A&E
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A&E

Break a leg, Bille

Posted July 24th, 2009 by debritz

Queensland Theatre Company image of Bille Brown in School of Arts Biloela's, and now Brisbane's, Bille Brown is up for a gong at the Helpmann Awards on Monday night. You can see how he goes by watching the show live from the Sydney Opera House on pay-TV's Bio channel. Oh, and given that Bille's co-star from Queensland Theatre Company's School of Arts, Joss McWilliam, actually did do himself an injury before opening night, maybe the headline on this piece isn't entirely appropriate.

I know what I don't like ...

Posted July 21st, 2009 by debritz

"I haven't seen it myself, nor shall I ..." So writes Christopher Hart in this Daily Mail story about the British decsion to allow screenings of the Lars von Trier film Antichrist. Despite this, and after calling himself a "broad-minded arts critic", Hart goes on to demolish a film he's only read about and call for it to be banned outright rather than given an 18 rating. Well, I'm sorry Christopher, just reading about it isn't good enough. Before you can have a valid opinion, you're going to have to actually see it - especially since it's your job to do so.
Update: On reflection, if only I'd known about this scam when I was reviewing plays, films and TV shows years ago ... It would have made life a lot of easier (but I probably wouldn't have been able to sleep at night).
Update: Mail Watch demolishes Hart's story here.

Let's honour Alan Edwards

Posted July 18th, 2009 by debritz

If you are on Facebook, please consider joining the group "Help Get A Public Memorial To Alan Edwards". Alan, who died a few years ago, was the founding artistic director of the Queensland Theatre Company. If we can have a Wally Lewis statue to recognise one of the greats of sport, we should certainly do something to remember Alan, who was a giant in his field. The current suggestion is that Brisbane's Hale Street Bridge be named after Alan, but you may be able to think of some other means of honouring him. I am sure all suggestions would be welcome.

Free for all

Posted July 17th, 2009 by debritz

"Pay TV, for free." That was the headline in street paper MX yesterday announcing Channel 9's new digital channel, Go!, which will screen "cult" shows of the type hitherto only seen on Foxtel and Austar. I was amused to read in the story the comments by a "media expert", who said:

"It's a very clever move that just might work ..If the new channel has the shows which viewers want to see, they will go there."

The "expert" went on to say that if people didn't want to watch the shows on Go!, they would watch another channel instead. Amazing!
PS: Even with this welcome initiative, the Freeview offering in Australia will be vastly inferior to that offered in the UK (where there are 31 active free-to-air channels) and elsewhere.

Why too much sport makes us unhealthy

Posted July 15th, 2009 by debritz

As the third and final 2009 NRL State of Origin game looms large, I'd like to make one thing perfectly clear: I am not anti-sport. I (very briefly) played Aussie rules as a child; I used to support Easts in the old QRL competition (even though we lived in Wests territory); I've been to one or two Origin games and a few NRL fixtures at Suncorp Stadiun; I went to the Gabba a couple of weeks ago to watch the Lions trounce the Demons; and I was even in the studio audience for The Footy Show a few years ago. On top of that, my mother and sister are Broncos season-ticket holders. Having said all that, I get extremely annoyed by the presumption, reflected in the media and political circles, that Australia is a football-mad nation. Why?

The long goodbye

Posted July 14th, 2009 by debritz


I was surprised to see that the fourth most popular entertainment story on news.com.au today concerns film star Patrick Swayze saying goodbye to his family "as his cancer spreads". The story is dated November 28, 2008 - more than seven months ago - and, as far as I know, Swayze is still with us. I hope he lives to see the story get older and older and older. But why is it that this item remains in the top 10? Presumably, Google keeps delivering readers who think it is current news.

Mary Poppins lands in Melbourne

Posted July 13th, 2009 by debritz

Melbourne has secured another theatre coup - the premiere Australian season of the stage version of Mary Poppins. Victoria's Premier, John Brumby, made the announcement. Meanwhile, Queensland's Premier (and Arts Minister), Anna Bligh, insists Brisbane doesn't need a venue that can host the open-ended run of a premiere theatrical event - even though the Regent would be ideal if the government committed some money to restoring it to its original granduer rather than rubber-stamping its conversion into a little-needed 40-story office tower. Instead of money coming into Queensland, it will be heading south - again - via airline package deals!
PS: Note that the Herald Sun story refers to Poppins "coming home". Home for the children's author P.L. Travers was, in fact, in Maryborough, Queensland.

