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Naked cops shock

Posted September 21st, 2009 by debritz

How must Channel 9 personality Joseph May be feeling? A few months ago, May was charged by police for flashing his bottom during a night out with mates in Fortitude Valley. Now comes news that police officers were naked on a government-owned bus they had taken without permission, and that two of them ran around the bus in their birthday suits -- at 4.15 in the afternoon on Sunday.

Situation Norman

Posted September 20th, 2009 by debritz

The Comedy Channel has been screening episodes of The Norman Gunston Show, which aired on the ABC (and, later, Channel 7) in the mid-1970s. I was watching last night and was struck by two things: the topless nudity in the Checkout Chicks soap-opera parody (I can't see that airing in prime-time these days) and a segment filmed in the US where Gunston (Garry McDonald) tries to talk his way into the home of former president Richard Nixon (the picture shows Gunston with Nixon's security man). This is the kind of stunt that was being hailed as ground-breaking when The Chasers did it 30 years later. The more things change ...

Soap dies in the back of a ute

Posted September 19th, 2009 by debritz

All the characters were gathered together in a park for a picnic before the show's long-running on-off couple, Josh and Reva, finally declared their undying love and drove off in a pick-up truck.

That, according to the BBC is how America's longest-running soap opera, Guiding Light, finished after 72 years on air, first on radio then on television since 1952. It will be replaced by a revamped version of the game show Let's Make a Deal. Looks like mammon wins over romance again.

Damien Leith short-changed by Idol?

Posted September 19th, 2009 by debritz

If Australian Idol isn't already destined to sink like Big Brother after poor ratings this year, this story might help push it over the edge. Damien Leith claims he didn't get a cent from the 2006 Idol album, The Winner's Journey, despite the fact that many people bought it to help give his career a boost. Apparently the fine print in the Idol contract meant all the royalties to the contestants' performances on the show belong to the producers. Presumably the producers will have a comeback, but since so many Idol finalists (and one or two of the winners) are never going to have a longterm career in music, the whole thing seems sordid, churlish and money-grabbing.

Seven remembers Warana

Posted September 18th, 2009 by debritz

Channel 7's Flashback segment this weekend will remember the Warana festival (which, of course, I'd like to see return to the streets of Brisbane). Here's the promo:

Footy: it's a dying fad

Posted September 15th, 2009 by debritz

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's a myth that Australian are sports-mad. The latest evidence comes in the TV ratings that show 330,000 south-east Queenslanders watched Channel Seven's coverage of the Riverfire fireworks on Saturday night -- and that's on top of the estimated 650,000 who actually went to the event. In comparison, just 284,000 people watched TV coverage of the apparently crucial Broncos v Titans "local derby" NRL game and only 64,000 watched the AFL. In other words, give people something else to do and they'll drop the footy like a hot can of Fourex. All of which also adds ammunition to my call to bring back Warana so we can have even more free community events that don't involve boofy blokes behaving badly. The stats should also tell our politicians that they shouldn't be pumping so much money into football stadiums and sports sponsorships and instead put some of their millions into things the rest of us want (like a restored Regent theatre).

Not the Seinfeld reunion

Posted September 13th, 2009 by debritz

It's filmed on the old sets, with the original cast, but it's not a proper Seinfeld reunion, it's an episode of Larry David's Curb Your enthusiasm. Here's some behind the scenes video that's been posted on YouTube:

Will we fall for these TV shows?

Posted September 10th, 2009 by debritz

'Tis the season for new television shows in the US. Zap 2 It has chosen its top 10 among the new fall (i.e. northern autumn) programs, and they are (in reverse order):
+ The Vampire Diaries, about an orphaned high schooler who becomes torn between two vampire brothers, as one does.
+ Bored to Death, starring Jason Schwartzman as a writer who's in a rough patch and Ted Danson as his boss.
+ The Good Wife, a character-driven drama starring Julianna Margulies.
+ Melrose Place, an updated version of the 80s hit with newcomers Katie Cassidy, Michael Rady and Stephanie Jacobsen joining old favourties Thomas Calabro, Josie Bissett, Daphne Zuniga and maybe Heather Locklear.
+ Modern Family, a sitcom starring Ed O'Neill, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Sofia Vergara and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
+ Cougar Town, the new vehicle for Friends' Courteney Cox.
+ Flash Forward, a medical drama, cop show and human drama in which everybody on Earth blacks out and sees their own future.
+ Community, a comedy set in a college starring Joel McHale and Chevy Chase. (I posted some video of this one here).
+ Glee pictured), a "dramedy" from Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy, which has already premiered to some acclaim.
+ V, a reimagining of the 1980s series of the same name, starring Elizabeth Mitchell.

