As the long goodbye to Neighbors enters its final stage the media can’t get enough of the 37-year-old soapie, which ends with a nostalgic 90-minute finale on Thursday.
Melbourne radio stations are gearing up for live broadcasts from the fictional Ramsay Street while Federation Square is hosting a Neighbors finale watch party from 6pm with free popcorn. Ten will broadcast 90-minute episodes over four nights, featuring former cast members including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Guy Pearce, Peter O’Brien, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Olympia Valance, Ian Smith and Daniel MacPherson.
But the media blitz is even more intense in the UK where the “heritage cast” including Stefan Dennis, Jackie Woodburne, Alan Fletcher and Ryan Moloney have been in demand for interviews and appearances on British TV shows including Lorraine, This Morning and Loose Women, which flew a crew out from London to film behind-the-scenes footage and conduct interviews.
The Sydney-based crew from the BBC spent half a day on set and talkshows including Good Morning Britain, The Last Leg and the Jeremy Vine Show were lining up for Neighbors stars to appear. The cast will be busy doing interviews with British radio stations all next week as well.
With excitement building for the finale, which stars Kylie and Jason, plans have been put in place to avoid spoilers. The UK will screen the show a day later than Channel 10 – and Ireland five days later – so Neighbors fans have been asked to avoid spoilers by muting the hashtag #AusPage which will automatically hide any tweets from the official Neighbors Twitter account.
Neighbors might be over but the collaboration between the UK and the Australian broadcaster is not.
In February the UK’s Channel 5, which bankrolled the show, announced it was pulling out despite healthy ratings of 1.5 million viewers a day. But Ten and Channel 5 are already working on another Australian co-production, Riptide, which is being produced by Fremantle Australia.
The thriller stars Neighbors alumni Peter O’Brien, as well as Pia Miranda, Ally Fowler and UK actor Jo Joyner, and is created by Neighbors executive producer Jason Herbison.
Kylie and Jason are re-releasing their hit duet Especially For You next month.
Sarah Ferguson took over from Leigh Sales in the 7.30 chair on 4 July, and this week comedian Emily Taheny made a pitch-perfect impression of the award-winning journalist on Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell.
Ferguson was so impressed by the likeness she told Weekly Beast: “I offered her two nights a week. She’s too good.”
News Corp unmasked
As health officials again urge people to wear masks to curb Covid, the Herald Sun has revived its campaign against the Victorian Labor government’s management of the pandemic.
The newspaper declared war on any plans for a mask mandate, and Murdoch’s national daily joined in, declaring recommendations to wear masks in the classroom a “backward step”.
While the Herald Sun used two front pages this week to blast the Daniel Andrews government for the recommendation, the Australian used its editorial pages to argue that “the lesson from the pandemic has been that citizens must be allowed to determine their own level of risk” .
“In Victoria, the Andrews government has recommended that schoolchildren return to wearing masks in the classroom,” the Australian said. “In doing so, the state government has taken a backward step. Knowing the move will be unpopular with many parents, the state government has returned to its peak-lockdown excuse that it is following health advice.”
On its front page on Tuesday and Wednesday the Herald Sun campaigned against “mask madness”, reporting that businesses and restaurateurs have pleaded for governments “to stop interfering in their lives”. Another Murdoch publication, news.com.au, picked up the theme with the headline “Here we go again… the hated Covid rules making a return”.
Divine plan or Fairfax failure?
It’s been more than three decades since “young” Warwick Fairfax made his harebrained takeover bid of the Fairfax family media empire, plunging the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age into debt, and eventually receivership in 1991.
This week Warwick Fairfax, who is an evangelical Christian and lives in the US with his family, said it was all in God’s plan that he should fail in business and that the pain he went through in losing his family company was “a gift, a blessing” that led to his true calling.
“I wasn’t designed to head up some big media company,” Fairfax told an online forum organized by Family Voice: From Newspaper Empire to Christian Ministry.
“I was ignoring my divine design, if you will. So it was a massive mistake.
“God said ‘I have other things for you to do in life and despite your mistakes, I’m gonna use your mistakes, for my purposes’. And I absolutely believe that God did that exactly.”
Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Fairfax said “money never has been that important to me” and “money doesn’t make you happy”.
“If I hadn’t done the takeover, life wouldn’t necessarily have been better. I would have been in some gilded prison, if you will.” No mention of the pain the receivership affected on journalists and journalism though.
The Kennedy awards, memorably referred to as the “Bogan Walkleys”, are always full of surprises.
The media awards, named after the late crime reporter Les Kennedy, were given their less than flattering moniker by the Australian Financial Review’s Michael Roddan while picking up a gong last year, and was promptly ejected by organizers.
That same year the Kennedys also raised eyebrows by awarding partisan Sky News presenter Peta Credlin a prize for long-form current affairs journalism for her investigation Deadly Decisions: Victoria’s Hotel Quarantine Catastrophe, an agenda-driven attack on the state’s premier Daniel Andrews.
Among the nominations announced this week was a nod for best picture for John Grainger for the paparazzi-style photo that captured the newly elected prime minister Anthony Albanese unawares in his pajamas picking up the paper on his doorstep at 6.39am. The pictures of the half-asleep Labor PM were run across the stable, in the Australian, the Telegraph, the Herald Sun and the Courier Mail.
Albanese spoke about the photos on The Project this week.
“The pajama incident was not my highlight post-campaign,” he said.
“But that was one moment where you realize things have changed because that was at 6am in the morning and there’s not normally photographers outside my home in Marrickville then.
“I didn’t even know it had really happened until later.”
Another surprising nomination was for the Australian’s Will Swanton, whose column about how he didn’t bother to get up in the early hours to watch the Socceroos beat the United Arab Emirates in a crucial World Cup qualifier angered fans. Swanton has been nominated for outstanding columnist.
NITV’s new hire
Twelve months ago Nine mastheads the Sydney Morning Herald and the Ageannounced theyhad “added more Indigenous voices” to their newsrooms by hiring two journalists with the support of a grant from the Judith Neilson Institute: Cameron Gooley for the SMH and Jack Latimore for the Age.
The Age’s editor Gay Alcorn has confirmed that after the JNI funding came to an end the masthead decided to keep Latimore on and fund the position from its own budget.
But Gooley, a Gamilaroi man who grew up in Wiradjuri country in the New South Wales Snowy Mountains, was let go when his 12-month contract ran out. He was quickly snapped up by NITV as Victoria correspondent.