Mediaweek Roundup: Roxy Jacenko, Nine, Formula 1, NRL+ more

• Home & Away, Hollywood, The Guardian, CNN, AFL Grand Final and Cox Plate

Television

Georgie Parker awaits Home & Away return, possibly in June

Be careful what you wish for.

Georgie Parker appreciates her downtime while Home & Away has halted production, as she approaches her 10th anniversary on the Seven serial, reports TV Tonight.

As an actor who has enjoyed lengthy runs in A Country Practice and All Saints, she’s used to early starts and long days. But during the COVID-19 shutdown, she is more than aware she is one of the lucky ones.

“I was bitching to my husband, late last year: ‘I’m sick of working all the time!’ I’ve worked since I was 16. I’ve never just had a time where I’ve gotten up, went to the corner store, got the paper, got a coffee, come home, read it. Unless it’s a rare day off…” she tells TV Tonight.

“So now I know what that’s like …it’s really nice to have room to breathe, but now I’m really looking forward to when we can actually knuckle down (and work). And how fortunate am I that I can say that? I’m looking forward to hearing what the storylines are, going back and slowly getting that whole engine running again.”

Production was shut down on March 22nd. Along with the rest of the cast and crew, Parker is awaiting the green light to resume.

“It’s all to do with when restrictions will be lessened. We were working right up until about (four) and a half weeks ago and we were doing really well. We had adjusted filming in a very effective manner, adhering to as much spatial distancing as was possible.

“If they take the restrictions back a step or two, we will be able to resume filming. So we’re just waiting for that. We’re all guessing June, July.”

[Read more]

As Hollywood maps out return, new on-set protocols are planned

Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, when predicting the future may seem futile, there’s at least one thing Hollywood is in agreement on: When the industry is eventually able to start up production again, film and TV sets are going to look very different, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Gone are the days of grazing on the communal snacks at the craft services table, inviting friends and family to pop over to the set and maybe even kissing scenes between actors – at least until a coronavirus vaccine is widely available.

In an effort to keep cast and crew safe on set – which are notably high-risk for their propensity to cram a lot of people into compact spaces – sources say that leading Hollywood content producers and unions are working to develop new industry standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At the forefront of those conversations are major studios including Disney and Warner Bros., unions like IATSE and the Directors Guild of America, top production facilities like Pinewood Studios and associations such as AMPTP and various film commissions.

Though no official guidelines have been released by any major parties, there’s still plenty of chatter about the procedures being considered. To start, there’s the expected: Gloves and masks may need to be worn on set, with the exception of actors who obviously can’t wear them on camera. In order to protect performers, there’s been talk of two actors in close proximity, especially intimate scenes, being shot separately and then bringing the shots together in postproduction.

[Read more]

Business of Media

Roxy Jacenko selling second hand designer clothes amid COVID-19

Roxy Jacenko has taken to a second hand resaler to sell some of her preloved designer threads online, but assured it was not a last-ditch effort to stay afloat, reports News Corp’s Sally Coates.

Jacenko was open about the massive hit her publicity firm Sweaty Betty had taken as the COVID-19 crisis struck, losing 85 per cent of her clientele in one fell swoop.

The 40-year-old mum of two said selling her pre-worn items was something she had always done as she did not like to wear the same thing twice.

“I sell all my stuff, I’ve always sold it,” she told Confidential.

“I actually used to have a page called Roxy Jacenko Sale and it did super well.

“At one point I think I had $70,000 in takings and PayPal put a block on my account because they thought there was something fraudulent going on. But I’ve always done that. I’m not known as a hoarder by any stretch, I sell everything.

“I think now in the days of Instagram that’s why rental businesses have become so popular. “With Instagram you can’t be whirling out the same garment 10 times over.”

An avid handbag collector, Jacenko said buyers eager to get their hands on part of her $1 million handbag collection would not see any of her Hermes Birkin Bags listed anytime soon.