Farewell, Ray Barrett

Posted September 9th, 2009 by debritz

Ray Barrett, one of Brisbane's true superstars of the stage and screen, has died at the age of 82. Barrett, who starred in British and Australian radio dramas, films and television -- including the UK drama series The Troubleshooters and as a character voice in the classic children's series Thuderbirds -- died after a fall at his Gold Coast home. I interviewed him several times -- including once to celebrate the anniversary of the Brisbane Repertory Company (which became La Boite) -- and found him to be a true professional and a gentleman who never forgot his roots. When I spoke to him for Brisbane News about 15 years ago, he said it was his dream to play eye specialist Fred Hollows, to whom he had a strong resemblance.
PS: There's an excellent, comprehensive bio of Ray here.

Doctor Who meets Blackadder?

Posted September 9th, 2009 by debritz

Matt Smith as featured on official BBC Doctor Who website
Probably not. But speculation to that effect has arisen since is was announced that Richard Curtis, creator of Rowan Atkinson's Blackadder character and writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love, Actually, will pen an episode of Doctor Who. Curtis says he agreed to write the episode, which will star new Doctor Matt Smith (above), to impress his children. He says it will feature an historical character (so that's probably not the fictional Blackadder) who will fight a monster.

A local lesson

Posted September 7th, 2009 by debritz

Channel 9's Brisbane: 150 Years of Stories was the third-most-watched TV program in Brisbane on Saturday night, scoring 227,000 viewers and out-rating the Lions AFL elimination final. A great coup for Nine - and a great irony that a locally produced show could do so well for the network that, just a few months ago, axed Extra, its last remaining regular local program (excluding advertorial shows).

Celebrity? Get her outta here!

Posted September 6th, 2009 by debritz

Anna Bligh pictured on least I'm not alone ... according to a Sunday Mail poll, only 27 per cent of Queenslanders support Anna Bligh's extraordinary decision to appear in Celebrity MasterChef. Her excuse -- that it would highlight the use of Queensland produce -- is utter nonsense. How many of the four million people who watched the original MasterChef would know, or care, where the produce used by the cooks came from? In fact, research shows that the vast majority of people who watch TV cooking shows never try out the recipes (many of them don't even cook, they just like to watch). I'd have a lot more respect for Anna Bligh if she said she's doing the TV show simply because she wants to -- and I can't blame her for wanting to have her 15 minutes of national fame; I'd do it too, if asked -- and because her advisers (wrongly, it would appear) thought it might improve her image and distract attention from what's going on in state politics.

The easiest job in the world?

Posted September 3rd, 2009 by debritz

"Get your good suit and tie on, and a quick dab in make-up. Make yourself comfy and here comes the Six O'Clock News, all written nicely and clearly before your eyes. Read it clearly and distinctly, ask the reporter the questions you have written down in front of you and there!"

That's veteran broadcaster Terry Wogan's view on what it takes to be a TV newsreader in Britain. He also says that reading the news is "the easiest job in the media" and "not something to get self-important or petulant about, it's a piece of cake". He adds that he should know, because he's done it himself.

Queensland cooks up another media tart

Posted September 2nd, 2009 by debritz

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh is shaping up to be as much a media tart as her predecessor Peter Beattie. Bligh has announced she will appear on the celebrity version of Channel Ten's MasterChef to "promote Queensland produce". Methinks it's more about promoting herself and a government that's way on the nose. Queenslanders have a right to ask whether Captain Bligh's time would be better spent steering the ship of state rather than mucking about in front of the cameras while she's on our payroll. It's something an effective Opposition could really push hard on. When will we get one of those?

