Thursday, 31 March 2011

1991: March 23-29

tvweek_230391 Off to a flying start!
”The best in a decade!”  That’s how one high-ranked television executive – not connected to host broadcaster the Nine Network – described the 33rd annual TV Week Logie Awards.  And the night got off to a flying start, with host Daryl Somers making his spectacular entrance from high up in the ceiling of the World Congress Centre, Melbourne, on a flying fox.  The opening of the Logie Awards presentation also included a performance by Debbie Byrne and the Electric Legs dancers.  Somers, hosting the event for the second time, says he was “very happy” with his job as host.  “It was a great team effort all around.  It was a real buzz for me.  I felt comfortable and relaxed.  I really enjoyed it.”  Overseas guests attending the Logies included actress Angie Dickinson and Twin Peaks stars Peggy Lipton and Michael Ontkean.  The awards presentation ended with Tonight Live host and producer Steve Vizard (pictured with fellow award winners Rebecca Gibney and Georgie Parker) being awarded the Gold Logie for most popular television personality in Australia.

davidmccubbinanniejones TV Week Logie Winners 1991: Publicly-voted categories
Gold Logie – Most Popular Personality On Australian TV: Steve Vizard
Silver Logie – Most Popular Actor On Australian TV: Craig McLachlan
Silver Logie – Most Popular Actress On Australian TV: Georgie Parker
Most Popular Series: Home And Away
Most Popular Light Entertainment/Comedy Program: Fast Forward
Most Popular Lifestyle Information Program: Burke’s Backyard
Most Popular Telemovie or Mini-Series: Jackaroo
Most Popular Light Entertainment/Comedy Male Personality: Steve Vizard
Most Popular Light Entertainment/Comedy Female Personality: Magda Szubanski
Most Popular Sports Coverage: Cricket
Most Popular Actor in a Telemovie or Mini-Series: David McCubbin (pictured)
Most Popular Actress in a Telemovie or Mini-Series: Annie Jones (pictured)
Most Popular Children’s Program: Agro’s Cartoon Connection
Most Popular Music Video: Chain Reaction (John Farnham)
Most Popular Public Affairs Program: A Current Affair
Most Popular New Talent: Richard Huggett

rebeccagibney_0001 TV Week Logie Winners 1991: Industry-voted categories
Gold Logie – Hall Of Fame: James Davern
Most Outstanding Actor: Michael Craig
Most Outstanding Actress: Rebecca Gibney (pictured) 
Most Outstanding Single Drama or Mini-Series: Come In Spinner
Most Outstanding Achievement in Public Affairs: Other People’s Money (4 Corners, ABC)
Most Outstanding Achievement in News: John Lombard (ABC)
Most Outstanding Single Documentary or Series: The Chelmsford Scream
Most Outstanding Achievement by Regional Television: No Fixed Address (WIN)

TV Week Logie Winners 1991: State-based categories (Most Popular Personality, Most Popular Program):
New South Wales: Ray Martin, Home And Away.
Victoria: Daryl Somers, Neighbours
Queensland: Rob Brough, Family Feud
South Australia: Anne Wills, Wheel Of Fortune
Western Australia: Rick Ardon, Seven Nightly News
Tasmania: Robyn Martin, Tasmania Today

kerriannekennerleytimwebster Briefly…
Good Morning Australia’s Kerri-Anne Kennerley (pictured with co-host Tim Webster), now in her tenth year as co-host of Ten’s breakfast program and about to clock up her 2500th episode, says she couldn’t have reached such a milestone without a stable home life.  “Thank goodness I have a fantastic husband who has put up with the lifestyle all this time,” she told TV Week.  “If I didn’t have my stability at home it would lead to tensions, as it would for anyone.”  The show has had a revamp this year, including the return of Ten newsreader Webster as co-host after a break of around three years from the program.

Award-winning actor Shane Connor is about to join the cast of Neighbours as baddie Phil Hoffman, who meets Carolyn Alessi (Gillian Blakeney) as she is about to give evidence in a murder trial which Hoffman is connected to.  With a background in stage and film roles, it is Connors’ first ongoing role in a TV series following a guest appearance in The Flying Doctors and a role in the mini-series Poor Man’s Orange.

Chances star Natalie McCurry admits that she dislikes the nude scenes which are commonplace in the Nine Network series.  “I’m not happy about doing nude shots but it’s part of the job,” she told TV Week.  “I’m very careful about what I do and how I portray my character.  As long as it isn’t gratuitous, and is done with some class, it’s all right.  But if it’s nudity for its own sake then it really degrades the show.”

alltogethernow John Laws says…
All Together Now is one of the new breed of locally-made TV comedy series which seem to be hauling high enough ratings for everyone to be confident about their long-term prospects.  Eggshells, which I’ve already praised in this column, is doing well for ABC, and Hey Dad! is proving a most consistent winner for SevenTen has got into the act, too, with repeats of Mother And Son pulling in higher ratings than Eggshells (by the same writer, Geoffrey Atherden, and also starring Garry McDonald) on the same night.  The lesson, of course, is that viewers are keen to watch Australian comedy – especially when it’s got a bit of zing and life about it.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne: March 23-29):
  AFL’s first round for 1991 continues with Seven’s Saturday night highlights package of St Kilda versus Richmond.  ABC launches a new travel series Holiday, presented by David De Vos, Eric Campbell, Bob La Castra and former Network Ten newsreader Katrina Lee.

Sunday:  Seven’s afternoon of sport includes the final of the NBL KMart Classic, from Homebush, Sydney, and live coverage of AFL from Perth featuring West Coast Eagles versus Melbourne.  Seven also presents afternoon highlights of the match between Footscray and Collingwood.  Sunday night movies are Assassin (Seven), Acceptable Risks (Nine) and House (Ten).  Ten then presents Sportsweek with Eddie McGuire and Steve Quartermain followed by a delayed telecast of the Rugby League match of the day between Canberra and Parramatta.

Monday:  Ten presents a two-hour Eyewitness News special, War In The Gulf.

Tuesday:  In Chances (Nine), as Chris (Mark Kounnas) becomes more and more confused about his sexuality, Sarah’s (Anne Grigg) solution is set to rock the Taylor family.  Nine then presents a delayed telecast of the 63rd annual Academy Awards from the Shrine Auditorium, Hollywood.  Nominated for Best Picture are Awakenings, Dances With Wolves, Ghost, The Godfather III and Goodfellas.

