Just 10 days ago Mushroom Group leader Michael Gudinski and his longtime music partner Jimmy Barnes hatched a plan to mount a special music event on Anzac Day.
Speaking to Mediaweek just two days before the event, Gudinski was full of excitement about what viewers will see on Saturday night as the idea turns into reality on the Nine Network.
“This year Anzac Day is going to be so different to any other that we figured it would be great to celebrate it in everyone’s houses in Australia and New Zealand.”
Called Music from the Home Front, the venture has the support of the Return Services League.
New artists added to the line-up include Amy & George Sheppard, Dean Lewis, DMA’s, Hayley Mary (The Jezabels), James Morrison, James Reyne, Jessica Hitchcock, Mahalia Barnes, Mark Seymour, Shane Howard, Tim Minchin and William Barton.
Gudinski and Jimmy Barnes the solo artist go back a long way and the promoter said his friend was the first act confirmed for Saturday night.
Susan Hayman from Chugg Entertainment is the talent co-ordinator for the Saturday event. “She has been unbelievable,” said Gudinski. “Jimmy has helped me with the songs and their performers. This is not just about the artists, it is about the meaning of a lot of the songs. There are so many acts that want to be on it. There will be a few songs with a number of artists featured. Jimmy has been my sounding board about who I might not have thought of and who could best suit a particular song.”
We spoke with Gudinski on Thursday morning and he had already been on the phone to Barnes three times, one of the calls lasting over 30 minutes. “It is very good for me, not being a musician, to have someone looking over my shoulder.” Not all of their calls in the past have led to artistic outcomes. “Sometime when he’s pitched me something I’ve had to tell him he’s crazy. [Laughs] This is such a long relationship and my wife and I are very close to the whole family.”
Gudinski added: “We have worked on making the show full of iconic songs, different versions and some with different singers. The show is aimed to be warm and cuddly with intimate performances. There are only one or two things not being done inside someone’s house.”
When asked about Kylie Minogue, Gudinski said she is in lockdown, but she will have a special message. He added that for some other artists it was just the wrong time and the wrong place and they weren’t able to participate.
Asked about technical challenges, Gudinski said there was a few that still needed to be conquered. “I have brought in a producer for the artists from my end who I have worked with and loved for a long time and he started MTV here – Saul Shtein.”
“There is no money changing hands,” said Gudinski about the finances. “Nine has thrown everything at it technically. There will be no politicians in the show. We will also be doing a tribute to the COVID-19 frontline workers. This is not a telethon and we are not trying to raise money.”
What viewers will see is an ad for music industry charity Support Act. Gudinski has been a long-time supporter of the good work Support Act does for the music industry.
Some of the artists will be performing live, but Gudinski revealed that to ensure quality there will be a lot of pre-recording done on Friday. “It will seem live and we will have some live content.” He thought Australian music was under-represented in last week’s One World Together at Home event. “We are a music industry that has supported so many causes and I feel we deserve a program just for us. To get it on Nine is just a blessing because it means everyone can watch it.”
The person tasked with bring it together for Nine is its head of content, production and development Adrian Swift.
Nine and Gudinski had been talking for some time and were initially involved in discussions for the bushfire benefit show that became Fire Fight Australia in February, along with all the co-operation of other channels.
Gudinski recently rang Nine CEO Hugh Marks about putting on this show. Marks said “yes” and then rang his head of production Swift.
“We wanted to be involved and to salute all the people who have served us so well in both the military, because it is Anzac Day, and the fight against the terrible virus,” Swift told Mediaweek.
The technology called upon on Saturday will range from iPhones and Zoom to Nine’s remote cameras. “We will be using every news van we have,” said Swift.
Swift said it was a pleasure to again be working with Saul Shtein and the two are old friends. The rest of the Nine senior team involved includes EP Andrew Rogers (Hay Mate – December’s rural aid fundraiser shown on Nine) and the network EP is John Walsh who looks after a number of Nine programs including The Voice.
Gudinski on the outlook for live music
Although his touring business has been paused, Gudinski is a supporter of what state and federal governments have been doing regarding the lockdown.
“Daniel Andrews has been outstanding and he helped inspire me when I needed someone to bounce ideas off. The other premiers have also been unbelievable, and government has really got into gear.”
Gudinski’s business is not expecting any quick bounce back anytime soon. “There will be no international acts or festivals in this country this year. I can’t guarantee that, but that’s what I feel.
“When the switch goes on it will go in a few phases and you will find there will be a window for Australian artists to really take centre stage because there will be no internationals touring here.”