The Diary: Duncan Garner makes shock exit

Duncan Garner was a no-show on Saturday after a dispute over his scheduled interview with Education Minister Hekia Parata, leaving Rachel Smalley (left) to carry the can. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Duncan Garner was a no-show on Saturday after a dispute over his scheduled interview with Education Minister Hekia Parata, leaving Rachel Smalley (left) to carry the can. Photo / Mark Mitchell

TV3 political editor Duncan Garner has walked out of weekend news show The Nation over a dispute with executive producer Richard Harman.

Garner was due to interview Education Minister Hekia Parata on Saturday morning, but unexpectedly quit 24 hours earlier.

Harman told The Diary the dispute was a "trivial blow-up over the allocation duration of the interview". But Garner said it was a difference of opinion over Harman's approach to the show and how he should interview Parata.

Rachel Smalley, co-host of The Nation, interviewed Parata instead and fronted the hour-long show on her own.

Harman said Smalley was ambitious and pleased for the opportunity. "Rachel said she's no longer under the shadow of Duncan."

However, Smalley will be absent this Saturday in the crucial post-Budget show. With no political editor on hand, TV3 anchor Simon Shepherd is filling in.

Smalley is travelling to Africa. The Diary understands Guyon Espiner won't be involved with the show.

Harman had hoped the tiff could be resolved and Garner would return, but after a discussion with TV3 news director Mark Jennings he understands this is unlikely.

Jennings told The Diary that Garner left because of a difference of opinion with Harman.

He couldn't force Garner to work where he didn't want to. "Producers and presenters don't always get along. There's always been a bit of tension between them about which route the programme would go," Jennings said.

Garner said he clashed with Harman once too often.

"It's no secret we've had a difference of opinion over some aspects of the programme. We've had a few tussles, but on this occasion, I decided to make it our last scrap. I'm not saying I'm right, or he's right, but for the sake of the programme I decided it was best for me to stand aside."

Harman acknowledged Garner's contribution to The Nation, which is funded by New Zealand on Air.

"We have a volatile relationship at the best of times, but we're also friends."

Who will replace Garner and join Smalley as anchor is yet to be decided. But Jennings said the future of The Nation looked good.

"This country needs shows like this, otherwise we're just going to have crap."

TONY VEITCH'S ON-AIR FUNNY FAUX PAS

Controversial radio star Tony Veitch was left red-faced after a comment on Mike Hosking's Newstalk ZB show on Friday morning.

During the early morning round-up between Hosking, Veitch and newsreader Niva Retimanu, the topic turned to why the latter was dressed as a tennis net. Retimanu said the station was celebrating Wendy Meyer's farewell with a tennis-themed costume day.

Meyer, a tennis fan, was leaving her post as traffic presenter and a 27-year career in radio.

As Retimanu explained her reluctance to come dressed wearing a short tennis dress to the newsroom, Veitch interrupted.

"What will happen, the girls will all lick each other," he said bizarrely.

Gasps could be heard in the studio, followed by sniggering. Veitch's colleagues were shocked.

"Oh my gosh! This is a family show!" Retimanu snapped. "Mike, slap him."

Hosking laughed so hard he said he could barely breathe. The show's technical producer, Glenn Hart, quipped: "It's amazing how fast things can spin out of control. So, you've just opened up your subconscious, Tony?"

Veitch swore it was a faux pas. "It was meant to come out [as] look!" he said in defence.

But his co-workers weren't letting him off the hook so easily. "Too late. That's making all sorts of papers," Hosking chortled.

"Did that go live?" Veitch asked.

"That was very live. There's no dump button. There's no delay," Hosking said, offering no sympathy.

Hart teased: "Dump it? I've recorded it and I'm going to play it back every day."

Veitch's boss, Dallas Gurney, said: "What can I say? It was a faux pas. But I can tell you it provided much hilarity in the newsroom that day."

Veitch said: "That was probably the dumbest thing I've said on air, and I've said some dumb lines. I've copped it for the last few days."

TWITTER SCRAP ON SLEEPY SUNDAY

Twitter voyeurs, like The Diary, read the war of words unfolding between broadcaster Martin Devlin and blogger Cameron Slater on Sunday night.

Author Joe Bennett entered the fray bearing a white flag suggesting the men kiss and make up. Pip Keane, Campbell Live executive producer, felt the scrap was worthy of a RadioLive special.

The egos finally tempered and the random rant subsided.

"Would have been a cracking talkback call," the broadcaster responded.

HAYLEY, HARRY ON QUEEN'S ALBUM

Best-selling classical artist of the 21st century, Hayley Westenra, is set to star on an album celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Take That star Gary Barlow are behind the album, which includes a special commemorative song performed by the Military Wives choir with Prince Harry on tambourine. The royal has rhythm, apparently.

- NZ Herald

Rachel Glucina is New Zealand’s reigning gossip queen, notorious for breaking celebrity scoops and dishing dirt on the country’s best known personalities. She’s feared. She’s loathed. She’s courted by anyone with skeletons in their closet. Rachel knows where the bodies are buried. Mick Jagger wined and dined her. Mike McRoberts devoted a chapter to her in his memoirs. And John Key has her on speed dial.

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