Good Friday:  Seven devotes the day to the traditional Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal.  The telethon starts at 9.00am, with a break for Seven News with Peter Mitchell at midday, and continuing through to 6.00pm.  The telethon’s evening session starts at 7.30pm with a variety special hosted by Jennifer Keyte, Derryn Hinch and Steve Vizard and featuring performances by Tina Arena, Paul Norton, the cast of The Phantom Of The Opera and The Seekers.  The appeal closes with the announcement of the grand total at midnight.  ABC commemorates Good Friday with a special screening of UK series Songs Of Praise and World Of Worship presents a Good Friday Service from Perth.  Nine presents a special, The Jerusalem Passion, and an Easter edition of Turn Round Australia.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  23 March 1991.  Southdown Press.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Ten moves George Negus to 6.30

georgenegus_0003 Two months to the day since launching its radical news overhaul, Network Ten has today made some significant changes in response to poor ratings figures.

The network knew from the January launch that the ratings would be a struggle but had perhaps not quite expected them to settle where they have.  In last night’s ratings, 6PM With George Negus was watched by 335,000 viewers across the five major capitals, compared to Nine News (974,000) and Seven News (1,190,000).  The Evening News was watched by 337,000 compared to A Current Affair (921,000) and Today Tonight (1,144,000). 

From Monday 4 April, 6PM With George Negus moves to the 6.30pm timeslot (and re-titled accordingly) as the 6.30 news half-hour essentially moves to 6.00pm as an extension of the existing 5.00pm news hour.

The change will now see the serious George Negus (pictured) program placed directly up against tabloids Today Tonight and A Current Affair – two programs whose ongoing rivalry hit new lows this week as each program accused the other of pinching footage, a public battle that could well end up in the courts after ACA played an interview conducted by TT without any attribution or commentary.

sandrasully_0001 The changes to Ten’s 6.00pm hour will not result in any job losses as the newsreading roster will be adjusted accordingly – in particular, Melbourne’s 6.30 newsreader Mal Walden goes back to the 5.00pm bulletin while Sydney’s Sandra Sully (pictured) moves back to the national late night bulletin.

Ten’s programming chief David Mott said in a media release that the change is due to audience response to the news line-up:

“We are making this alteration in the early evening news schedule based on feedback from viewers who value competitive, intelligent and incisive news and public affairs programs.  We are strong supporters of quality news, comment and analysis and believe that Network Ten should remain a leading player in this space.”

Earlier this month Ten was forced to reinstate its 5.00pm national news bulletin on weekends after it suddenly moved the bulletin to 6.00pm, leading to rival Nine starting up its own 5.00pm weekend bulletin to fill the gap.

ten_2008 The changes may be seen as a premature panic move – inspiring changes to news viewing habits requires a lot of time and Ten had previously promised its commitment to this line-up “for the long haul” – but the audience appears to have spoken and Ten have taken that on board.  Now it will be up to those viewers to justify the changes that have been made.

Source: Ten Network

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

1991: March 16-22

tvweek_160391 Will Daryl grab the Gold again?
The host of the 33rd annual TV Week Logie Awards, Daryl Somers, has never forgotten the night he won his first TV Week Gold Logie.  “It was in 1983.  After the show I went upstairs  at the hotel and had a few drinks  with Graham Kennedy and Bert Newton,” he told TV Week.  “I was obviously pretty happy and we had a long night chatting away, as I discovered when I left the session with them and saw that it was starting to get light outside.  And there was the limo.  It was still waiting for me!  I’d forgotten to send him home.  So I got in and went straight to work, because in those days we did Hey Hey It’s Saturday from eight on Saturday mornings.  We started the show with a bed on set, and I got in, still in my dinner suit, with the Gold Logie and a big grin.”  Somers is one of the four nominees for the Gold Logie for most popular television personality in the year 1990.

craigmclachlan_darylsomersTV Week Logie Awards nominations (Publicly voted categories):
Gold Logie: Ray Martin, Daryl Somers, Jana Wendt, Steve Vizard (Previous year’s winner: Craig McLachlan)

Most Popular Actor: Richard Huggett, Tony Martin, Craig McLachlan, Shane Porteous.  (Previous year’s winner: Craig McLachlan)

Most Popular Actress: Penny Cook, Nicolle Dickson, Georgie Parker, Lenore Smith  (Previous year’s winner: Rachel Friend)

estreet_0003 Most Popular Series:  A Country Practice, E Street (pictured), Home And Away, Neighbours  (Previous year’s winner: Neighbours)

Most Popular Light Entertainment/Comedy Program:  Fast Forward, Hey Dad!, Hey Hey It’s Saturday  (Previous year’s winner:  The Comedy Company)

Most Popular Sports Coverage:  Commonwealth Games, Cricket, Tennis  (Previous year’s winner: Cricket)

jackaroo Most Popular Telemovie or Mini-Series:  Come In Spinner, Jackaroo (pictured), Shadows Of The Heart  (Previous year’s winner: Bangkok Hilton)

Most Popular Light Entertainment/Comedy Male Personality:  Kim Gyngell, Daryl Somers, Steve Vizard (New category)

Most Popular Light Entertainment/Comedy Female Personality:  Jean Kittson, Julie McGregor, Magda Szubanski (New category)

Most Popular Public Affairs Program: A Current Affair, Hinch, 60 Minutes  (Previous year’s winner: A Current Affair)

Most Popular Children’s Program:  Cartoon Connection, Double Dare, Play School  (Previous year’s winner: Wombat)

sophielee Most Popular New Talent:  Rebekah Elmaloglou, Sophie Heathcote, Richard Huggett, Sophie Lee (pictured).  (Previous year’s winner: Georgie Parker)

Other public-voted awards: Most Popular Music Video, Most Popular Actor and Actress in a Telemovie or Mini-series, Most Popular Program (for each state) and Most Popular Personality (for each state).

