Saturday, 26 February 2011

This Is Your Life gets a modern makeover

deborraleefurnesspeterhitchener The Nine Network next week launches a modern reinvention of the classic This Is Your Life format.

In the episode to screen Monday, host Eddie McGuire, assembled guests and an audience of over 600 at Melbourne’s Crown Casino celebrate the life of actress, producer and director Deborra-Lee Furness.

Furness (pictured with newsreader Peter Hitchener in 1975) was working at GTV9 before launching an acting career in the mid 1970s with a guest appearance on Division 4, later followed by roles in Prisoner, the short-lived Nine Network drama Kings and early episodes of Neighbours.

It was while working on ABC mini-series Correlli in 1995 that Furness paired up with co-star, a then unknown Hugh Jackman.  They married in 1996.

Other acting credits include television series The Flying Doctors, SeaChange, Halifax fp, Fire, Stark and GP and films Shame, Evil Angels, The Real Macaw and Jindabyne.

mikewillesee_0001 This Is Your Life had been a success in the United States and United Kingdom for many years before an Australian version was first launched on the Seven Network in September 1975.  Mike Willesee (pictured) was the show’s first host, later replaced by Digby Wolfe twelve months later.  Sydney newsreader Roger Climpson continued to front the show from 1977 until the early 1980s.

The Nine Network revisited This Is Your Life in the mid 1990s with a version that ran for several years, hosted by Mike Munro, before returning for a brief run in 2008. 

Source: Herald Sun, TV Week 19 April 1975, TV Week 30 August 1975.

This Is Your Life.  Returns Monday 28 February, 8.30pm.  Nine.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Ten axes CEO Grant Blackley

grantblackley The board of Ten Network Holdings has today terminated the services of CEO Grant Blackley (pictured) only two months after he was promoted to the role as a sign of executive stability.

Lachlan Murdoch, who bought into the company last year, now takes over as acting CEO while the board finds a permanent replacement.

Ten Network Holdings includes the Ten television network (including digital channels One HD and Eleven) and advertising company Eye Corp.

Mr Blackley, who had been CEO of the Network Ten business since 2005, had taken on the role of group CEO in December from Nick Falloon, whose departure followed the arrival of James Packer as a significant shareholder.

ten_2008While in charge of Ten, Mr Blackley headed the network’s multi-channel and revamped news strategies.  In 2009 Ten launched its dedicated sports channel One HD, and last year Mr Blackley announced the launch of youth-focused entertainment channel Eleven and a significant investment in expanding Ten’s news portfolio, in particular the launch of a national current affairs program at 6.00pm and state-based news bulletins at 6.30pm.  The news strategy also led to the reinstatement of state-based weekend news bulletins across the five major capital cities.

The expansion of news programming and personnel, which required an investment of around $20 million, has reportedly come under criticism from within the Ten board which in the last few months has added Packer, Murdoch and mining magnate Gina Rinehart, who have all invested in the network in recent months – although only one shareholder, WIN Corporation owner Bruce Gordon, who owns 14 per cent of Ten, had publicly questioned the strategy. 

georgenegus_0002 The removal of Mr Blackley from the company is seen to put a dark cloud over the news expansion in particular but may also impact on the current multi-channel strategy.  While the news revamp was never expected to pay short terms dividends, in the month since it launched the new lineup, including 6PM With George Negus and the 6.30 Evening News, has failed to grab a decent audience.  The shifting of the weekend news bulletins from 5.00pm to 6.00pm has also delivered dire results, highlighted even more by rival Nine Network’s cheeky move to install a weekend 5.00pm bulletin to fill the gap left by Ten News vacating the timeslot.

Lachlan Murdoch’s father Rupert Murdoch is a former owner of the Ten Network, having taken the ailing network through a period of ratings strength in the 1980s. 

