Daryl Somers quits Dancing

In a media release issued by Channel 7 today, it's been announced that Daryl Somers "has decided not to sign for another series of Dancing with the Stars". Somers is quoted as saying:

"I've had a fabulous time on Dancing with the Stars but I'm ready for a new direction. To be honest, I have felt somewhat restricted by the tightly structured format and feel if I don't move on now I'll regret it. If the Network do another season, and I think they should, I hope they hit the refresh button. It's been a great franchise for Seven and deserves to be taken to a whole new level. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the very professional teams at Granada and Seven and have forged some wonderful friendships along the way".

My instincts tell me there'll be an announcement from another network quite soon.

Violins from Vienna

Violinist André Rieu has sold 500,000 albums in Australia, so his concerts are bound to be a sell-out. According to a press release, his stage set includes a replica of Vienna's Castle of Schönbrunn, two ice rinks, two working fountains and hundreds of dancers, musicians and other artists. But he's only playing in Sydney and Melbourne, and the gigs are not happening until November next year.

Soloists' success

Congratulations to Brisbane's Paul Dean (pictured) and his Southern Cross Soloists, who have just played a gig at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Guangzhou, China. It was telecast to 45 million people! You can visit the soloists' web page here.

Todd's new job

A few months ago, Todd McKenney told me his ambition was to do breakfast radio. Well, from early next year he will be - at Sydney's Mix 106.5, with Sonia Kruger as co-host. There's a video trailer here. McKenney's appointment comes at the expense of former Brisbane girl Sammy Power, who has been axed from the brekkie slot. Also working at Mix right now are former Brisbane DJs Marnie T (pictured) and Matty White.

Radio activity

The Australian reports in its Media section today that the radio ratings for Sydney may be declared void due to an on-air spray by wannabe wunderkind Kyle Sandilands. Claiming his Nova rivals Merrick and Rosso were copying 2Day's format, Sandilands told listeners: "With only two weeks left in the radio ratings, lock yourself into your favourite station and tell people, get friends that do not listen to this radio station to have a try, because sometimes people have the wrong impression of what we do over here." This is a breach of the industry group Commercial Radio Australia's 2007 Audience Survey Guidelines, which state that announcers should not do anything to "attempt to encourage the audience to respond in a particular manner to a survey". My bet is that CRA, the organisation that inducted Adelaide's Bob Francis into its hall of fame not long after he infamously called an elderly woman a "dickbrain" on air, won't come down too harshly on Sandilands or his employer, Austereo. I hope to be found wrong.

Reality bites the dust

"Reality" TV shows Dancing with the Stars, Australian Idol and Big Brother all had their worst seasons, ratings wise, this year. Apparently Australian audiences are switching back towards dramas and comedies. While it's too early to write off "reality" altogether - especially since it's so cheap for the networks to make - isn't it marvellous to see scripted programs doing well again?
PS: No wonder Dancing host Daryl Somers is looking to revive the Hey Hey It's Saturday format.

Missive from Missy

Pop star Missy Higgins has, for the want of a better phrase, set the record straight. Following reports that she is a lesbian, she now says she's bisexual, because she has also had relationships with men. Does it really matter?

A to Z of free Paul Kelly songs

Paul Kelly certainy is an innovator. The singer-songwriter is offering free MP3 downloads of his songs recorded during his recent A-Z concert series where he performed his back catalogue in alphabetical order over four nights. The downloads will be released at his website, www.paulkelly.com.au, in alphabetically ordered batches beginning January 3 with the "A" songs.

Howard the duck

I thought I recognised that duck ... My friend and colleague Sean Leahy tells me that the animations used on Channel 7's election coverage - and referred to in my article in the print edition of The Sunday Mail last weekend - were created in Queensland by his company, Kookaburra Productions. Well done, Sean.

Hats off for a good cause

What a line-up: Barry Crocker, Judy Glen, Emma Dean, Chris Fennessy, Shaun Murphy, Jimmy Styles and the Easy Company, David Bermingham, Jason and Leisa Barry-Smith, Adam Couper, Pauline Bell, Karen Crone, Kym Ford, the David Hamilton Puppets, Trevor Green, Chris Herden, Luke Kennedy, Dale Lingwood, Ian Maurice, Tutti Frutti, Velocity Dance, Venus String Quartet, Peter Grose and Anne Wood. Hats Off BrizVegas will also feature some of Brisbane's favourite drag performers and, according to director Paul Dellit (pictured), a few surprises. It's all in a good cause, with proceeds from the event assisting HIV/AIDS charities, and it's on at the Twelfth Night Theatre in Bowen Hills on Sunday, December 9, at 6.30pm. Details here. Book on (07) 3252 5122.
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