Roundup: ABC News restructure, Meghan and Harry, Neighbours

Harry & Meghan

Golden Globes, New York Times, Disney+, Mel Dzelde, Piers Morgan, The Living Room, Boy Swallows Universe

Business of Media

Jerrod Carmichael to host Golden Globes as broadcast returns from scandal

The stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael will serve as host of the Golden Globes next month, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced Thursday. It’s the first time the tarnished film and television awards ceremony will be broadcast since a 2021 scandal over the ethics and diversity of the H.F.P.A., the group behind the Globes, reports The New York Times’ Stephanie Goodman.

Carmichael may be best known for his critically acclaimed HBO stand-up special Rothaniel, in which he came out as gay. He also was the star of an NBC sitcom, The Carmichael Show, that ran from 2015 to 2017.

The Globes are trying to re-establish themselves as a must-watch evening. While the awards were never an indication of Oscar voters’ mind-set, the ceremony did provide studios and stars a high-profile opportunity to campaign before the Academy Awards. Or at least that was the case until 2021, when investigations by The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times revealed the nonprofit group’s lack of diversity (at the time it had no Black members) as well as members’ high compensation.

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New York Times staffers go on one-day strike amid stalled contract talks

More than 1,000 New York Times staffers went on strike on Thursday for the first time in over 40 years, its newsroom union said, putting the organization in the position of having to cover news for one day without the majority of its reporters, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Alexandra Bruell.

The one-day work stoppage comes as contract negotiations between management and the members of the NewsGuild, which represents 1,450 Times staffers—including 1,270 newsroom employees—have stalled for nearly two years over pay and benefits.

Staffers were planning to picket the Times building in Midtown Manhattan on Thursday, the NewsGuild said.

In separate memos on Wednesday evening, Chief Executive Meredith Kopit Levien and Executive Editor Joseph Kahn expressed disappointment about the walkout.

“Strikes typically happen when talks deadlock,” Kahn wrote in an email to staffers. “That is not where we are today.”

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Disney+ raises prices, launches cheaper ad-supported tier

Walt Disney Co. rolled out its new ad-supported Disney+ subscription on Thursday, an attempt to revitalize its flagship streaming service that the company has said lost more than $8 billion over the past three years, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Joseph De Avila.

Disney is charging US$7.99 a month for the version of Disney+ with ads. The ad-free version will now cost US$10.99 a month, up from $7.99. More than 100 advertisers have signed up for the new program, according to Disney.

The rollout of the ad-supported Disney+ follows a few tumultuous weeks for the media giant. Disney last month announced companywide cost-cutting measures and told division leaders that layoffs were likely. The board then ousted Bob Chapek as chief executive and brought back Robert Iger, the company’s former chairman and CEO who had previously left at the end of last year.

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News Brands

ABC to combine regional and national news teams in major restructure

ABC managing director David Anderson will hire a chief content officer and migrate regional reporters to the news division as part of a major shift in the way the national broadcaster operates and commissions programs, reports Nine Publishing’s Zoe Samios.

The ABC will also appoint a chief content officer, who will oversee commissions of entertainment and local programs, and will move regional radio teams into the news and investigations division under the plans, which are expected to be finalised by April 2023.

The restructure, revealed by this masthead in November, is similar to one the British public broadcaster, BBC, implemented in 2020 and is designed to improve the way stories are commissioned.

Anderson said in a note to staff, seen by this masthead, the changes outlined would ensure “the best possible decision-making structure and processes for the future”.

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ABC to appoint Chief Content Officer as it overhauls internal structure

ABC will restructure its content divisions after 5 years of its current model, with the appointment of a Chief Content Officer, reports TV Tonight.

ABC will recruit for the role in coming weeks, but it is yet to clarify if staff numbers will be reduced under the new model.

Managing Director David Anderson outlined changes yesterday in a note to employees.

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Media outlets outraged over Meghan and Harry series run wall-to-wall coverage

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Netflix documentary is highly critical of the British media – but the programme is sending millions of readers to the same news outlets they criticise in the film, reports The Guardian’s Jim Waterson.

Many of the newspapers that have denounced the royal couple for making a Netflix documentary about themselves are also providing wall-to-wall coverage about the contents of the same documentary.

Within two hours of the release of the first episodes, the top 12 stories on MailOnline were all about the couple, complete with pictures, gifs, and screengrabs. The Sun managed seven stories about the couple online within the first two hours.

Articles about the couple drive an enormous numbers of clicks to news websites, making them a top subject for sites that rely on online advertising to make money, with every angle covered. This interest results in intense competition to be the news outlet with the top Google search result for terms such as “Meghan Markle” or “Prince Harry”.

