Mediaweek Roundup: former MasterChef trio, Reg Watson, Bauer + more

MasterChef

• Keith Murdoch, Weinstein, Gerard Ross murder, Rory McIlroy + Screen Queensland CEO

Business of Media

Former Seven and Sony Pictures exec new Screen Queensland CEO

Former Sony Pictures Television and Seven Studios executive Kylie Munnich has been appointed the new chief executive officer of Screen Queensland.

Screen Queensland chair Linda Lavarch said she welcomed the appointment and the 25 years of expertise in international screen distribution and development that Munnich will bring to the role. 

“Following the departure of our long-serving Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Vieira in August, it was important an experienced hand took the reins to keep Queensland’s screen industry on a course of opportunity and prosperity,” said Lavarch.

“Her extensive experience abroad will serve the State well as we work to secure the biggest and best international blockbusters, while continuing to develop diverse home-grown content with global appeal.

Kylie Munnich

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Acting CEO Jo Dillon. Ms Dillion has done a fantastic job leading the team seamlessly through the interim period.”

Prior to her last role as scripted sales & co-production executive at Seven Studios, Munnich served as the director of drama & comedy at Sky Vision, senior vice president UK, Ireland & Africa at Sony Pictures Television International and a sales director at MGM International Television.

“We are delighted to welcome Kylie back to her home state of Queensland and are certain her expertise and leadership will build on the strong foundations laid by our team at SQ and pave an exciting future for the industry in our State,” Lavarch said.

Munnich said she was thrilled to be leading Screen Queensland in an exciting period of growth.

“I am eager to leverage our State’s strong track record and continue to invest in local stories for global audiences, attract productions and cement our reputation as a screen production hub,” said Munnich.

Munnich will commence as CEO on 16 October 2019.

News Corp’s Keith Murdoch House opens doors to new tenants

An entire floor inside one of Adelaide’s best-known office buildings will be offered to new tenants next week, reports The Advertiser.

Home to News Corp Australia’s local headquarters for 14 years, Keith Murdoch House has been at the forefront of bringing Australians the latest in sport, politics, business and other news.

And now, for the first time ever, the building is opening its doors to organisations seeking premium office space in the heart of Adelaide’s commercial precinct.

Named after the late Sir Keith Murdoch, an Australian journalist and father of News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, the state-of-the-art building was designed by award-winning international architecture firm Arney Fender Katsalidis.

The entire second floor of the building is on offer to prospective tenants, whether a single occupier or an organisation seeking a smaller portion of premium grade office space.

The building offers tenants and their staff access to a café, gym, modern end-of-trip facilities, on-site car parking and a rooftop deck with kitchen facilities and function space.

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News Media

Australian journalist issues legal threats over Weinstein book

The prominent Australian journalist who featured in separate scandals involving disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has issued legal threats over investigative reporter Ronan Farrow‘s upcoming book on the MeToo movement, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Nick Bonyhady.

Lawyers for Dylan Howard, a former Channel Seven sports reporter who went on to become a top executive in the US with tabloid publisher American Media Inc (AMI), have sent legal warnings to Australian bookshops and a publisher over Farrow’s book Catch and Kill, which comes out on Tuesday.

Howard’s Australian solicitor, Andrew Thorpe, said his client “apprehends the book will contain content defamatory of him, by reason of disclosures made to our client’s US attorney by a ‘fact checker’ working for Mr Farrow or the publisher”.

“If, despite warning to the contrary, the author and publisher decide to release the book in Australia and if the book contains defamatory imputations against our client, then a legal action will be launched by our client against the author, the publisher and any distributors, seeking damages,” Thorpe said via email.

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The West Australian investigation into the 1997 murder of Gerard Ross

The Boy in the Blue Cap: The Gerard Ross Story, the first subscription-based video series for The West Australian, launched on Saturday, October 12.

The eight-part documentary directed and produced by award-winning journalist Kristin Shorten, documents one of WA’s most enduring and heartbreaking mysteries – the abduction and murder of 11-year-old schoolboy Gerard Ross.

On an ordinary Tuesday morning, almost 22 years ago to this day, Gerard vanished from a leafy street in the seaside town of Rockingham.

Gerard’s body was found two weeks later in a lonely pine plantation 20km from where he was last seen on October 14, 1997. His murder remains unsolved and his case has become the second largest investigation in WA police history.

Now, 22 years later, Gerard’s family, the WA Police and those connected to his case are speaking for the first time. The West Australian is sharing their emotional stories in the hope that it will compel those with information that will lead to a conviction to come forward.

Boy blue cap

Shorten has spent six months making The Boy in the Blue Cap, during which she conducted interviews all over the world while retracing Gerard’s life from his birth in Burntisland, Scotland through to his final resting place in Newman, WA.

Viewers will be taken inside the police investigation and hear exclusive interviews with Gerard’s family, witnesses and others connected to his case.

“The Ross family need justice for Gerard to fully move on,” Shorten said.

