Roundup: Michael Gudinski, Nine’s board shakeup, Rupert Murdoch + more

Mushroom Group

• Eurovision, Britney Spears, Bruce McAvaney and SAS Australia

Tributes to Michael Gudinski after his sudden passing. Just a tiny sample of some of the commentary on Tuesday.

Former employee, author and one-time Mediaweek contributor Jen Jewel Brown

Rest easy Michael Gudinski. I wrote early bios for his bands and cut my journo teeth at his and Michael Browning‘s Daily Planet, later Planet. Years later he hired me as Australia’s first female A&R Manager, at Mushroom, in the mid to late 80s. He hired and promoted heaps of women to his businesses against the general male-dominated grain and they worked their guts out for him and helped make him shine. He was funny, inspiring, naughty, all-powerful and worked a room and a record like nobody else. He was in love with great Australian music and helped millions fall in love with it too. Michael, yes, as you reminded me, you still owe me that platinum record for signing Yothu Yindi and you can send me one for The Church and Starfish too [lol].

Alan Howe in The Australian: Australian music icon Michael Gudinski dies aged 68

The veteran music promoter — who started managing bands when he was a teenager and launched Mushroom Records when he was 20 — was a beloved figure in the business because of his unwavering commitment to Australian music.

He discovered Skyhooks, signed Split Enz, took a punt on Neighbours actor and would-be singer Kylie Minogue, and kept on discovering and signing new artists throughout his career.

As a concert manager, he brought many acts to Australia starting with The Police and Squeeze in 1980. Other big names included The Eagles, Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones and Elton John, but he was most proud of securing Frank Sinatra in 1989.

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Also from Alan Howe:

Gudinski wasn’t a musician and didn’t grow up in a household where music was dominant. That music made him wealthy was all his own work. He saw a disjointed, chaotic local music scene — run from back yards and with too many fly-by-nighters who “never had a business plan” — and saw the opportunity.

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See also this Michael Gudinski photo gallery in The Australian.

Michael Bailey in The AFR: ‘Music moved forward because of Michael’: Gudinski remembered

In remarks to The Australian Financial Review prior to Gudinski’s death last week, longtime friend (and occasional foe) Michael Chugg had paid tribute to the businessman’s efforts during the pandemic.

“He’s been promoting the f–k out of Australian music and not just his own – everybody’s!” he said.

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Michael Dwyer in Nine newspapers: ‘A sentimental guy’… with a power shake that made Australia rock

That first handshake with Michael Gudinski never left me. I was nervous about one of my first interviews with a bona fide rock legend – Jimmy Barnes – but when the flesh got pressed in the record company boardroom, I learned who was in charge.

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Karl Quinn and Martin Boulton in Nine newspapers: ‘My heart is broken’: Kylie, Springsteen and more mourn Michael Gudinski

It is impossible to talk about Australian music of the past 50 years without factoring in the contribution of Michael Gudinski, the co-founder of Mushroom Records, who died in his sleep on Monday night, aged 68.

From the first Sunbury Pop Festival of 1972 – a three-day outdoor event that paved the way for Big Day Out and others in the decades to come – to the breakthrough success of Skyhooks in 1975, to helping build the careers of Split Enz, Sunnyboys, Kylie Minogue, Hunters and Collectors, Yothu Yindi, Vance Joy and many more, his impact on the local industry was enormous.

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Cameron Adams for News Corp: The stars, singers and musicians Mushroom Music made famous

There aren’t too many people in the Australian music industry Michael Gudinski hasn’t crossed paths with or had some dealings with.

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Kathy McCabe for News Corp: Michael Gudinski’s death raises questions about what lies ahead for the Mushroom Group

“If any other prick asks me if I’m retiring tonight they can f … off.’’

Michael Gudinski must have uttered this mock outrage at least a dozen times as he greeted friends and his extended music family at Mushroom’s 40th anniversary celebrations at a Melbourne warehouse in 2013.

The indefatigable record label boss and concert promoter chose to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his iconic family-owned music group with a relaunch of the Mushroom brand and the promotion of his son Matt to the position of executive director.

He had no desire to retire – then or now – but he had a succession plan long before he needed one.

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Also from Kathy McCabe: Michael Chugg honours Mushroom Records founder

For as long as anyone in the Australian music industry can remember, they’ve always been The Michaels.

Michael Gudinski and Michael Chugg, joined to the hip since they were teenagers and mates for five decades, even when they were competitors in business.

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Christie Eliezer in The Music Network: Michael Gudinski dies

Michael Gudinski was a pioneer in many ways, including the number of women he employed in senior roles, or signing First Nations acts before they were accepted by the wider music community.

Last year when the live industry shuttered, within a weekend, Gudinski moved his operations to create TV shows The Sound and State Of Play, to keep local live acts in front of audiences.

To make them work, he used his close contacts with politicians and media.

And such was his reputation with younger generations, he was asked to enter politics.

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The Music Network: Music industry farewells Michael Gudinski

Denis Handlin AO, Chairman & CEO, Sony Music Australia and New Zealand:

“Over more than 50 years, Michael was one of the key driving forces behind the Australian music industry. He was a pioneer and a titan responsible for breaking and making the careers of a very long list of our best-known artists. To Michael, it wasn’t just business. His passion for Australian artists and for Australian music saw him create a place for this country’s popular music on the world stage.  I have always had the utmost respect for Michael’s achievements on both a local and global level. He exemplified the devotion, risk-taking and love of artists that this industry is all about – Michael made hits and built careers. Above all else, he was a treasured friend. My deepest condolences to Sue, Matt and Kate, and their extended family. Our love and thoughts are with you. Michael’s legacy will live forever.”

