_a For the next two weeks, Olympic Games coverage consisted only of nightly half-hour highlights packages, aired late at night on ABC, HSV7 and GTV9. ATV0 had elected to screen their Olympics segments in the mid-afternoon, often incorporating them into their afternoon coverage of horse racing, and also featuring more reports in their evening 6.00pm news.

The Olympic Games closing ceremony aired on Wednesday 30 October, three days after it took place in Mexico City, in a 40-minute program at 10.35pm on ABC and half-hour programs on HSV7 at 10.45pm and GTV9 at 11.15pm. ATV0 included highlights as part of the next day's coverage of the Warrnambool races.

The move to receiving Olympic Games coverage via satellite was made with the Munich Games in 1972, with ABC and Seven jointly screening live and delayed coverage. Then in 1976, ABC, Seven and Nine formed a joint coverage for the Games in Montreal, again with limited highlights packages sent via satellite, though Nine stirred the pot somewhat by also breaking away from the joint arrangement to provide their own additional coverage not seen on the other networks. And with a lot of their exclusive coverage being shown overnight, Nine used the Olympic Games to serve as a launch to 24 hour transmission in Sydney and Melbourne.

In 1977. the Seven Network signed a landmark $1 million deal to have exclusive coverage rights to the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, which included a mix of both live and delayed satellite coverage.

Then the high-spending Rupert Murdoch scored the rights to the 1984 Los Angeles (for a reported $10 million) and 1988 Seoul Olympic Games for Network Ten, both promising in excess of fourteen hours a day of live coverage and both helped the network score among its best ever ratings to date.

Then in 1989, Christopher Skase's Seven Network secured exclusive rights to the Games from Barcelona in 1992 for a mere $40 million, followed by Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000. For the Sydney Games, Seven and its then pay-TV channel C7 provided round-the-clock coverage, and for Seven earned the highest ratings for any telecast ever in the history of Australian television.

For the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Seven no longer had the C7 venture, so they entered into partnership with multicultural broadcaster SBS to provide joint coverage, with Seven focusing more on the big ticket events, and those featuring Australian competitors, with SBS taking on an alternative range of events. This same arrangement has come into play with the Olympic Games from Beijing, but for the next Olympic Games in London in 2012, Australian television coverage will be between the Nine Network and pay-TV operator Foxtel.

The Games Of The XXIX Olympiad, daily to 24 August. Seven/SBS

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Access denied?

access31 A month ago it seemed that there could be a future for ailing community TV channel Access 31, but today the station is now no more.

Station chief Andrew Brine had resigned from the station earlier this week but as recently as yesterday was quoted in the press saying that he felt the station still had potential.  Today it is off the air.

From this afternoon, Access 31 has ceased all program transmission and in its place is a simple caption:

"18th June 1999 - 6th August 2008.  Access 31 thanks all our loyal viewers, sponsors and program providers for your support."

The channel was offered a financial lifeline last month with an offer of $500,000 from a local Perth businessman Gary Baverstock, plus $250,000 from LotteryWest, enough to keep the station afloat for another year, but both offers were seemingly withdrawn by today.

Source: WAToday, WAToday, TV Tonight
Related: TV's newest endangered species

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Reg Lindsay

reglindsay Australian country music legend and former TV presenter Reg Lindsay has died in a Newcastle hospital today following a battle with pneumonia. He was 79.

Lindsay wrote more than 500 songs and recorded 64 albums over his extended career, and was the first Australian artist to be recognised with a plaque on Nashville's Walkway of Stars. In 1971, Lindsay recorded the song Armstrong, in tribute to the first landing on the moon, which became a chart topper.

From the mid-1960s, Lindsay appeared on TV as host of the weekly country music program The Country And Western Hour, produced at NWS9 Adelaide, and later Reg Lindsay's Country Homestead which continued into the 1980s. He won a number of TV Week Logie awards and country music awards the Golden Guitars.