forrestredlich200 up… and there’s dancing in the street!
The recent murder of four characters – and the suicide of another – still torments the mind of E Street producer Forrest Redlich (pictured).  “I am sorry.  But I had to kill them,” he says.  But Redlich is more upbeat about E Street reaching its 200 episode milestone this week – a significant achievement given that few were willing to give the show a chance.  And when the show was faced with budget cuts, the critics thought that E Street would just fade away, but it is now a ratings hit for the Ten Network.  “We have a lot to thank for the commitment and loyalty of the fans.  For them, it seems one of the dramatic highlights was the bathtub scene with Wheels (Marcus Graham) and Lisa (Alyssa-Jane Cook).  We still get letters about it.  But it has been satisfying for me to know that E Street has given a start to a whole lot of untried actors such as Marcus, Richard Huggett, Alyssa-Jane and Paul Kelman.  It’s funny to remember them as shy young people no-one had heard of and now see them as major players in television drama.”

tanialacy Tania eyes a sitcom
Comedienne Tania Lacy (pictured) is anxiously waiting the go-ahead from the Nine Network for a Denise Drysdale sitcom in which she would co-star.  Lacy, formerly of ABC programs The Factory and Countdown Revolution, returned from a three-month stint in London to do a “read through” for Nine executives.  The proposed series is also set to star Drysdale along with Noeline Brown and Hazel Phillips

In-demand actress Naomi Watts is joining the cast of Home And Away, playing the role of paraplegic Julie Gibson.  In preparing for the role, Watts spent weeks before joining the series confined to a wheelchair.  Watts will also soon be appearing in the ABC mini-series Brides Of Christ.

Neighbours star Beth Buchanan has decided to leave the series when her contract expires in June.  She is keen to travel overseas and is also believed to be pursuing a movie role.

marcusgraham Former E Street star Marcus Graham (pictured), currently appearing in Seven’s Ratbag Hero, could be returning to the Network Ten series.  The actor is in negotiations with producers over reprising his “Wheels” character.  And rumours that he could be taking on a guest role in Chances – after playing the role of scheming Alex in the pilot – have been denied.

ABC mini-series The Paper Man has been making its mark on the international market.  The series has so far been sold to Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Singapore, Poland, Greece, Cyprus, Thailand, Turkey, Bulgaria, Namibia, Malta, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Jordan, Israel, Bahrain and Iceland.  Most significantly, the series has been sold to the American Arts & Entertainment cable network, Canada’s CTV and Britain’s Granada International.

soniatoddgarysweet John Laws says…
Police Rescue (featuring Sonia Todd and Gary Sweet, pictured) is what Australian TV has been a long time in creating – a realistic, drama-packed production with a first-class script and excellent performances from a fine cast.  I thought the original pilot episode, where members of the squad searched for a little boy lost in Sydney’s massive underground sewer complex, was excellent.”

Program Highlights (March 16-22):
Saturday:  Seven
presents the Grand Final of the AFL pre-season Foster’s Cup, live from AFL Park, Waverley.

Sunday:  ABC debuts a new Sunday morning children’s program, Couch Potato With Grant Piro.  Afternoon sport includes the NBL K-Mart Classic (Seven) and live coverage of the Gold Coast Indy Grand Prix (Nine).  Seven presents the second and final part of mini-series Ratbag Hero.  Sunday night movies are Perry Mason: Case Of The Musical Murder (Seven), Minnamurra (Nine) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Ten).  ABC’s late-night religious series Compass presents A Question Of Sex, a documentary about transsexuals.

Tuesday:  In Beyond 2000 (Seven), Andrew Carroll tests a navigation system that works out the shortest, fastest route to take when driving and which also helps with safe driving – and Amanda Keller finds out the real reason why women feel the affects of alcohol faster than men.

Wednesday/Thursday:  Australia’s Tom Burlinson stars in the mini-series Piece Of Cake (Seven), the story of 12 young RAF fighter pilots during the first year of World War II.

Friday:  AFL’s Season 1991 starts with Adelaide versus Hawthorn, live on Seven from Football Park, Adelaide.  Andrew Denton’s new late-night sports chat show Live And Sweaty debuts on ABC.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  16 March 1991.  Southdown Press.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Prime7 signs off from Albury

helenballardpaulmurphy It was an end of an era for local television in Albury on Friday night with the final news bulletin from the Prime7 studios in Union Road, Lavington.

The newscast marked the end of over 46 years of production from what was initially AMV4 before it later became part of the Prime regional television network.  The network was re-named Prime7 earlier this year.

Newsreader Helen Ballard (pictured with colleague Paul Murphy) gave a tearful farewell as the bulletin came to a close:

“It’s been a privilege to be invited into your lounge room every night with the news from across our region.  It’s been an honour to play such an important role in our community as presenter of your local news.

“For the final time, thanks for joining us and good night.”

Former and current employees, friends and families packed the normally-quiet control room at the studios to witness the final news bulletin going to air.

From Monday the Albury edition of Prime7 News will be presented by the network’s former weather presenter Daniel Gibson, who will present the half-hour bulletin from studios in Canberra. 

Ballard, who has been with Prime7 since 2001, will stay based in Albury as a senior reporter.

The move to the Canberra-based studios will coincide with a change of timeslot for the Albury newscast – moving from 5.30pm to 6.00pm, putting it up against WIN’s local relay of Nine News from Melbourne.

The Melbourne edition of Seven News will now follow Prime7 News at 6.30pm, with Today Tonight now moved out of the schedule in Albury.  For the rest of regional Victoria, Seven News and Today Tonight will continue in their usual 6.00pm and 6.30pm timeslots on Prime7.

johnworthy AMV4 was officially launched from the Union Road studios on Monday 7 September 1964.  The opening night was highlighted by a 75-minute feature Were You There, presenting coverage of recent events and highlights from around the channel’s viewing area as well as performances from local artists.  Early local productions from AMV4 included children’s program Cohns Cobbers with Olgamary Whelan, who also hosted women’s program Roundabout.  AMV4’s relay of ABC’s national news was supplemented with local news presented by former Melbourne radio news man John Worthy (pictured).  Other programs included quiz show The Mates Show and interview program Face with Ross Sellars.  Sellars also presented Friday and Saturday night sports programs. 

Albury’s second TV station, ABC’s ABAV1, was launched in December 1964.

