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Wilfred pilot for US

Posted May 13th, 2010 by debritz

Former Brisbane actor Jason Gann will star in a US pilot adapted from the Australian comedy Wilfred, which Gann cowrote for SBS with fellow Queenslander and former journalist Adam Zwar. Well done to them! More here at
PS: Jason is a supporter of the campaign to Save the Regent.

Kendra and me: a clarification

Posted May 9th, 2010 by debritz

Some of you may have read about a sex tape involving Kendra Wilkinson, the reality TV star and former Playboy centrefold. I can assure you that this is the only picture of Kendra and me in existence and that I am not the person featured in the video.

Thought for the weekend

Posted May 7th, 2010 by debritz

Wouldn't it be great of Stephen Hawking could invent a machine that would allow diehard fans of Hey Hey to tape the show on a Wednesday night but watch it on a Saturday, 15 years ago?

My Logies prediction

Posted May 1st, 2010 by debritz

Sorry if the heading implied that I was going to list who I believe will be the winners of the TV Week Logie Awards, to be presented on Sunday night. Instead, my prediction is about the nature of the winners, not their names. I bet they are, for the most part, not representative of the quality and diversity of television nor of the interests of the vast majority of TV viewers. While it's true that TV Week has broadened the ways in which people can vote for the Logies, the awards themselves will represent only the views of those who were motivated to vote. I say, let's either make voting for the Logies compulsory, so we get a true measure of public opinion*, or ditch the current system altogether and have a Logies Academy similar to the peer group that decides the Oscar winners.
* Although we have that already; it's called the ratings and it means more to the networks than any number of trophies ever will.

Anybody for Rollerball?

Posted April 29th, 2010 by debritz

How much humiliation should contestants on "reality" TV programs endure in the name of entertainment? The latest case involves Australia's Got Talent judge Brian McFadden, who reportedly told a wannabe comic to "f--- off back to England". Anne Ferguson Howe, 50, said the personal attack came after Kyle Sandilands taunted her about her weight - although she says she had no problem with Sandilands because he shook hands with her later. A Channel 7 spokesman is quoted as saying: "All contestants who take part in the auditions know what to expect. Usually everyone joins in the spirit of the day and has a lot of fun. In this case the exchange was unacceptable and didn't fit with the vibe of the show, so was deleted." Ms Howe says she's concerned that the edit favoured McFadden. Will anything come of this? I guess the show's producers are hoping that the controversy earns higher ratings for the show, which has so far failed to match the megasuccess of its big brother, Britain's Got Talent.

Origin of 3DTV

Posted April 28th, 2010 by debritz

Channel 9 and Harvey Norman have teamed up, with a little help from the federal government with the temporary provision of extra spectrum, to screen the State of Origin rugby leagye in 3D. A gimmick or a glimpse of things to come? A bit of both, probably, but I bet the NRL is glad for the timley diversion from the Storm salary cap scandal.

The view from here

Posted April 27th, 2010 by debritz

While it's still too early to write off the new series of Hey Hey It's Saturday as a complete flop, Channel 9 executives must have the jitters. And they won't just be looking at the numbers when they decide the show's future. They will also be looking at the cost of producing the program (apparently the reason it was axed in the first place) and, especially, the audience demographics. The challenge for boss Davd Gyngell (who famously moved at lighting speed to axe This Afternoon within weeks of its debut) -- and for the bosses at the other networks -- is to know when it's a matter of throwing good money after bad. And that applies not just to Hey Hey but to every program on the schedule. Low-rating shows stay on air for any number of reasons -- in some cases, just to stymie another station -- but sentiment doesn't play a part in decision making any more. It may well be that Daryl Somers and co. should have been happy with the legacy of the two mega-rating reunions last year rather than the slow death of a weekly series that is exposing the show's flaws.
P.S. Some people are saying Hey Hey should be returned to Saturday nights. I can't see that happening because the total available TV audience, and potential ad revenue, is too low to sustain the show's budget. Oh, and if it does change nights, you can be damned sure Channel 7 won't give it a free ride.

Who's that?

Posted April 20th, 2010 by debritz

Actress Katy Manning, who has been based in Australia for the past decade or two, is to reprise her Doctor Who character Jo Grant in an episode of the children's series, The Sarah Jane Adventures. Manning will feature alongside SJA star Elisabeth Sladen and, in a surprise early crossover episode, Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor. And the episode will be written by former showrunner Russell T. Davies rather than the new man at the Who helm, Steven Moffat. More here, and here is Manning's last scene with Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor:

PS: Smith's first outing as the Doctor scored a record audience for BBC America. More here.

