Mediaweek Roundup: KOJO, ARIA Awards, The Checkout + more

• Geoff Handbury, International Emmy Awards, Today Tonight, and Gogglebox Australia

Business of Media

Adelaide film post-production company KOJO signs film deal

South Australia’s screen industry has strengthened its Hollywood ties, with Adelaide’s KOJO Entertainment partnering with an independent US movie studio Stampede Ventures – started by a film executive who oversaw the Harry Potter franchise, reports News Corp’s Penelope Debelle.

In what will be a huge boost for the local film and television sector – which is currently hosting the Hollywood action feature Mortal Kombat in its second month of filming – Stampede has signed a strategic partnership with post-production company KOJO Entertainment, an arm of KOJO, to develop international feature films and television in Australia, focusing on Australian writers and directors, and Australian intellectual property.

The US company – which was founded by Greg Silverman, former president of Warner Bros Pictures – has set its sights globally on delivering “the next generation of blockbuster entertainment” and is in expansionary mode with projects in train including a Great Gatsby origin TV series, Gatz, about a mixed-race Jay Gatsby.

Apart from film locations with specific geographical demands, KOJO hopes to bring as much film and television as possible to South Australia.

“Absolutely, we see Adelaide and South Australia as the hub of this business,” KOJO managing director Dale Roberts said.

“Adelaide will be as much in the mix as it possibly can be.”

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News Brands

NSW Court transparency laws opposed by Public Prosecutions

The state’s top prosecutor has opposed moves that would force courts to allow greater access to court documents instead of keeping the public in the dark, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Lloyd Babb SC, has called for the repealing of the only law designed to make the courts more transparent because it would mean too much work for court staff.

He is also against changing the law to name juvenile offenders convicted of serious crimes once they become adults, such as in the case of the three killers of Janine Balding and a murderer given the pseudonym of DL who is now 29 and eligible for parole after stabbing schoolgirl Tania Burgess 48 times.

The act, designed to provide for open access to certain court information and promote greater understanding of the justice system, was passed by state parliament with bipartisan support in 2010 but was never enacted.

The act’s future is part of the review of open justice referred by Attorney-General Mark Speakman to the NSW Law Reform Commission which was ordered following The Daily Telegraph’s campaign against sweeping suppression orders and growing secrecy in the courts.

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Radio

Tributes for ACE Radio Network founder Geoff Handbury

The independently owned regional network ACE Radio has acknowledged the passing of its founding owner, Geoff Handbury. The company released this statement on Tuesday:

Geoff passed away peacefully on Tuesday, aged 94, surrounded by his family at his home in Hamilton, Western Victoria.

Geoff began ACE Radio in 1994 with his late wife Helen and saw the company expand to house 13 stations and one newspaper whilst he was at the helm.

[His wife Helen was the eldest child of Sir Keith and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch and sister to media entrepreneur Rupert Murdoch. One of Geoff’s four children is publisher Matt Handbury.]

Geoff wore many hats in his life – sailor, naval officer, farmer, entrepreneur and businessman, importer and exporter, radio network owner and, more importantly, devoted husband, father and friend. He was also a philanthropist who generously supported many regional communities, projects and organisations, including many within areas ACE operates in.

ACE Radio would simply not be the thriving business and regional radio stalwart it is without the guidance of Geoff, his knowledge and innovation, integrity, and passion for the industry.

Geoff was a treasured friend and mentor to the management and staff of the ACE Radio Network

So many of the Ace staff are grateful to Geoff and to Helen Handbury for the opportunity to work for a truly family oriented and regionally minded company.

The radio industry has lost a true gentleman today. We offer our sincere condolences to his family.

Top Photo: Geoff and Helen Handbury in 1997. Source: News Corp

Entertainment

From busker to chart-buster, Tones and I leads ARIA hopefuls

Melbourne’s Tones And I is expected to blitz Wednesday night’s ARIA Awards, with the former busker nominated for eight awards, reports News Corp’s Cameron Adams.

The musician, born Toni Watson, was in the US last week performing on Jimmy Fallon’s TV show.

Her global hit, Dance Monkey, is No.23 on the Billboard Chart and is being tipped as a potential American No.1.

Tones And I will perform Dance Monkey on tonight’s awards – the song having now been No.1 in Australia for a record-breaking 17 weeks and still sitting on top of the UK charts after eight weeks.

After selling demo CDs while busking in Bourke St Mall and Byron Bay, Watson only released her first official single, Johnny Run Away, in March this year.

Her rise from sleeping in her van while busking to having the most streamed song in the world and being the ARIA’s big buzz act in less than a year is a music industry fairytale.

At the other extreme, Melbourne blues rockers The Teskey Brothers hope their long road to the top is recognised at the ARIA awards. Formed in 2008 in Warrandyte, their second album Run Home Slow has been nominated for seven awards.