But despite the belated debut of ABAV1 and AMV4, local viewers were quite familiar with the television medium.  Many households had erected large antennas so that they could receive television transmission from Shepparton stations GMV6 and ABGV3 which had been broadcasting since 1961 and 1963 respectively.  Local GMV6 personalities had also visited Albury for promotional efforts prior to AMV4’s arrival.

In the early 1970s AMV4 merged with Wagga Wagga television station RVN2, with both channels soon linked by microwave and the eventual  transmission of a common program schedule across both channels from the RVN2 studios – though AMV would continue to produce news locally from Albury until June 1987 when RVN began producing a single evening news bulletin for both markets.  The move was unpopular and production of the Albury-based bulletin was restored early in 1988.

primenetwork In the mid-1980s, RVN-AMV and Orange-based station CBN8 formed a new regional television network, The Prime Network.  The new network soon struck up an affiliation with the Seven Network for the supply of programs as the Federal Government’s aggregation policy was looming, requiring regional networks to align with a capital city network.

By 1989, AMV’s operations were “de-merged” from RVN2 as Wagga Wagga became part of the Southern NSW aggregated market with CBN8 and AMV was to operate as the hub for Prime’s expansion across the regional Victorian market via aggregation.  In 1992, aggregation came to Victoria with Prime expanding across the state in competition with Ballarat-based VIC TV (now WIN) and Bendigo-based Southern Cross Network (now Southern Cross Ten).

The move of Prime’s local news bulletin from Albury follows similar moves from Prime’s Wagga Wagga (ex-RVN2) and Orange (ex-CBN8) studios to the centralised facility based in Canberra.

Source: Border Mail, Maikha Ly

Friday, 18 March 2011

TV battle over Abigail

abigail Australia’s first TV sex symbol Abigail (pictured) has unwittingly become fodder for  the ongoing battle between the 6.30pm ‘current affairs’ programs.

On Wednesday night’s Today Tonight, Abigail and her husband, actor Adrian Wright were depicted as ‘squatters’ living in a church hall – the story featuring blurry hidden-camera-type images of the former sex symbol, who shot to fame in controversial ‘70s soap Number 96 and later appeared in Sons And Daughters in the ‘80s and Chances in the ‘90s, as it sought to shame her as a reclusive hermit.  The story did acknowledge that the couple were living in the church building with the permission of the Uniting Church minister as the result of their own home being repeatedly damaged by flood, but attempted to portray them as a drain on the charity of others and the wider community.

The outrage that followed, with editorial and comments on TV Tonight, led to A Current Affair taking the opportunity on Thursday night to set the record straight on the former star’s situation – as someone who is seeking nothing more than a quiet life in the country, after years in the television spotlight, and like many others wanting to re-build after the devastating floods but not seeking any special treatment or fame or wanting to be known as a ‘sob story’.  The story featured supportive comments from close friend, producer Posie Graham-Evans, showbiz commentator Peter Ford and TV presenter and soap opera historian Andrew Mercado

But, not to let ACA get away with the story, Today Tonight sought to rake together a ‘response’ to its own story from the previous night.  While TT’s initial story set out to shame the former TV legend, the follow up was overflowing with sympathy from John Michael Howson and actor John Orcsik as well as former Number 96 colleague Joe Hasham.  There were also more comments from Mercado, who also appeared in the initial TT story but perhaps not aware of the angle that the story was to take.

In its follow up, Today Tonight sought to link the plight of Abigail to a nostalgic tribute to another soap opera, Prisoner – a series that the actress had no significant link to at all, though her husband Wright was a cast member.  It was a curious story that really only appeared to serve as a retort to the A Current Affair story on Abigail as well as a catch-up to ACA’s tribute to Prisoner that went to air some weeks ago when the cast reunited to promote the show’s debut on pay-TV channel 111 Hits.

memory09 It is sad to see that Today Tonight has sparked this story in an attempt to shame someone so fondly remembered by the public whose only ‘crime’ is to innocently seek a private, peaceful retirement and to re-build from the devastation of the recent Victorian floods.  It is a sad contrast to rival ACA who have taken a more nostalgic approach in its recent revisiting of former TV favourites.

Source: Today Tonight, A Current Affair, Today Tonight, TV Tonight

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

ACA remembers ACP

acp_mollyThe Nine Network’s A Current Affair appears to have found a new goldmine for story ideas – revisiting some of Australia’s former TV favourites.  With last year’s lengthy interview with producer Reg Grundy and recent reunions and reminisces with the casts of Prisoner and Young Talent Time, the tabloid current affairs program last night (Monday) turned its attention to long-running soap A Country Practice which reaches the 30th anniversary of its debut later this year.

ACA reporter Brady Halls tracked down ACP creator and producer James Davern to get some of the inside gossip on the series that ran for thirteen years, clocking up over 1000 episodes across two networks.  Some of the show’s highlights are also remembered, such as the wedding of Simon Bowen (Grant Dodwell) and Vicki Dean (Penny Cook) in 1983, and the death of Molly Jones (Anne Tenney, pictured above right) that captivated the nation in 1985.

acp_1982The segment also caught up with former cast member Wendy Strehlow (Sister Judy Loveday) and visited the town of Pitt Town which provided some of the exterior locations for the fictional Wandin Valley.

Among the many guest stars to visit the fictional town over its thirteen years, none of them were as famous as the then Prime Minister Mr Bob Hawke, appearing at an anti-nuclear rally staged at Wandin Valley – a storyline that saw the show awarded a Media Peace Award by the United Nations Association of Australia.

acp_1988Davern recalls how he created the concept for A Country Practice for a scriptwriting competition being conducted by the Ten Network.  He came third in the competition but later pitched the idea to the Seven Network who took up the series during 1981.  The first episode went to air in November 1981 during the summer non-ratings period, and continued on Seven until November 1993 when, ironically, it found a new home at Ten.  But A Country Practice was not a huge success when Ten adapted the series, changing the series’ location and most of its cast, and it soon played out its few remaining episodes in a Saturday afternoon timeslot – a fairly inglorious end for a series that had achieved much success in Australia as well as being sold overseas.

Davern, who was also a producer of ABC’s long-running drama Bellbird (1967-1977), was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame in 1991.

