Wednesday July 22, 2020

Bevan Lee
Television drama guru Bevan Lee on his best yet: Between Two Worlds

By James Manning

Lee’s final series: “It’s time for me to step aside…a great way to go out”

Seven this week premieres the much-anticipated Bevan Lee drama Between Two Worlds. It launches after the premiere of Farmer Wants a Wife on Sunday night, setting up a massive ratings brawl as the new Seven shows face off against the premier of season four of Nine’s Ninja Warrior Australia.

Created by Bevan Lee, the TV drama guru told Mediaweek it is his best yet, and from the man who has All Saints, Always Greener, Packed to the Rafters and Winners & Losers on his IMDB credits, it is quite a claim.

See more: Between Two Worlds: Everything you need to know about Bevan Lee’s new drama

After watching the first hour I am not about to argue. The first of 10 episodes takes viewers on a wild ride and leaves them panting for breathe at the end, definitely wanting more.

What I wanted to do with this show was to create a rip-snorting, twisting and turning show that would make people come back for one good reason – what the hell happens next,” Lee told Mediaweek.

“Usually what happens next is not what viewers are expecting. It is a show that keeps pulling the rug out from underneath the audience. A lot of what people presume from that first hour just ain’t so. It’s an exercise in misdirection and tricking people into thinking they are watching one sort of show, then boom, it changes. I wanted to give the audience a wild ride!”

Between Two Worlds

Philip Quast and Hermione Norris

Without wanting to spoil any enjoyment, all we will say is there a major event in the first few minutes. Lees aid: “After that people realise that, shit, anything can happen.” That wild ride certainly starts in the first episode where there are several more jolts before the end of that first hour.

For people trying to forecast the plot…beware! “I constantly set stuff up, and then subvert it.” Viewers need to pay attention too. “It is an incredibly complex plot. It seems to be a simple plot, but by the time you go through 10 hours it is fiendishly complex.”

The series name refers not to just the two worlds of the Walford and Grey families, but also the meeting of two genres of drama.

“I have made my living in two forms of drama. One is high melodrama, and I see that as a term of praise, and the other is family drama.

“With Between Two Worlds what I wanted to do is take the two forms and do a mixtape with them. If you look at the first episode, and separate all the scenes out, you would have half hour pilots two completely different shows. They are only linked by the final moment of that episode.

“The Grey world is a little bit like the Rafters and the Walford world is a bit like Sons & Daughters on steroids. It takes some time for the two worlds to converge.” [Lee worked on Sons & Daughters as a writer between 1982 and 1987.]

Lee said he had the idea for this series rattling around for some time. “It’s an expensive project that was quite difficult to get off the ground. We always thought there was no point doing it unless we could reference the Walford world as lavishly as it is.”

Having taken some time and getting access to the funds to make it look good led Lee to tell us, “It’s probably the best fully formed scripting work I have done. I have written nine out of the 10 episodes and then I contributed to the other one as well with Trent Atkinson.

Lee said he is not the sort to work in a writer’s room and writing by committee. “There is a bit of a control freak inside me that rebels at that thought. If Tom Stoppard can write a whole play, why can’t I write a whole season?”

The creator is hoping for more than a second season, something that virtually all of his projects have been. “There is more story to tell. I call this the best show I have ever done. I hope there is more of it. However we are in a world where there is no such thing as a slam dunk.”

Lee noted he has had a few turkeys over the years that deserved to be cancelled. “But this one doesn’t deserve to go down. It would be great to have a number of seasons of it.”

Director of photography Henry Pierce with director Kriv Stenders

Director of photography Henry Pierce with director Kriv Stenders

Lee quickly adds it was not just his contribution making it great – but a wonderful team that all came together. That included long-time Lee collaborator and Seven’s executive producer Julie McGauran, series producer Chris Martin-Jones “my dream producer”, Lesley Parker co-producer, director Kriv Stenders “wonderfully cinematic on the first two episodes followed by other wonderful directors and amazing art directors”.

Of the cast Lee said: “It was just mean to be that Philip Quast took the role of Phillip Walford. Hermione Norris [as Cate Walford] came from left of field and has done a wonderful job with that character. She came in after I’d written the part and actually did a shitload better than what I had in my head when I wrote it.

