Roundup: Oscars fallout, Bec Hewitt comeback, Ben Roberts-Smith + more

oscars 2021

• Plus Dane Swan and A Current Affair

Business of Media

Ben Roberts-Smith stands down ahead of trial

Ben Roberts-Smith has stepped down from his executive role at Seven West Media ahead of a major defamation trial against Nine Entertainment over stories alleging the Victoria Cross recipient committed war crimes, reports AFR‘s Max Mason.

Effective immediately, Roberts-Smith stood down on Monday from his role as general manager of Seven Queensland.

In an email to Seven staff, chief executive James Warburton said Roberts-Smith’s leave was a “mutual decision”.

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News Brands

A Current Affair paid alleged tax scandal blackmailer $3000, court told

A veteran crime journalist who is accused of blackmailing alleged members of a $105m tax fraud syn­dicate was paid $3000 by A Current Affair for information about the suspected scam, a court has heard, reports News Corp’s Kieran Gair.

Steve Barrett, who once worked for 60 Minutes, the Seven Network and The Australian, has been accused of blackmailing Adam Cranston, adult son of former deputy ATO commissioner Michael Cranston, his co-accused Jason Onley, and Cranston’s tax lawyer Dev Menon.

Cranston is facing a joint criminal trial with Menon and Onley. They are among nine people allegedly embroiled in Australia’s largest white-collar crime. The alleged fraudsters are accused of creating a bogus payroll company, Plutus Payroll, and using the business to withhold pay-as-you-go tax worth $105m.

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Former ACA producer ‘tipped off about alleged payroll tax fraud’

A former executive producer of A Current Affair now NSW Police executive director Grant Williams has revealed veteran crime reporter Steve Barrett tipped him off about a “major scandal” involving a tax rort by a group including the son of a deputy tax commissioner” a day before Barrett is alleged to have been involved in blackmailing that group, reports News Corp’s Natalie O’Brien.

Williams told the NSW Supreme Court on Monday Barrett, who he had known for 30 years and considered one of the most experienced reporters in Sydney, often had information and tip-offs about stories for which he was paid by ACA and the tax fraud rort story ended up as one of them.

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Dane Swan misses his KIIS FM radio show after big Anzac Day

Collingwood champion Dane Swan was a no-show on radio Monday morning after a big day out on Anzac Day, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

The premiership star said he was “hanging on by a thread” after KIIS FM breakfast hosts Jase and PJ finally got onto him at eight minutes to 9am.

Swan was due at the studio 20 minutes prior and in the end tried to claim he’d set his alarm for PM instead of AM after ending up at the South Melbourne pub he part-owns.

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Oscars Analysis: How Chadwick lost, Frances won and the show went off the rails

Sunday night’s 93rd Academy Awards brought an end to the longest Oscar season in 87 years — one which considered 14 months’ worth of films, and which wrapped up 441 days after the 92nd — at downtown Los Angeles’ Union Station, which, as others have noted, was fitting, because it was, in some ways, a trainwreck, reports the Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg.

The show was produced by extremely talented people (Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins) under unenviable circumstances (during a global pandemic, with most commercial films pushed to next season when more movie theaters will have reopened, etc.). But the Oscars are not graded on a curve, and unfortunately far too many decisions about the ceremony were badly miscalculated.

I can only assume that the producers insisted upon and the Academy granted them final-cut, and the producers, recognizing that nothing could stop this from being the lowest-rated Oscars in history, decided to try out a bunch of out-there stuff: not only not having a host (for the third year in a row), but also having no comedy bits, music performances or film clips; giving a biographical sketch of virtually every nominee; waiting until deep into the show to present a highly-anticipated award; presenting not one but two Jean Hersholt humanitarian awards on the air; not playing off any longwinded acceptance speeches; and presenting best picture as the third-to-last award of the night, rather than the last.

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Also read: Oscars 2021: Nomadland, Soul, Judas and the Black Messiah win big

Oscars viewers outraged at omission of Naya Rivera and Jessica Walter from In Memoriam segment

Oscar viewers were left outraged as certain stars did not appear in the ‘In Memoriam’ segment during Monday’s award show, reports News Corp’s Bianca Mastroianni.

Twitter users asked why talented actors including Naya Rivera and Jessica Walter were not mentioned in the segment.

Former Glee actress Rivera appeared in movies such as the 2017 Charlie Sheen comedy Mad Families. She died in July 2020 at the age of 33, after going missing on a boat trip with her young son.

Walter, who was most recently known for her role in Arrested Development also starred in films such as 1988’s Slums of Beverly Hills, died in March aged 80. She was a Golden Globe nominee for Play Misty for Me.

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Bec Hewitt hints at a return to TV after Dancing With The Stars finale

Bec Hewitt has put a return to acting on the table, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

The wife of tennis great Lleyton Hewitt, who was once one of the biggest name starlets on Australian television, made the suggestion after placing second on the latest season of Dancing With The Stars behind winner Luke Jacobz.

“I would love to do another acting job,” Hewitt told Confidential.

“I love working with creative people so we’ll see what happens.”

Hewitt, nee Cartwright, played Hayley Smith Lawson on popular soap Home And Away from 1998 to 2005. She won the Silver Logie for Most Popular actor in 2005 and was nominated for the Gold Logie the following year.

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