The ACA story can be seen at their website.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

1991: March 9-15

tvweek_090391 Bob pops the question!
For more than two years the romance between Dr Elly Fielding (Penny Cook) and Reverend Bob Brown (Tony Martin, pictured near right with Cook) in E Street has been an on-again off-again affair.  But this week in the Ten Network soap, Bob finally proposes – but Elly doesn’t accept straight away.  “She doesn’t say yes immediately, but she doesn’t say no,” Cook told TV Week

It’s no Sale!
Tony Barber
has denied that there is more to his shock resignation from hosting Nine’s Sale Of The Century as industry rumours have suggested.  Barber insists that the resignation was to escape his “quiz show host” label, having also hosted Temptation, Great Temptation, Name That Tune and Family Feud before 11 years on Sale Of The Century, and also to recover from a hip operation.  Rumours persist within the industry, however, that his resignation was due to the network denying certain demands in renewing his contract.  And although Seven claims that Barber’s management have approached them about coming across, he has denied any discussions have taken place with Seven and Ten, citing his commitment to his Nine contract which expires later this month.  The timing of Barber’s announcement may have also come at an awkward time.  Just days before the announcement, in an interview pre-recorded for Nine’s In Melbourne Today and In Sydney Today chat shows, Barber was asked about his future at Sale to which he replied, “I can see myself doing it when I am 65 or 70.”   No decision has been made as to a successor for Barber on Sale Of The Century, although Denis Walter, Bert Newton and Daryl Somers appear to be possibilities.

marcusgraham Marcus comes home to play a ratbag
Taking a break after a busy year, actor Marcus Graham (pictured) was in Los Angeles when he was offered a two-year contract with daytime soap General Hospital – an offer any number of actors would jump at.  But he said no.  Despite enormous pressure to sign (“98 per cent of everyone I met in the US said I should do it”) he felt it was the wrong thing to do.  “They wanted me to sign a two-year contract.  I was prepared to do one year, but I couldn’t do two, I couldn’t,” Graham told TV Week.  “I think you’d have a very low self-esteem after doing that show for a while.  They shoot an hour a day and you read your lines off cue cards.  It would kill me.  It’s like selling all your dreams and aspirations for thousands of US dollars and getting recognised in supermarkets.  It’s just not worth it.”  Graham was more enthusiastic in signing up for the Seven Network’s four-hour mini-series Ratbag Hero which debuts this week.  Graham plays ‘Unc’ (Bob), the roguish uncle of Mick (Cameron Nugent), the ‘ratbag hero’ of the show’s title.  “Unc is scruffy, a bit of a larrikin.  He is caught between being an adult and a kid.  He is childlike and loves fun,” Graham said.

logie_1980s Briefly…
Hollywood actress Angie Dickinson, best known from TV’s Policewoman series, will be a special guest at this year’s TV Week Logie Awards, taking place this week in Melbourne.  Also on the overseas guest list are Peggy Lipton and Michael Ontkean from the new US series Twin Peaks, now showing on Network Ten.

British-born comedienne Annette Law, whose celebrity impressions won her the ‘Red Faces’ talent quest on Hey Hey It’s Saturday and subsequently led to a career on the comedy circuit, is now heading back to the UK to start in a new BBC sketch comedy series, My Dog’s Got No Nose.  “I believe it’s the British equivalent to the old American show Laugh-In,” Law told TV Week.

garysweet Actor Gary Sweet’s proposed role as a reporter for Nine’s Midday With Ray Martin is now looking doubtful after he made a guest appearance on the daytime show to promote his new ABC series Police Rescue.  It happens that Police Rescue is scheduled directly up against Nine’s new drama Chances and the appearance has angered Nine Network executives.

John Laws says…
”Why did SBS scrap its Tonight current affairs show – and replace it with an almost identical program under another name?  This is exactly what has happened, though the program purveyors at SBS will, no doubt, deny it and claim that Dateline is a different concept from Tonight.  But there’s hardly a scrap of difference.  It has the same presenter, Pria Viswalingam, and has retained its capable “finance reporter” Jane Hutcheon, who continues to do exactly what she did so well on the Tonight program.  The official line is that Dateline comprises “the resources of Tonight, Asia Report and the weekly Dateline” and has “shorter, pithier reports” (whatever that means).  So there you have it – two well-established programs are skittled.  Now you see them, now you don’t.  One hour of current affairs becomes 30 minutes of current affairs.”

cameronnugent Program Highlights (March 9-15):
Sunday:  Seven
’s afternoon includes live coverage of the Moomba Masters water-skiing from Melbourne’s Yarra River, followed by live coverage of the Australian Touring Car Championships from Symmons Plains, Tasmania.  After Seven Nightly News, Seven screens the first of the two-part children’s mini-series Ratbag Hero, starring Cameron Nugent (pictured), Elaine Smith, Peter Fisher, Marcus Graham, Gus Mercurio and Simon Chilvers.  Sunday night movies are Beaches (Seven), Scarface (Nine) and The Golden Child (Ten).  Nine then crosses to Trinidad for the One Day International between Australia and the West Indies.  Ten debuts a new late-night sports program, Sports Week, hosted by Eddie McGuire and Stephen Quartermain.

Monday:  ABC debuts its new rural affairs program Landline, screening every weekday.  ABC and Seven in Melbourne both present a direct telecast of the annual Moomba street procession.

Tuesday:  In All Together Now (Nine), Thomas (Steven Jacobs) and Anna (Jane Hall) come home drunk and Tracy (Rebecca Gibney) suspects it is Bobby’s (Jon English) influence that has caused it.  Tina Bursill, Serge Lazareff and Dorothy St Heaps are guest stars in ABC’s drama GP.

Wednesday: Prime Minister Bob Hawke is the guest speaker at the National Press Club Luncheon, broadcast on ABC

Thursday:  Former E Street star Paul Kelman enters Nine’s The Flying Doctors as Steve McCauley, who found out he was adopted and hitches a ride to Coopers Crossing, undecided on whether or not to tell his mother about their true relationship.

darylsomers Friday:  Daryl Somers (pictured) hosts the 33rd annual TV Week Logie Awards from Melbourne’s World Congress Centre and broadcast nationally through the Nine Network.  It is triple Gold Logie winner Somers’ second time as host of the event.  This year will also see the launch of two new Logie award categories – the Most Popular Male and Most Popular Female Comedy Personality – in recognition of the rise in Australian-produced comedy on television.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  9 March 1991.  Southdown Press.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

SC Ten goes local in Shepparton

shepparton Viewers in Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley in north east Victoria will soon have a new prime-time program dedicated to covering the news and issues from within their local area.