Leave those kids alone

Posted July 12th, 2009 by debritz

I love Joe Jackson, the British singer-songwriter who stormed on to the late 1970s new wave music scene with Look Sharp! and has continued to create innovative and diverse music since. But his namesake, the 79-year-old father of the late Michael Jackson, is a real worry. The man who deprived his own son of a childhood is now pushing the idea of all three of Michael's kids going into showbiz. Now, I know I predicted that the entertainment industry would be beating a path to Paris Katherine's door, but if that does happen, and it should only be if she wants it to be, it should be totally without the involvement of crafty old Joe. Of course, if the kids do sign up for fame and fortune, you can bet all sorts of people - starting, of course, with their biological father and mother or mothers - will be hanging around like dogs outside a butcher shop.
PS: And here's another example of cashing-in on Jackson's death.

Your chance to Shak up

Posted July 8th, 2009 by debritz

Queensland-produced Channel 9 kids' show The Shak is looking for a replacement for Kendal Rae, who plays Picasso. I don't think I fit the bill, but maybe somebody reading this does. Unfortunately, you have to buy TV Week to get the details. As for Rae, she says: "“I took on a challenge four years ago when I started on The Shak and now I’m ready for a new one. I’m a firm believer in not letting fear make my decisions for me and I’ve decided the time is right to move on."

Goodye Michael, hello Paris

Posted July 8th, 2009 by debritz

By all reports (including here and here), Michael Jackson's daughter Paris put on a brave show at her father's funeral. How long before some television or music industry executive is waving a contract under her nose?

Nicole Kidman: top of the flops?

Posted July 3rd, 2009 by debritz

I'm not the first to ask this question and I won't be the last: Is Nicole Kidman worth all the money she makes? According to this report, Kidman was the eighth-highest-earning film actress last year, earning $15 million largely on the back of that non-blockbuster Australia which, according to Box Office Mojo, cost US$130 million* to make - not including its extensive marketing budget (it was advertised in prime inner-city positions in the UK, Germany, the Czech Republic and France to my first-hand knowledge) - and has taken in just over US$211 million to date. Here are the figures for some other recent Kidman films (cost to make first, global takings second, in brackets):
The Invasion $80,000,000 ($40,170,558)
Bewitched $85,000,000 ($131,426,169)
Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus N/A ($2,305,841)
The Golden Compass $180,000,000 ($372,234,864)
Really, there's just one hit among them, and one incredible disaster. Adding in other expenses, I think her account over the past couple of years would be well and truly in the red.
* news.com.au is reporting that Australia's production budget "ballooned" beyond $130 million.

If elected, I will not serve ...

Posted July 3rd, 2009 by debritz

Just in case you missed hearing me on 612ABC with Kelly Higgins-Devine (filling in for Spencer Howson), I have ruled myself out of contention for the top job at Brisbane Major Festivals, replacing the excellent Lyndon Teracinni. Please, no more phone calls or emails; the decision is final.

Farewell, Mollie Sugden

Posted July 2nd, 2009 by debritz

Mollie Sugden, who played Mrs Slocombe in Are You Being Served?, has died at the age of 86. More at my Celebrity Deaths Archive.

Farewell, Karl Malden

Posted July 2nd, 2009 by debritz

He starred in On The Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire, but for my generation he was best known as the rugged cop on Streets of San Francisco. Karl Malden has died at the grand age of 97. More here.