“After bravely sharing their traumatic story for the first time, I hope it will resonate with the Australian public more broadly and Gerard’s case will become better known, like those of Daniel Morcombe and missing boy William Tyrell.

“Somebody knows something and I hope that seeing the faces and raw grief of Gerard’s family will compel them to come forward with new information or a confession.”

Publishing

Bauer Media signs new seven-year deal with Lagardere for Elle brand

Bauer Media has finalised a new seven-year deal to publish Elle magazine in Australia, ending speculation the title would be scrapped, but its chief executive has left the door open to a possible takeover of Pacific Magazines, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

The Australian reported last week that Seven West Media was negotiating a deal for the sale of its Pacific Magazines operations in the next major move by new Seven CEO James Warburton.

Brendon Hill, Bauer Media Australia chief executive, told The Australian he could not comment on the possibility of a merger or buyout by Bauer of Pacific Magazines but did not deny that talks were under way between the media groups.

The Australian has previously reported that Bauer was seriously considering scrapping both Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, with licensing agreements coming to an end in an extremely tough sales and advertising environment for magazines.

While the owner of the Harper’s Bazaar licence, the US-based media group Hearst Magazines, was reportedly unhappy with the performance of the magazine in Australia, Hill said there was a licence agreement in place to continue publication.

“With Harper’s, we have a great relationship with Hearst, and that’s a longstanding licence agreement.”

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Meanwhile The AFR reports:

Seven West Media and Bauer Media are hashing out a $40 million deal to add some of Seven’s most-read titles, such as New Idea and Better Homes and Gardens, to the German publisher’s portfolio.

[Read the original]

Television

Tributes for creator of Neighbours, Reg Watson, who has died at 93

Reg Watson, the creator of Neighbours, one of Australia’s most popular and enduring television shows, has died. He was 93, reports The Age’s Tate Papworth.

The show’s executive producer, Jason Herbison, paid tribute to the “pioneer of drama” via the show’s Twitter account.

“Everyone at Neighbours is sad to hear of the passing of our creator, Reg Watson. He was a pioneer of drama, prolific in his output and by all accounts a lovely person to work with. His legacy lives on in Ramsay Street to this day.”

Actor Jason Donovan, who played the iconic Scott Robinson on the show, said Watson’s passion for home grown talent shone through.

“I only met Reg on a few occasions, what always struck me was his genuine passion for Australian talent, storytelling and the creative process.

“He was a pioneer of Australian television. Fact … without Reg we simply wouldn’t have the industry we have today.”

His onscreen partner, singer and actor Kylie Minogue, whose hugely successful entertainment career was launched on the show, said Watson’s legacy affected millions.

“What a legacy Reg Watson leaves. For me, and millions of others, Neighbours impacted our lives. My thoughts and best wishes to his family and friends,” she said.

Watson was raised in Queensland and began his career as an actor at the age of 16.

He moved to the UK in 1955 where he was hired by ATV, where he held the role of head of light entertainment.

He returned to Australia in 1973 and took up the position of head of drama at Reg Grundy Productions.

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Former MasterChef judges prevented from TV shows on rival networks

Culinary kings George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan will be unable to resurrect their TV hosting careers at year’s end due to clauses in their contracts, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

The ousted MasterChef trio have been in the sights of commercial TV rivals since their shock parting from Channel 10 earlier this year.

Channel 7 is understood to be keen to add at least two of the three to its stable of stars.

Industry rumours suggest Seven has a new cooking show in the works for late 2020 and sees Preston and Mehigan as ideal ingredients.

But Preston, Mehigan and Calombaris are unable to quickly bounce back to TV screens.

The trio are out of contract with 10 at the end of 2019, but each is believed to have a clause – known as a hold-back – to prevent them switching to a commercial rival for months after that.

Justine May, who represents Mehigan, said yesterday there was plenty of interest in the trio.

“They are honouring their contractual obligations to 10 and are looking forward to some really exciting things happening in 2020,” she said.

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Seven’s Masterstroke? How Matt & Gary could join Manu & Pete

Will Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan host Seven’s My Kitchen Rules? asks The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

The hottest talk among insiders is that the axed MasterChef pair is about to take over Seven’s flagship show.

Preston and Mehigan have been seen in recent days at studio two of Seven’s Redfern compound, where network soapie Home and Away is based. But, no, the culinary pair’s appearance had nothing to do with a special guest-starring role in Summer Bay.

Existing MKR hosts Manu Feildel and Pete Evans would still play key roles on the cooking show under Preston and Mehigan, but maybe more in a support capacity: possibly as team coaches, given that they remain under contract to the show.

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Sports Media

Rory McIlroy to front Golf Channel’s digital push down under

Professional golfer Rory McIlroy and NBC Sports are teeing up the launch of GolfPass, a subscription service combining tournament streaming, instructional videos, tee-time bookings and shopping, for Australian golf fans, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

McIlroy, who was voted the PGA Tour Player of the Year last month, teamed up with NBC Sports and the Golf Channel for the launch of the service in the US in February.

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