On 21 March, Southern Cross Ten launches Weeknights, a locally-based half-hour program of news, sport and weather with lifestyle segments covering topics like real estate, health, entertainment and local identities.

Hosted by Joel Crean with reporters Peter Cardamone, Dean Foscarini and Emily Whitham, Weeknights will also feature presenters from Southern Cross Ten’s sister radio stations in Shepparton, 3SRFM and Star 96.9.

Leanne Hulm, general manager of Southern Cross’ Goulburn Valley Media Centre, said that Weeknights is a significant step in providing content specifically tailored for local viewers:

“This is a first – both for Southern Cross Media and the Goulburn Valley. With a combination of news and lifestyle presented across the half-hour, we’re doing something completely different – but entirely focused on and relevant to our region. I'd ask everyone to make the switch.”

southerncrossten Weeknights will screen in the 6.30pm timeslot, replacing the local relay of the Melbourne-based Evening News from Network Ten.  The new program will appear in direct competition with the local WIN News bulletin and the networked Today Tonight.

The Shepparton and Goulburn Valley market represents a total audience of around 173,000 viewers across an area stretching from Eildon, north of Melbourne, and up past the NSW border to Deniliquin and Jerilderie.

Weeknights.  Starts Monday 21 March, 6.30pm. Southern Cross Ten (Shepparton/Goulburn Valley).

Source: Southern Cross Media, Travel Victoria, Regional TV Marketing

Sunday, 6 March 2011

1991: March 2-8

tvweek_020391 ‘Cut it out, Steve!’
As Tonight Live enters its second year, newsreader Jennifer Keyte has put her foot down and ordered some changes to the show’s news segment which she presents at the start of each program.  Gone is host Steve Vizard’s catchphrase “the newsreader with the mostest”, and also gone is Keyte’s walk to the news desk which attracted wild wolf-whistles and cheers from the studio audience.  The changes have come after Keyte (pictured, with Vizard), who also fronts Seven Nightly News in Melbourne, had some concerns about the credibility of the news presented on the program and was also concerned about some on-air comments by Vizard about her private life.  “I’m a news presenter, therefore I don’t want to be drawn into a situation where I have to give opinions on things or to divulge anything to do with my personal life,” Keyte told TV Week.

Craig’s to become a hero!
Craig McLachlan
has been offered a role in the sequel to the mini-series The Heroes which is set to appear on the Seven Network.  Producers of the new project also approached McLachlan’s former Neighbours co-star Jason Donovan to reprise his role from the original The Heroes series, but with his current commitment to West End musical Joseph And His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat it is unlikely he will be available.  The Heroes II is likely to be McLachlan’s only TV appearance this year apart from a two-week stint coming up in Home And Away, a contractual commitment following his recent departure from the series as a regular cast member.

sophielee The Bugs Bunny girl hops into a new role
The Bugs Bunny Show host Sophie Lee (pictured) makes her debut in Nine’s The Flying Doctors this week.  Despite some outside criticism of her meteoric rise to fame, the 22-year-old former model is confident she can ‘cut it’ as an actress.  “I’ve been doing bits of acting work for a long time now,” she told TV Week.  “I’ve had my ears open for years looking for good parts.  Just because I got The Bugs Bunny Show didn’t mean I thought, ‘Well I’m fine now’.”

Production is to start in July on the $5.7 million sci-fi series Halfway Around The Galaxy And Turn Left. The 26-episode series is being produced at the Melbourne studios of Crawfords Australia for the Seven Network and German company Kirch Gruppe.  No casting details for the series have been announced as yet.

John Farnham is to lead the list of performers at this year’s TV Week Logie Awards, to be held at Melbourne’s World Congress Centre later this month.  Producer Peter Wynne and choreographer David Atkins are also working on a few other surprises for the show, including a “supergroup” getting together for a one-off Logies performance.

warrenjones Departing E Street star Warren Jones (pictured) had expected that scriptwriters would write out his character, former policeman Paul Berry, with a quick bullet to the head.  “But they turned it into, maybe, the best scenes my character has ever had.  I was really proud,” Jones told TV Week.

Former A Country Practice and The Flying Doctors star Brett Climo has signed up with ABC’s popular drama GP for a three-week guest stint. 

John Laws says…
”Having had such success with Mother And Son, writer Geoffrey Atherden could easily have rested on his laurels.  But if the first episode of his new series Eggshells is any guide, Atherden looks like he has come up with another triumphant Australian TV sitcom.  Yes, it’s that good.”

Program Highlights (March 2-8):
Saturday:  Seven
’s environmental and weather reporter David Smith presents documentary Continent In Crisis for Jennifer Keyte’s World Around Us, looking at the ecological crisis confronting Australia.  Seven then crosses to AFL Park, Waverley, for the 3rd Quarter Final of the Foster’s Cup pre-season competition.  Nine crosses to Jamaica overnight for the second day’s play of the First Test between Australia and West Indies.

Sunday:  SBS’ documentary series My Place, My Land, My People looks at Cunnamulla, just north of the NSW border, the traditional lands of the Kunja tribe and traces their history over the past 200 years.  The Foster’s Cup continues on Seven with the 4th Quarter Final from AFL Park, followed by Nascar-Auscar motor racing from Calder Park, Melbourne.  Sunday night movies are Octopussy (Seven), The Rosary Murders (Nine) and Die Hard (Ten). 

wheeloffortune Monday:  Seven’s long-running game show Wheel Of Fortune celebrates its 2000th episode with John Burgess, Adriana Xenides and voice-over man John Deeks presenting highlights from the show’s past.  Burgess, who has hosted the show since 1984, has notched up more than 1000 episodes, while Xenides has not missed a single episode since the show began in July 1981.

Tuesday:  Former The Restless Years star Peter Mochrie guest stars in ABC’s GP.  Actress Nadine Garner makes her comedy debut as an over-the-top groupie who dumps boyfriend Thomas (Steven Jacobs) for his dad, ageing rocker Bobby (Jon English) in Nine’s All Together Now.

