Ahead of its highly anticipated launch on Monday, Seven Sharp executive producer Raewyn Rasch has hit back at critics and defended her new show and its differences, telling The Diary why denouncers will be eating their words.
"The show will differ from previous models of current affairs shows in that it has three hosts [Greg Boyed, Ali Mau and Jesse Mulligan] who can provide banter on various topics between themselves, and can interview guests in varied styles rather than the traditional one-on-one discussions," Rasch told The Diary.
Three's not a crowd in the competitive primetime news market, TVNZ predicts. They are throwing out the rule book that their rival still clings to.
"The format for Seven Sharp isn't a structured one we want to set and limit ourselves to for each show. Current affairs changes every day, and we're lucky that our show has a fluid nature that can reflect that," she said.
But adaptable does not mean trivial, Rasch insists.
"External commentary indicating the show will be made up of eight quick bites is completely unfounded, as is the notion that the show won't cover hard-hitting current affairs stories."
The 30-minute programme will be a blend of live interviews and pre-recorded stories with a strong focus on real-time integration of social media commentary. "One of the biggest characteristics of Seven Sharp's format is that it really will be very interactive."
Mau told NewstalkZB yesterday that viewer interaction is vital. "You can't leave the viewers behind and expect them to sit politely on the couch and swallow everything you say, you have to give them a chance to respond."
Just how loudly the audience responds from Monday will be telling.
Read more: Seven Sharp hosts hit back at critics
NZGT reject scoops Aussie music awards
Dunedin singer Kylie Price, who qualified for the semifinals of New Zealand's Got Talent but was not permitted to continue after refusing to sign an exclusive contract, has won top gongs at Australia's biggest country music events.
The 19-year-old university student was named the Aristocrat Entertainer of the Year at the Tamworth Country Music Festival and the overall winner of the Capital Country Music Association (CCMA) National Talent Quest.
Her mentor Gray Bartlett told The Diary it's a big achievement. He's been in Los Angeles promoting Price and has plans to take her to Nashville, home of country music.
"Kylie could be the next Taylor Swift," he said. "She sings country, pop and R & B. She's the full package. She can do anything."
She couldn't win TVNZ' s talent show. The uni student begrudgingly withdrew from the reality show competition last year, telling producers she didn't want to sign an exclusive contract because it was restrictive. For Bartlett, the accolades across the Ditch are vindication. "At least the Aussies appreciate us."
Price is not wallowing in what might have been. The young singer will play support for The Hollies' New Zealand tour, which opens in Dunedin on Friday.
It's not the first time talent ditched by TVNZ has found greener pastures overseas. Drama series This Is Not My Life was dumped by TVNZ after one season but snapped up by American network ABC.
And in 2004, TVNZ passed on the Flight of the Conchords pilot and Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement took their show to US cable network HBO.
Ironically, TVNZ's search for talent continues. A second series of NZGT will screen this year.
'Regular guy' hides in kitchen
Andre Agassi charmed a capacity crowd at Auckland's Langham Hotel last week with tales about his loathing for tennis, fall into drugs, and rise from 141 in the world to No 1. Questions on ex Brooke Shields and disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, however, were out of bounds.
But Agassi gushed about his wife Steffi Graf, the former No 1 tennis player, and said the pair's two young children aren't fussed about picking up a racket. "Our daughter plays tennis for fun and our son is dedicated to baseball," he laughed. "I'm definitely the second best player in the house."
The 900-strong crowd swarmed the tennis legend, eager for an autograph or a mobile phone piccie. His longtime manager Steve Miller told The Diary he lost his ward recently at an event in New York, but wasn't surprised to find him in hiding.
"There were 8000 people all swarming around Andre. It got out of hand and I suddenly couldn't find him anywhere. I was really worried about his safety. But I located him later in the kitchen of the hotel sitting and chatting with the kitchen staff. It was so Andre. He's just a regular guy."
Ramsay menu a special treat
Chef Gordon Ramsay has put his legal stoush with Kiwi event company Duco behind him to be the guest of honour at a banquet at Manukau's TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre on April 26. Domestic appliance giant Beko is sponsoring Ramsay to these shores.
The company only launched in New Zealand last year, but said the lure of aligning itself with the celebrity chef was a wonderful marketing opportunity.
Ramsay, a restaurateur, author and 11 Michelin star chef, will design the dinner menu himself, which will be matched by the best Kiwi wines. Money raised will go to The Rising Foundation, helping the youth in South Auckland.