Funny old world, indeed

Posted September 1st, 2009 by debritz

"Dim man to divorce big breasted woman." That's how the perceptive parodyists at Private Eye magazine summed up the UK media hype surrounding the separation of Australia's own Peter Andre and Katie Price, a.k.a. page 3 girl Jordan. Call them the poor man's Posh and Becks if you like, but this couple, who met on I'm a Celebrity Get Me out of Here, have kept dozens of British journalists employed (and, presumably, millions of British readers entertained, if not enthralled) with their antics over several years of TV reality shows, minor charting singles and romance novels which carry Price's name on the cover but she doesn't actually write (she's too busy, apparently). According to Popbitch, however, there's a strong rumour that the separation is just a stunt and the duo have already recorded a Christmas single to celebrate their reunion. Ain't love grand?

I want my pay-TV

Posted August 29th, 2009 by debritz

If you want to know why Channel 7 boss Kerry Stokes wants a slice of the pay-TV action via Consolidated Media Holdings, take a look at this report from Variety. In the US, the average age of the audience of the big free-to-air networks is now over 50; cable is where the younger viewers are. Given the fact that, rightly or wrongly, many advertisers only want to pitch to younger audiences, it's a no-brainer to think that the future profitability in television isn't with FTA.

British Big Brother axed

Posted August 27th, 2009 by debritz

As predicted by me (and many, many others), the British version of Big Brother will be axed next year. The tide has turned against "reality" shows that attempt to create conflict; now it's just one big MasterChef-style love-in.

Show stopper

Posted August 26th, 2009 by debritz

I was trying to find a website for the new Freeview channel Go!, so I gave a go. It turns out to be a site for a group of kids called the Great South Band and this song:

Not at all what I was expecting ...

McHale's baby

Posted August 26th, 2009 by debritz

If you have pay-TV, you may know Joel McHale as the host of E!'s The Soup. Well, he also stars in a sitcom called Community, along with Chevy Chase (thus answering the question: "Whatever happened to Chevy Chase?") and John Oliver, from The Daily Show. I'm not sure when or whether we'll see it in Australia, but here's a clip:

All systems Go!

Posted August 24th, 2009 by debritz

The Nine Network's Go! digital channel is said to be "the most successful multi-channel ever to launch, breaking records in all markets". According to a Nine media release, Go! has the youngest median age - 31 - of any of the Freeview TV channels, and has secured a 5.6% share of the viewing audience across People 16-39 (5 City Metro, 6pm to midnight) on Sunday. This is, the release says, "a staggering 460% greater than [the Ten Nework's] One HD on debut". Go! was also strong across people 18-49 (4.4%) and 25-54 (3.9%) in the 6pm to midnight slot. The release continues:

The screening of The Big Bang Theory on Go! has also set an impressive benchmark. Screening at 7.30pm on Sunday night, the comedy series attracted an average 230,000 viewers across all demographics, making it the highest rating program in the survey year-to-date across the subscription TV and multi-channel platform, excluding sports events, in the 5 City Metro market. This result surpasses the result of FOX8’s flagship Australia’s Next Top Model Live Finale, which averaged 185,000 earlier this year.

New look for Nine news?

Posted August 24th, 2009 by debritz

The rumour on Twitter is that there'll be a new set for Channel Nine's news in Brisbane (and Melbourne) tonight - or very soon. I guess that would fit in with the Nine network's new billboard advertising campaign.

Nine braces for more cuts

Posted August 22nd, 2009 by debritz

According to this MediaSpy report, 26 more jobs are to go from QTQ 9 in Brisbane as part of Nine network efforts to trim another $20million from its budget. It would be a terrible irony for this to happen, on top of the redundancies a few months ago when Extra was axed, in the year that Nine celebrates the 50th anniversary of Queensland television. It seems local programing other than news and advertorials will soon very much be a thing of the past. Time, I think, for some legislative compulsion on the owners of television licences to have a minimum presence in each state - or to open up the "free" airwaves to competition from niche broadcasters who will provide a local service.
PS: Maybe Nine could try to hypnotise viewers into thinking they were watching a local show.
Update: The Australian has a report on the $20 million budget cuts here. It makes no mention of Brisbane sackings, but says some big pay packets will be trimmed - although it claims Eddie McGuire will keep his deal, reportedly worth $5 million a year.