Wednesday:  Penne Hackforth-Jones guest stars as an old girlfriend of Martin Kelly (Robert Hughes) in Seven’s Hey Dad!

effie Thursday:  Sophie Lee makes her debut in Nine’s The Flying Doctors.  In Seven’s Acropolis Now, Memo’s (George Kapiniaris) mother sends an uncle from Greece to encourage Memo to marry – and in sheer desperation he chooses Effie (pictured. Mary Coustas).  In E Street (Ten), the erratic behaviour of troubled former policeman Paul Berry (Warren Jones) comes to a climax when he kidnaps Rachel Patchett (Madison Doyle) and Toni Windsor (Toni Pearen) and locks them away in a hospital room.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  2 March 1991.  Southdown Press.

1991: February 23-March 1

tvweek_230291 ‘I felt like I was being treated like a piece of meat’
Actress Tammy MacIntosh (pictured) has had a falling out with the producers of Nine’s soap opera Chances after tensions over a steamy scene.  When taping with co-star Jeremy Sims, she exaggerated the seduction scene during the first take.  Then, when it came to doing a second take, MacIntosh refused to go as far with the seduction.  Producers instead decided to go with the first take which is what went to air.  When she heard of the decision to use the first take, MacIntosh stormed off the set.  “She said she felt like she was being treated like a piece of meat,” a source told TV Week.  Neither MacIntosh nor producer Lynn Bayonas have commented on the incident.

High noon for Rachel!
In a shock decision, former Neighbours star Rachel Friend has walked away from a lucrative acting career and instead decided to take up journalism.  “Journalism has always been a much stronger ambition for me,” she told TV Week.  “When I was at school journalism was something I always wanted to do.  But there was this acting bug I wanted to scratch too.”  The 19-year-old TV Week Logie winner and wife of former co-star Craig McLachlan has joined Nine’s Midday With Ray Martin as a reporter.  “Basically I’ve been given a free rein to do whatever or speak to whomever I choose, within reason,” she says.  “But I don’t want to stick to just showbusiness.”

shaneporteousjoymiller Doctors in love!
There is romance in store for two of A Country Practice’s resident doctors.  Dr Cris Kouros (Michael Muntz) has finally acknowledged his feelings for the Wandin Valley hospital’s director of nursing, Ann Brennan (Mary Regan) – though their relationship is far from smooth sailing as Dr Kouros is under pressure from his family to leave Wandin Valley.  Meanwhile, mild-mannered Dr Terence Elliott (Shane Porteous) falls for feisty occupational therapist Linda Shelley (Joy Miller), and their relationship presents the most awkward scenario when the pair go skinny-dipping (pictured) and then realise a feral goat has taken their clothes, leaving them just with a picnic blanket for modesty as they make their way back into town.

celebritywheelfamilyfeud Briefly…
Despite rumours suggesting that they wouldn’t return, Seven’s celebrity versions of Wheel Of Fortune and Family Feud will be back for 1991, and will again be challenging Nine’s Hey Hey It’s Saturday.  Family Feud host Rob Brough (pictured, near right, with Wheel Of Fortune’s John Burgess and Adriana Xenides) has told TV Week that Celebrity Family Feud will be revamped on its return.  “Instead of families we’ll be having ‘theme teams’ battling it out.  There will be an Aussie Rules, Rugby show and we’ve planned a show with Penthouse Pets versus iron men!” he said.

Production has started on a four-hour mini-series for ABC based around the Chinese student riots in Tiananmen Square in 1989.  China stars Bob Peck, Linda Cropper, Gary Sweet and Lily Chen.

michaelcaton Actor Michael Caton (pictured) has spoken to TV Week about his new role as Vietnam veteran Bill Anderson in the new series Chances.  Anderson is the best friend and neighbour of Dan Taylor (John Sheerin) and both also share a special bond – Anderson heroically saved Taylor’s life in Vietnam.  “I did a lot of research on Vietnam for another project and was lucky enough to attend the 25th anniversary in Sydney,” Caton told TV Week.  “It was pretty powerful, emotional stuff.  I met a veteran who’d become an alcoholic, lost his marriage, his life had fallen to pieces – a bit like my character!  One side of Bill is comical – the other is tragic.  He’s a bit of a slob – a refugee from the Seventies who’s never quite stepped into the Nineties.”

John Laws says…
”It depends on personal taste whether you consider Nine’s new soapie series Chances is entertainment or desperatainment.  Desperatainment, of course, being the sort of program you screen when you are desperate to quickly achieve high ratings.  Given Nine’s previous lack of success with homegrown drama series, perhaps it’s no surprise that Chances, with its reliance on sex scenes to keep viewers glued to the action, comes perilously close to being placed in the desperate bracket.”

Program Highlights (February 23-March 1):
Saturday:  Ten
debuts a new Saturday afternoon highlights package of Rugby League matches, hosted by Stephen QuartermainCelebrity Wheel Of Fortune and Celebrity Family Feud return to Saturday nights on Seven up against Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine) and Star Search (Ten).  Mel Gibson, Daryl Braithwaite and the Black Sorrows are this week’s guests on Hey Hey It’s Saturday.

Sunday:  Sunday night movies are Trading Places (Nine) and The Man From Snowy River II (Ten) – though only into the second week of ratings for the year, both movies are repeats.  Seven presents the premiere of two-part mini-series Earthquake: The Big One.

Tuesday:  In Beyond 2000 (Seven), Bryan Smith investigates a new alternative to fibreglass made from banana trees.  Carmel Travers looks at the environmental impact of rabbits on Australia, and Simon Reeve reports on the effects of pregnancy on dream patterns.

Wednesday:  Seven crosses to AFL Park, Waverley, for the Foster’s Cup 2nd Quarter Final, hosted by Bruce McAvaneyABC presents the Sports Award Of The Year, hosted by Karen Tighe with Gordon Bray, Peter Gee and Tracey Holmes, followed by the debut of Couchman Across Australia with journalist Peter Couchman.

Thursday:  Aboriginal nurse Sally Connolly (Jedda Cole) is the victim of racist attacks in The Flying Doctors, while former Bellbird and Prisoner star Elspeth Ballantyne makes a guest appearance in the Nine Network drama.

