• How The Project got better when hosts stopped trying to be funny
By James Manning
Network 10 and Roving Enterprises tonight are celebrating 10 years of their daily news program The Project.
A special edition of the program goes to air at 6.30pm Friday and then a celebration will be held afterwards.
The event is being hosted by Network 10’s CEO Paul Anderson and chief content officer Beverley McGarvey, plus the program’s creator and founding executive producer Craig Campbell.
A partner in The Project’s format owner Roving Enterprises, with Rove McManus, Campbell remains the show’s beating heart.
As Campbell explained to Mediaweek, after 10 years of five, and then six days a week, it doesn’t get boring.
“Because the show is made up of whatever the day throws at you it keeps it fresh and exciting. We keep looking for ways on the production side to keep it different. We would probably get bored with it more than the audience do. We want to keep evolving and never stay the same.”
Despite the evolution, The Project has managed to keep many of the trademarks it launched with.
“I looked at the pitch document we gave to 10 in January 2009 and the cornerstones of why we do what we are doing are still there. If anything we probably achieve them better now than we did in our first year.”
“Early on the show was confusing to a lot of people because they didn’t know if we were a comedy show or a news show. The show really found its rhythm when we tried to stop being funny.”
Of the different challenges the format faced over the decade, Campbell noted, “The transition from a half hour to an hour was always testing. Also the first time we went to six days a week, the first time. The longer format allowed us to break serious news stories as well as reporting on the news.”
The show has had a couple of different timeslots over the years. Initially starting as 30 minutes Monday to Friday. “When we originally named it The 7pm Project I thought that would stop us being moved to another time! It was clearly not the case.”
The Project seems to have been blessed with its choice of hosts and regular panellists. “Casting is never easy,” cautioned Campbell. “When Waleed Aly was a regular guest in our fourth chair he was such a good broadcaster that it was an easy decision to put him on when Charlie Pickering left. It might have been a hard choice for him to move from the ABC to the dark side of the commercial television industry. But it has obviously worked out very well, despite him having big shoes to fill.
“Pete Helliar was just a natural fit and he was part of the Roving family for such a long time. As were both Carrie Bickmore and Hughesy when we initially launched.”
The show has a core support team that all seem to be good fits – Hamish Macdonald and Tommy Little on Sundays and other nights when required. “With Gorgi Coghlan and Lisa Wilkinson also in the mix we are incredibly lucky with the group of people we have.”
Campbell has been generous testing people for potential regular appearances. “I like to think everyone deserves two chances when they come on the show. The first time on the show for any presenter is hard work. There are actually not many people who have appeared once or twice and not come back. It is hard trying to juggle the people we want to come on and the others who want to come on.”
Campbell on misconceptions – it’s not a comedy show. “We sometimes book serious news people because we think they will give us some gravitas and they come on and try and be funny. We tell them not to morph into what they think we need from them. I am comfortable that most people who come on have a ‘day job’ as well as doing this show.”
Financial contribution: When asked if the show was profitable for 10, Campbell suggested we ask 10. “I am always told it is from within the walls of 10.”
Budgets. Campbell said the money available to produce the show hasn’t ballooned over the decade. “For a number of years the show maintained or even went down in budget. We know what we have to work with and we make sure we keep within that.”
The Project family: Roving Enterprises produces the show for 10 and there are a number of freelancers used on the show when needed. Campbell: “There is a core team of about 70 people working on The Project including our back of house infrastructure.”
Audience: Maximum in the Melbourne studio is 70. Sydney studio is 100.
Stories: “We aim for at least five main stories each night. There are six segments in total across the hour.”
Guests: “We try for one main guest and some nights we are spoilt and end up with two. Some nights we might get three and I panic because I worry we are skewing the show into entertainment.”
Length: It’s not really an hour. “Our commercial hour is 43 and a half minutes.”
Comedians: “We don’t have to have comedian every night…at least a couple a week, but they need to have something to say.”
Segments: Themes and ideas come and go. “Dr Andrew Rochford used to do a weekly medical segment and Scott Pape used to have a regular finance segment called The Money Shot.”
Photo: The creator and founding EP of The Project Craig Campbell on the set in the show’s first year (Source: Mediaweek)
It very appropriate to hear from Hamish and Andy on the day Craig Campbell and Rove McManus celebrate 10 years of The Project.