Brad March, Managing Director, Marchmedia:

“A very sad day, Michael was a legend and a great friend who was always there when I needed him. I first met Michael when I was 27 years old. From that day on a great friendship with him and his beautiful wife Sue endured. We had so many great times together, he was always so passionate and a great supporter. A giant of a man who did so much for so many people. He was an inspiration for me, whether he knew it or now. I will miss Michael. My love and wishes to Sue, Matt and Kate and his grandchildren. He loved you all so much.”

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Business of Media

Nine headed for board shake-up as former Fairfax director resigns

The Nine Entertainment board is facing another shake-up after the sudden resignation of a director just three months after the chief executive, Hugh Marks, quit, reports Guardian Australia’s Amanda Meade.

The independent director Patrick Allaway, who joined the board after the $4bn merger with Fairfax Media in 2018, blamed more “intense duties” in his other role as chairman of the Bank of Queensland for his decision to step down.

However, he resigned the day after the company’s own mastheads reported on an investigation into the deputy chairman, Nick Falloon, another one of the three Fairfax directors to join the Nine board.

Falloon and Allaway, along with Mickie Rosen, made up the Fairfax faction on the board and do not always see eye-to-eye with the Nine directors led by the chairman, Peter Costello, sources said.

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Peter Costello in control as Nine board splinters

Nine Entertainment chairman Peter Costello has assumed a greater role in the day-to-day running of the embattled media giant amid a deepening split among directors aligned with the company’s rival broadcasting and print divisions, reports News Corp’s James Madden and Lilly Vitorovich.

Nine’s outgoing chief executive, Hugh Marks, has been absent from key investor meetings following the company’s first-half financial results last Wednesday. He largely left the key negotiations with Google and Facebook over payment for content to Costello and Chris Janz, who runs publishing.

The company’s board has long been split between directors who were formerly with Fairfax Media — which merged with Nine in December 2018 — and those with the broadcaster.

“He’s running the show,” one industry source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said of Costello on Tuesday. “He thinks he’s (Seven West Media chairman) Kerry Stokes.”

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All to play for in Rupert Murdoch’s endgame

By his own reckoning, Rupert Murdoch was supposed to die a fortnight ago, on a Tuesday afternoon, writes The Financial Times Alex Barker, Anna Nicolaou and James Fontanella-Khan.

As executive chairman of News Corp and co-chairman of Fox Corporation, he will become one of a handful of nonagenarians still running a listed US company. And he is still marking achievements: he recently closed a global content deal with Google, one he fought for more than a decade to secure. It is the envy of other news publishers.

Yet in his twilight years, the question of what happens to the Murdoch media dynasty still seems vexed as ever – a ceaseless family struggle. His children are at odds, not least over Fox News. Lachlan Murdoch, his elder son, is heir apparent. But the succession question somehow still remains open. A battle over the family trust, which holds the shares in News Corp and Fox, looms once Rupert Murdoch relinquishes his grip. None of the children have the votes to exert control alone.

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Eurovision 2021: all artists in Rotterdam

Eurovision organisers overnight “re-affirmed” a Plan B for the event in Rotterdam in May, reports TV Tonight.

One of 4 previously outlined strategies, Plan B allows for all artists Live in Rotterdam, but with limited or no audience members, subject to government regulations.

A COVID-safe plan will include regular testing, social distancing observed, with 500 journalists (a further 1000 in a new online press centre) and scaled-back events in the city of Rotterdam.

All those attending from abroad are recommended to go into quarantine for 5 days before departure to the Netherlands and they must test negative for COVID-19 at most 72 hours before they fly.

Once in the Netherlands, delegations have to stay in their hotel, except when they travel to Rotterdam’s Ahoy Arena for rehearsals, the live shows and other programme related activities.

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Framing Britney Spears documentary airs in Australia on Tuesday night

Australian audiences have reacted to a long-awaited documentary revealing disturbing details about Britney Spears father’s control of her finances and her struggle with the paparazzi, with many backing the #FreeBritney movement, reports News corp’s Georgia Clark.

The bombshell ‘Framing Britney Spears’ documentary from The New York Times sheds light on the pop icon’s court-sanctioned conservatorship over her finances by her father, Jamie Spears and her vexed relationship with the tabloid press.

The film for the first time aired to Australian audiences on Channel 9 at 9pm AEDT on Tuesday, a month after it aired in America.

Viewers quickly reacted to the film, with many embracing the #FreeBritney hashtag calling for her to be freed from her father’s conservatorship. The #FramingBritneySpears hashtag was also trending on Twitter.

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Ant Middleton dumped from SAS UK series

SAS Australia instructor Ant Middleton has been cut from the original UK series SAS: Who Dares Wins after 5 seasons by broadcaster Channel 4, reports TV Tonight.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: “Ant Middleton will not be taking part in future series of SAS: Who Dares Wins.

“Following a number of discussions Channel 4 and Minnow Films have had with him in relation to his personal conduct it has become clear that our views and values are not aligned and we will not be working with him again.”

Middleton said: “After five years on the show it just felt like I had achieved everything I could with the format.

“There’s so many other formats that I am working on now that feel more suited to who I am today.

“It’s been a brilliant experience being on that show but I’m honestly happy to let some new blood come in and put their own stamp on it.”

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Sports Media

Channel 7 puts commentators on trial to replace Bruce McAvaney

James Brayshaw will be on trial when he replaces Bruce McAvaney on Channel 7’s prime time football calling spot, reports News Corp’s Scott Gullan.

The network is set to use the first part of the AFL season as an audition for who will sit next to Brian Taylor permanently in the coveted Friday night seat.

Brayshaw is likely to be given six weeks in the main chair with the other candidates, Hamish McLachlan and Luke Darcy, then given a chance to show their wares on the biggest stage.

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