Hail to the chief

Posted June 30th, 2009 by debritz

If Australia were to become a republic would Queensland be called Presidentsland? Presidentsland, on at City Hall on July 29 as part of the Queensland Music Festival "explores in music and words, the often-contemplated and always contentious subject of what our future might smell, taste, feel, look and of course sound like", according to artistic director Deborah Conway. On stage will be composer and jazz muso Paul Grabowsky with former Paul Keating speechwriter and author Don Watson; painist and composer Erik Griswold with poet and novelist Rodney Hall; and former Saints member Ed Kuepper with novelist and academic Venero Armanno. Details of this and other QMP events here.
PS: On the subject of the Queen, it's been revealed that maintaining the British royal family costs $85 million a year. Perhaps that's what monarchist David Flint will do if he wins Oz Lotto.

Who'll follow Lyndon Terracini?

Posted June 30th, 2009 by debritz

Congratulations to Lyndon Terracini, the boss of Major Brisbane Festivals who has just been named artistic director of the Australian Opera. I guess there will now be a scramble for his job running the Brisbane Festival.

Boyle lances himself

Posted June 30th, 2009 by debritz

It was bound to end in tears. As I wrote here, the Daily Record in Scotland billed columnist Frankie Boyle as "the comic who can't be gagged" yet, from the outset, censored what he wrote. Now Boyle has quit the paper because it refused to run his jokes about Michael Jackson. Boyle wrote to members of his mailing list: "Oh dear. Had to quit my Daily Record column over a moral disagreement. We disagreed over whether it was ok to make jokes about a dead child molestor."
PS: Meanwhile, in Australia, Newtork Ten censored a Bruno joke about Katie Holmes on Rove - apparently over concerns that she would get the huff and refuse to appear on the show. Fearless broadcasting at its best, folks!

Jacko: the beat goes on

Posted June 29th, 2009 by debritz

I pondered on Facebook about how long Michael Jackson's death would be leading the news. Here's a reply from a former colleague:

"Toxicology report, second autopsy and a funeral gives it a couple more weeks. But a potential custody battle for the 3 children could drag it out for months. And then there are the reports of a library of 100 songs he left for his kids. Years perhaps if there are that many songs (if they're good) and they are released slowly."

Changing of the guard?

Posted June 29th, 2009 by debritz

The death of Michael Jackson was a huge scoop for TMZ.com, which was reporting the news a full half hour before mainstream American media such as CNN and Fox News, which could only say that Jackson had been rushed to hospital. It means TMZ has good sources and/or it's not afraid to have a punt. But, of course, what if TMZ was wrong? Well, I guess it wins there, too, because it doesn't have so much "credibility" at stake. The internet and people's desire to know the news now really presents a challenge to tradtional media. I just hope they don't throw out the golden rule of verification in the rush to be first.
PS: CNN briefly found the compromise of saying that Jackson's death had been reported online, but CNN was unable to verify it. Perhaps they should have gone that way sooner.
Update: This story, in Media Guardian, explains what TMZ is and how it works.

Jacko: the badtaste jokes begin

Posted June 27th, 2009 by debritz

Is it appropriate to make jokes about the recently departed? No, but it's inevitable when fame is involved. Popbitch relays these, among others:

Reports of Michael Jackson having a heart attack are incorrect. He was found in the children's ward having a stroke.

Michael Jackson died of shock after finding out Boyz II Men was a band not a delivery service.

Bob's beds burning

Posted June 26th, 2009 by debritz

Band Aid and Live Aid activist Bob Geldof is to cover Midnight Oil's Beds Are Burning as part of a new campaign to tackle climate change. Geldof also paid tribute to the late Michael Jackson, who co-wrote the Band Aid single, We Are the World. Details here.

Farewell, Michael Jackson

Posted June 26th, 2009 by debritz

The self-styled King of Pop has died at the age of 50. Jackson, who was scheduled to perform a record-breaking series of concerts in London next month, was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack and could not be revived. More here.

Death becomes them

Posted June 25th, 2009 by debritz

Prognosis: Death, Relapse! is described as "a cross between Grey's Anatomy and The X-Files". It's a hospital melodrama with plenty of sexual tension and a supernatural threat, and audiences love it. Well, at least that's what the people who devised the show say. It played to good houses in January and it's back on at the Brisbane Arts Theatre from July 2-11. Bookings details here.