By James Manning
The two former drive-time radio hosts Hamish Blake and Andy Lee built their TV profile as a key part of Rove Live and Roving Enterprises produced their early TV series Real Stories.
After early years on Channel 31 and then Seven, Hamish & Andy thrived first with Roving Enterprises and then under their own Radio Karate banner at 10.
They later moved to Nine where Blake and Lee now have their own projects plus regular gigs on other shows screened on the network.
They are soon to return on the Radio Karate production for Nine, Hamish & Andy’s Perfect Holiday, in their own words, “to hurt each other”.
“We’ve come back together like many couples who go on holidays together…and argue for most of the trip,” they told Mediaweek.
The duo recently revealed their first Perfect Holiday sees them visit the United States.
“North America, to be more precise,” they noted adding the trip involves crossing the border into Canada.
They spent close to a month filming the series in North America.
Blake: “The whole idea of this format is we take it in turns to plan alternating days. One day I’m meeting Andy in the morning, I’ll give him a card and I tell him, ‘Good news, this is what we’re doing today.’
Lee: “Just like Survivor. I got mail.”
Even though Blake has been hosting Lego Masters and Lee was a team captain on Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, they have ventured out on solo projects before.
Lee reminded Mediaweek Blake had been a huge part of Spicks and Specs, appearing in about 50 episodes over the years.
They both admitted it can take a bit of getting used to working on a program that is not being produced by their own company.
Blake: “We’re lucky that we are both in fun projects. With Lego Masters, it was really fun to work with another creative team and see how they handle the production, how they dissect creative challenges and problems and stuff because I learned a lot seeing how Endemol Shine operate and I think they’re awesome at what they do.”
Blake then joked some of the ideas might be pinched by Radio Karate in future. “I think it’s called intellectual theft. I’ve bought back all their proprietary material, and we’ll steal it.”
In 2004, Foxtel nailed it with an Aussie drama. Love My Way was niche and untraditional, won numerous awards, and led to another messy but similarly excellent family saga, Tangle (2009).
By Andrew Mercado
Attempts to find a youth audience flopped with Love Bytes (2004), Dangerous (2007) and Slide (2011), but A Place To Call Home (from 2015 onwards) was another winner. Honourable mentions also go to Cloudstreet (2011) and Secret City (2016), while Satisfaction (2007), Mr Inbetween (2018) and Wentworth (2013,) all pushed the boundaries of cable TV.
Foxtel’s other favourite genre suggests they have always wanted to create a thriller/horror/supernatural classic. Spooky shows have included Spirited (2010), Top Of The Lake (2013), The Kettering Incident (2016) and Picnic At Hanging Rock (2018) but, this time, ladies and gentlemen, they may finally have cracked it.
Lambs of God (Sunday on FoxShowcase) is a gothic masterpiece, a demented mash-up of multiple genres that leaves you gasping at every turn, right up until that unexpected ending. Who could have guessed that another Aussie series about nuns could be so fascinating, especially after the ABC did it first with Brides Of Christ (1991)? That was set in Australia in the 1960s, but Lambs Of God is set on a rugged island off the coast of England in the 1990s.
During those decades, something changes within the Catholic Church, and that is the rise of sexual scandals. So like Devil’s Playground (2014), it is bubbling away in the background, but Lambs of God is much more fanciful. Special shout-out to the art department who have created an original and atmospheric world within a crumbling monastery and religious garden high atop a clifftop.
Although the Tasmanian island location is stunning, the story is actually set off the coast of England. It’s still based on a novel by Australia author Marele Day though, and the Aussie cast (Essie Davis, Sigrid Thornton, Damon Herriman, Daniel Henshall, John Bell) speak in English accents, but don’t over do it.
Lambs of God is a brave and audacious endeavour and must have cost a fortune, but it is worth every cent. Foxtel already has many of the best series of the year (Chernobyl, Big Little Lies, Game of Thrones, MotherFatherSon, etc) so it is almost a requirement that their Australian commissions are extraordinary too. Upcoming dramas like Upright (Tim Minchin) and The End (Frances O’Connor) sound promising too, so let’s hope they will always find money in their budget to make prestige drama like this.
