The Diary: MP makes no Mustique

Cabinet Minister Nikki Kaye was at the start line this morning in the gruelling Coast to Coast triathlon, but Pippa Middleton, who last year bleated about her intention to enter the two-day endurance race, is holidaying on the Caribbean island of Mustique.

In a one-off column in Spectator magazine, Pippa, while plugging her much-maligned cookery book, had boasted about her plan to take part in the punishing 243km race.

But Britain's Daily Mail reported yesterday the 29-year-old socialite was sunning herself with her sister, the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the rest of the Middleton clan.

The couple are taking a "babymoon" break before the royal birth, with the rest of Kate's family, renting a £19,000-a-week ($35,500), five-bedroom villa on the island.

It's not pleasure in paradise for hard-working Kaye, who will ring in her 33rd birthday on Monday with a Cabinet meeting (her second) and a two-day multi-sport race under her belt.

"I'm looking forward to, hopefully, making it across the finish line in Sumner," Kaye told The Diary. "And to the food at Klondyke Corner, too. Not sure whether they'll have whitebait patties, but fingers crossed."

The Auckland Central MP, who was promoted last month in John Key's reshuffle, lined up at 6am on Greymouth's Kumara Beach this morning to cross the start line with more than 600 people from 12 countries.

Her friend Denise L'Estrange-Corbet, who is sunning herself on the high seas aboard a luxury liner, thinks she's mad.

But for the over-achieving Kaye, it's another tick on her bucket list.

The former track champion admits the kayak leg will be her toughest challenge. "I've fallen out of the kayak in the past and got a few holes in it, which I've duct-taped up," she laughed. "The kayak stretch will be a long paddle, probably over six hours."

It's been a long week for Kaye who was "up at 4am on Wednesday" for Waitangi Day commemorations and dealing with the tsunami threat as Minister of Civil Defence, following the 8.0 magnitude earthquake off the Solomon Islands.

She wouldn't comment on the socialite's no-show, but a rep for the race told The Diary: "Pippa has probably realised it's not that easy after all and put it on her bucket list for next year."

Yeah, right.

Rose's career blooming

Kiwi actress Rose McIver (The Lovely Bones) has landed a coveted role in an American primetime television drama alongside Beau Bridges and British actor Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon).

The 24-year-old actress will play Bridges' daughter on Masters of Sex, about the pioneers of the science of human sexuality, Masters and Johnson. The series will run on the Showtime network, home to critically-acclaimed Homeland and Dexter.

"The opportunity to be working with the calibre of actors, like Bridges and Sheen, is incredibly exciting for Rose, and a real honour," said her agent Imogen Johnson, who also represents the likes of Grant Bowler and Karl Urban in Los Angeles.

McIver, who grew up in Auckland's Titirangi, now calls Hollywood home with a close-knit community of Kiwi pals, including Anna Hutchison, Fleur Saville and Ari Boyland.

TV networks at war

Television current affairs has never been so competitive. This year, seven weekly current affairs programmes across four networks will battle it out on different days and timeslots to win ratings.

TV One's Sunday will, naturally, screen on Sundays, as will TV3's 360. Prime's 60 Minutes will air on Mondays, the same night as Maori Television's Native Affairs. TV3's new current affairs shows, 3rd Degree and The Vote will debut next month on Wednesdays, and TV2's 20/20 will air Thursdays.

Sound like a crowded market? We think so. So, why are the networks determined to stay in the game? Daily current affairs shows can be quite lucrative, but weekly current affairs less so. Sources say it's not loss-making, but margins are lower.

Former TV3 journo Belinda Henley, who is producing Prime's 60 Minutes and occasionally reporting, believes the shows won't compete. "All the offerings are different enough to attract their own ratings and advertising revenue," she said.

Henley, who interviewed Peter Jackson and James Cameron about the Kiwi film industry for 60 Minutes, said there was no onus on her team "to get the big gets" because they were "privileged to have the 60 Minutes brand" and the international stories that come with it.

"It's not like we have to only generate local stories - like 3rd Degree," she said, taking a swipe at her former employer.

"Actually, it's the big local stories that attract the biggest ratings," TV3 spokesperson Rachel Lorimer retorted. Exclusive interviews with Anna Guy, David Bain and Bronwyn Pullar last year were ratings successes for the network.

TV3 lost the 60 Minutes franchise when they didn't renew the CBS licensing deal, but they have created a new current affairs genre, combining hard-hitting stories (3rd Degree) and a monthly national referendum debate (The Vote).

Julian Wilcox from Maori Television reckons the concept is not new. "Native Affairs has been doing stories and debate in one show for ages." He says their offering is unique because they can tell indigenous stories and gain access to that community.

"We have a reason to stay."

For now, seven shows are arguing they all have a raison d'etre. Only time and ratings will prove it.

Peas in a pod

TV3's new comedy The Radio premieres tonight at 10pm starring Paul Ego and Jeremy Corbett working at a fictional radio station. Ego said it was a case of art imitating life. The pair worked together on the Kim and Corbett breakfast show, with Corbett on air and Ego playing producer.

"I had to work around him back then: you had to, he was quite large. The Radio reaffirms something quite depressing - that Corbett and I are basically the same person, it's just that I'm the half of that person who is a bit funnier and cooler and not a dick."

- NZ Herald

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