Thursday, 30 June 2011

Tracy Grimshaw’s 30 years at Nine

tracygrimshaw A Current Affair last night presented a tribute to host Tracy Grimshaw to commemorate her 30 years at the Nine Network.

Starting at Nine as a reporter for National Nine News in Melbourne, Grimshaw later gained a national profile as a daytime newsreader and guest presenter on Graham Kennedy’s Coast To Coast.

In 1995, Grimshaw and actor David Reyne were an unlikely pairing for the revamped Midday as the show returned in a new format after a year hosted by Derryn Hinch.

The Midday experiment failed – with Kerri-Anne Kennerley replacing the pair, presenting a revamped variety format in 1996 – but Grimshaw then moved to the early morning Today, co-hosting for many years with Steve Liebmann and then Karl Stefanovic.

She left Today to take on hosting ACA in 2006.  While the story mix on ACA and its rival Today Tonight generally skew towards an almost identical lineup of lightweight topics such as grocery prices, diet fads and retail promotions, Grimshaw’s journalistic background has given ACA some point of difference in that she is allowed the occasional opportunity to interview certain newsmakers or people in the spotlight – winning a Walkley award for television interviewing in 2009, a year which saw her conduct a number of exclusive interviews on the program, including an interview with disgraced former footballer Matthew Johns after details of a group sex scandal had emerged.

The video of last night’s tribute can be found at the ACA website.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Obituary: Godfrey Philipp

godfreyphilipp Godfrey Philipp, the co-creator of children’s programs The Magic Circle Club and Adventure Island, has died and this week has been remembered by former colleagues at a memorial service in Melbourne.

Coming to Australia from the UK in the late 1950s, Philipp joined GTV9 as a production assistant, working on programs including In Melbourne Tonight.  He then went to NBN3, Newcastle, as a senior producer-director.

Then, back in Melbourne, he co-created The Magic Circle Club – a lavishly-produced children’s series that was one of the first productions to come from new Melbourne channel ATV0 in the mid 1960s.  The pantomime series was created by Philipp and writer John Michael Howson and starred Nancy Cato amongst a crew of characters including Fredd Bear (Tedd Dunn), Fee Fee Bear, Leonardo di Funbird, Marlena de Witch, Mother Hubbard, Cassius Cuckoo, Sir Jasper Crookley, Twaddle and Boddle and Patricia-who-wishes.

There were masses of protest from young fans when The Magic Circle Club was axed by ATV0 after more than 500 episodes in May 1967.  Philipp then went on to produce Hey You!, a short-lived sitcom from the same channel.

Philipp and Howson then went across to ABC to create Adventure Island, a similar concept and format to The Magic Circle Club that would go on to be just as popular and would run for five years before its axing was also met with outrage from young viewers.

Despite the sudden axing of the program, in 1973 Philipp was awarded a Logie for his contribution to children’s television.

Howson paid tribute to his former colleague at the memorial service:

''He did things with black and white television - pre all the wonderful digital magic that they now have - that were amazing.  'If I came up with, 'they're up on the moon and they catch a rocket there', he would work out how to do that. With one light, he'd change the whole effect of a scene. People come up to me today and say, 'oh the colours (of Adventure Island) were beautiful. I tell them, 'it wasn't in colour, it was in black-and-white'.''

In 1978, he produced another children’s series, Rainbow, for regional television station NRN11 in Coffs Harbour.  The series, comprising five episodes, featured children from local schools with each episode covering a different theme.  The program won a TV Week Logie Award in 1979 for most outstanding contribution to children’s television but was never picked up for screening by a capital city network.

Philipp then went to the Reg Grundy Organisation where he produced and directed episodes of the popular drama Prisoner.

As the years went on Howson said that Philipp – “who was not emotionally strong” – had started to “cut himself off from the world.”  It is believed that he was homeless for some time and spent the last ten years of his life at the Brotherhood of St Lawrence aged care centre in Fitzroy – the venue of this week’s memorial service.

“I will always remember Godfrey with a great deal of love and affection, great memories and gratitude for what he did,'' Howson said.

Source: TV Times, 20 January 1965.  TV Week, 24 February 1973. TV Week, 24 March 1979. The Age.

Friday, 24 June 2011

The last bounce for Ten’s AFL

AFL_Ten Network Ten has announced that it will walk away from AFL coverage at the end of this year’s season as it will not seek to enter into an agreement to take over any of the Seven Network’s commitment to the game from next year.

Network sports director David Barham told The Age:

"It is a bit of a shame. It's the choice of the network. It's purely a business decision.  Everyone is disappointed but understands the decision.

"We are really, really proud of what we achieved. I am proud of the people that I have worked with over the years. I think Ten should be recognised for the contribution it made to the game because no-one has done more for broadcasting the game than the Ten Network in NSW and Queensland.

"We put more game into NSW and Queensland in prime time than any other broadcaster in the history of the game. That was one of the reasons they (AFL) are expanding into these northern markets because of the real back-breaking work the Ten Network did over the last 10 years."

Ten’s commitment to AFL started with the 2002 season when they teamed up with Nine and Foxtel in a landmark five-year deal that saw the game’s television broadcast rights taken off Seven, which had broadcast the AFL and its predecessor – the VFL – for all but one season since 1957.

For the 2007-2011 rights deal, Ten partnered with Seven in a deal worth $780 million – at the time the largest sports broadcasting rights deal ever in Australia – with some games sold off to Foxtel.

OneHD Ten’s commitment to AFL was strengthened in 2009 with the launch of high-definition sports channel One, where AFL was the flagship of the schedule.  The channel enhanced its AFL coverage with programs including One Week At A Time.