Source: ABC, The Australian, The Age, TV Tonight, Ten Network

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

1991: February 16-22

tvweek_160291 Private property!
Home And Away star Rebekah Elmaloglou (pictured) is determined to keep her professional and personal lives separate.  Unlike many fellow soap stars, Elmaloglou has refused to talk publicly about her boyfriend of twelve months and the pair have never been photographed together.  “It’s just one of those things I don’t find important to talk about,” the 17-year-old told TV Week.  “My private life is the same as any other girl of my age.  I’ve got my schoolfriends, I’ve got my family, I’ve got my boyfriend.” 

darylsomersossieostrich It was 20 years ago today…
Hey Hey It’s Saturday returns to air this week, starting its 20th year.  “The official celebration is in October (the show debuted on 9 October 1971), but we’re out to make this the best year ever of Hey Hey so we’re starting the celebrations early,” host Daryl Somers told TV Week.  This year the show is taking on some changes as Somers and colleague Ernie Carroll take over producing the show after last year’s split from producer Gavan Disney.  “Ernie and I are happier, and I know a lot of the people around us are feeling happier, too,” Somers said.  “I think it’s going to be a very harmonious situation for all concerned this year.”  The year ahead could also see Hey Hey head to London and even Hollywood for some special shows.  Somers is also excited to have new executive producer Jim McKay on board for the show.  McKay was the program manager at GTV9 who originally named the program back in 1971 and hired the 19-year-old Somers for the job of host.  “He came up with the name and paid me $75 a week, that was it!  It’s taken me 20 years to get him back – that’s what he’s on now,” Somers laughed.

andreeikmeier ‘If it was me, I wouldn’t do it’
Andre Eikmeier
(pictured), the 18-year-old who is probably best known to viewers as the pizza delivery boy in Kylie Minogue’s Coca-Cola commercial, has been acting for ten years but is taking on the change from child actor to young adult with a controversial role in ABC’s medical drama GP.  In an episode to air this week, Eikmeier plays the role of student Tony Wood who is suffering from stomach ulcers and the pressure of exams and finds himself under attack from his father who discovers that he has been having a relationship with a man ten years older.  For Eikmeier it was a challenging role to take on.  “It was very hard, because I’d never had any contact with gay people.  I guess I’d been sheltered from it, so I didn’t really know how to approach it.  I gave the part a lot of consideration, and my dad said, ‘Well, it’s up to you – but if it was me, I wouldn’t do it’,” he told TV Week.

jeffphillipsBriefly…
Jeff Phillips
(pictured), host of Network Ten’s new talent quest series Star Search, says he knows that shows like this can give a young star their big break.  “I was a product of this type of show,” he told TV Week.  “I drove from Perth to Melbourne in my Volkswagen to go on New Faces.  I went on the show on Sunday night, won it, and was immediately invited by Graham Kennedy to be on In Melbourne Tonight and got sudden recognition.  I was only 19 at the time.”

The Flying Doctors star Brett Climo makes his dramatic exit from the series this week as his character, Dr David Ratcliffe, attempts a rescue on a cliff face and finds himself hanging upside down from a safety rope before falling to a ledge below.  “This episode is definitely among the best moments of my career,” Climo told TV Week.

Actress Kaarin Fairfax, best known to viewers as Dolour in The Harp In The South and Poor Man’s Orange, is joining Network Ten comedy Col’n Carpenter as the show’s new female lead following the departure of Vikki Blanche.  The series will also be seen in a new timeslot – Sunday nights at 8.00pm, after The Simpsons – when it returns to screens next month.

nataliemccurry Lawrie Masterson’s Sound Off
”On went the VCR for a first look at Chances (featuring Natalie McCurry, pictured), the new Nine Network series so heavily publicised, yet so closely guarded at the same time.  All the pre-publicity had promised adults only fare and, while this was hardly a return to the full frontal days of Number 96 or The Box, it did make it seem worthwhile checking that the little ones were, indeed, just like everyone in the show – in bed.”

Program Highlights (February 16-22):
Saturday:  Daryl Somers
and Ossie Ostrich head Hey Hey It’s Saturday’s return for 1991, up against the debut of Ten’s new talent quest series Star Search, hosted by Jeff PhillipsSeven crosses to AFL Park, Mount Waverley, for the Fosters Cup: St Kilda versus West Coast Eagles.

