The launch of Marc Ellis' new book Crossing the Line didn't exactly start smoothly at a lunch at Auckland's Langham Hotel yesterday. When Ellis got up to speak, he stumbled on to the stage, mumbled something about "17 beers", then crashed into the podium and knocked it down. The mainly male crowd thought that was hilarious.
With the launch hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce, Ellis quipped at the irony of it being "the only country I'm not allowed to visit" - referring to his conviction this year for possession of the Class B drug Ecstasy.
The former sports star and TV personality made only brief reference to the drug bust, saying "the drug thing wasn't the greatest chapter in my life".
With the book revealing that Ellis had been approached by Don Brash to consider standing as a National Party list candidate in the last election, Ellis took a few light-hearted swipes at Prime Minister Helen Clark. He told some decidedly off-colour jokes involving former sporting mates, before adding, "I need to mention Matthew Ridge." Long silence. "Ummm..."
As Ellis explained that he wrote the book to make people laugh, a friend asked him when the movie-of-the-book was coming out. Quick as a flash, Ellis replied, "I don't want to see that movie again."