Lie-detector fallout

Posted August 11th, 2009 by debritz

A Current Affair's interview with the aunts and cousin of the girl at the centre of the Kyle and Jackie O show lie-detector stunt has painted a picture of a family desperately in need of help. They claim the girl was not raped but had consensual sex (which, as Tracy Grimshaw pointed out, is illegal anyway for a girl of that age.) None of what was said lets 2Day or Austereo or Kyle Sandilands or Jackie O off the hook when it comes to their responsibilities as broadcasters. When the mother went to the station and outlined what she wanted to do, that's when she should have been referred to counselling - not after they were put on air and exploited for ratings. Sorry to keep pressing this point, but too many people seem to think that the mother's misjudgment absolves the radio stars, the station and the network of any blame. It does not. Austereo's review and the just-announced ACMA investigation must ensure that this sort of thing does not happen again. When Kyle and Jackie O go back on air, they must modify their behaviour and such stunts - indeed any contact with listeners - must be put on delay as is the standard industry practice. And the person whose finger is on the button must be answerable only to a very senior network manager, not Sandilands or O. A former Austereo employee told me last week that nobody currently working on that show would dare do it for fear of being sacked.

Idol musings

Posted August 10th, 2009 by debritz

I think there's a risk in reading too much into the poor national ratings figures for Australian Idol. It lost viewers in Sydney, leading to speculation that parents had switched off, possibly because of lingering dislike for Kyle Sandilands over the lie-detector stunt on 2Day. But perhaps people turned off because they like Sandilands, and it was a protest about his sacking from Idol (although he did appear last night and will for the next two episodes). In Brisbane, more people watched - maybe because they like Sandilands and wanted to catch their last glimpses of him, or maybe because they like the fact that he's been sacked. I guess the Kyle factor won't be known until he stops appearing. Perhaps Sandilands is an irrelevancy here; the Idol format is getting stale and maybe it's just worn out its welcome quicker in the south than in Queensland.
PS: Meanwhile, Kyle and Jackie O Show has been nominated for three radio awards. That'll make for a lot of radio industry debate.

Slow Eddie

Posted August 4th, 2009 by debritz

Good old Eddie McGuire. According to the host of Millionaire Hot Seat, the UK doesn't have decimal currency yet. Eddie's reasoning is that they have pounds, not dollars. More proof (not) that he's worth every cent - or penny - of that $5 million contract.
Fact: The British government introduced decimal currency in 1971.

Jackie Mac's back!

Posted August 4th, 2009 by debritz

Jackie MacDonald, the Brisbane kids' TV host who went on to star on Hey Hey It's Saturday and then did a Garbo, will return to the small screen for The Magical Moments of Queensland Television, part of Channel 9's 50th anniversary celebrations, screening on Saturday, August 15 at 7.30pm. Also featured will be Brisbane's "Mr Television" Paul Sharratt, in an interview recorded just a week before his death, panel-show star Joy Chambers (who went on to marry megaproducer Reg Grundy) and the first face on Brisbane television, Hugh Cornish. It's just a shame that Nine is celebrating Queensland television at a time when, thanks to its axing of Extra, there's less locally produced TV than ever.

Sandilands sacked from Idol

Posted August 3rd, 2009 by debritz

Channel Ten has now confirmed reports on the Sydney Morning Herald website that Kyle Sandilands has been sacked from Australian Idol. According to the SMH, Ten has acted under pressure from the company Nineteen, which owns the Idol brand. Format creator Simon Fuller is said to be appalled by reports of the stunt on the Kyle and Jackie O Show where a 14-year-old girl was strapped to a lie detector and, under questioning from her mother, confessed to having been raped at age 12.

Meanwhile, in the UK

Posted August 3rd, 2009 by debritz

The BBC has defended its stance in not revealing how much its major stars earn. BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons says: "Basically people are entitled to a right of privacy unless they are actually making decisions about public money." The BBC is funded from a licence fee, which means every Briton with a television set (including me; I'm paid up until September) is paying about £130 directly from his or her own pocket to pay BBC wages. And they have a right to know exactly how much of their money subsidises the likes of Jonathan Ross, who reportedly earns more than £5 million a year. Just as the shareholders of a public company have the right to know how much its senior staff get paid.

Say what?

Posted August 2nd, 2009 by debritz

From The Weakest Link:
Anne Robinson: According to the Bible, the love of what is the root of all evil?
Female contestant: Women.

Kyle's no teen idol

Posted August 2nd, 2009 by debritz

More Kyle Sandilands, I'm afraid. Now, there's a report that he'll be dropped from his role on Australian Idol because it's a "family show". I think they should keep him there. After all, he killed off Big Brother so they should let him do the same to another show that's past its use-by date.

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