Sunday:  SBS begins a national screening of the twelve-part documentary series My Place, My Land, My People – a production of Queensland-based regional broadcaster QTV and a winner at the 1990 TV Week Logie Awards for most outstanding achievement by a regional television station – followed by the series return of SBS viewers’ feedback program Hotline.  Sunday night movies are Beverly Hills Cop II (Seven) and Working Girl (Ten).

Monday:  SBS debuts a new weekly music series, MC Tee Vee, and later in the evening Pria Viswalingam hosts the series return of nightly current affairs program DatelineTen presents the movie-length debut of popular US series Twin Peaks.  After the late edition of Ten Eyewitness News, Ten presents US talk show Donahue, with each night’s episode repeated the following afternoon.  Ten’s overnight coverage of the Gulf war continues via CNN.

Tuesday:  In A Country Practice (Seven), Bob Hatfield (Gordon Piper) becomes a vegetarian after he is asked to kill six sheep.  Aussie actress Penny Downie (The Box, Prisoner, The Sullivans) stars in the new six-part British series Campaign which debuts on ABC.

Wednesday:  ABC presents 90-minute documentary One Australia?, a study on racism and multiculturalism in Australia and asking whether cohesion in our society can be achieved while maintaining diversity.

georgemallaby_0001 Thursday:  Veteran actor George Mallaby (pictured) guest stars in Nine’s drama ChancesSBS current affairs program Face The Press and sports magazine The Sports Machine return for 1991.

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

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Take 2 for Prisoner airdate

memory10Late last year it was reported that pay-TV channel 111Hits was planning to start a late-night re-run of classic Aussie soap Prisoner from Australia Day this year.

The channel seemingly had a change of heart, withdrawing the announcement soon after it was made, but have now set a new date and timeslot for screening the series that originally ran from 1979 to 1986 and to this day continues to command a popular following both in Australia and overseas.

Prisoner is now set to appear on 111Hits weeknights from Monday 7 March – starting at episode one – at the earlier timeslot of 6.30pm, putting it up against free-to-air contemporary dramas Neighbours and Home And Away.

The gritty backdrop of Wentworth Detention Centre will obviously present viewers with a more grown-up drama alternative in the early evening as opposed to the goings on around Summer Bay or Ramsay Street.  Pay-TV channels are not bound by the same classification restrictions that free-to-air channels are subjected to.

111Hits also has a “+2” channel, so Prisoner will therefore get another run each weeknight at 8.30pm.

111Hits is available on Foxtel and Austar.

Source: TV Tonight

Sunday, 13 February 2011

1991: February 9-15

tvweek_090291 ‘It felt like a real wedding to me’
The upcoming wedding of Neighbours characters Paul Robinson and Christina Alessi (pictured) could well serve as a dress rehearsal for real-life couple Stefan Dennis and Gayle Blakeney.  “It’s a very beautiful wedding.  We were both very happy with the way it was done.  It was amazing how everyone got into the atmosphere,” Dennis told TV Week.  “It felt like a real wedding to me,” Blakeney added.  “Saying those words to each other, particularly when the person is your lover… it felt really nice.  I’ve never enjoyed working on the show as much as I have in the month between the engagement and the wedding.” 

julieannenewbould E Street goes for a new doctor
Despite some media speculation, actress Julieanne Newbould (pictured) is not taking over the role of Dr Elly Fielding from Penny Cook in Network Ten’s E Street.  She is, however, joining the series portraying a new character, Dr Virginia Travers.  Both Cook and Newbould will work together in the series before Cook departs the series next month.  “Virginia Travers turns out to be an old friend of Elly,” a spokesperson for E Street told TV Week.  “Elly is not being killed off and she’ll be seen on air until May.”  Newbould is a former star of The Restless Years, Prisoner, Kingswood Country and Kindred Spirits.

thesimpsons Now a cartoon brat takes on 60 Minutes
The all-important Sunday 7.30pm timeslot is about to come a heated battle as the networks fire up for the new ratings year.  Coming up against Nine stalwart 60 Minutes is the new US cartoon series The Simpsons (pictured), which has been earning big ratings for the American FOX network up against ratings giant NBC’s The Cosby Show.  Meanwhile, ABC is about to launch new episodes of the British series Rumpole Of The Bailey and Seven has expanded The Magical World Of Disney to a two-hour timeslot starting at 6.30pm.  But 60 Minutes producer Warren McStoker isn’t worried.  “Over the past 12 years, we’ve had all sorts of programs up against us, from furry aliens (ALF) to Greek fruiterers (Mark Mitchell’s Comedy Company character Con the Fruiterer) and even cops and robbers shows,” he told TV Week.  “But we’re still here, we’re stronger than ever, and that’s the way we intend to stay.”