Seven shoots for the stars

Posted April 19th, 2010 by debritz

Channel Seven has announced that Daniel MacPherson will host its new program, Beat The Star, which promises to "pit an average Aussie family against a star from the world of sport and entertainment in a series of big challenges". A Seven press release says the show, which will premiere soon, "will test their physical and mental abilities, along with their capacity to engage in unexpected activities. Guts, determination and a high tolerance for embarrassing situations will be vital in their quest for glory. Each family could win big cash prizes as they battle it out in front of a huge live studio audience. For the Star, they are battling for their pride, ego and dignity!" Will it be a winner?

Star's memories of the Regent

Posted April 16th, 2010 by debritz

The man who starred as popular Brisbane children's entertainer Danny O'Dibble is backing the campaign to Save the Regent theatre. Actor-singer Darryl Boyd, who played O'Dibble on stage and on the former Channel 0 (now 10) in the 1970s, now lives on the Sunshine Coast. But he came to Brisbane for a nostalgic visit to the Regent, remembering the night of the farewell concert for the venue before the original large auditorium was split into four cinemas in the early 1980s. Darryl says he was the last act on an all-star bill at the concert and he sang Send in the Clowns as the curtain came down. "The only problem was that they'd started serving champagne in the foyer, so there weren't too many people left to hear me," he recalled with a smile. Darryl supports the notion that the Showcase theatre should all be preserved as it is or restored into a much-needed second large multipurpose theatre venue. "I always said that the Regent should be Brisbane's Opera House," he told me.

Doctoring the Tardis

Posted April 16th, 2010 by debritz

Doctor Who pictured from BBC websiteNever fear, Whovians, the Doctor will keep going past his 13th incarnation. Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat (pictured at a recent US launch for the show with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan) has told Spencer Howson on 612ABC that the rule that the Doctor, now in his 11th body, can only regenerate 12 times will be overcome. After extensive meetings and focus groups, Moffat said, they had determined that they would "make something up" to allow it to happen. Meanwhile, of course, Matt Smith is only just settling in to his role, and will be the Doctor for the foreseeable future (and, given the nature of the show, the past as well). Spencer's audio interview with Smith and surprise guest Moffat is here. You can watch the first Matt Smith Doctor Who episode online at ABC iView.

Kyle dethroned

Posted April 14th, 2010 by debritz

Australia's Got Talent, which much-promoted new judge (and Big Brother reject) "King" Kyle Sandilands, premiered to just 233,000 viewers in Brisbane last night and was No. 7 on the local top 10. It was the worst performing market for the Seven Network show. The no.1 show in Brisbane last night was Nine's Top Gear, with 350,000 viewers. Seems we like fast cars more than fast talk.
PS: Australia-wide, Australia's Got Talent was no.2 with 1.493 million viewers. Not a bad debut, but Underbelly 3 got 2.237 million.

Anger management

Posted April 14th, 2010 by debritz

Channel 9 Melbourne cameraman Simon Fuller has been sacked for calling a Muslim man, the father of a court defendant, a "f---ing terrorist". But will all TV news services now move to ensure that their cameramen, producers and reporters outside courts and in other stressful situations do not "bait" people to get angry reactions for the camera? Media Watch's original story on the issue is here.

Alf opens up about drink-driving

Posted April 13th, 2010 by debritz

Allan Langer on Channel 7 NewsOn Channel 7 Brisbane News, rugby league great Allan Langer has told how he has received hate mail in the wake of his drink-driving conviction. "Alf" - who was videoed at a Brisbane pub dancing on a table top in his underwear before he went behind the wheel - spoke openly to reporter Pat Welsh about telling the news of his night’s behaviour to his wife Janine, his children and his mum. "I shouldn't have been in the car at that time ... and I've learnt a big lesson," he said. Langer also commented on the fallout from the footage that was taken at the Normanby Hotel: "There was a little offer from Dancing with the Stars, but looking at the video, I don't think I've got much hope."
PS: Reports that Langer had had "eight to 10 pots of Fourex" at the Normanby seem a little off the mark. The pub doesn't have Fourex on tap.
Meanwhile, the ABC is boasting that The 7.30 Report's Kerry O'Brien has secured an exclusive interview with US President Barack Obama. It will screen on Thursday night.