[Read more]

News Brands

Guardian tops poll of UK national papers for coronavirus coverage

The Guardian’s coverage of the coronavirus outbreak is considered to be substantially better than that of any other British newspaper, according to a University of Oxford study looking at the UK population’s attitudes to news during the lockdown, reports the British news brand.

According to the research, twice as many Britons said they felt the Guardian was doing a “good job” covering the pandemic compared with the Times, its nearest rival.

The Guardian’s website was also one of the most-read sources for information on the outbreak, second only to BBC News. This fits with internal traffic statistics which show the Guardian has consistently reached record audiences over the last two months, while also seeing a surge in reader contributions to fund its journalism.

Other outlets fared less well but the Sun and the Mail were the only national newspapers where more people felt they were doing a “bad job” than approved of their reporting on the pandemic.

The survey by YouGov for the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute also found that the BBC’s output continues to dominate online news consumption in the UK, with 36% of the population saying they had turned to the public service broadcaster’s website for coronavirus coverage.

[Read more]

CNN’s high-drama coverage of the pandemic hits close to home

CNN has distinguished itself from Fox News and MSNBC in more ways than one in its coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

While all three networks have flooded the airwaves with medical experts and government officials from morning to night, CNN viewers have been treated to on-air testimonials from three anchors who have tested positive for the virus.

Primetime anchor Chris Cuomo has been the star of the show, but Brooke Baldwin and Richard Quest have also talked directly to viewers about their symptoms – or lack thereof, in Quest’s case.

While some have questioned the ethics of having news anchors speak so personally about their health and family life, not to mention Cuomo’s chummy interviews with his governor brother, the network has undeniably offered a mix of content that has been unmatched in the medium. In turn, CNN has received a larger ratings boost than its rivals.

A senior producer at the network, who was not authorized to speak to The Hollywood Reporter, credits president Jeff Zucker‘s “wartime” leadership.

“He’s struck a good balance between keeping us working and moving forward and making sure people are physically and mentally healthy, and recognizing when people need to take some time off,” the producer says.

Between early March (when coronavirus coverage ramped up) and late April, CNN has seen a 139 percent year-over-year increase in total primetime viewership, compared to boosts of 48 percent for Fox News Channel and 28 percent for MSNBC.

[Read more]

Radio

Contract time soon for person who earns even more than Kyle & Jackie O

When US broadcaster Howard Stern first moved to US satellite radio broadcaster Sirius XM it put the new business on the map. It also put a large fortune into the breakfast host’s bank account.

But Stern’s current deal for his program expires at the end of 2020 and his thoughts have turned to what’s next.

Howard Stern said that he loves his staff and is open to ideas regarding his expiring contract in December, the radio host commented yesterday on his Sirius XM radio show, reports Bloomberg.

Stern was talking to Sirius XM management before the pandemic hit, but he hasn’t had any “real serious” conversations with management about his contract since then.

“I haven’t really sat down seriously with Sirius XM and figured out what we might do in the future, but I do really love the people that work here and I do love the company. I’m open to some kinda of idea. I have some thoughts about what we might do,” Stern commented further on his show Tuesday.

Bloomberg added: Sirius XM CEO Jim Meyer said on the company’s earnings conference call Tuesday he wants Stern to be on Sirius XM for how long he ever wants to work. Meyer said he had some conversations with Stern’s agent Don Buchwald a couple of days ago.

“I’m not concerned that we won’t find a way together,” Meyer said on the call. “I hope to have more to say when we do our third quarter call.”

If Stern signs for a further five years he will be 71 at the end of the contract.

Way back in 1992 Stern was thought to be earning around US$1.5m annually. Still big money today, but a massive amount close to 30 years ago. His final contract with Infinity Broadcasting for his syndicated FM breakfast show was for $25m annually which covered 2001-2005.

When Stern moved to Sirius XM in 2006 it was estimated his contract was worth $80m annually and has crept higher in successive contracts.

Stern doesn’t broadcast daily, yet Sirius XM does big business with repeat content and runs separate Howard Stern channels. The broadcaster is reported to have rights to his library of content until 2027.