Briefly… 
Jason Donovan is “devastated” by revealing stories about him being sold to the British media by his stepmother Marlene, following her recent amicable separation from his father, actor Terry Donovan.  Marlene has appeared on British TV and featured in newspapers with a number of “tell all” claims about the famous star, accusing him of being “mean and selfish” with his money, ignoring his family and still being desperately in love with Kylie Minogue.  “Her reasons were financial but I can’t believe that someone that I love and trust did something like that,” Jason told TV Week.

garysweet Gary Sweet (pictured) has had a hard time convincing the producer and stunt co-ordinator for ABC’s new action drama Police Rescue that he is able to doing all his own stunts.  “I keep trying to impress on John (Edwards, the show’s producer) that it is relatively safe,” Sweet told TV Week.  “I’ve broken plenty of bones playing sport, so you could say that my normal lifestyle is far more dangerous than jumping off cliffs.  I come to work to relax.”

Actor Garry McDonald is back on TV – but this time, instead of battling with his geriatric mother, as he did on Mother And Son, he is the parent coping with two very alert children.  The new series, Eggshells, debuts this week on ABC with McDonald playing the part of a divorcee whose life is constantly interrupted by his ex-wife (played by Judy Morris), his two current girlfriends, his handyman brother-in-law and his two children.  Eggshells comes from writer Geoffrey Atherden, who also created Mother And Son.

Bush Tucker Man Les Hiddens, who returns this week with a new series of the popular ABC program, has admitted that he received a generous offer to join the Nine Network but turned it down, opting to stay loyal to ABC.  “There’s more to life than money, mate,” he told TV Week.

CNN_Gulfwar John Laws says…
”Television made a real shish-kebab of the first week of the Gulf war and, gloomy as it was, it did contain all the elements of compulsive viewing.  Thanks to the cable network CNN, Network Ten was able to come out the winner with its coverage of the initial 48 hours of the conflict, even though its professional success wasn’t mirrored by the ratings, which saw Nine gather the most viewers.  It was, perhaps, troubled Ten’s finest hour as the war began.  And yet what did CNN (and therefore Ten) really have over the opposition – just three reporters holed up on the ninth floor of a luxury hotel in Baghdad.  There were no pictures at first; all we heard were the voices of the trio as the described what was going on, and poked their microphones out of the window to pick up the sounds of falling bombs and artillery.  For the viewer, it was a case of look at a map of Baghdad and listen – and yet it worked.  It was gruesome, fascinating, gripping television.”

Program Highlights (February 9-15):
Saturday:  Nine
’s flagship sports program Wide World Of Sports returns for another year for four hours of Saturday afternoon coverage.

Sunday:  It’s the first day of the official ratings year.  Nine’s Sunday regulars Business Sunday, Wide World Of Sports: Sunday Edition and the afternoon Sports Sunday are all back for the new year.  Seven crosses to the Gabba in Brisbane for the AFL pre-season Foster’s Cup, featuring Brisbane Bears versus Collingwood.  At 7.30pm, Network Ten presents the Australian debut of The Simpsons, featuring two episodes – ‘Bart The Genius’ and ‘Homer’s Odyssey’.  Sunday night movies, the first major premieres for the year, are Young Einstein (Seven) and Alien Nation (Ten) – the latter leading into an ongoing series that debuts later in the week.  Nine presents the first instalment of mini-series The Confessional.  Meanwhile, SBS presents a half-hour documentary, What’s Funny About Melbourne?, and ABC presents the first of two documentaries on the issue of global warming.  After The Warming, a co-production between Film Australia and American and British interests, takes viewers to the year 2050 as Earth has survived global warming.

ernie_denise_0001 Monday:  Ernie Sigley and Denise Drysdale (pictured) are back for another year of Nine’s mid-morning program In Melbourne Today – and Ray Martin is back for another year of Midday With Ray MartinTony Barber and Alyce Platt are back for the new year on Sale Of The CenturyABC debuts new comedy series Eggshells, while 4 Corners and Media Watch return for 1991.  The Nine Network starts following its late night news program, The World Tonight With Clive Robertson, with two hours of coverage dedicated to the Gulf war – while Ten’s overnight broadcast of CNN continues every night.

