Mediaweek Roundup: Nova, Mushroom Music, Wentworth + More

• Game of Thrones, Fosse/Verdon, Footy Show and Troy Kinne

Business of Media

Nova Entertainment appoints Melbourne group sales manager

Nova Entertainment has appointed James Hansford (pictured) as Melbourne group sales manager.

Hansford will be leading the agency sales team responsible for the Publicis agencies (Zenith and Starcom) as well as independent agency Nunn Media. His team will drive the commercial success for all of Nova Entertainment’s brands and provide tailored brand solutions in collaboration with Nova’s media partners.

Tamara Pannett, Nova Entertainment’s Melbourne head of agency said, “James has a proven track record in delivering commercial outcomes for Nova Entertainment that leverage the breadth of brands within our portfolio. In the three years he has been with the Nova Entertainment family, he has gone from strength to strength. A brilliant contributor to team culture, combined with his sound commercial performance, positions James as a key team member for our future success.”

With over seven years experience in the media industry, most recently Hansford was a senior sales executive for Nova Entertainment in Melbourne. He joined Nova in 2016 as an agency sales executive, he was promoted to senior agency sales executive before taking on his new role as group sales manager.

Hansford was previously a sales executive with Nine Entertainment from 2014 to 2016.

James said, “I am excited to continue delivering market-leading experiences for our commercial partners, with the support of the talented team at Nova Entertainment.”

Hansford will commence in the role on Monday 27th May and will report directly to Tamara Pannett.

Mushroom Music Publishing restructures under new MD Linda Bosidis

Mushroom Music Publishing has a new company structure under Linda Bosidis, who was promoted to managing director at the beginning of this year.

Having overseen Mushroom Music’s international operations for over twelve years, Zoe Coverdale has been elevated to senior director, international where she continues to manage existing partnerships and establish new relationships and opportunities for Mushroom Music’s international business.

Tahlia Ryan has been promoted internally to international assistant and will support Coverdale. In addition to her role with Mushroom Music, Coverdale is also working in a business development capacity with the Mushroom Group’s recently launched neighbouring rights company, Good Neighbour.

Erol Yurdagul has been named head of A&R and creative. After several years as A&R manager, he will be responsible for our domestic writers, with a major focus on signing new writers. Julian McGruther, Dom O’Connor, Bill Page and Dean McLachlan will be part of his team.

Julian McGruther’s role as creative manager has been expanded to facilitate collaborations and co-writes both domestically and internationally.

Formerly the creative manager of Mushroom Sync, Jules Bain has been promoted to head of sync for both publishing and labels within the Mushroom Group. The sync team includes Abby Page, Ricky Birmingham and Lisa Businovski. Bain’s focus includes generating new business in Australia and internationally.  

Dom O’Connor has joined Mushroom Music full-time as A&R assistant, after 12 months of working as a scout in their Sydney office and four years at Lunatic Entertainment/Laneway Festival. In his expanded role, O’Connor will work closely with Erol Yurdagul in developing new publishing signings, working with the existing catalogue in a creative fashion, maintaining relationships with existing writers.

Photo: Zoe Coverdale, Erol Yurdagul, Jules Bain, Dom O’Connor

TV mogul Reg Grundy’s ‘love child’ in fight for slice of $800m fortune

The man who claims to be the long lost son of late TV king Reg Grundy has appeared at court for the first time, looking remarkably like the media mogul, to claim his slice of the $800 million fortune, reports News Corp’s Sarah Crawford.

Simon Thomas Russell, a two-time mayor of the Bayside region in Victoria, sat in the gallery of a Supreme Court close to Dr Grundy’s estranged daughter Viola La Valette and widow Carolyn Joy Chambers-Grundy who are already fighting over the division of the estate.

Russell’s barrister Nicolas Kirby told Justice Geoff Lindsay that they had tested a biological sample of Dr Grundy to prove his paternity but the results were, “inconclusive”.

He said they had a “fortuitous find” of a “biological sample right under our noses at (pathology company) Douglass Hanly Moir,” however, “once testing was completed it had insufficient DNA to construct a profile, those results came back inconclusive.”

Grundy was an entrepreneur and media mogul who made his name by creating numerous hit TV shows including game shows Blankety Blanks, Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right and soap operas Prisoner, Sons and Daughters, The Young Doctors and Neighbours.

The case was adjourned until June 21.

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Rupert Murdoch is a ‘big feminist,’ says his wife, Jerry Hall

Anyone who doubts Rupert Murdoch’s feminist bona fides hasn’t checked with his wife, Jerry Hall, reports The New York Times.

“He’s a big feminist,” Hall said Tuesday night at an event to promote the Equal Rights Amendment, which would inscribe gender equality into the Constitution. “He has lots of highly paid women executives, and he always treats women very fairly.”

The many women who have sued Murdoch’s Fox News network for sexual harassment may disagree. Nonetheless, Hall said her husband is “a big supporter” and “pays for ads” for the amendment, which states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

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News Brands

Russian broadcaster hits out at BBC show parodying Putin

Russia’s government-owned news service RT has denounced a BBC comedy chatshow featuring a 3D animation of Vladimir Putin interviewing the likes of Alastair Campbell, reports The Guardian.

The BBC described Tonight With Vladimir Putin, which has yet to air, as a “television first” with new technology enabling a “3D digital cartoon of Putin to walk around and sit behind the desk, interviewing real human guests in front of a studio audience, all in real time.”

In response, RT – described this month by the British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, as a “weapon of disinformation” – published an article describing the show’s concept as a “regurgitated dystopian nightmare copied from the popular Channel 4/Netflix series Black Mirror but bastardised almost beyond recognition”.

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TV Tonight reports why Tonight With Vladimir Putin may not be a world first.