Ten had been a bidding partner with Seven for the 2012-2016 contract but withdrew from the process at the last minute following the arrival of interim CEO Lachlan Murdoch

Under Murdoch, Ten has also wound back some sports programming from One in favour of special interest and general entertainment programming.  The removal of AFL from the schedule may see more changes to the channel’s schedule.

The Ten decision is expected to see its commentary team moved on, although Stephen Quartermain is expected to stay on as the network’s main sports anchor for Ten News in Melbourne. 

The future of One’s One Week At A Time and Ten’s long-running Before The Game beyond the end of this year is uncertain though there is some speculation that the latter may go across to Seven, a network whose track record with AFL-themed entertainment programming has been rather patchy.

In securing the free-to-air rights to the 2012-2016 seasons, Seven had the option of on-selling some of its weekly commitment of four free-to-air games to another network.  Up until now Ten was believed to be considering taking on two weekly games.  Nine is not believed to have been interested.

Now from 2012, Seven will broadcast four weekly games plus the Brownlow Medal, all finals and the Grand Final.  The network is also expected to utilise its high-definition channel 7mate for selected coverage outside of Victoria.

General manager for Seven Melbourne, Lewis Martin paid tribute to Ten’s commitment to broadcasting AFL:

“We are excited about the prospect of carrying all the AFL games for which we bid.  But we wish to acknowledge that Channel Ten has been a terrific AFL broadcast partner for the past five years, and their commitment to the game over the past decade. We understand and empathise with how difficult these decisions can be.”

Foxtel will broadcast all nine weekly games, including re-broadcasting Seven’s coverage, and finals excluding the Grand Final.

Source: The Age, Herald Sun

Thursday, 23 June 2011

WIN cuts weekend news in Tasmania

johnremess In a blow to local television in Tasmania, Nine-affiliate WIN has axed its Hobart-based news service on weekends.

Weekend newsreader John Remess (pictured), who joined the Tasmanian branch of WIN (then TAS TV) in 1992, will read his final bulletin this weekend.  Before WIN, he had been at ABC since 1970 and a newsreader there since 1974.

With another professional role as a real estate agent in Hobart, he moved to the weekend newsreading position at WIN last year after fronting the main weeknight bulletin for several years.

The cutbacks have also cost the job of a Launceston-based camera operator and two already-vacant positions will now not be filled.

From next week WIN will relay the Melbourne-based Nine News to Tasmania on weekends, up against local state-based news services from rival broadcasters Southern Cross and ABC.

The cutbacks to local news coverage by WIN have come from ratings and financial pressures.  For the week commencing 5 June,  Southern Cross News rated well ahead of WIN News – with Southern Cross’ Sunday edition ranked as the state’s fourth most watched program, while WIN News on Sunday was ranked 17th.  The Saturday edition of Southern Cross News was ranked 5th, while WIN’s equivalent failed to make the top 20.

In other states, WIN News operates as a local news service on weeknights only, supplemented by the nightly broadcast of the respective state’s capital city bulletin from Nine, however the WIN News service in Tasmania is a composite of local and national news compiled in Hobart and broadcast statewide.

win_2008 Late last year WIN announced that it was rationalising its regional news bulletins in South Australia by merging the separate editions for the Mount Gambier and Riverland markets into a single newscast.

Source: Nielsen, The Mercury

Monday, 20 June 2011

1991: June 15-21

tvweek_150691 ‘I’m still a country bumpkin’
As the saying goes, you can take new Hey Dad! star Rachael Beck (pictured) out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of Rachael Beck.  The 19-year-old actress, who started her career in the musical Cats at 16, says that despite the bright lights of showbusiness she is still a country girl.  “I am still a country bumpkin at heart,” she told TV Week.  “My parents are back in the country now and it’s wonderful to go and home and visit them and a lot of my friends who are still living there.”  Beck has also chosen to debut her new one-woman show, based on the early career of Judy Garland, on the NSW north coast.

susanhannaford Designing woman!
During the 1970s and early ‘80s, Susan Hannaford (pictured) was better known to viewers as Kitty Sullivan, the youngest member of The Sullivans.  After the show ended, Hannaford moved into the fashion industry and set up a thriving career in design while maintaining ties to acting.  When she was approached to design clothes for the US soap The Bold And The Beautiful she ended up appearing on the show, as herself, for around 18 months.  She is currently back in Australia for a guest appearance, again as herself, in the Nine Network series Chances.  “Chances was a fun little script and I had great fun doing it.  It really felt comfortable,” she told TV Week.  “It’s fun coming back to the Nine studios and seeing people I had worked with on The Sullivans.”  One of those people was former The Sullivans co-star Michael Caton, who plays Bill Anderson in Chances.

raymartinrachelfriend A bid to aid the world’s starving
The stars of Australian showbusiness will be doing their bit to help raise funds for the World Vision 40-hour famine to be held this week.  Stars including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Craig McLachlan, Paul Hogan, Rebecca Gibney, Marina Prior, Steve Vizard, Jana Wendt, John Farnham and cast members of Neighbours, The Flying Doctors and Fast Forward will be contributing items of personal memorabilia to be auctioned off over the weekend.  The auctions will be broadcast through the entire weekend on radio stations TTFM in Melbourne and 2UW in Sydney.  Craig McLachlan has donated his first guitar to the auction, while Marina Prior has donated the ballet slippers she wore on the opening night of Phantom Of The Opera in Melbourne.  Steve Vizard and Ray Martin (pictured, with Midday reporter Rachel Friend) have donated merchandise from their respective shows.  Glenn Robbins has donated clothes worn by his one-time alter-ego Uncle Arthur. 

