Official: World gone mad

Thirteen-year-old Faryl Smith has signed a deal with Universal Music worth nearly $6 million.

Hugh's the boss

Hugh Jackman is to host the Oscars. Expect a song and dance number, and maybe some good-natured jokes about Australia (the country and the flopped film).

Star Wars, the musical

How rich does George Lucas want to be? Very very rich apparently, because he's now putting Star Wars on the stage. The Star Wars "musical", featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra, will tell the story of all six films in just two hours, with narrators linking the iconic (and "painstakingly rewritten") music of John Williams. More here. It's opening in London, a European tour will follow, and I'm sure it will be in a galaxy not so far, far away sometime soon. It'll make a fortune. If I was running an Australian orchestra, I'd be chasing the rights right now.

Action station

The Austereo network has launched the online version of what will become a national commercial digital radio station. You can listen to Radar Radio here.

Good old days

I've just finished reading biographies of Ronnie Barker and Spike Milligan (right), both of which hark back to a "golden era" of broadcasting. The Barker book (by Bob McCabe, BBC Books) reveals that the audience for The Two Ronnies in the UK in the 1970s and 80s peaked around 20 million, accounting (by my calculations) for about two-fifths of the UK population and certainly well over half the viewing audience. I know times have changed, and there are many more viewing options, but it certainly puts the popularity of some of today's "stars" in perspective. The Milligan book (by Humphrey Carpenter, Coronet) reveals how the Goon Show scripts were vetted by the BBC, and one of the criticisms was that "there is no British embassy in Calcutta".

Another serving of Felafel

He Died with A Felafel in his Hand is making a comeback - but not to La Boite, where the comedy based on John Birmingham's novel has had two hilarious seasons. Instead, it will be at the Brisbane Arts Theatre, which has been facing something of a financial crisis in recent times. The idea is to try to attract a younger audience. It runs from March 27 to May 2. Details are, or will be, here.

Emily's on the Ms

After 10 women auditioned, former Nova 106.9 announcer (and couriermail.com.au blogger) Emily Jade O'Keeffe will be named to replace Sami Lukis on Triple M Brisbane's The Cage breakfast show. In a media release, Triple M boss Richard Barkers says:

"It was obvious from the moment Emily-Jade walked into the studio that she had that indefinable something, a chemistry that you can hear and see. We heard it immediately. Importantly, Emily-Jade brings a great balance and contribution on air as well in the workplace, both of which will grow under the tutelage of Triple M Program Director Rex Morris. She will join three of the best in radio in Ian Skippen, Greg Martin and Greg Sullivan and we welcome her with open arms to the Triple M family."

She will begin on air on January 12.

Bill's big night out

"After divorce, some men just want a whole new life. It sounds like a midlife crisis, but I don't think it's worrisome. After being married for a long time, sometimes men just like to have some fun and feel free.

So says Manhattan psychotherapist Rachel Moheban about actor Bill Murray's apparent habit of turning up at parties frequented by young women, then dancing, drinking and (in at least one case) helping them find cabs to go home. Seems perfectly harmless to me.
Meanwhile, actor Billy Murray (of The Bill fame) is flogging the services of a company called "Injury Lawyers 4 U" in British TV ads.

Missing piece in 9 puzzle

Channel 9 Gold Coast News presenter, Eva Milic will join Andrew Lofthouse in presenting Nine’s Brisbane Weekend News bulletin next year, according to a network media release. The former Miss World Australia holds a bachelors degree in business and a masters degree in journalism. They team replaces former solo reader Melissa Downes, who will be reading the weekday bulletin with Bruce Paige. It seems strange that, in a time of recession that's hit the free-to-air TV industry particularly hard, Nine feels it necessary to replace one person with two. Could it be that at least one of them is "on hold"?

More radio rumours

A source tells me that former 4BC stalwart and genuinely nice guy Danny Hoyland is in talks with an FM station about a comeback. There are also plans, I'm told, for changes at BC in early 2009 involving two senior positions.

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