Future of TV drama

Lee: “I am very glad to have had my career. I am now borderline thinking of retirement. The business is now too confounding and confusing to my sense of Teutonic logic.

“I lived in the days when if you have a good project the money would be got together, and it would get made. If it was good, it would rate and it all made sense. Things in the business are stopping to make sense to me know.

It is difficult for people writing these days with the emergence of appropriate speak. It makes everybody fearful of what they write. In good faith am I going to write something where people will take exception and turn on me like a pack of feral dogs and my career will be over? It’s almost a new McCarthyism.”

Aaron Jefferey and Sara Wiseman

Aaron Jefferey and Sara Wiseman

Thinking of stepping back from series TV

Lee: “I have had my time in the sun. It’s time for me to step aside and let the young crop come through and make their shows.

“When you reach 70 [which happens in November] you don’t know when you are going to die. I don’t want to fall over dying of a heart attack with a headful of characters!

Lee seemed convinced this is the last series he has in him. He didn’t rule out maybe a novel or perhaps a movie. “This is a great way to go out because I have my head held high. Even if it’s not a ratings hit, which would be very sad, I know it’s a fucking good show. That’s the way I want to go out.”

Top Photos: Bevan Lee on the set of Between Two Worlds

Bauer Media cancels eight titles, starts up and sells in New Zealand

The owners of the former Bauer Media Australia titles Mercury Capital has shocked staff and the market by closing eight major brands. The titles impacted are mostly licensed brands meaning Mercury will not be paying royalties, but it will also have to give up the digital rights as well.

The titles closing are Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, InStyle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, NW and OK!

In a note to staff Mercury Capital’s magazine chief Brendon Hill said it was “no longer viable” to publish the eight paused titles.

Hill explained: “Whilst we were very optimistic to bring back all staff currently on stand down and return all titles in a few months, the lack of long term advertising market confidence and the escalating situation in Victoria and NSW is an unfortunate sign that the impact of Covid is ongoing and unrelenting. Whilst we were beginning to see promising signs short term, the market remains too volatile to confidently forecast the next 6-12 months.

The promising short term signs is possibly a reference to sales success Harper’s Bazaar was having with the brand though to have achieved its target of ad pages before it would return to print.

While there is no detail of the number of staff impacted by the decision, Hill said: “As part of these closures we will lose a number of our exceptionally talented, hard-working and loyal colleagues who are currently on stand down. We remained committed to bring these staff back and were looking forward to having a full team back, however the further market decline and long-term impact has made this impossible to achieve.”

Hill added there will be some staff not currently on stand down who will be let go. “This is a huge blow to the affected staff, the broader team and the industry.”

The move to axe eight titles from the group comes just days after Mercury Capital announced it was restarting magazine titles in New Zealand – Woman’s Day, New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, The Australian Women’s Weekly NZ, Your Home & Garden, The Listener and Air New Zealand’s magazine Kia Ora.

Meanwhile Mercury Capital has sold the New Zealand titles North and South and Metro to independent publishers, which will resume publication “as soon as possible”.

North & South has been sold to independent publishers Konstantin Richter and Verena Friederike Hasel, with Metro is going to Simon Chesterman.

The new-look Mercury Capital New Zealand operation will launch with a team of about 40 after the old Bauer Media New Zealand had a staff of close to 300.

James Bay
Nova’s Red Room with James Bay: Covid-19 can’t stop concert series

Last night James Bay (pictured) was the latest artist to join Nova’s Red Room Live Stream, performing an intimate gig for Nova winners and taking part in a special fan Q&A.

Hosted by Nova’s Smallzy, the singer explained he was “gutted not to be in Australia” but was, thanks to Wi-Fi, he was keen to make it all happen for an exclusive band of Nova listeners.

James Bay

Bay opened his Red Room Live Stream with a new track, Chew on My Heart before jumping into a cover of Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis. He shared with the lucky fans that he once played for Noel Gallagher himself which he joked was very intimidating. Bay then turned to a fan favourite – Hold Back The River.

Before getting into the performance, he explained how he felt learning that Australians were some of the first to hear and know the song: “There’ll always be a special place in my heart for you guys,” he said.