Newsreader Jo Pearson is back at Network Ten, reading Melbourne’s Ten Eyewitness News again with David Johnston, and has spoken to TV Week about the three years she spent at Nine, which included hosting short-lived programs Live At Five and Body And Soul.  “In hindsight you could say it was a mistake for me to go, but at the time I went with promise and expectation of a new career,” she said.  “I think I had a lot of bad luck.  There were political and geographical differences that made it extremely difficult for me and the shows.”

svetavictor Victor and Sveta (Peter Moon and Jane Turner), those groovy hosts of Fast Forward’s “Good Morning Moscow” are about to hit the charts with a double A-side release featuring Tutti Frutti (I Want A Rutti) and the Soviet rap, The Soviet Bloc.  Proceeds from the sale of the record will aid children of the Chernobyl disaster. 

Tessa Humphries, daughter of comedian Barry Humphries, is returning home to Australia after several years in the UK.  Having starred in London’s West End and in the UK soap Families, Humphries is back home for a guest role in GP… and is keen to stay in Australia if there is the opportunity for more work.  “It is very important for me to work in Australia,” she told TV Week.  “After all, it is my home.”

larryemdur John Laws says…
”Often it’s the really off-beat, and sometimes silliest, ideas that translate into the best TV programs, be they drama or light entertainment.  Soccer star Craig Johnston’s The Main Event (hosted by Larry Emdur, pictured) is an example.  It’s a pretty wacky format – celebrities playing a quiz game on behalf of various families out there in suburbia – but the ratings have been promising, which is further proof of the theory that in a recession the viewing public demands “fun” entertainment on a grand scale."

Program Highlights (Melbourne, June 15-21):
Saturday:  SBS
crosses live to Portugal for the match between Australia and Trinidad and Tobago in the FIFA World Youth Cup.

Sunday:  Sunday night movies are Police Academy IV: City Under Siege (Nine) and Manhunter (Ten).  Seven debuts mini-series Love Lies And Murder, which concludes Monday night.  Later, Nine crosses live to Madrid for the 500cc Motorcycle Grand Prix.

Monday:  In Neighbours (Ten), the future of Paul (Stefan Dennis) and Christina’s (Gillian Blakeney) unborn baby is under serious threat after Christina collapses while out shopping.

Tuesday:  In Beyond 2000 (Seven), Amanda Keller reports on a breakthrough diagnosis for one of Asia’s most crippling diseases, while Dr John D’Arcy introduces a device capable of projecting three-dimensional objects on to a wall.  In Chances (Nine), Alex (Jeremy Sims) is shocked when he learns the true identity of his father and aims to punish the entire family.

Wednesday:  SBS makes an early-morning cross to Portugal for Australia versus USSR in the FIFA World Youth CupTen begins a re-run of the two-part 1989 mini-series Bangkok Hilton, starring Nicole Kidman, Denholm Elliott, Judy Morris, Hugo Weaving and Joy Smithers.

Thursday:  Judy Banks guest stars in The Flying Doctors (Nine).  Nine presents the heavily-censored ‘modified TV version’ network premiere of 1972 movie DeliveranceSBS presents live coverage of Australia versus Egypt in the FIFA World Youth Cup.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  15 June 1991.  Southdown Press

Sunday, 19 June 2011

1991: June 8-14

tvweek_080691 How Jo beat the office blues
Sale Of The Century’s new co-host Jo Bailey (pictured) is collecting a larger pay packet than most 21-year-olds, but the former accountant insists she isn’t in this business for the money and could earn as much in the long term by returning to her accounting-marketing career.  “Getting involved in television has definitely nothing to do with the money,” she told TV Week.  “I know people say this all the time, but job satisfaction is far more important to me.  I just didn’t like working with numbers.  I’ve never stayed at anything I haven’t liked and I don’t believe you should dwell on things.  It was a simple decision.  I wasn’t happy.”

gregevans_0002 Greg chalks up a score
Blind Date host Greg Evans (pictured) says he’s learnt some valuable lessons in his 20-year showbusiness career.  Evans, who celebrated the 20-year milestone recently, says he’ll never be motivated by money again.  Starting in radio at country station 3CS, Evans went on to become a ratings hit with Melbourne’s 3XY and then a national celebrity as host of Ten’s top-rating Perfect Match. He was wooed across to rival network Nine in a deal that he says was too good to knock back but resulted in a less than fruitful run as host of some fairly ordinary game shows, Say G’Day and Crossfire, before returning to Perfect Match.  “Perhaps I should never have left (Perfect Match),” he told TV Week. “But at the time, it seemed that no one in their right mind would have rejected Nine’s offer.  They were ‘the cheque book days’… but I don’t blame Nine for anything.  You live and learn and I’ll never be motivated by money again.  Luckily, I was saved by (returning to) Perfect Match.”  The show was axed late in 1989 but was reinstated this year as Blind Date.

craigmclachlan Craig goes to war
Craig McLachlan (pictured) has talked to TV Week about filming for the upcoming Seven Network mini-series Heroes 2 – The Return.  “It’s been an amazing experience for me,” he said.  “Before we started filming, we all had military training to get used to the conditions.  But no-one was prepared for this!”  For McLachlan, “this” included several days shooting in a rain-sodden, leech-infested forest, being attacked by sandflies and surrounded by fruit bats.  “The locations turned into hellholes for us make-believe soldiers.  The worst part other than the leeches and the rain was the sandflies.”  The $6.5 million production, also starring John Bach, Christopher Morsley, Wayne Kermond, Brendon Lunney, Miranda Otto and Anne Louise Lambert, is expected to be shown in the UK around Christmas and in Australia early in the new year.

janeturner_0001 Briefly…
Comedienne and Fast Forward star Jane Turner (pictured) says it’s not always funny being a diplomat’s wife… especially when husband John Denton had been posted to the Australian Embassy in Baghdad, three months before the Gulf War.  When the Allied bombing of Baghdad seemed certain, Turner was “worried, but not terrified”.  “I know what a diplomatic life is like,” she told TV Week.  “John loves it – it’s his life.  He was calling and reassuring me everything was all right.  Maybe I had more cause to be worried!”.  Denton was one of the last three Australians to flee the war-torn city.