Tuesday:  ABC’s consumer affairs program The Investigators returns for 1991. 

Wednesday:  David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz return for another year of The Movie Show on SBS

Thursday:  Seven crosses to Huntingdale Golf Club, Melbourne, for live coverage of the first day of the Australian MastersGary Sweet heads the cast in the debut of ABC’s new action drama Police Rescue.

Friday:  Seven presents coverage of Day Two of the Australian MastersBurke’s Backyard (Nine) and Gardening Australia (ABC) begin another year, while Les Hiddens begins a new series of Bush Tucker Man.

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

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Obituary: Sonia Humphrey

soniahumphrey Former journalist and television presenter Sonia Humphrey has died at the age of 63.

A former dancer with the Australian Ballet Company, Humphrey later decided on a change of direction and completed a production course at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).  Her fondness for history led to her joining an archaeological dig in Israel before working as a field producer for America’s ABC network, covering the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.

Returning to Australia in the mid-1970s, she became a weather presenter and reporter for Eyewitness News at TEN10, Sydney.  This led to her joining ABC in 1978 to front current affairs program This Day Tonight and its successor Nationwide.

Humphrey also presented arts broadcasts for ABC, reported for Towards 2000 and presented consumer affairs program The Investigators.

In 1983, ABC management sought to remove her from the airwaves when she became pregnant, fearing that viewers would object to seeing a pregnant woman on television.  She took the case to the Anti-Discrimination Board and won.

After The Investigators, Humphries went on to host a similar program, Probe, for the Seven Network in the late 1980s.

She then went on to produce documentaries for Film Australia before settling in Tasmania with her second husband, Ian MacDougall, after he retired in 2003.

Sonia Humphrey is survived by Ian, her two sons and her parents George and Beverley.

Source: SMH

Monday, 7 February 2011

ABC1 launches new look: Think

ABC1_2011 National broadcaster ABC has over the weekend launched a refreshed look for its flagship channel ABC1.

It is the first major refresh for the channel since the ABC1 brand was first launched almost three years ago to the day.

The new logo (pictured) coincides with new station identifications featuring thought bubbles and implore viewers to re-think their own perception of the channel and consider ABC1 as the place to go for entertainment, drama, comedy, news and current affairs, lifestyle, factual, sport and the arts.  The new on-air look uses a refreshed colour scheme of blue and burnt orange.

The ‘Think Entertainment’ ident features ABC personalities Adam Hills, Myf Warhurst, Adam Brough, Jennifer Byrne, David Stratton, Margaret Pomeranz, Wil Anderson, Russel Howcroft, Todd Sampson and Lawrence Leung interacting with their own thought bubbles.

The campaign will continue with more genre-specific identifications and extended promotion during the year.

The new on-air look was devised by ABC TV Marketing and The Lab.

ABC’s second channel, ABC2, is set to get a refresh in April with the ABC For Kids brand to follow later in the year.

YouTube: NewOnABCTV, NewOnABCTV

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Gordon Street goes back to the future

adamhills_0001 Spicks And Specks host Adam Hills (pictured) launches his new talk show, Adam Hills In Gordon Street Tonight, this week on ABC1.

The title of the program refers to the location of the Melbourne ABV2 studios, which were opened in May 1958 and have hosted many productions for the national broadcaster in the decades that have followed.

In promoting the new series – with the tagline “it’s the future of television” – ABC has dug out some archival footage of some early programs to come from the Gordon Street studios, including children’s series Adventure Island (1967-1972).

Adam Hills In Gordon Street Tonight. Premieres Wednesday 9 February, 8.30pm.  ABC1.  Repeated Saturday 7.30pm, ABC2.