The Diary: Kiwis in charge on Aussie TV

Paul Henry. Photo / Doug Sherring
Paul Henry. Photo / Doug Sherring

Executive producer Majella Wiemers resigned from Paul Henry's languishing Channel Ten Breakfast show and left on Friday. Kiwi Sarah Bristow, her deputy, has stepped up to the role.

Bristow used to produce Henry on TVNZ's Breakfast and it's understood he lobbied heavily for her to be part of the Channel Ten team when he signed up.

Co-presenter Andrew Rochford - one of five - left on Friday too, and will work on other Ten projects. The media in Australia likened the resignations to "shuffling deckchairs on the Titanic".

But an inside source at Channel Ten told The Diary changes to the programme were not a bad thing. "Since the show launched, we have always been reviewing the format and refining.

"Andrew is doing other roles around the network and Majella has done a great job getting the show up and running, but is moving on to do other things. There's no bad blood," the insider insisted.

The source scoffed at rumours the show cannot survive much longer - it attracts only 30,000 viewers a day.

"Channel Ten is committed to the Breakfast programme and Paul is doing a good job. It's the most competitive and congested part of the [television] schedule. Most people still don't know it's on."

KYLEE HIRES HADEN TO HELP WITH MEDIA

Kylee Guy, the widow of murdered farmer Scott Guy, has hired PR specialist Andy Haden to represent her.

The former All Black told The Diary it was important for Guy to have help managing the many media requests, "because it can be all quite intimidating".

Guy and Anna Macdonald - the wife of the now-acquitted Ewen Macdonald - are reportedly being courted by high-paying magazines eager for the scoop on their private lives after Scott's murder two years ago.

Haden said Guy was a "work-in-progress scenario" as a client. "When we know her better it will become clearer [what she wants to do] when time has gone by. We are not sure whether Kylee wants to talk about [the murder and trial] or keep to herself."

Haden shrugs off the comparison to Max Clifford, PR guru to many British celebrities and people in the news, saying working with big names was "not a flag-waving exercise" for him.

His company, Sporting Contacts, is top dog in the competitive business of celebrity wrangling. Haden, who represents stars such as Rachel Hunter, Casey Green and boxer Shane Cameron, has long made commission selling celebrity stories to women's magazines or putting his clients on the speaking circuit, but now he is turning publicist for crisis situations, too.

Whether Guy will tell/sell her story is unclear - but highly expected, thanks to Haden's involvement.

CHANGING TIMES FORTV3 CURRENT AFFAIRS

When TV3 political editor Duncan Garner interviewed former Labour MP Chris Carter about life in Afghanistan, many expected to see the exclusive 30-minute interview on the network's current affairs show 60 Minutes.

But it was cut to a five-minute clip on 360 during the Sunday morning graveyard hours and briefly made the news that night.

Worse, 60 Minutes didn't run at all. TV3 said the current affairs show was on hiatus during the school holidays.

News director Mark Jennings told The Diary the network was programming child-friendly shows in that timeslot. Evidently they believe Garfield and The Simpsons Movie will attract more viewers at that time.

Jennings said TVNZ "is silly" for not changing its routine. But TVNZ's current affairs editor, Briar McCormack, said Jennings must be joking. "In the last couple of weeks ... Sunday has won the timeslot very convincingly, so there's clearly a continuing demand for current affairs."

Incidentally, Sunday is off air next week to make way for Coronation Street's 50th anniversary.

MediaWorks has not renewed its output deal with CBS, makers of 60 Minutes, and its current arrangement expires at the end of the year.

TV3 is shifting funds into the creation of local content, including a new homemade current affairs show. Jennings would not discuss plans for the new show. He said 60 Minutes would return after the holidays and run until the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Garner has been replaced on TV3's political show The Nation with a busy panel of bloggers, experts and newspaper journalists, who sit alongside Rachel Smalley.

The anchor desk is now teeming with opinions, and yet, interestingly, none is from the network's top commentators - Garner, Guyon Espiner, John Campbell or Patrick Gower. "They won't work on the show," an inside source said.

JUST THE DROP FOR BONKBUSTERSE.

L. James, the elusive British writer of "mummy porn" bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey, professes on her Twitter bio to be a "lover of Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc" from Marlborough.

Her backing is significant - James has more than 70,000 social media followers and her books have sold 20 million copies.

She described running out of the Kiwi wine as "heart failure".

That'll be music to the ears of Delegat's Group, the family firm that produces Oyster Bay, NZ's biggest-exporting wine.

James - real name Erika Leonard - is likely to have drunk the Kiwi plonk while penning the bonkbusters, which are said to make her more than US$1 million ($1.25 million) a week in royalties.

Last month, she sold the film rights to Universal/Focus Films for US$5 million. Scarlett Johansson is tipped to play the lead.

- NZ Herald

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