Former Sale Of The Century co-host Alyce Platt is loving her new role as wildlife ranger Christina Gurney in Seven’s new series Animal Park.  “The biggest thing that sold me on this role is that it is as far away from Alyce Platt on Sale Of The Century as possible.  That was important.  My wardrobe (now) is King Gee shorts, big green shirts, thick socks, big boots and no make-up,” she told TV Week.

After four years away from the series, Tom Oliver is set to return to Neighbours later this year.  It is expected that he will reprise his former character of used-car salesman Lou Carpenter, an old boyfriend of Madge Bishop (Anne Charleston), although this has not yet been confirmed.  His return stint is expected to be for four weeks.

The industry rumour mill is buzzing with speculation over a possible relationship between ABC host Andrew Denton and recently-separated 60 Minutes reporter Jennifer Byrne.     

Actor Peter Kowitz, recently featured in the Nine Network mini-series Ring Of Scorpio, is joining the cast of Chances.  He will play Steven Harland, a government minister who is something of a thorn in the side of his party.

John Laws says…
”The test of any TV current affairs program is how well it can react to major news stories, national or international.  This “big news” scenario confronted the TV networks after the recent assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.  The circumstances of his death – a hideous bomb attack – gave the story a striking impetus.  So who came out on tops in the follow-up coverage?  Jana Wendt’s A Current Affair gave the slaying a brief coverage, but it was really left to SBSDateline and Kerry O’Brien’s Lateline on ABC to probe deeply and convincingly.  I thought SBS came out slightly ahead.  Dateline also had it over Lateline by screening at 8.00pm against Lateline’s 10.30pm.  I’ve said it before in this column that Dateline (and, as it was, Tonight) is a significant force in TV current affairs viewing.  I doubt it has a spectacular following but it certainly deserves a wider audience.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, June 8-14):
andrewdaddoSaturday:  Andrew Daddo
(pictured), Daryl Braithwaite, Jesus Jones and Tracie Spencer are among the guests this week on Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine).

Sunday:  Seven’s AFL coverage begins with the afternoon match between Brisbane Bears and West Coast Eagles, live from Carrara, Brisbane – then crossing to Adelaide for live coverage of the early evening match between Adelaide Crows and Fitzroy.  Sunday night movies are Willow (Seven), Funny Farm (Nine) and The Poseidon Adventure (Ten).

Tuesday:  In A Country Practice (Seven), Luke (Matt Day) is confronted with tragedy after being slipped an hallucinogenic drug.  In All Together Now (Nine), Wayne (Bruno Lucia) sells the rights to Bobby’s (Jon English) memoirs and persuades him to write an autobiography.

Wednesday:  Nine presents a late-night delayed telecast of the rugby league State Of Origin match between New South Wales and Queensland.  The coverage is hosted by Ken Sutcliffe with commentary by Darrell Eastlake, Peter Sterling and Ray Warren.

Thursday:  In E Street (Ten), Harley’s (Malcolm Kennard) drug dependency gets him in hot water.  In The Flying Doctors (Nine), the townsfolk are stunned when Dr Guy Reid’s (David Reyne) fiancee arrives unannounced to take him back to civilisation.

Friday:  Seven crosses to Perth for live coverage of the AFL match between West Coast Eagles and Footscray. 

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  8 June 1991.  Southdown Press

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Obituary: Rex Mossop

rexmossop Sydney football legend and former commentator Rex Mossop has died in a Sydney hospital at the age of 83.

The former rugby league and rugby union international forward had been admitted to hospital earlier this year with Alzheimer’s disease.  He was surrounded by family and friends when he died.

Although he retired from the sport in the early 1960s, Mossop maintained a high profile as a television commentator and presenter for Sydney channels ATN7 and TEN10 in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mossop also presented The Club Show for ATN7 in the 1970s and was a regular panellist on the 1990s sports-comedy show Andrew Denton: Live And Sweaty for ABC.

Source: ABC, NMA

More changes at the top at Ten

jimcarroll There continues to be upheaval in the executive ranks at the Ten Network, with the network’s news director Jim Carroll (pictured) to step down from his position.

With a background in print, radio and television journalism, including foreign postings, Carroll joined Ten in 2000 before being appointed head of news and current affairs in 2005.  It is reported that he will be considering new opportunities within Ten.

He will be replaced by the network’s Melbourne news director Dermot O’Brien – a former Seven Network journalist and producer of the Hinch program at the Seven and Ten networks before taking over as news director at Ten in Melbourne in the mid ‘90s.

Carroll’s news portfolio faced a big-budget revamp earlier this year with the network expanding its news line-up to include 6PM With George Negus and a separate news bulletin at 6.30pm to complement the long-running 5.00pm news hour.

Following a lack lustre ratings result the line-up was revised two months later to see the Negus program moved and re-named to 6.30pm and the 5.00pm bulletin extended to 90 minutes.  The revision has seen a modest improvement in ratings but Ten’s 6.00pm hour still trails well behind rivals Seven and Nine.

The news expansion, and the cost associated with it, has been the subject of much scrutiny since the arrival of James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch to the network’s board, and some public criticism from board member Bruce Gordon, owner of regional network WIN – a Nine affiliate.

The reshuffle at the board has since seen Ten group CEO Nick Falloon resign, followed by the departure of his replacement Grant Blackley who was previously CEO of the Ten business.  It was under their management that the strategy behind the news revamp was developed.

jameswarburton Murdoch was since appointed interim CEO of the Ten group, with former Seven sales executive James Warburton (pictured) appointed to formally take over the role from January.