Foxtel return: Wentworth is the prison break Australian TV needs

It’s an authentic homegrown success story. As Wentworth returns for a seventh season, it becomes the longest-running locally produced weekly drama currently on Australian television, reports The Age’s Debi Enker.

In addition, the “reimagining” of the women’s prison drama, Prisoner, has sold to more than 140 territories around the world, including the tough-to-crack US market. Versions of it have been produced in Turkey, Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands. And 20 more episodes will start production in Melbourne in October.

As the new, 10-part season begins, three months on from where the last one ended, the stage is set for a battle between undercover cop Rita Connors (Leah Purcell), who’s been cut loose by the police department, and crime matriarch Marie Winter (Susie Porter). Karen “Kaz” Proctor (Tammy McIntosh), the reigning “top dog”, battles to maintain control, Sue “Boomer” Jenkins (Katrina Milosevic), who’s been helping to care for the increasingly forgetful Liz (Celia Ireland), is scheduled for her parole hearing, and Governor Vera Bennett (Kate Atkinson) is further along with her first pregnancy.

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How Wentworth pulled off ultimate TV jailbreak escaping death row

When Australian drama Wentworth finished filming season seven last July the cast believed they’d probably just shot the final episode ever, reports News Corp’s Cameron Adams.

“We weren’t certain whether it was going to come back,” Kate Jenkinson, who plays inmate Allie Novak, says.

“When we finished we all said goodbye, not knowing for sure whether we’d ever be on that set again.”

Season seven was planned as the final series of Wentworth; a secret designed to be kept from the outside world, who didn’t know the show was on death row.

However word soon leaked that Wentworth was potentially no more, with production company Fremantle’s silence on a definitive answer either way fuelling fan freak-outs.

As well as the obligatory online #SaveWentworth campaigns and petitions, there were claims one fan even flew a drone over the drama’s top-secret Melbourne set to see if rumours that the purpose-built prison had been dismantled were true.

Diehard fans even threatened to cancel their Foxtel subscriptions if Wentworth didn’t come back.

Season eight and nine of Wentworth will be filmed back to back in Melbourne, starting around September, airing in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

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Finding her feet: Michelle Williams steps into Gwen Verdon’s shoes

In the history of American dance there are few figures like Bob Fosse, the director-choreographer behind the iconic musicals Chicago and Cabaret, and the only man in history to win an Oscar, Emmy and Tony award in the same year.

What did not seem to endure – at least in terms of prominence in the history books – is his partnership with Gwen Verdon, his wife and frequent collaborator, once described as the greatest Broadway dancer of all time.

That relationship – professional and personal – is the basis of the new cable drama Fosse/Verdon, which stars Sam Rockwell as Fosse and Michelle Williams as Verdon.

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Amazon’s Fleabag is horror-show comedy and close to perfect

There are some things I don’t quite get about Fleabag – like how can a show about grief and guilt be so damned funny, and how can a story about failed relationships be so uplifting. It’s a puzzle, writes The Age’s Karl Quinn.

In its second season, Fleabag (Amazon Prime) picks up “371 days, 19 hours and 26 minutes” after the first ended. Our unnamed heroine (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is still running a guinea-pig themed cafe but now it’s thriving rather than failing. She has also sworn off getting smashed and using sex as a way of avoiding emotions. Or so she says.

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Internet comedian Troy Kinne ready to tackle prime time TV

Last year Troy Kinne ran in his own election campaign, reports News Corp’s Cameron Adams.

The Melbourne comedian’s TV sketch show Kinne Tonight was one of the eight programs in Ten’s Pilot Week experiment.

“It was a weird feeling to be in a competition with other people,” Kinne says.

“But once you’ve made the decision to be in it, you had to make the most of it and get as many people on Facebook to watch it as possible. I felt a bit guilty at the time, I’m not sure why, but I’ve built this (following) up so I may as well use it. It quickly went from anxiety to excitement.”

Kinne Tonight was the highest-rating show in capital cities (beating Trial By Kyle) and the heavy social media engagement and positive online reaction saw it green-lighted for six episodes, which start next Monday.

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A Game of Thrones sequel not an option for HBO’s top executive

Two days after saying farewell to Game of Thrones – with a series finale that ranks as the cabler’s most-watched episode ever – HBO programming president Casey Bloys is ready to look to the future, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Bloys was asked about three prequels still in the mix, two in the script stage and the third a pilot to be filmed this summer.

“I am not clarifying anything other than yes, we shoot the first pilot in June. There are two more in development and beyond that, there’s nothing else to report.

“There are no plans currently to put anything more in development. We’re not actively looking or going beyond what we’ve got in the current pilot.”

Have you considered exploring sequels? Specifically, Arya Stark as she travels west of Westeros?

“Nope, nope, nope. No. Part of it is, I do want this show – this Game of Thrones, Dan and David’s show – to be its own thing. I don’t want to take characters from this world that they did beautifully and put them off into another world with someone else creating it.”

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Sports Media

Former host Bec Maddern sad to see The Footy Show go

Former host of The Footy Show Rebecca Maddern says she was sad to see to the demise of the once much-loved TV favourite, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

Maddern, who is now fronting Channel 9’s upcoming Cricket World Cup coverage, says the show was a career-defining gig for her.

“It was a really life-changing career moment for me, being part of The Footy Show and such an iconic TV show in Australia.

“I am really saddened by the ending and it wasn’t a great thing. Many things don’t end well, otherwise they wouldn’t end.

“It was a big part of my life and it really changed the trajectory of my career and for that I’m really thankful.”

Maddern was a host during the Australian Open tennis in January and said being involved in the Cricket World Cup was another great opportunity for her “at a really interesting time in Australian cricket.”

Maddern is currently in post-production of the new series of Australian Ninja Warrior, which she co-hosted in Melbourne.

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