Fans then had the opportunity to ask their favourite artist some questions, one in particular really struck a chord with the singer. When asked about what he had learned during his career, James said: “When you think you’ve given 110% go for 115,” he said, advising people to go beyond what they perceive as their tether. “That’s often where a good idea comes from.”

Tonight on Nova’s evening show Smallzy’s Surgery, Smallzy will reveal the artist on the next Nova’s Red Room Live Stream experience.

the voice winner
TV Demand: The Voice Australia is #1 Aussie show as Criminal Minds joins the chart

By Trent Thomas

The Mandalorian has retained its top spot on the Digital Original charts in both Australia and New Zealand, while The 100 is still the #1 Overall TV show in Australia.

The only change on top of the chart is in NZ with Game of Thrones the new #1 on the Overall TV chart. This caps off a fairly settled week on the TV Demand charts which bucks the trend of 2020 which has seen a fair bit of change week to week.

However, one new addition to the Overall TV chart in Australia is Criminal Minds which wrapped up its 15th and final season on February 19, 2020, in the states. The procedural crime show has seen a fair number of cast members come and go throughout its extensive run but the show stayed true to its roots as the narrative surrounded a group of criminal profilers who work for the FBI using behavioural analysis and profiling to investigate crimes. The show aired on CBS in the US and can the final season can be seen on Seven and 7Plus in Australia.

The top Australian produced show on the TV Demand charts this week is The Voice Australia which concluded its grand final week on Sunday night. Chris Sebastian was named The Voice of Australia following the Grand Finale on Nine, beating out fellow finalists Stellar PerryJohnny Manuel and Siala Robson in one of the tightest public votes in The Voice Australia history.

Week 30 TV: OzTAM Ratings have been delayed

Media News Roundup

Business of media

Cyberattack hits TV ratings: Tuesday viewing data delay

Overnight ratings are not expected to be delivered to television executives and advertisers at 9am today, reports TV Tonight.

Late yesterday ratings provider OzTAM advised networks that due to a potential cyber-attack at the Nielsen data centre, Overnight ratings would not be published this morning.

The cause and severity of the attack is unclear with Nielsen working locally and globally to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Whilst no panel homes were polled last night, data can be stored for two weeks.

A Nielsen spokesperson told TV Tonight, “Nielsen has become aware of an unexpected disruption relating to the Australian TV Audience Measurement (TAM) data centre environment.

“The day’s TV viewing data will be collected and processed once functionality is restored. This means that Overnight data for Tuesday (July 21) will be delayed.

“Our team is dedicated to resolving this matter swiftly. In the meantime, we will be sure to keep the industry informed as new information on the matter becomes available.”

[Read more]

Ad mogul Martin Sorrell: 'I didn't want to retire – I have a point to prove'

Sir Martin Sorrell’s headline-grabbing, acrimonious departure from WPP seemed set to mark an ignominious end to the global ambitions of the most powerful man in advertising. But two years on his new media venture, S4 Capital, has just reached a market valuation of £1.5bn, making it worth more than DMGT, the publisher of the Daily Mail and Mail Online, reports The Guardian.

Sorrell is now head of the UK’s sixth-biggest listed media company, with a value equal to a fifth of his bete noire WPP, and has continued to grow it even during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sorrell, 75, founded the business just months after resigning from WPP after an investigation into alleged personal misconduct. He has always strenuously denied wrongdoing, and departing as a “good leaver” – in the unusual position of not having a non-compete agreement – meant he was able to get up and running again at top speed.

[Read more]

Publishing

'Everyone's head spinning' as Bauer axes eight magazines

The team at Harper’s BAZAAR Australia had only just started working on plans to relaunch the iconic fashion magazine with a bumper October issue featuring its annual list of Visionary Women, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Hornery.

There had even been discussions about Nicole Kidman – who returned to Australia on the weekend and is currently in quarantine – posing for the magazine’s cover.

Trickling back to their Park Street offices, editor-in-chief Eugenie Kelly and her team had good reason to think the magazine, which sits alongside Vogue Australia at the top of the fashion publishing tree, had a rosy future in Australia.

So, when the Harper‘s team was told to log-in to a Tuesday morning Zoom meeting, many looked forward to it, thinking it was to discuss their plans for the October issue.