Top Photo: Howard and Beth Stern

Sports Media

NRL signs off on 20-round season with broadcasters Nine, Foxtel

The NRL has finally signed off on a 20-round season, resuming on May 28, with the governing body hoping to have crowds back for the finals series ahead of an October 25 grand final, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Chammas.

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys held discussions with Nine boss Hugh Marks and Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany on Tuesday afternoon to inform them of the game’s decision to play an additional 18 rounds from May 28, on top of the two rounds already played.

It came after a high-level meeting earlier on Tuesday between V’landys and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who looks set to allow the Brisbane Broncos, Gold Coast Titans and North Queensland Cowboys to base themselves at home and train in their usual environment.

The NRL decider has been locked in for October 25, a day after Australia’s opening game of the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup, scheduled to be played at the SCG against Pakistan on a Saturday night.

If the cricket World Cup isn’t postponed or cancelled, it is expected the NRL will move the premiership decider to the 30,000-seat Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta.

[Read more]

NRL plan hangs on Channel 9 support and players’ good behaviour

Nine CEO Hugh Marks said last month that Nine would save $130 million if it did not televise NRL this season, sending an almighty cheer around his shareholders, reports News Corp’s Paul Kent.

Rugby league fans don’t own shares in Nine, obviously.

The fear for Marks is a legitimate one.

If the season returns and he resumes paying several millions dollars a week in broadcast fees and then, somewhere along the line, some player feels he needs a social outbreak and goes rogue and gets infected with the COVID-19 virus, then the season might have to be shut down.

It is almost certain the season won’t resume from a second suspension.

So the money spent between here and then, in a season ultimately cancelled through carelessness, would be wasted.

And the last thing any CEO wants to do in this climate is upset shareholders.

[Read more]

Double-header of AFL Grand Final and Cox Plate is a possibility

The AFL’s push to finish the season in October has the Grand Final on a collision course with horse racing – and potentially the 100th running of the Cox Plate, reports News Corp’s Sam Landsberger.

But the blockbuster events would roll into each other on October 24, creating one of the biggest days in Melbourne’s sporting history.

Moonee Valley chief executive Michael Browell will wait for footy to lock in its finals fixture and clarity around the Twenty20 World Cup before scheduling the timing of his biggest race.

“We’ll see how everything falls into place before we decide whether we run the Cox Plate in its traditional timeslot – 12pm-5.45pm, with the Cox Plate at 5.30pm – or if we run the Cox Plate at night under lights,” Browell said.

The $5 million Cox Plate – dominated by legendary mare and four-time champion Winx in recent years – has, like the Grand Final, never been held at night before. Racing Victoria and Channel 7 are expected to agree to a new broadcast deal for this year’s Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate.

“I know that between horse racing and AFL we will be able to celebrate both sports,” Channel 7 boss Lewis Martin said.

“We’ve been longstanding supporters of both and I am absolutely certain we’ll have an integrated outcome.”

[Read more]

F1 CEO Chase Carey: Target is to begin F1 season in Austria on July 5

F1 CEO Chase Carey has provided an update to fans on the latest developments on the 2020 F1 calendar, including a target start date and location. There is no plan to include Australia in the new season. The closest races will be held in South East Asia.

“Although this morning it was announced that the French Grand Prix, due to take place in late June, will not be going ahead, we are now increasingly confident with the progress of our plans to begin our season this summer.

“We’re targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on 3-5 July weekend. September, October and November, would see us race in Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi, having completed between 15-18 races.

“We will publish our finalised calendar as soon as we possibly can.

“We expect the early races to be without fans but hope fans will be part of our events as we move further into the schedule. We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country.

“While we have been moving forward with our 2020 plans, we have also been working hard with the FIA and the teams to strengthen the long term future of Formula 1 through an array of new technical, sporting, and financial regulations that will improve the competition and action on the track and make it a healthier business for all involved, particularly as we engage the issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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