In recent months Ten has also lost sports director David White, chief financial officer John Kelly and chief digital officer Nick Spooner.

Under interim CEO Murdoch, Ten has also revised its multi-channel strategy by cutting back some of the sports content from high-definition channel One and implementing more special interest and general entertainment programming in prime-time.  The network had also withdrawn from a joint bid with the Seven Network for the rights to broadcast AFL from 2012 to 2016, although the option may still exist for Seven to on-sell some of its commitment to Ten.

Source: Ten, The Australian, The Australian

Monday, 13 June 2011

ABC boss in Queen’s Birthday honours

markscott ABC Managing Director Mark Scott (pictured) has been named an named an officer of the Order of Australia in this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours list.

Mr Scott, head of the national broadcaster since 2006, was recognised “for distinguished service to media and communications, and to the community through advisory and governance roles with a range of social justice and educational bodies.”

Before becoming Managing Director of the ABC, Mr Scott had a background in the print media industry and has served as a board member for charities including Wesley Mission.

bobhorsfall Other media identities to be recognised in this year’s list include sporting identity Max Walker, former test cricketer and commentator for ABC radio and the Seven and Nine networks; Peter FitzSimons, author, newspaper columnist and broadcaster; and Bob Horsfall (pictured), actor, scriptwriter and performer in radio, television and films – including eight years at HSV7, four years at GTV9, and appearances in programs including In Melbourne Tonight, Sunnyside Up, World Of Sport, Division 4, Matlock Police, Bellbird, Homicide, Prisoner, Neighbours and Blue Heelers.

A total of 376 Australians were honoured in this year’s list.

Source: Governor-General of Australia, Golden Days Radio

Saturday, 11 June 2011

1991: June 1-7

tvweek_010691 Hollywood comes down under!
It’s been three years in the making, but Hollywood comes to the Gold Coast this week with the opening of Warner Bros Movie World – and Nine Network programs Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Today and The Bugs Bunny Show will be presenting special episodes this week from the movie theme park.  Located 67 kilometres south of Brisbane Airport, Movie World has cost around $120 million to build and will employ around 400 staff.  Sophie Lee, Daryl Somers and Jo Bailey (pictured) visited the theme park to preview the opening for TV Week.

‘I was too nervous to read the script…’
Neighbours’ most controversial romance ever reaches crisis point this week.  With the rest of the Robinson family away for the weekend, daughter Lucy Robinson (Melissa Bell) and long-lost half-brother Glen Donnelly (Richard Huggett), who have long been fighting their feelings for each other, end up alone and a romantic dinner ends up in the bedroom.  “When I got the script I put it away and for weeks I didn’t touch it because I was just too nervous to look at it,” Bell told TV Week.  “I kept thinking, ‘I’ll have to be really careful with this’.” 

jenniferkeyte No news is good news
’s Melbourne newsreader Jennifer Keyte (pictured) has been saying little to the media about her recently-ended romance with Sydney advertising identity Siimon Reynolds.  “Nice try,” she said to TV Week when questioned.  The newsreader is more enthusiastic at talking up the Melbourne-based Seven Nightly News which is enjoying ratings growth in the face of increased competition from Ten’s revamped one-hour bulletin with David Johnston and Jo Pearson.  “Our ratings are steadily improving as is our news service,” she said.  On suggestions that she may be leaving her post as newsreader on the late-night Tonight Live, Keyte says anything is possible.  “Sitting here now, I would probably say, ‘No, I won’t do a third year’, but who knows?”

motherandson_0001 Briefly…
A fifth series of popular comedy Mother And Son is scheduled to go into production in September for ABC.  Seven episodes will be made for the new series, which will again feature Ruth Cracknell, Garry McDonald, Henri Szeps and Judy Morris.  The new episodes are expected to go to air next year, while re-runs of earlier episodes are currently screening, to high ratings, on Network Ten.

John Waters and Jon English have been friends for 20 years, but this week the two are appearing together for the first time with Waters making a guest appearance in All Together Now, starring as Lochlan Burns, a member of Bobby Rivers’ (English) Seventies band Still Waters.

E Street star Malcolm Kennard has dropped a bombshell on the show’s producers by announcing he will be leaving the show.  His departure comes at a time when his character, Harley, is involved in an affair with the older Sheridan Sturgess (Kate Raison) and gets addicted to cocaine.  Kennard’s departure from the series comes just prior to the return of former series regular Marcus Graham, who will reprise his role as Wheels.

sophielee_0001 John Laws says…
”The rise and rise of Miss Sophie Lee (pictured) demonstrates that even in its present chronically-unsound economic condition, the TV industry still offers just about anyone the chance of being a “star”.  Miss Lee’s case is a classic example of what can happen if you’re in the right place at the right time – in her case landing the job of introducing Bugs Bunny cartoons on the Nine Network.  Now she not only continues to host The Bugs Bunny Show (whose bright idea was it to have a host, anyway!), she has become an actor, and is making her mark in the rock’n’roll music world.  She is satirised on Fast Forward.  She appears in The Flying Doctors, plays saxophone and does backing vocals for her band The Freaked Out Flower Children.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, June 1-7):
  Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine) is presented live from Warner Bros Movie World on the Gold Coast.  Network Ten starts re-runs of a classic ABC drama, Patrol Boat, starring Andrew McFarlane and Robert Coleby.  ABC crosses to the Sydney Football Stadium for live coverage of The Big Match soccer match between the Socceroos and England.