Instead, they were told that the Mercury Capital-owned Bauer Media Australia was to close the magazine along with other titles including InStyle, Elle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, NW and OK!.

“It’s devastating. We had no idea until the Zoom meeting this morning. Everyone’s head is spinning at present, the whole team … we truly believed we had a very strong opportunity to come back and secure Harper‘s future in Australia,” one of the magazine’s devastated staff told PS, on the grounds of anonymity, an hour after losing her job.

[Read more]

See also: Bauer Media cancels eight titles, starts up and sells in New Zealand

News Brands

Former SBS newsreader says she left due to ‘mistreatment of staff’

The former SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin has confirmed she resigned from SBS after 30 years in 2018 because she was unhappy with management’s treatment of staff and the corporate direction of the multicultural broadcaster, reports Guardian Australia’s Amanda Meade.

Chin’s decision to publicly rebuke SBS management follows revelations by other former SBS staffers this month that they had suffered racism and toxicity in the workplace.

Chin, who was born in Singapore, told Guardian Australia she did not suffer from racist attitudes at SBS, but believed there were systemic workplace issues at the broadcaster, including a lack of diversity in management.

In a 2018 letter to then SBS chairman Hass Dellal, obtained by Guardian Australia, Chin said the “lack of consideration and common human respect” for SBS staff had made her so unhappy she quit before her contract was up.

[Read more]

Gatto vs the ABC defamation case starts today in Supreme Court

The former Carlton Crew boss Mick Gatto’s defamation action against the ABC and journalists Nino Bucci and Sarah Farnsworth kicks off today in Victoria’s Supreme Court, reports News Corp’s Jonathan Chancellor.

The matter is scheduled before Justice Andrew Keogh alone, after Gatto failed to secure a jury trial.

The underworld figure has sued, alleging there was an imputation that he was a “murderer” and “hit man”, after the ABC reported allegations made by a police inspector in a 2016 affidavit.

The ABC claims its 2019 website article was a fair and accurate report of court proceedings attracting a statutory defence. If it did defame Gatto, the ABC suggests his damages should be reduced “owing to his prior offending and his reputation more generally”.

[Read more]

Television

A controversial hug caps off a winning season of MasterChef

When Emelia Jackson realised she’d won the 2020 season of MasterChef, she couldn’t resist throwing her arms around runner-up and close friend, Laura Sharrad, report The Age’s Michael Lallo and Broede Carmody.

“I was surprised [the producers] included it because I knew it would cause a little bit of controversy,” Jackson said. “My heart truly broke for Loz; she’d put her heart and soul into this competition and I could feel her trembling next to me and I just couldn’t help myself.”

Normally, this kind of physical contact would result in a hefty fine given the strict social distancing measures being enforced across Melbourne. But 30-year-old Jackson and 25-year-old Sharrad shared an apartment while the series was being filmed, exempting them from the “no hugging” rule.

Monday night’s “winner announcement” segment was watched by an average of 2 million Australians nationally, while the remainder of the episode averaged 1.64 million. The full season averaged 1.35 million viewers, with 10 claiming it was MasterChef‘s best-rating season since 2016 and the most popular reality TV show this quarter – beating Nine’s The Voice (1.29 million) and Seven’s Big Brother reboot (an average 1.13 million viewers so far).

Nine’s program director, Hamish Turner, said he was very happy with The Voice‘s 2020 performance.

“It is a proven and consistent performer and the team at ITV did a brilliant job of overcoming the challenges for the show posed by COVID-19,” he said. “[Sunday] night saw more than 1.2 million people nationally tune in to see Chris Sebastian announced as the winner and we are confident that we will strengthen our position in the back half as we move into Ninja Warrior, The Block, NRL Grand Final and the State of Origin.”

[Read more]

Sports Media

Fox Footy and Fox League numbers climb: Kayo audiences revealed

• As Bounce closes in on 400 episodes, celebrates with Best Of program

Foxtel Media has reported on increased audiences for NRL and AFL games on the dedicated Fox League and Fox Footy channels so far in 2020. 