• Seven’s winning combo: Soap, Mick and a movie
• Much anticipated doco The Final Quarter pulls 442,000
• More watch Mad As Hell repeat than new ep on ABC
By James Manning
• Seven News 1,022,000/959,000
• Nine News 819,000/816,000
• A Current Affair 713,000
• ABC News 605,000
• 7.30 504,000
• The Project 277,000/447,000
• 10 News First 412,000
• The Drum 172,000
• SBS World News 126,000
• Sunrise 287,000
• Today 190,000
Home And Away ended its week on 599,000 after 677,000, 711,000 and 700,000 on other nights.
The Front Bar then did 357,000 with 227,000 in Melbourne.
The movie Snatched was on 195,000 at different times around the network.
A Current Affair Thursday did 713,000 after 734,000, 787,000 and 836,000 earlier in the week.
The NRL was on 378,000 with 185,000 in Sydney and 172,000 in Brisbane.
The Netball World Cup thriller between Australia and New Zealand screened on 9GO! at 7pm with 124,000 watching.
The Project was on 447,000 after 7pm. It screened a few times last night confirming 10’s belief in the brand before tonight’s birthday bash. At 6.30pm the show did 277,000. It then broadcast a special episode after the doco The Final Quarter at 9pm with 302,000 watching. The program always gets a late night repeat too around 11pm or later each day.
The 7.30pm screening of the documentary about Adam Goodes, The Final Quarter, did 442,000.
Escape From The City was on 410,000 with a trip into the NSW Southern Highlands.
The new episode of Mad As Hell then went to air a day late with 361,000 watching after 495,000 watched the repeat on Wednesday.
The Handmaid’s Tale had an audience of 212,000.
Earlier in the night, The Great House Revival was on 175,000.
Stage 12 of the Tour de France did 172,000.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.6%||7TWO||4.6%||GO!||2.2%||10 Bold||4.1%||VICELAND||1.0%|
|ABC ME||0.9%||7mate||4.8%||GEM||2.3%||10 Peach||2.5%||Food Net||1.3%|
|7Food||1.0%||SBS World Movies||0.9%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.84%||7TWO||5.87%||GO!||3.36%||WIN Bold||5.02%||VICELAND||1.03%|
|ABC ME||1.45%||7mate||5.73%||GEM||3.28%||WIN Peach||1.97%||Food Net||1.55%|
|ABC NEWS||0.81%||7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)||3.59%||9Life||2.30%||Sky News on WIN||1.30%||NITV||0.4%|
|7food (QLD only)||0.19%|
16-39 Top Five
18-49 Top Five
25-54 Top Five
Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2018. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM
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Former News Corp Australia and Foxtel chief executive Peter Tonagh has joined the board of under pressure cinema and theme park business Village Roadshow, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.
Tonagh left Foxtel in January last year ahead of the completion of its merger with Fox Sports.
Recently he has been running the Australian Visa Processing consortium, which is bidding to run Australia’s visa processing systems. He also headed an efficiency review of the ABC and SBS last year.
Tonagh joins the Village board as an independent non-executive director. He will serve on the audit, risk, remuneration, corporate governance and nomination committees.
Network 10 has declared its support for celebrity chef George Calombaris after unions demanded his dumping from MasterChef over the $7.8 million underpayment of 515 workers, reports The Australian’s Ewin Hannan.
“George and MAdE Establishment have reached an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman in relation to this matter,’’ a Network 10 spokeswoman said. “George has the support of Network 10. We will not be making any further comment.”
Calombaris’ restaurant empire backpaid $7.8 million in unpaid wages and superannuation to 515 workers and was fined $200,000 under a deal with the Fair Work Ombudsman.
ACTU president Michele O’Neil told The Australian that Calombaris should be removed from MasterChef.
“Channel 10 and the sponsors of the MasterChef program need to consider the damage to their brand caused by their continued support for a serial wage thief,” she said.
Under-fire MasterChef host and celebrity restaurateur George Calombaris has pleaded for Australians to understand he is not a wage thief, after his food empire had to fork out almost $8 million to underpaid workers, reports Jeff Whalley.
Speaking exclusively to the Herald Sun as the hefty bill was revealed, Calombaris rejected claims that years of underpayment were deliberate. He said he had tried to do the right thing at all times.
“I am deeply sorry for what has happened, and have apologised to our affected team members, past and present,” he said.
“There are two important things for Australians to know. The first is that when we discovered there were incorrect payments to members of the team, we self reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman and co-operated with their investigation,” he said.