Sunday:  Seven crosses to the Sydney Cricket Ground for live coverage of AFL, Sydney Swans versus Brisbane Bears, followed by highlights of the match between Footscray and Carlton.  Ten presents a half-hour special, Cry For Help: World Vision 40-Hour Famine, hosted by Greg Evans and Vince Sorrenti.  Sunday night movies are Hands Of A Murderer (Seven), Dead Ringers (Nine) and Dog Tags (Ten).

Monday:  Today (Nine) is presented live from Warner Bros Movie World to commemorate the official opening of the movie theme park.  In A Country Practice (Seven), Dr Harry Morrisson (Andrew Blackman) risks his life to operate on Lynda Shelley (Joy Miller), Terence Elliott’s (Shane Porteous) former lover.

Tuesday:  In Beyond 2000 (Seven), reporter Simon Reeve meets a French doctor using electricity to reduce the effects of cellulite, and Andrew Carroll reports on a Vegemite taste test in Tokyo.

Wednesday:  In Hey Dad! (Seven), Betty (Julie McGregor) decides to become a ventriloquist and enters the Lions Club talent quest.

terryserio Thursday:  Terry Serio (pictured), who portrayed Johnny O’Keefe in the mini-series Shout!, appears this week in ABC’s Embassy in a very different role – as a drug trafficker sentenced to death by firing squad in Ragaan.

Friday:  Rex Mossop, Debbie Spillane, Karen Tighe and Elle McFeast (Libbi Gorr) join Andrew Denton on ABC’s late-night sports-comedy show Andrew Denton: Live And Sweaty.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  1 June 1991.  Southdown Press

1991: May 25-31

tvweek_250591 ‘I’m not pregnant!’
Home And Away star Nicolle Dickson has responded to reports by the British tabloids that she is pregnant.  “Top Aussie star Nicolle Dickson has some happy news – she’s pregnant,” one British newspaper recently reported.  The report continued: “But Nicolle, who plays Bobby Simpson in Home And Away, has been keeping mum about the happy event because she is terrified she could lose her job.”  The young star has hit out at the reports.  “I’m not pregnant.  I’ve been thinking about it, but how could they write that I am?  How could they write this stuff and not talk to me?” she told TV Week.  The British reports have had wider implications as Dickson (pictured, above right, with young co-star Ryan Clark) is booked to appear in a Christmas pantomime and the ‘news’ of her pregnancy had led to some frantic calls between the producers of the pantomime and her agent in Australia.  “I assured them I wasn’t pregnant but they didn’t believe me! They rang my agent to double check,” Dickson said.

Penny’s heart stolen in bank robbery!
For the first time in a decade, actress Penny Cook is about to take on a role that doesn’t involve her tending to the sick or feeble.  After playing the roles of vet Vicki Bowen in A Country Practice and Dr Elly Fielding in E Street, Cook is soon to appear in ABC’s GP as the love interest of Dr Steve Harrison (Michael O’Neill, pictured above left with Cook).  Her character, Beth Paige, works at a bank where Dr Harrison is a customer.  A robbery at the bank ends up bringing them together.  So does this mean that Elly Fielding has gone from E Street for good?  “Well, she’s gone for good at the moment,” Cook tells TV Week.  “But that’s open as well.”

alyceplatt Alyce’s dramatic new role
Alyce Platt
(pictured), recently departed from Sale Of The Century, has landed a major role in a new drama series.  Animal Park, a 16-part series being produced by Sunshine Films for the Seven Network, is set in north Queensland and tells the story of a widowed mother of three who inherits a run-down property of holiday cabins and a small animal park.  Platt plays the role of Christina Gurney, a wildlife ranger who befriends the family.  It is not Platt’s first dramatic role – she appeared in Sons And Daughters for two years and also filmed a guest role in Family And Friends.  The Seven Network has yet to announce a screening date for Animal Park.

‘I’m too fat for Oz TV’
Australia’s Jonathan Coleman, now hosting chat show Swing Shift on British network BSkyB, says he would fail to break into Australian TV these days if he was just starting out.  “People like me wouldn’t stand a chance of getting into TV now – we’re too fat,” he told TV Week.  “You’ve got to have the right figure, the right hair… you’ve got to be a soap bimbo.”

joansydney_0001 Briefly…
Former A Country Practice star Joan Sydney, who played Matron Sloan for seven years in the rural-based series, has now joined the cast of E Street.  She will play Mary Patchett (pictured, with co-star Adrian Lee), the British cousin of Aunty Vi (Bunney Brooke).

The producers and actors from ABC’s Embassy are hoping that tensions between Malaysia and Australia sparked by an episode of the series will soon die down and be forgotten.  “To have another country say we are belittling them is very disappointing,” producer Ian Bradley told TV Week.  “The push of the show is that Australians must live by different laws and customs when they are abroad.”  The drama series is set in the fictional country of Ragaan but an episode caused upset to the Malaysian government when they interpreted similarities between events in the fictional country and statements made by their own prime minister.

camerondaddoalisonbrahe Alison Brahe (pictured with fiancee Cameron Daddo at the TV Week Logie Awards) has completed a pilot for a children’s show to be produced at the Nine Network studios in Adelaide.

Lawrie Masterson’s Sound Off
”Congratulations to Crawfords Australia on the about-to-be-announced $5 million purchase and redevelopment of what eventually will be a four-studio complex covering about 3.25 ha of Box Hill, in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.  About two-thirds of the facilities will be leased to other producers, with Crawfords using the rest for its continuing drama series The Flying Doctors, the expensive new children’s series Half Way Across The Galaxy And Turn Left and a third series, still to be announced.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, May 25-31):
  Singer Debbie Byrne is a guest performer on this week’s Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine).  Phil Scott, Colleen Hewett and Rod Marsh are this week’s celebrity contestants on Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune (Seven), while Agro, Ann-Maree Biggar, Sofie Formica and Fat Cat take on the body builders in Celebrity Family Feud (Seven).