It's Sully v Ossie

Posted April 13th, 2010 by debritz

What to watch on Wednesday night at 7.30? Hey Hey It's Saturday on Nine or Brace for Impact: Inside the Hudson Plane Crash, followed by the premiere of The Pacific on Seven, or The Biggest Loser and So You Think You Can dance on Ten? Or Inspector Rex and Carla Cametti PD on SBS or the ABC line-up of The 7.30 Report, The New Inventors, Spicks & Specks and Hungry Beast? Have television viewers ever had it so good? Well, yes, but you'd have to say that there is something for just about everyone somewhere in there.

Crime pays again

Posted April 12th, 2010 by debritz

Channel 9 reports that, with a peak audience of 2.486 million, Underbelly, The Golden Mile is Australia’s most successful television program launch for 2010, attracting an average of 2.237 million viewers across its first hour last night.

Big Bang at Logies

Posted April 12th, 2010 by debritz

Channel 9 has confirmed that Johnny Galecki, the star of The Big Bang Theory, will present a Gong at the 2010 TV Week Logie Awards. Galecki plays geeky scientist Leonard. In a Nine media release, Galecki is quoted as saying: “I am very excited. Australia is one of the places I wanted to visit since I was maybe 10 years old, yet this will be my first time, so I'm not quite sure what to expect. Nine's director of programming, Michael Healy, says: "The Big Bang Theory is one our most popular shows and we are thrilled to have Johnny Galecki with us for The TV Week Logie Awards this year, he will bring that trademark humour to the night for our audience and the thousands of fans around Australia." The ceremony, on May 2, will be hosted by Bert Newton and will feature a performance by the Rogue Traders, with new vocalist Mindi Jackson. Already confirmed to appear are Susan Boyle, John Mayer and Gabriella Cilmi.

See it, and save it!

Posted April 8th, 2010 by debritz

Here's the very funny promo for the Regent film festival, starring Drew Jarvis (Curio from the axed TV show The Shak) and shot in the wonderful Showcase cinema, which will be demolished under plans to redevelop the venue as an office tower. Support the festival (details on Facebook here), but please also join the campaign to Save the Regent - especially the Showcase cinema and ornate bar area.

Weird, wonderful and home-made

Posted April 8th, 2010 by debritz

Way-Out, Weird & Wonderful: Unique Queensland Events: it's a mouthful but that's the title of a special on Channel Seven Brisbane this Saturday 6.30pm. It's hosted by Queensland Weekender's Dean Miller and it promises to tell all about such things as pumpkin races in Goomeri and fruit fighting on the Granite Belt. The best thing about it? It's local TV made for a Queensland audience at a time when there's so little of it around.

Karen Gillan: how I met the Doctor

Posted April 8th, 2010 by debritz

Karen Gillan, the actress who plays Amy Pond in the new Doctor Who series (which Australian audiences will finally see from midnight on April 16* on ABC iView), describes her audition process:

"I couldn’t tell main reception why I was there, I had to go there and tell them that I was going there for something called Panic Moon which is an anagram of Companion. And then I wasn’t allowed to tell any of my family or friends that I was auditioning and then I had to keep it a secret when I got the role which was quite agonising!"

In this Daily Mail article she also defends her character's appearance, which was described as "slutty" by ... er, the Daily Mail.
* By which time, of course, many internet users will have already downloaded it from elsewhere. I know Aunty is trying to be like a groovy uncle here, but if you're going to premiere something online as a party trick you really need to do it in a more timely fashion - i.e. closer to the UK screening date, which was over Easter.

Throwing out the script

Posted April 6th, 2010 by debritz

TV Tonight reports that Australian David Lyle has been named head of Fox LOOK, a unit of the News Corp that will oversee the production of unscripted shows (i.e. "reality" TV). On Twitter, The Scrivener's Fancy (a website that features writers including comedian-author-broadcaster Tony Martin) notes that Lyle was the executive who knocked back the concept for The Late Show (eventually screened to great success by the ABC in the 1990s), saying it would never work. A lot of time has passed since then, of course.

Long weekend laugh

Posted April 5th, 2010 by debritz

I'm a little late, but here's the funny video of the weeked. It's Arnold Schwarzenegger in a Japanese TV commercial. There's a lot more on YouTube and, with his run as California Governor coming to an end, he'll soon have time to make even more!

Good career move?

Posted April 1st, 2010 by debritz

Channel 10's The 7PM Project has had perhaps more than its fair share of critics, but it seems it's not going anywhere (except, if some rumours are to be believed, to a different timeslot). Either that or whoever successfully applies for the advertised position of Senior News Editor for the program (it's on if you're qualified and interested) could have a very short tenure.