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Radio identity Mel Dzelde dies aged 52 after health battles

SA radio identity and author Mel Dzelde has died after twin battles with cancer and motor neurone disease, reports News Corp’s Kitty Barr.

Mel’s husband, fellow radio personality Chris, said she passed away “peacefully in her sleep” on Thursday morning.

“Her joy and incredibly gracious spirit will, however, live on in all who were touched by her particularly powerful, wonderful magic,” he wrote in a social media post.

“Thank you my darling wife, for nearly ten years of married bliss! (we still called ourselves Newlyweds!), and I remain in constant awe of the happiness you beamed over EVERYONE!

“And, we’ll make sure the beams continue! (they may even be more powerful now!)”

The mother of three beat rectal cancer three times only to have it return once more before she was diagnosed with MND.

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How Cristiano Ronaldo saved Piers Morgan’s new TV show

Piers Morgan has had to be resilient during his near 40-year career in journalism. In 2004, he was sacked as editor of the Daily Mirror and escorted from the newspaper’s offices after it had published photographs, later shown to be fakes, showing British soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners, reports Nine Publishing’s William Turvill.

In 2014 Morgan was sacked again when ratings for his CNN show collapsed. Last year, his six-year reign on ITV’s Good Morning Britain ended when a co-presenter challenged his persistent attacks on Meghan Markle: Morgan walked off the set and later resigned when he was ordered to apologise.

Nevertheless, this year must have been a challenge, even for him. In April, ahead of the launch of his new show, Piers Morgan Uncensored, the 57-year-old’s image appeared on ad hoardings and buses across the UK – a statement of serious intent from Rupert Murdoch’s TalkTV.

In the months that followed, Morgan’s many critics have delighted in referring to his show as Piers Morgan Unwatched. Reports of poor viewing figures seemed to signal a decline in fortune for a man reported to make around £15 million ($27.3 million) a year from TalkTV, Fox documentaries, columns for the Sun and New York Post, and a book deal with HarperCollins.

When I meet him in his London studio, I ask if the low TV ratings bothered him. Morgan, not usually one for admitting weakness, concedes it had been wounding. “I’m a very competitive, healthy-ego individual who’s never going to be happy seeing crap numbers,” he says. “And some nights, they were crap. For no reason. And it used to eat away at my soul like a flesh-eating bug.” He describes the official Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (Barb) figures for his show as “schizophrenic”, ranging from 7500 to 70,000 viewers a night.

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Amanda Keller, Chris Brown open up after Living Room axed for 2023

When it was announced that TV show The Living Room would not return for 2023, the words ‘rested’ and ‘hiatus’ were used, reports News Corp’s
Jonathon Moran.

Now, two months later, the cast say they are still wondering what exactly the words mean.

“If you knew what it meant, I’d like you to tell me,” co-host Amanda Keller told Confidential.

“I think it means, what they have said to us is that we will be back the following year with a bit of a zhuzh but that is all I know.”

On October 6, Keller announced on her WSFM breakfast show that 10’s The Living Room would not be returning in 2023.

The show had been running for 11 years with Keller joined as co-host by Barry DuBois, Miguel Maestre and Chris Brown.

She said at the time that it was “a network decision”.

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Guy Pearce weighs in on possible return to Neighbours

Guy Pearce says he doesn’t quite know what to make of the miraculous resurrection of Neighbours, reports News Corp’s James Wigney.

The Aussie actor is one of the most celebrated and successful alumni of the long-running soapie, having made his mark on the world stage in movies such as LA Confidential and The King’s Speech as well as TV roles in Mildred Pierce, A Christmas Carol, and Mare of Easttown.

He was also widely regarded as the standout of the farewell episode in July, when his character Mike Young touchingly reunited with his 1990s love interest, Annie Jones’s Jane Harris. Pearce says that one of the main reasons he agreed to the nostalgic finale was to be able to play the father of his friend Henrietta Graham’s character and to close the chapter on something that “really holds a special place in my heart”. So the announcement last month that Amazon had acquired the show and plans to restart production early next year left him a little nonplussed.

“I’m very pleased for everybody that it’s coming back,” he says. “But at the same time it is sort of weird, isn’t it, when you get ready to finish something and then it’s alive again. We’ve got to figure out what that means for everybody I suppose.”

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TV streaming services look to regional Queensland towns for ‘authentic’ settings

Viewers looking for authenticity in television shows have created a skyrocketing demand for locations in regional Queensland, reports the ABC’s Kemii Maguire.

The Queensland town of Jandowae, more than 250 kilometres north-west of Brisbane, didn’t need many changes to transform into a 1980s film set this week.

Streaming service Netflix has been filming its adaptation of the novel Boy Swallows Universe, written by Australian author Trent Dalton.

The scenes will be of an eight-part limited series, filmed in locations scattered across metro and regional Queensland.

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