Lindsay suffered a cerebral haemorrhage at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 1994, and after a long rehabilitation period, he then suffered a heart attack and underwent a triple bypass.

Since 2003 he had been in care in a Newcastle nursing home.

Reg Lindsay is survived by his wife Roslyn and three daughters.

Source: ABC, NBN, The Age
Picture: NWS9

Monday, 4 August 2008

1978: August 5-11

tvtimes_050878 Cover: The Love Boat

Tasmania's holocaust
The Australian-made film The Last Tasmanians, which has already aired in Britain and been sold to other countries, is to be shown on Australian TV later in the year. The 90-minute movie tells of the extermination of Tasmanian Aboriginals in the late nineteenth century, and received rave reviews when shown on BBC earlier in the year. While there was no interest from Australian networks in financially backing the "slightly dramatised" documentary when in production (it ended up being partially funded by BBC and French group SFP), ABC and the three commercial networks had since made bids to buy the rights to screen the movie - with the 0-10 Network successful.

Walsh's Walkabout
With The Mike Walsh Show about to be based in Melbourne for a week, host Mike Walsh has announced plans to take the popular daytime show to other parts of the country. "We get a huge response from all over Australia. After we announced that we were going to Melbourne, GTV9 called us to say they had been inundated with calls from people wanting to be in the studio audience," he told TV Times.

bertnewton_bootBert gets the boot
Nine Network personality Bert Newton (pictured) has been awarded The Footlighter Award (a cigarette lighter shaped like a foot) for personality of the year at the annual Footlighters showbusiness ball in Melbourne. The night was highlighted by an off-beat floorshow featuring The Naked Vicar Show's Colin McEwan as an un-angelic Charlie's Angel, Maurie Fields as a girl guide and Ross D Wylie as a limping nun. After accepting his award, Newton had to race off to the Nine studios to appear on The Don Lane Show.

saturdayshow_2 Peter can lend you an ear
In a dance routine on this week's The Saturday Show, don't be fooled into thinking there are nine John MacNally's on screen. No special effects, but rather, there will be MacNally (pictured with co-star Suzanne Steele) accompanied by eight dancers all wearing latex masks in his likeness - the work of ABC props artist Peter Dack whose desk is surrounded by relics of former ABC productions; such as fake snakes from Bellbird, a rubber hand used in a Bellbird scene where Lynette Curran had to touch a live electric fence ('the producer wanted real sparks'), and a lump of latex that was stuck to Graham Kennedy's face to show a nasty bruise after his character had been beaten up in a scene in Power Without Glory.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"I greatly enjoyed the program Mastermind, but disagree with the method of questioning. The method of asking an entirely different set of general knowledge questions is, I think, most unfair. They are so varied it is impossible to make an even test of the competitors' knowledge." B. O'Shea, NSW.

mikewillesee "I cannot understand how Willesee At Seven is such a highly rated program. Mike Willesee (pictured) himself blunders his way through the show, mutters useless comments almost inaudibly, and half the time doesn't even bother to look to camera." G. Jackson, New Zealand

"Country Road is excellent. It is good family viewing and full of good talent. So why must it be shoved into a late timeslot? Surely it's more feasible to put Dave Allen and Soap on later?" P. Martin, QLD

What's On (August 5-11):
ABC presents limited live coverage, about an hour on each of the first two days only, of events from the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada, with half-hour evening and late-night highlights packages each night during the week.

Dame Enid Lyons, the first female member of the House of Representatives, and later the first female Cabinet Minister, is the guest on the final episode of interview program Woman In Question.

The series may have been axed a year beforehand, but the movie version of the former hit series Number 96 is shown on ATV0 on Tuesday night - and on Friday night, the comedy All At Sea, featuring some of the former cast members of Number 96 and game shows Blankety Blanks and The Celebrity Game.

Sunday night movies are The Strange Vengeance Of Rosalie (HSV7), Save The Tiger (GTV9) and Avanti! (ATV0).

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 5 August 1978. ABC/ACP