Television

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Second time lucky

The ABC in Brisbane is moving to South Bank. I imagine its commercial rivals are envious.

Another man overboard

Comedian Trevor Marmalade has been axed from - or, as he puts it, decided not to renew his contract with - the AFL Footy Show. Should we start a sweep: Who's next to go from Channel 9? I bet everybody there wishes they had Eddie McGuire's lawyer...

Hi, and goodbye

He stopped for petrol on the north coast and a guy at the petrol station says to him 'Hey, my brother got your job yesterday'.

That, according to a "source" was how Nathan Foley heard about being axed from kids' group Hi-5. For his part, Foley just says: "Look, I don't really want to talk about it. I've got a contract until Christmas and I intend to honour it." The story goes that the last of the original band members was forced out to complete the transition to younger and cheaper performers. Gosh, he's only 29. Some of the Wiggles are old enough to be his dad, and nobody says they are too old to do what they do. But, of course, they run their own show, and are not just employees like the Hi-5ers. Time for a fan revolt, I say ...

Jillian Whiting ousted

Jillian Whiting has quit Channel 9 (choosing her family, of course, as they always do). When asked why she was leaving, Whiting told The Courier-Mail:

"You'll have to ask Channel 9. All I can say is it was a surprise to me but I'm happy with my decision and I'm so ready for a holiday."

News boss Lee Anderson said Whiting had been offered another role in the newsroom (but she presumably declined it).
This keeps the door open for Heather Foord to host Extra next year. But with Andrew Lofthouse also hovering around the corridors of Nine next year, I think there are more announcements to come.
PS: There was also a rumour that Talitha Cummins would leave Seven for Nine. I can't see that being the case, because Seven seems a more stable place to be right now, but anything can happen in tellyland.
PPS: I'm just wondering where all the money is coming from to pay these people (or pay them out) since Nine is supposedly cash-strapped. Maybe that's why Bruce Paige is still there - they can't afford to retire him! (That's a joke, OK?)

Successful series

British TV series The Thick of It is getting good reviews in Australia (e.g. here). The good news for fans is that there will be a film version, and another series, but without Chris Langham, who spent some time in jail after the original series was filmed for possessing child p-rnography. It all came a shock to me, because Langham was the first celebrity I ever interviewed - way back when I was a uni student and he was a star of Not the Nine O'Clock News, a writer for The Muppet Show and one of the giggling guards in Monty Python's Life of Brian.

Another Extra helping

Confirmation that Extra will be returning to Brisbane TV screens in 2009 is contained in a Channel 9 media release that also announces that the station won the year in south-east Queensland. It quote station managing director Les Hart as saying:

"In 2009 we will be working to consolidate these results through the production of local programs Extra and Gold Coast News ..."

According to the release, Nine won SEQ in its 25-54 target demographic, as well as in the 18-29 demographic, and among all people. Nationally, it is also doing well among the "advertiser preferred" 25-54 age group.
PS: Seven still won the overall ratings nationally. There's a good summation of it all here.

Media movements

Karl Stefanovic and Leila McKinnon have reportedly recorded a pilot for a new 5.30pm show for the Nine network. If it goes ahead, will it be screened at 5pm in Brisbane, or is Extra finally in for the chop? Meanwhile, Emily Jade O'Keeffe is said (by her colleagues at couriermail.com.au, where O'Keeffe has a blog) to be one of 10 women in the running for Sami Lukis's job at Brisbane's Triple M. As I've said before, Triple M will want to choose carefully because breakfast radio will be a whole new ballgame next year. It would be a shame for the station to squander the ratings gains it has made in recent surveys by choosing the wrong person.
Update: The Sunday reports that Heather Foord may host Extra next year. Interestingly, Nine news boss Lee Anderson doesn't commit to anything in the story. In fact, he doesn't even say that Extra will be returning next year.

Who wants to be a rocket scientist?

A comment on my item about the Idol winner helped me crystallise ny objections to Idol and other "reality" talent shows. Imagine a TV show that promised to give a job as a brain surgeon, or an engineer, or a lawyer, or a mechanic, or any other profession or skilled occupation, to a person who wins the most votes after a four-month television program. It's ridiculous, and it would never happen. And it's an insult to the people who put in the hard work to become entertainers that there's a short-cut to the top in their industry.

Bruce is back - with Melissa

Channel 9 Brisbane has issued another press release, announcing Melissa Downes will present the 6p-m news with Bruce Paige in 2009. The release follows - note the nice words from Paige and Heather Foord about Downes, and the interesting fact that Andrew Lofthouse is not mentioned (but the need to find a replacement for Downes on the weekends is). Am I a drama queen, or am I right to expect another twist in the tale?

Nine Queensland is pleased to announce the appointment of Melissa Downes to the weeknight News desk.
Melissa has been Channel Nine Queensland’s weekend news presenter for the past two years and has established herself as one of Queensland leading news presenters.
Since joining Channel Nine Queensland in December 2001, Melissa has proven her versatility by reporting and hosting a raft of local programs.
On promoting his Weekend Newsreader, Lee Anderson said “Melissa is a committed journalist and wonderful presenter. Her work on Nine News weekends, EXTRA and on location for the Newsroom has endeared her to viewers and team members alike. It was a pleasure to promote Melissa to the 6pm News alongside veteran presenter Bruce Paige. It will be a new look Nine in 2009.”
Downes said “Being asked to step into Heather’s position is incredibly exciting. Heather has been a wonderful mentor and friend to me, and I am thrilled to have her blessing. It’s a real privilege to be offered this job, and I can’t wait to join Paigey each night as we present News for Nine.
Of his new on-air partner, Bruce Paige said “I have known Melissa for many years and watched her flourish into a great journalist and a professional presenter. Whilst I will lose my long time presenting partner Heather, I look forward to sharing the News desk with Melissa next year.
Heather said of her replacement “Melissa is a sheer delight both personally and professionally. I am so excited that she is taking over – she is not only talented, but most importantly – compassionate. I am leaving the News Desk in safe hands.”
Melissa Downes will join Bruce Paige at the News desk in the New Year. A replacement for Melissa’s weekend position will be announced in the coming weeks.

Idol: The music nobody wants

Here's proof, if it's needed, that Australian Idol is a (waning) TV phenomenon, not a musical one. The Herald Sun reports: "The Idol top 10 album has stiffed on the charts, debuting yesterday at No. 96 with just 565 copies sold nationally. Only 19 copies were snapped up digitally." We await with bated breath the results for winner Wes Carr's debut CD.

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