“The second is that our team members, past and present, have been back-paid in full, and the vast majority repaid before October 2017 in consultation with Fair Work.”
Google has suspended controversial ticket reselling platform Viagogo from its paid-for search results, following persistent claims the platform continues to mislead consumers and is in contempt of court for not changing its practices, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.
Google’s decision came after the UK’s Competition and Market Authority announced it was taking Viagogo to court, alleging the ticketing website was in contempt of court earlier this month. The UK competition regulator has alleged Viagogo ignored warnings to comply with consumer law.
“When people use our platform for help in purchasing tickets, we want to make sure that they have an experience they can trust,” a Google spokeswoman said.
“This is why we have strict policies and take necessary action when we find an advertiser in breach.”
The Google spokeswoman confirmed the Viagogo suspension was worldwide.
In Australia, Viagogo also has been pursued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for misleading and deceptive conduct.
When NBN Co issued a consultation paper for a review of its pricing last month it ignited a storm of controversy and criticism in the specialist telecommunications media. It appeared to be preparing the ground for a “Netflix tax”, comments The Age’s Stephen Bartholomeusz.
As it happens, that wasn’t its intention but even canvassing the possibility of differential pricing for video streaming made NBN Co the focus of a very sensitive and politically-charged debate about “net neutrality”.
That’s a conviction that internet service providers should treat all users and all communications equally, not using pricing or “bandwidth-shaping” to discriminate in favour or against particular customers or services.
The issue is a vexatious one. Data consumption of telecom networks keeps rising inexorably and rapidly. On the NBN it is doubling every few years, driven mainly by video streaming.
A leading photographic executive with 30 years media experience in the UK, US and Australia joins AAP amid plans to strengthen its news, sport and entertainment image business.
News Corp’s former national photographic manager, the widely respected Neil Bennett, starts as the newswire agency’s head of photography on Monday, August 5.
Bennett will steer a talented and highly-committed team of photographers and photo editors who are driven by creativity, quality, and speed.
After two decades as a photographer for newspapers, magazines and a picture agency overseas, he came to Australia in 2008. He shot for Fairfax publications before joining News Corp in photographic management roles with News Corp in Adelaide and Sydney.
“We have worked with and admired Neil for years,” AAP editor-in-chief Tony Gillies said.
“He cares deeply for quality and motivates everyone around him to be their best. I am excited by what he can help us achieve at a time when the news industry demands highly relevant content that moves its audience.
“We’re going to build on the strong work of our amazing award-winning photographers and deliver something quite special,” Gillies said.
Victoria Police sent legal letters to both Sky News and News Corp. just hours before a media event for the upcoming documentary Lawyer X: The Untold Story yesterday, reports TV Tonight.
The letters warned both media organisations not to breach suppression orders as they launched a new documentary and book on the controversial story of Melbourne gangland Lawyer turned police informer Nicola Gobbo.
The story broken by Herald Sun journalists Anthony Dowsley and Patrick Carlyon is now the subject of a Royal Commission.
Last night both journos joined Peter Stefanovic as the Herald Sun, Sky News and Harper Collins held a joint media event at the Old Melbourne Gaol.
“Victoria Police notwithstanding it is a brilliant piece of broadcast journalism. We got a letter from Victoria Police today,” said Sky News CEO Paul Whittaker.
“I’ve had a few letters from Victoria Police over the years, in my previous incarnation as a newspaper editor…you can Google it, in 2009…and all I will say about that is this is an extraordinary story. It’s quite unbelievable how the wheel turns.”
Former Nine star Peter Stefanovic has opened up about the network’s dramatic “clearing of the decks” at the Today show in a candid new interview with Kyle and Jackie O, reports News Corp’s Nick Bond.
Dubbed the “troublemaking brother” of the Stefanovics by Kyle Sandilands, Peter copped quite the introduction:
“I still to this day think it’s terrible they wiped out the entire news team at the Today show … because of you,” the shock jock said.
Peter took the accusation he’d caused the mass sackings with good humour: “You’re probably right,” he chuckled.
“You must’ve copped some sh*t. Your brother went. Your wife went. You went. Fifteen years of your life …” Sandilands said.
“(Sports reporter) Timmy Gilbert too. Someone likened it to the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones, and it was probably pretty close to it,” said Peter, referencing that show’s most infamously violent scene.
It was the hottest ticket at this year’s Comic-Con. Literally.