Ripper of an idea

Posted June 25th, 2009 by debritz

As somebody who now prefers the bargain bins to the main shelves at the local record store, I welcome the re-release of the 1979 Mi-Sex album Graffiti Crimes. In fact, I'd like to see this happen more often, if for no other reason than allowing members of Gen-Y to appreciate that not all good music is less than five-minutes old. And, as folk of my generation know, oftentimes the original is the best. Shannon Noll may have sold a squillion copies of What About Me, but his version was way inferior to the Moving Pictures original. I'd like to see a big marketing push for some other Australian product from the late 1970s and '80s. As a taster for people new to this musical era, they could start with that seminal 1976 collection, Ripper. It included Darryl Braithwaite's Old Sid, Supernaut's I Like It Both Ways, Sherbet's Howzat, Jon English's Hollywood Seven, Fox's S-s-s single Bed, Ol' 55's On the Prowl and the Silver Studs' cover of Happy Days. Oh, and it had a particularly saucy cover for the time ...

It's goodnight from them ...

Posted June 24th, 2009 by debritz

If Channel 9 Brisbane doesn't draw a large audience on Friday between 5.30pm and 6.30pm, I won't be alone in being surprised. Nine network chiefs must be expecting a ratings bonanza for the last episode of Extra and the departure of long-time newsreader Bruce Paige. Whether the figures will be so good for the new line-up of the national THISafternoon and the local news with Andrew Lofthouse at the helm is anyone's guess. I hope original Extra host Rick Burnett will be invited to return on Friday for the nostalgia fest. The odds of that must be higher than Paige's previous on-air partner Robin Parkin making a one-off comeback. I expect Queensland Newspapers columnist Terry Sweetman won't be anywhere to be seen, either. You can read his recap on Paige's career here.

Todd lacks timing

Posted June 24th, 2009 by debritz

Entertainer and radio host Todd McKenney has reportedly asked his co-host on Sydney's Mix 106.5, Sonia Kruger, to have his baby. McKenney, who is gay, has already had a child by IVF with actress Anne Wood. But the timing of his interview with Women's Weekly is terrible, He should have announced it a few weeks ago in an attempt to give his flatlining radio show a much-needed ratings boost. It's now the non-ratings period which will expain why your favourite on-air team probably isn't on air).

Farewell, Ed McMahon

Posted June 24th, 2009 by debritz

Veteran US broadcaster Ed McMahon has joined Johnny Carson on the great chat show couch in the sky. More here.

Networking is the new "local"

Posted June 21st, 2009 by debritz

The days of local television are all but over. The Nine network's decision to axe Extra was just about the final nail in the coffin. Apart from the news, just about everything Queenslanders watch on free-to-air TV comes from somewhere else. The only survivors are a handful of "sponsored" shows - the ones where an advertiser picks up the tab in return for product placement that compromises the editorial integrity of the show (and, often, its entertainment value). While the networks will blame a changing media landscape for this, their greed and incompetence are also big factors. The fact is that local programs will never produce the amounts of money their shareholders expect them to earn (let alone pay off their massive debts). It's happening in radio, too. Most stations - including Nova, which not so long ago made a big deal about having 100 per cent local content - source great slabs of their content from interstate. So, what are the poor cousins north of the border to do? We can complain, of course, but that will do no good. What we need to do is support what local media there is left, and encourage newcomers. And, of course, the federal government could make the provision of a minimum amount of local content a condition of broadcast licences. But I won't be holding my breath for that.

Say what you really think

Posted June 13th, 2009 by debritz

Fans of late 1970s early 80s British band The Jam shouldn't hold their breaths for the original line-up to reform. Paul Weller spoke to the UK paper Metro a few days ago:

Not so odd after all

Posted June 12th, 2009 by debritz

City News magazine's "Buzz" gossip item about comedian Judith Lucy's opening night in Brisbane notes:

Also amusing but for vastly different reasons, was the odd woman seated next to Buzz who wrote down Jude's best lines in a book throughout the entire performance.

Perhaps somebody was stealing jokes, but I'd suggest the author, who was almost certainly in the free seats, had simply had an encounter with that most curious of creatures Dramatis criticis.

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