Sunday:  Sunday night movies are Turner And Hooch (Seven), Frantic (Nine) and The Gods Must Be Crazy II (Ten).

Tuesday:  At midday, Seven crosses to Hobart for live coverage of the AFL State Of Origin clash between Tasmania and Victoria.  Seven then goes back to Hobart in the evening for the follow up game between South Australia and Victoria.  In GP (ABC), the doctors rally to protect an Iraqi refugee family from racial harassment from members of the community.

Wednesday:  In E Street (Ten), Alice (Marianne Howard) has fallen for the much-older Adam (Mark Owen-Taylor) – but will he tell her that he is married?  In Hey Dad! (Seven), a mysterious neighbour nominates Martin (Robert Hughes) as Father of the Year.

juliemcgregor Thursday: Hampton Court, the spin-off series from Hey Dad!, debuts on Seven, starring Julie McGregor (pictured) as wacky secretary Betty Wilson from Walgett.  ABC launches the second series of Embassy, the series focusing on the Australian Embassy staff in the fictional country of Ragaan.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  25 May 1991.  Southdown Press

Thursday, 9 June 2011

ABC to say goodbye to Gordon Street?

adventureislandABC is set to expand its premises in inner-city Melbourne with construction of a new television studio.

The new development, which has now been approved by the ABC board, will be built adjacent to the broadcaster’s existing radio and administration complex in Southbank.

The new television studios will be used for both internal productions as well as being made available for external hire.

No timeline for the development has been announced and neither has there been any announcement as to the future of ABC’s existing Melbourne television studios in Gordon Street, Elsternwick, although The Age reports that it appears that the property will be sold off to assist in funding the new development.  In 2009 the Elsternwick site was estimated to be valued at around $25 million.

ABV2_testcardThe Elsternwick studios, located next door to the historic Ripponlea homestead, were opened in May 1958 – eighteen months after ABC’s Melbourne television station ABV2 commenced transmission.  For the previous eighteen months the various functions of the new television station were carried out from makeshift premises scattered around Melbourne.

The studios have hosted various productions for ABC including Bellbird, Adventure Island (pictured), Countdown, Power Without Glory, The Saturday Show, Australia – You’re Standing In It, The Factory, Countdown Revolution, The Big Gig, The Late Show, Phoenix and Seachange

Spicks And Specks, The Marngrook Footy Show and Adam Hills In Gordon Street Tonight are also produced at Elsternwick.

The potential sale of the Elsternwick site comes after the sale of the historic GTV9 studios in Richmond last year – while Seven and Ten have long moved out from their original studio premises in South Melbourne and Nunawading respectively.

Source: The Age, The Australian, ABV, ABC, Real Estate Source

Saturday, 4 June 2011

1991: May 18-24

tvweek_180591 Craig’s heroic new look
For his role as Lieutenant Walter Carey in the Seven Network mini-series Heroes II – The Return, actor Craig McLachlan (pictured) has had to shed his trademark curly locks.  “I feel different,” McLachlan told TV Week, staring at the mirror.  “I feel like a new man.”  The mini-series will also star John Bach, Christopher Morsley, Brett Partridge, Simon Burke, Miranda Otto and Anne-Louise Lambert.

“If you don’t like it, sack me!”
A major row has erupted between the producers of E Street and Network Ten executives over controversial episodes set to air later this month.  In the episodes, Harley (Malcolm Kennard) is introduced to cocaine by a friend of Sheridan (Kate Raison) and ends up in a raunchy sex scene with two girls and collapses from an overdose.  Network executives have said the episodes are not suitable for the show’s 7.30pm timeslot, and may be stopped from going to air.  Producer Forrest Redlich is determined for the episodes to go to air after seeing a friend of his suffer from cocaine abuse.  “I have a mate who’s just had a really bad thing with cocaine,” he told TV Week.  “He is 45.  He had a really good business happening, made a lot of money and put half of it up his nose.  It’s bad news.  Basically, the episodes have caused a ruckus with Ten.  I’ve pulled rank on them and said, ‘That’s the story.  I want to do it.  If you don’t like it, sack me’.”

chardhayward Aussie lands US soap role
Former Number 96 star Chard Hayward (pictured), who has lived in the United States since the series ended in the late 1970s, has recently completed a role in NBC daytime soap opera Santa Barbara.  Hayward, who played camp movie buff Dudley Butterfield in Number 96, plays the role of nightclub singer Richard Sedgewick.  The character has a short life in the series but Hayward is not disappointed at the character being killed off.  “I really do not want to do these shows for 50 weeks a year,” he told TV Week.  “I need to have space to pursue my other interests.”

jackimacdonald Briefly…
Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show host Jacki MacDonald (pictured) is about to be seen by millions of American viewers when she takes part in a segment on America’s Funniest Home Video Show.  “It’s going to be very international,” she told TV Week.  “Bob (Saget) is also interviewing the hosts of the other Home Video shows from other countries.”  There are currently 12 different versions of the show around the world.  But MacDonald is not expecting it to lead to any further job offers from the US.  “I don’t think they’d employ me,” she said.  “The English told me that once, when I was over there years ago.  They said, ‘you’re very intelligent and very funny Miss Marsupial, but we don’t want you’.” 

Wheel Of Fortune host John Burgess has recently quit his radio job at Perth radio station 6PM and has ambitions to take on a more serious role.  “You can’t go on being a clown all your life,” he said.  “Before I die I’d like someone to take me seriously, too.  I’ve had this ambition in the back of my mind to read the news on television.  It will take me at least twelve months just practising reading the news.  Seven are being very helpful – I feel this is my network, this is my home.  But if the newsreading comes off, I would probably have to leave Perth and go to Sydney or Melbourne.”