For the NRL games, 2020 season live coverage has climbed 18% YOY across Foxtel & Kayo. The Sea Eagles v Eels highest rating match of round 10 had an average audience of 396,000 across Foxtel and Kayo. With a Fox League live audience of 282,000, that indicates the Kayo live audience was 114,000. (Kayo number includes streaming via Foxtel Go and Foxtel Now.)

Meanwhile AFL audiences on Fox Footy during 2020 are up 19% YOY on Foxtel and Kayo. The Geelong v Collingwood the highest rating match of round 7 averaged 317,000 across Foxtel and Kayo. With a live Fox Footy audience of 240,000, that indicates the Kayo audience was 77,000.

Meanwhile as Fox Footy is about to have a run of 25 days of live football in the next 26 days, Bounce will celebrate with an extra episode.

Since it first hit screens in 2007, Foxtel’s “footytainment” show Bounce has had AFL fans tuned to the channel after Sunday’s final game of the round. This weekend, goal kicking legend and host Jason Dunstall will celebrate the very best moments in Best of Bounce, to air on Saturday 25th July between the Sydney v Hawthorn and Port Adelaide v St Kilda games on Fox Footy, channel 504 on Foxtel.

With close to 400 episodes, Dunstall and his eclectic crew of footy mates have charmed fans every week on Fox Footy ‘s flagship sports entertainment program.

This weekend’s celebratory 40-minute instalment will reflect on the hilarious favourite moments of the last 14 years. From the revolutionary introduction of the Golden Fist Award, to the cult-segment Numerology, Bounce is football’s longest running variety show that has families in stitches.

Amongst the set feast of laughs, the special episode will showcase the creativity of fans and footballers during recent times in lockdown, ‘Yesterday’s Heroes’ challenges from the past featuring Dunstall and the beloved late Danny “Spud” Frawley as well as  the funniest Turn It Up segments presented by basketball great Andrew Gaze.

Bounce fans will be treated to a big weekend, with a fun new episode airing in the regular time straight after the footy and live on Sunday night.

Fox Footy will have 20 straight days of live footy from July 29

Richmond and the Western Bulldogs will kick-off a Big Bash-style 20 consecutive days of AFL matches on Wednesday week, reports AFL.com.au’s Damian Barrett.

The Tigers-Dogs game, to be played Wednesday July 29, two days after the completion of round eight, will be the first of 33 matches to be jammed into rounds nine to 12 of the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season.

Double headers will occur on the Thursday nights in round nine and 10, on the Monday night of round 11, and on the Wednesday night of round 10.

Four teams will have a bye in round 10, while another two won’t play in round 11.

As part of the agreement of players to subject themselves to four-day breaks during rounds 9-12, the AFL has allowed for clubs and players to finalise contract negotiations.

Being able to strike that deal was important to the players, for professional security reasons, given the extraordinary circumstances they are working under in the COVID-19 interrupted 2020 season.

[Read more]

Waratahs chairman unloads on New Zealand Rugby's 'appalling' ploy

Waratahs chairman Roger Davis has launched a blistering attack on New Zealand Rugby over an “appalling” ploy of directly approaching local Super Rugby teams behind Rugby Australia’s back to gauge interest over involvement in a Kiwi-organised competition next year, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Tom Decent.

It prompted a frustrated Davis to suggest Australian teams and RA should now consider inviting four or five New Zealand sides, based on current form, to come this side of the ditch instead for a competition of its own.

Both Australia and New Zealand have shown their hands and neither is budging as tensions continue to grow over how a provincial rugby offering in place of Super Rugby will look next year.

[Read more]

Respected racing personality, commentator Rob Gaylard dies aged 70

Rob Gaylard, a highly-respected racing personality, equine commentator and educator, passed away suddenly on Tuesday morning at his property near Geelong, reports News Corp’s Gilbert Gadriner.

Gaylard, 70, was the voice and face of the Flemington Mounting Yard presentations for about 20 years.

The Carlton “tragic”, who worked in Racing Victoria’s Apprentice Jockey Training Program since 2002, was known within both the racing and equestrian communities.

A passionate and knowledgeable horseman, Gaylard took immense pride in helping retired racehorses make the transition from the racetrack to equestrian pursuits, including Group 1 winner Chautauqua.

[Read more]

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