Only in America

"I feel like I could be a good senator - I'm every woman and the consummate New Yorker."

So says Fran Drescher, of The Nanny fame, who is eyeing Hillary Clinton's vacant Senate seat. God bless America.

Crossing Over the Bridge

Cocky Balboa, Ita Buttroach, Osama Bin Liner and Sir Roach-a-Lot will be battling it out in the 28th Annual Story Bridge Hotel (Brisbane) Cockroach Races on Australian Day, January 26. It's the highlight of the day's sporting calendar. Oh, and on the subject of slightly creepy things, self-styled psychic John Edward will be at Australia Zoo on January 10. "Is there someone on the other side called Steve? ..."

Sweet as Honey

According to The Village Voice, The Honey Brothers, featuring Adrian Greiner, reference "the country-tinged sensitivity of the Silver Jews, the summery harmonies of the Beach Boys and the zany weirdness of Ween". If that means something to you, you'll probably be excited to know that they are touring Australia for the first time soon, including gigs at Odyseey 09 on the Gold Coast and the Zuri Lounge in Brisbane. More here.

Christmas on the wireless

Brisbane's Radio 4BH882 will be departing from its Best Hits of All Time format on December 24 for "A Very Brisbane Christmas Eve" hosted by Donna Lynch with special guest, the Most Reverend John Bathersby, Archbishop of Brisbane. The program will a traditional presentation of “Yes Virginia – There Is a Santa Claus” read by retired Brisbane radio legend John Knox andBing Crosby’s The Small One. Archbishop Bathersby, who will join the show from 911pm before conducting midnight mass at St Stephen's Cathedral, will reflect on the year past, offer some thoughts for the year ahead and play some of his favourite Christmas carols.
PS: Donna Lynch at BH; Jamie Dunn soon at sister station 4BC. I'd love to be a fly on the wall when those two meet in the corridors.

AOK's video 'nasty'

The Seven network has reportedly shelled out $25,000 to buy up and bury a mobile phone video of Deal or No Deal and The Rich List host Andrew O'Keefe drunk and disorderly, crawling along a Melbourne street and being helped to his feet by a "mystery blonde companion". It's also alleged he is smoking. If I was running Seven, I'd screen the vid just to prove their star is human. I reckon ratings would soar. In fact, I can see a whole series in this. Stars Behaving Badly. It's brilliant. You read it here first!

La Boite: Thinking outside the box

Along, I assume, with hundreds of others, I have received an email from David Berthold, the new artistic director of Brisbane's La Boite theatre. Amid other news, and promises of good things to come, it mentions that, as a result of the loss of the company's Australia Council triennial funding, one production scheduled for next year, Debra Oswald’s The Peach Season, won't go ahead. It is to be replaced by a smaller "but not slighter" play to be announced on January 29. I feel for Berthold, who has only been in the chair for a month, but I can't help thinking that the La Boite board has badly mishandled the replacement process for his predecessor, Sean Mee. The company has been well and truly beaten to the pre-Christmas discretionary arts dollar by other companies which announced their 2009 seasons at the usual time. Now, with the deepening recession (which, admittedly, the board could not have foreseen), Berthold really is going to have to pull a few rabbits out of his artistic hat - and hope that a lot of people respond to his email's call for donations. If you've got something left to give, click here.

Define 'blockbuster'

Another film based on the comic-book hero The Phantom is to be made in Australia. According to this story, the 1996 film starring Bily Zane was a "blockbuster hit". According to boxofficemojo.com, which charts these things, it made a total lifetime gross of US$17,323,326. In that same year, Independence Day was the No. 1 hit with a gross of $306,169,268. Even Striptease, which often appears on the all-time flop lists, made $33,109,743. Now The Phantom did move some VHS and DVD copies, but "blockbuster" is a tad off the mark. Even the new film's writer Tim Doyle says: "I think we did it OK before, but I really, honestly, feel we can do it better. A lot better."

Extra: Yes, it's Heather

Channel 9 Brisbane has confirmed that recently retired newsreader and proud mum Heather Foord will host Extra next year. Nine Queensland station manager Lee Anderson says in a media release:

"I'm pleased we've been able to juggle our busy daily local production schedule so Heather can remain on air and still be there for her girls. It's a good outcome, and I'm sure our viewers will be happy to see her back – just half an hour earlier than usual!"

Foord replaces Jillian Whiting, who was either "boned" or decided to "spend more time with her family"*, depending on which particular coded language you prefer. Extra will celebrate it 18th birthday in 2009 - that's 17 more than most pundits thought it would last!
* It seems Heather Foord is the rare person in TV land who gets to stay on air and spend more time with her family.

Luttsy: What's the story?

Is Luttsy leaving? Is this the beginning of the end for the Nova 1069 breakfast show? Does this dovetail with the rumour reported at this blog a while ago that the whole team is ready to move on to other things?
Update: According to the well-known expert commentator "Anonymous", Luttsy is joining 4BC. It would certainly make for a very strong breakfast program if Luttsy were slotted in a sporting role alongside Jamie Dunn and his transplanted team from Zinc.

Top of the flops

Ever wondered why movie stars get paid so much? Well, so apparently did S. Abraham Ravid, a professor of finance at Rutgers University. And he's discovered through years of research that the appearance of a "big name" in a film makes no difference to its performance at the box office. Forbes magazine quotes him as saying: "Star participation has no statistical correlation with the success of a movie, no matter how you define 'a star' or how you define 'success'." The article, which notes that stars including Will Ferrell, George Clooney and Nicolas Cage all had big flops in 2008, continues:

While top-shelf stars like Ferrell and Cage often sell more tickets, he says their movies are often that much more expensive to produce and, as a result, rarely turn a sizable profit for their studios. Put another way, stars do well for themselves and their agent and management teams, but they fail to deliver for the studios that employ them.

And that, of course, begs the question: Why not make more little films with no names (like ths year's Twilight), and make lots of money, than blow a wad on star vehicles? While the business concept of a "loss leader" may come to mind, my guess is that many studio bosses are too caught up in the Hollywood mystique for their own (and their shareholders') good.

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