After months of mystery, Australian viewers will this week find out the answer to the question “Who killed Laura Palmer?” in the popular US series Twin Peaks, seen here on Network Ten.

John Laws says…
”In a recent Fast Forward episode, Steve Vizard was responsible for a brilliant send-up of game show host Rob Brough.  In much the same way as he captured and lampooned the Hinch image, Vizard used his talent for impersonation to not only bring Brough to life in physical form, but to satirise him and the Family Feud show in an incredibly funny way.  There are those around who claim that despite the enormous success of his Tonight Live show, Vizard is better suited to the satirical sketch format of Fast Forward.  It’s not a theory that I complete agree with, but judging by some recent Tonight Live shows, there may be a grain of substance.  Not that Vizard’s late-night antics are second-rate television.  Far from it.  The show can – sometimes – positively sparkle, and it makes for a thoroughly entertaining hour.  Yet, on other occasions, it seems to flounder, and never more so than when Vizard is “off the boil”.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, May 18-24):
Saturday:  ABC
crosses to Wembley Soccer Stadium for live coverage of the FA Cup Final.

Sunday:  Former Neighbours star Annie Jones makes a guest appearance in comedy series Col’n Carpenter (Ten).  Financial highflyer Rene Rivkin is interviewed by Caroline Jones on ABC’s Compass.  Sunday night movies are Disorganised Crime (Seven), Dangerous Liaisons (Nine) and Missing In Action III (Ten).

Monday:  Ten Eyewitness News is reinstated to a one-hour bulletin, with newsreader Jo Pearson returning to the newsdesk, three years after leaving Ten to go to the Nine Network, alongside David Johnston.  Greg Evans’ game show Blind Date moves from 6.30pm to 5.30pm and is now lead-in to Ten’s revamped news hour.  Noah Taylor and John Jarratt are among the local co-stars to feature in the telemovie Inspector Morse In Australia (Seven).  ABC presents the final episode of The Life And Death Of Sandy Stone.

Tuesday:  Ross Newton, Caroline Gillmer and Suzi Dougherty guest star in GP (ABC).  In Beyond 2000 (Seven), reporter Maxine Gray examines a cholesterol-free butter from New Zealand, and Dr John D’Arcy examines the most comprehensive study of memory ever undertaken.

Wednesday/Thursday:  ABC presents two-part mini-series Half A World Away – focusing on the 1934 London to Melbourne air race – starring Tim Hughes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Hyde, Helen Slater, Jim Holt, Josephine Byrnes, Gary Day and Barry Bostwick.

Friday:  Seven crosses to Football Park, Adelaide, for the AFL match between Adelaide Crows and Melbourne.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  18 May 1991.  Southdown Press

Friday, 3 June 2011

Mal Walden: 50 years of broadcasting

malwalden_0001 Melbourne’s The Age Green Guide has presented a special feature on Network Ten newsreader Mal Walden just prior to his 50th anniversary in broadcasting, which is reached on Monday.

Born in the UK, Walden came to Australia with his family in the 1950s.  His first taste of the media came in 1961 when he won a secret sound contest on local radio station 3YB in Warrnambool.  Upon touring the station when collecting his prize a young Walden decided to pursue a career in broadcasting. 

He started at 3YB and then went south to Tasmania, to Launceston radio station 7EX and television station TNT9.  He then returned to the mainland to Melbourne radio station 3DB, working alongside David Johnston and Brian Naylor – a trio that would work together for a decade, at 3DB and then at HSV7, before becoming friendly rivals with each working at opposition TV stations in the 1980s.  Naylor made the switch from HSV7 to GTV9 in 1978, Johnston took a break from television news before returning to front Eyewitness News on the newly-launched ATV10 in 1980, and Walden took over from Naylor as chief newsreader at HSV7.

malwalden Starting at HSV7 in the early ‘70s, Walden hosted the game show Jeopardy before beginning a journalism cadetship.  But it was in 1974 that he got his big break as the first television journalist to arrive in Darwin after the city had been devastated by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Eve.

Replacing Naylor at the news desk in 1978, Walden presented Seven National News for nine years before he was sacked by the station’s new Sydney-based management.  A tearful farewell at the close of his final Seven news bulletin was followed by the channel getting its lowest ever news ratings, and his subsequent appointment to Ten’s Eyewitness News, working with former colleague David Johnston, saw that bulletin reach some of its highest ever ratings figures.  

Walden had various roles at Ten, first presenting human-interest stories in the news segment Mal’s Melbourne, before reading the news next to Johnston and newcomer Tracey Curro in 1988, and then reading the weekend bulletins.

When Johnston moved back to Seven at the end of 1995, Walden was the natural successor to read Ten’s 5.00pm bulletin – first alongside Jennifer Hansen and now Helen Kapalos.

He has also presented special events for Ten, including the Young Achiever Awards and ATV10’s 30th anniversary special in 1994, and wrote the book From The Word GO! – Forty Years of Ten Melbourne in 2003.

Earlier this year Walden was part of Ten’s major news revamp which saw him move from the 5.00pm news hour to front the new Ten Evening News bulletin at 6.30pm.  Although the bulletin was soon wound up, Walden’s ratings performance was better than that of his interstate counterparts.  He is now back at the 5.00pm news desk four nights a week.

Walden’s widespread appeal comes not just from his newsreading authority but also his ability to show a lighter side to the news.  His cheeky on-air comment that a story about disgraced air hostess Lisa Robertson was ‘a waste of time’, his stumbles over the pronunciation of the word ‘phenomenon’ and the occasional ad-libbed weather report are some of his lighter moments that have endeared him to viewers.

The full Green Guide article can be found here.

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