Question for the day

Posted March 31st, 2010 by debritz

What exactly is Brisbane's community TV station called? Its website has logos identifying it as 31 and QCTV, and on a promotional video for the new digital service it's also called Briz 31 (its original name). I would have thought that clear branding was the No.1 priority when marketing a product.
PS: Oh, and the videos page doesn't work properly in the Firefox browser, which has 42 per cent market share in Europe and is growing elsewhere.

Bruce Paige - he's back!

Posted March 30th, 2010 by debritz

Bruce Paige may have retired from reading the news five nights a week, but Channel Nine Brisbane isn't about to let the popular star disappear from our screens completely. News director Lee Anderson has announced that the station has "finalised a new agreement with Bruce Paige that will continue his involvement with the network until at least 2013". Anderson added: "Bruce will continue as our back-up reader as well as undertaking a number of weekly features which will be unveiled by the network over coming months."
Update: A Nine press release has just confirmed this report, quoting Paige as saying: "I am a News man from way back and I have missed the people at Nine and the energy of the newsroom. Working part-time I still get to spend time with my family. I feel very lucky to have the best of both worlds." (March 31, 9.35am)

Network relations go stale

Posted March 29th, 2010 by debritz

In The Australian, Channel 10 is accusing Channel 7 of copying its successful MasterChef format with My Kitchen Rules (winner Veronica and Shadi pictured). But to what extent can a cooking competition be an original idea? I'm sure there are some new ideas around (in fact, I have a few myself which I might fire off to Endemol or Shine) but much of what we see on reality TV shows is just a clever tweak of something we've seen before. For example, it's not hard to trace the Idol franchise's lineage back through Popstars, Star Search, New Faces, Opportunity Knocks and probably quite a few shows I've never heard of. Even Big Brother, often mentioned as the "father" of reality shows, came After Andrew Denton's The House from Hell. Of course, the reason many shows succeed is exactly because they remind us of something else.

Leckie denies Hey Dad pay claim

Posted March 28th, 2010 by debritz

Channel Seven CEO David Leckie has issued a media statement denying claims in The Sunday Telegraph that he offered a "six-figure sun" to former Hey Dad actress Simone Buchanan to appear on Today Tonight. The statement says: "Today's reports that I - or Seven - offered money to anyone in relation to claims surrounding 'Hey Dad' are completely wrong. They are incorrect. It did not happen. Seven should have been asked before the claims were published."

The Bill axed

Posted March 26th, 2010 by debritz

After several unsuccessful rejigs, Britain's ITV network has decided to drop The Bill. The program has been on air for 27 years, but in this writer's opinion was at its best when it was a point-of-view police procedural rather than the soapie it has become in recent years. The Guardian has details here. What I want to know from the fans is: when did it jump the shark? When Burnside left? When Beech went bad? When Conway was killed? When Bob Cryer was shot? When Kevin Loyd (Tosh) died? When lovably annoying Reg Hollis (Jeff Stewart, pictured) departed? When Tony Stamp bowed out?
PS: My Bill moment: I saw Peter Ellis (Brownlow) on a tube train in London a few years ago, after he had left the series. He was studying a very thin script.
Update: Tweeters suggest the show jumped the shark when the original Sun Hill station blew up; when they moved to the one-camera format; or when Gina Gold and Smithy left. (March 27, 11am)

The lowdown on Lowdown

Posted March 24th, 2010 by debritz

Lowdown is a new comedy starting the ABC in late April, and it's written by and stars Wilfred's Adam Zwar, based on his experiences working as a journalist (which he did alongside me on the Queensland edition of The Sunday Telegraph in the early 1990s, and later elsewhere). Also in the cast are Kym Gyngell and a great Queensland actor, Paul Denny. Here's the trailer:

My reality rules

Posted March 24th, 2010 by debritz

Channel 10 has released some details of the second series of MasterChef, which will air soon (and will again star food critic Matt Preston, pictured). But with the success of Seven's My Kitchen Rules, which will turn around a second helping very quickly, is MasterChef under threat? Did Ten wait too long to reheat its blockbuster, or can Australian viewers just not get enough of cooking shows? And what will be the next reality-TV flavour of the month? Maybe it'll be My Network Rules, a fly-on-the-wall doco about the dramas inside the programmers' offices and board rooms of our commercial broadcasters. Now, that I would watch.

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