Money for old Spice

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The Spice Girls are back, with their greatest hits album debuting at No. 1 on the ARIA Chart. That is, of course, no guarantee that their new material will follow it to the top.

Suddenly successful

Congratulations to Brisbane writers and composers Paul Dellit and Peter Pinne. Their musical, Suddenly Single, about the modern dating minefield, will be presented as part of the Ozmade Musicals showcase in Melbourne on December 10. Dellit says one song from the new musical, Making a Difference has been recorded and will be released as a single by Sony in Europe. The musical, about three men and the 10 women they date, features 16 original songs. Details of the Ozmade Musicals event are here.

Idle moment

He calls himself the "sixth nicest" member of the Monty Python team, and Eric Idle certainly didn't hold back when I interviewed him for the story in the Event section of today's Sunday Mail. Idle - who is coming to Melbourne for the opening of Spamalot and to Brisbane to perform in the oratorio Not the Messiah - fired up when I said I'd read that one of his former co-stars had said he hadn't expected the Python phenomenon to last far beyond the original TV series. "Was that Michael (Palin)?" Idle demanded. "He doesn't complain about the very large royalty cheques he gets for Spamalot!" Idle also noted that Palin had recently published his diaries from the Python years, and that he (Idle) didn't receive a share of those profits.

Season of favourites

The QUT Gardens Theatre in Brisbane has announced its 2008 subscription season, featuring the following plays:
+ The Gospel According to Elvis (April 28-29);
+ A return season of The Club by David Williamson, starring John Wood (May 24 and 26);
+ Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell, starring Glenda Linscott (July 3-5);
+ The Carpenters from Kempsey, (September 18-19); and
+ Bombshells by Joanna Murray-Smith (September 26-27).
Details here.

Over-rated Rove

Am I the only one who thinks Rove McManus is overrated? Maybe not. I read today that he has failed to “come to terms” with Network 10 and may be heading to the US next year. I admit I haven’t watched a lot of Rove, but when I have I’ve been embarrassed by the extent to which the host tries to upstage the guests. Unlike a Parkinson or Denton, he seems to think it’s all about him. My idea of a chat or variety show is to have an affable, intelligent host who selects talented guests and subtley wheedles the best out of them. Still, that’s often not the way the Americans do it - so maybe the US is the place for him to be.

Greg Cary replaces John Laws

As rumoured, here and elsewhere, Greg Cary will replace John Laws in the 9am-noon shift on Brisbane’s 4BC next year. But who will replace Cary as program director on 4BC? The answer is Chris Adams.

Change in the weather

Is Channel 9 Brisbane having regrets about boning longtime weatherman John Schluter? That’s one theory behind the move to put Extra reporter and former ABC-TV weatherman Doug Murray into the weather presenter’s spot on the Nine News over summer. With Schulter now on the revitalised Seven News, could it be that Nine has discovered that viewers prefer their presenters to look like they’ve weathered a few storms? Of course, the news that Murray, who would normally be on holidays, has a new (albeit temporary) gig will inevitably reignite speculation about the future of Extra. I’d ask Channel 9 again, but I’ve been told so many times that it’s definitely returning in 2008 with Jillian Whiting in the chair, that I dare not. Besides, it’s a good, information-packed show - and one of the very few local programs left on the box - so I hope it’s going nowhere.
PS: I wonder whether Murray will revive his practise of giving racing tips at the end of bulletins.
Disclaimer: Brett Debritz occasionally appears as a guest on Extra.

Arts funds not a right

I don’t know the individual circumstances of the contemporary arts companies worried that they will lose their Arts Queensland funding. I will say, however, that government funding shouldn’t be taken for granted (sorry). The people at some companies genuinely believe the work they do is so good and/or “important” (I hate that word in this context) that it ought to be funded whether anybody wants to see it or not. I think any performing arts company that expects money from the public purse has to prove that it has a growing, paying audience base and, as a consequence, it is capable of generating a good deal of its income through ticket sales. Surely, the ultimate goal for many of the smaller companies - particularly those without huge overheads - should be self-sufficiency. Now that would be great for jobs in the arts sector, and it would free up government funding to help give a leg-up to others. A win-win - except for those who simply want to do their own thing and expect us to pay for it.
PS: Just to head-off one potential argument: Yes, it does take time for public taste to catch up with contemporary art forms. But some companies have been around for decades. Without pointing a finger in any particular direction, if they are not performing well financially after many years of operation, maybe they haven’t got what it takes, and it’s somebody else’s turn for a slice of the taxpayers’ pie.

The cost of Idol voting

The alleged rigging of television phone-in polls is a big issue in Britain at the moment. I'm not suggesting anything, but when people are asked to spend money to vote on a TV program, shouldn't they be armed with as much relevant information as possible? And if that is the case, should Matt Corby's alleged hissy fit have been shown to Australian Idol audiences before they spent their hard-earned on ringing in?

Radio makes history

Video didn't kill the radio star - although, as I've noted before, some radio stations seem to be doing a pretty good job of it themselves. Still, I'm a great fan of the original wireless, and I'm happy to promote Thanks For Listening, the History Channel's documentary on radio in Australia. It begins on November 18.

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