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Television

Producers CJZ and Julian Morrow in court battle over The Checkout

A dispute between producers of The Checkout, Giant Dwarf-owned The Checkout Pty. Ltd. and Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder, has landed in the NSW Supreme Court, reports TV Tonight.

Both produced the consumer show for six seasons for ABC, but parties were in court earlier this month following a major fallout.

The dispute follows CJZ transferring a 50% share of a Checkout joint venture company to Giant Dwarf. Producer and presenter Julian Morrow is now sole director of Giant Dwarf.

While parties are locked in a feud over company documents, future royalties, full disclosure and consumer law, separately there are also doubts about whether ABC is interested in a return.

This week Morrow surprisingly took to social media disclosing communications with ABC as part of a campaign to see The Checkout return, and released a video through Facebook.

CJZ said in a statement to TV Tonight, “We are bewildered by the recent activity about The Checkout on social media. The ABC has made it clear that it will not commission The Checkout while there is a dispute between CJZ and Giant Dwarf about the show.

“CJZ has tried very hard to resolve the dispute but have been unable to do so. Julian has now chosen to commence legal proceedings and we will be defending that action.”

It noted, “We are very proud of The Checkout and are saddened if this dispute has delayed the return of the show to TV.”

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Matchbox Pictures wins International Emmy for drama on SBS

The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences this week announced the winners of the 47th International Emmy Awards at a Black-Tie Gala event attended by 1,000 television professionals from around the world and hosted by comedian Ronny Chieng at the New York Hilton.

Safe Harbour from Matchbox Pictures and screened on SBS won an International Emmy for Best TV Movie or Mini-Series.

Credits for the drama screened on SBS in 2018 are:

Executive Producer: Debbie Lee
Producer: Stephen Corvini
Director: Glendyn Ivin
Writers: Belinda Chayko, Matt Cameron, Phil Enchelmaier
Principal Cast: Ewen Leslie, Leeanna Walsman, Hazem Shammas, Nicole Chamoun, Jacqueline McKenzie, Phoebe Tonkin, Joel Jackson, Robert Rabiah

Synopsis: On a yachting holiday, five Australians come across a broken-down boat full of desperate asylum-seekers. The Australians decide to tow the refugees, but the next morning the boat is gone. Years later they meet some of the refugees again and learn the truth. Someone cut the rope between the boats and, as a result, seven people died. A wedge is driven between the Australians, as they grapple with protecting themselves and doing the right thing. The refugees struggle with desire for justice and, possibly, revenge. Old secrets come to light, relationships are shattered and lives are put in danger. And one question hangs over it all – who cut the rope?

Channel 7 axes Today Tonight in Adelaide and Perth after 25 years

Channel 7’s weeknight news and current affairs program Today Tonight has been axed in Adelaide and Perth after 25 years, reports News Corp’s Antimo Iannella.

The top-rating show, which is hosted in Adelaide by Rosanna Mangiarelli, will air for the final time on Thursday night.

The cost-cutting decision will result in seven jobs being lost in Adelaide but longtime presenter Mangiarelli – who also hosts the local 4pm bulletin – will remain with the network, with the majority of staff being redeployed into local newsrooms.

Today Tonight will be replaced by a one-hour news bulletin from 6-7pm, starting on Monday, in line with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The current affairs show has been phenomenally successful in Adelaide, this year claiming a record 750th consecutive weekly win in the official ratings.

“It’s been enormously successful but at the end of the day it just comes down to economics. The feeling was that a one-hour news bulletin would rate higher and cost less than putting out Today Tonight,” a TV insider said.

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See Mediaweek feature:
Seven shutters Today Tonight Adelaide and Perth editions

“Not everyone leaves a television show with grace and dignity”

Foxtel has thanked Adam Densten & Symon Lovett for their participation in Gogglebox, after the duo announced their departure at 10 seasons, reports TV Tonight.

Speaking on their podcast Symon said, “So we made this decision a couple months ago that we were going to leave so we could do other stuff, pursue other exciting opportunities.”

“It’s been five years and 10 seasons, it’s a nice round number,” Adam added.

The pair also indicated further interest in media opportunities.

“We hope the show will keep growing and getting better, but it’s the right time for us to go,” Adam said.

Interestingly Foxtel’s Brian Walsh made a rare Instagram comment to thank the boys, which contrasts to his feelings around Angie Kent and Yvie Jones discussing salaries when they departed.

“You have given the show countless hours of entertainment. All of the team here at Foxtel are grateful for your involvement in the series and we wish you only the best for the future. Not everyone leaves a television show with grace and dignity, but you both have done so, which speaks volume about your integrity and professionalism.”

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