The producers of Game of Thrones, David Benioff and Dan Weiss, were to be locked in a convention centre auditorium with 6500 of the show’s most rabid fans in the wake of incendiary criticism of the show’s final, controversial season, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Idato.
Alas, it will never come to pass.
Comic-Con organisers have confirmed Benioff and Weiss, as well as director/co-producer Miguel Sapochnik, will not appear as scheduled at the world’s biggest film, television and comic book convention after all.
The Game of Thrones panel will still be held in Comic-Con’s largest venue, Hall H, and is scheduled for Saturday, Australian time.
In many respects, the cancellation of the show’s two producers is unsurprising; the final episodes of the series were widely criticised online, and a fan petition calling on HBO to remake the final season with “competent writers” has drawn 1.68 million signatures.
After 30 years behind the mic – and 23 years as host of Mornings on ABC Radio Melbourne – presenter Jon Faine has announced his last day on air will be Friday 11 October.
He told listeners this morning his last show would be broadcast before a live audience at the Melbourne Town Hall and include “a reunion of many of the beloved ABC voices” from his years with RN and ABC Radio.
“I’ve asked the ABC to make this show a charity fundraiser, so listeners who want to celebrate can express their pleasure by making a sizeable donation to reflect their delight that I’ve finally gone!” Faine said.
Manager of ABC Radio Melbourne, Dina Rosendorff, said many of those who had worked with Faine over the past 30 years planned to give him a fitting farewell. “Jon’s last program will recognise the tremendous contribution he has made to the ABC, to Melbourne radio and to the Victorian community,” she said. Details of the show and ABC Radio Melbourne’s charity partner will be released in coming weeks.
Rosendorff said the mid-October date was chosen as it “felt right for Jon, for the station and for Jon’s successor, Virginia Trioli”.
Trioli will take over as host of Mornings on Monday 14 October.
AFL greats say they wish the sport had done more to stand up for booed Swans legend Adam Goodes, as a documentary on the final years of his football career was broadcast for the first time, reports The Age’s Rachel Eddie.
The Final Quarter aired on Channel 10 on Thursday, and was met on social media with admiration for the two-time Brownlow medallist, and shame for the way he was treated before his retirement from AFL in 2015.
After the film, made up solely of archival footage and directed by Ian Darling, players spoke out to say the AFL did not do enough to stand against racism at the time.
Former Swans teammate Jude Bolton said the code’s “silence was deafening”.
“The overarching sort of feelings and emotions during that film was just the immense sadness, but then just the extreme anger,” Bolton said in a The Project special hosted by Waleed Aly after the documentary.
Another film on Goodes, The Australian Dream, from Stan Grant, will air at the Melbourne International Film Festival next month.
In that documentary, Goodes revisits the incident some believe sparked the campaign against him, when he called out a 13-year-old Collingwood fan after she labelled him an “ape” during the 2013 Indigenous round.
With the courage that was his trademark as a captain and batsman, Ian Chappell is staring down a more deadly foe – cancer, reports News Corp’s Ben Horne.
The Test cricket legend has just completed five weeks of intense radiation therapy after he had skin cancers removed from his shoulder, neck and underarm.
Chappell, 75, will meet with specialists for a full report on Monday, but at this stage the pathology has come back all clear and the commentary icon is putting his hand up to be part of Nine’s Ashes coverage next month.
A lifetime of summers in the sun has taken its toll, and the master pragmatist says he’s confronted his own mortality and has his head around the road ahead — whatever that might hold.
Melbourne will host the Australian Grand Prix until at least 2025 after the race owners inked a contract extension with the Andrews Government, reports News Corp’s Matt Johnston.
Formula 1 chairman and chief executive Chase Carey said the two-year deal was based on the event being a resounding success in Victoria, adding that organisers “plan to make the Australian Grand Prix even more exciting and spectacular” as it continues to grow.
The new deal paves the way for a 30th anniversary celebration at the iconic Albert Park track, and also fends off a bold bid by NSW to snatch the international event.
Carey said “we cannot wait to be back in Melbourne”.
“The decision to extend the current relationship for a further two years stems from the fact this event has proved to be a resounding success for the capital of Victoria, for Australia and indeed around the world, proving immensely popular with fans and those who work in Formula 1,” he said.
Melbourne is locked in to host the first F1 race of 2020, to be held on Sunday, March 15.