Friday:  Late on Friday night (early Saturday morning) Nine crosses to Jamaica for Australia versus West Indies in the First Test.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.   23 February 1991. Southdown Press.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Digital TV now in 77% of homes

digitaltracker The latest Digital Tracker survey results released by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy indicate that 77% of Australian households have converted at least one television set to digital – an increase from 75 per cent recorded in the previous survey and from 61 per cent recorded in the same period a year ago.

The latest survey covers the period October to December 2010.

Outside of the two regions – Mildura and Regional South Australia/Broken Hill – that have switched off all analogue transmissions, the highest digital conversion rate was recorded in Tasmania and Darwin, where both markets reported an 88 per cent conversion rate.

The biggest increases came in Melbourne (increasing from 74 per cent in the last survey to 79 per cent) and Perth (increasing from 76 to 81 per cent) – while Sydney actually recorded a decrease from 68 per cent down to 66 per cent.  Changes in survey samples are expected to see some fluctuation in results.

watchtv2With the switch-off of analogue television in Regional South Australia and Broken Hill in December last year, more surveys were conducted within the local areas to determine conversion trends as the analogue switch-off date passed.  The market had recorded a 94 per cent conversion rate following the analogue switch-off on 15 December, with 18 per cent of households making the switch between 2-12 weeks ahead of the analogue switch-off.  On the last day of analogue broadcasting an estimated 1 to 2 per cent of households had made last-minute conversion to digital.

regionalvictoria The next region to lose analogue transmission – Regional Victoria – recorded an increase in digital conversion from 79 to 81 per cent.  Analogue transmissions will be switched off across the state in May, although some small towns have already cut over to digital-only transmission.

The shutdown of all analogue transmission is scheduled to be completed across the whole of Australia by December 2013.

Source: Digital Ready

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Big news day for Ten

jameswarburton There has been a lot happening at the Ten Network in the last 24 hours.

Ten Network Holdings has appointed a new CEO less than a week after Grant Blackley was removed from the role.

James Warburton (pictured), a sales executive with the Seven Network, will take on the role of CEO for Ten effective 14 July.  In the meantime the role will continue to be held by acting chief Lachlan Murdoch.

Also today, the Ten Network issued a brief statement that James Packer was resigning from the board effective immediately.  Packer made a bold investment in Ten last year – estimated to be around $288 million worth which he then split with Murdoch – and had been on the board at the company since November.  His arrival at Ten led to the resignation of group CEO Nick Falloon.

No reason was given for Packer’s sudden resignation from the board and at this stage he is expected to be retaining his share of the company.  There has been speculation that his departure may be linked to the selection of Warburton to the CEO position.

Ten also announced today that its group chief financial officer John Kelly will be leaving the company later this month, to be replaced by Paul Anderson who is the current finance chief of the Ten business.

While all of this activity is taking place, management is also currently undertaking a review of the network’s strategic direction, with close attention to the expanded news portfolio, including 6PM With George Negus and the 6.30 Evening News, but may also impact on the network’s multi-channel strategy that has seen the launch of digital channels One HD and Eleven.

natarshabelling Network Ten has also announced it’s first ‘back flip’ since its news re-launch.  The network will be reinstating its weekend 5.00pm Ten News bulletin with Natarsha Belling (pictured).  In launching its revamped news format in January, Ten had bumped the 5.00pm national weekend news to a 6.00pm bulletin based in each of the five major capitals.  The move was given little advance promotion and as a result the new 6.00pm Evening News bulletin has failed to grab even a modest market share up against Seven and Nine – while the Nine Network swiftly moved to fill the gap for weekend news in the 5.00pm timeslot with a new bulletin, even boldly using the tagline “First At Five” which has long been a Ten staple.

Programming chief David Mott said in a statement today:

“We have long held a prominent news position at 5pm in the weekend schedule and we are not willing to give up that ground any longer.”

“Clearly there is a viewer thirst for choice when it comes to weekend news and we are well placed to provide them what they want with our 5pm and 6pm news coverage.”

“Effective this weekend, we will return with a national 5pm news bulletin, covering news, sport and weather from Australia and around the world, complemented by our recently launched, targeted local news bulletin in each market at 6pm.”

It would seem that the changes announced today will be far from being the last for the Ten Network.

Source: The Age, Ten, Herald Sun.

Young Talent Time reunited on ACA

ytt_aca Last night’s edition of Nine’s A Current Affair featured a reunion of cast members of the long-running variety series Young Talent Time.

Joining ACA reporter Ben McCormack for a look back at the hit show were host and producer Johnny Young and former junior cast members Nicole Cooper, Karen Knowles, Stephen Zammit, Lorena Novoa, John Bowles, Debbie Hancock, Phillip Gould, Beven Addinsall, Greg Poynton, Jane Scali, Joey Perrone and Mark McCormack.  They talked about the show’s impact on their own lives as they were growing up, claims made about the show by former cast member Debra Byrne in a recent book (Young said the book was an honest account from Byrne’s perspective but some aspects were blown out of proportion by a certain weekly magazine), the challenges in song selection when considering the age of the performers, and even Young’s own admission that he did secretly have a favourite YTT team member but was not going to reveal who it was!

The segment also acknowledged former cast members Jamie Redfern, Sally Boyden, Tina Arena, Dannii Minogue and Byrne, who all went on to enjoy stardom after leaving the show, and paid tribute to Juanita Coco, who was tragically killed in a road accident in 1993, and Julie Ryles, who passed away just recently.

ytt_1979a Young Talent Time was launched as a low-budget Saturday night variety show on Melbourne’s ATV0 in April 1971 as an alternative to football broadcasts on the other channels.  The program soon went national and collected a number of TV Week Logie awards – including a 1982 award for sustained excellence in television and Young’s induction into the TV Week Logie Awards’ Hall of Fame in 1990.

The show continued until late 1988 when it was abruptly cancelled over the summer break so it was never allowed a proper send-off.  A reunion special was hosted and produced by John Bowles in 2001 and there have been on and off again rumours of a 21st century revival of the format – encouraged in part by the Facebook-led campaign that saw the return of another former favourite, Hey Hey It’s Saturday, to screens in 2009.

Meanwhile, Young Talent Time is approaching the 40th anniversary of its debut and there are plans for a concert tour to celebrate the occasion – details will be posted at and on Facebook.

The video of the ACA story can be seen at their website.

Source: A Current Affair
YouTube: austvarchive