TV star Paul Henry tells The Diary he's "shocked" his 22-year-old daughter, Sophie Hopes (Henry's birth name), is competing in the Miss Universe New Zealand pageant, but admits he'll be in the audience tomorrow night at SkyCity Theatre to cheer her on. For a man who's publicly disparaged female facial hair, he says he knows very little about beauty contests but did give his daughter some advice.
"I said, 'You've got to be yourself' - because Sophie is very sharp-witted and has a very sophisticated sense of humour, like me - and, 'You've got to have fun and make the most of the experience.'
"I told her she will be judged on how she looks, how she dresses, stands and talks. She is putting herself out there to be judged by others - and this is why I am so very proud of her."
Hopes and the other contestants have been sequestered at the Jucy Hotel. They travelled to Thailand as part of the competition but have largely been incommunicado from friends and family.
But Henry says his daughter is very independent and more than capable of winning the competition.
He says he's proud she's plucked up the courage to enter the pageant, but admits it threw him for six.
"I was really taken aback when Sophie told me she'd entered Miss Universe. I was shocked. I mean, out of all my children, Sophie would be the last one I'd expect. She's very private and has always shunned attention. When I've done stories in women's mags and had photos with my family it's been literally me and two daughters, Lucy and Bella. Sophie has been absent."
The young beauty queen, who takes up a retail role at Ponsonby boutique Sass and Bide next week, declined to comment for this story. "See," says her dad, a bit bewildered.
"It's two days out from the competition and she turns down a brilliant opportunity for publicity in the national paper. She's just so private. That's my girl."
Rihanna and Lorde - poles apart
Pop star Rihanna is expected to jet into the country tomorrow from Sydney on her Diamonds World Tour. She plays three concerts at Auckland's Vector Arena, starting Sunday, but it's not her lulls raising eyebrows (and temperatures).
The 25-year-old Barbadian, known for weed, wife-beating, and wearing very little, released a behind-the-scenes look at her Pour It Up video yesterday, with the apparently obligatory pop princess trio: neon thongs, twerking and pole dancing. Thank Lord for Lorde, eh?
Rihanna, a role model for teenagers apparently, was criticised for her concerts in Australia in which fans said she appeared inebriated, slurred her words and arrived late on stage. With tweens and teens making up the majority of the audience, tardiness is generally not tolerated on a school night.
All Blacks having a swinging time
Aaron Cruden may be sunning himself at the hotel and swimming laps in the pool, but fellow All Blacks Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith, Piri Weepu and Conrad Smith are not exactly sitting idle in South Africa. They spent a day at the exclusive Country Club Johannesburg playing golf on the championship PGA course, where membership entrance fees are 17,500 rand ($2100). Israel Dagg had a round, too. Seems he is adapting to life on safari rather well, if his zebra onesie is anything to go by. "Love getting back to the motherland," he told Twitter. "Such a great place to tour. Here's for a good week".
Spithill acting right neighbourly
They're neighbours in Auckland's leafy Herne Bay, and America's Cup skippers Jimmy Spithill and Dean Barker might soon be sharing a friendly beer if the plucky Aussie has anything to do about it. He tells Belinda Henley on Monday night's upcoming 60 Minutes show that he'd like a beverage with Barker because he's thought a lot about what the Kiwi went through.
"Surprisingly enough, it was one of the first things I thought after we came across the finish line. When you are in the heat of the battle things are said and you are playing mind games but Dean is a champion and Dean had the weight of a nation on his shoulders and he shouldn't have," Spithill said.
"It seems wrong to me. The guy is out there having a go and leading a fantastic team; what more can you ask? Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. In my mind he's a champion."
New Zealand's got ... presenters
They have New Zealand's Got Talent on Sunday nights, but is the state broadcaster taking the talent quest genre a little too far? Since Greg Boyed left Seven Sharp a month ago, a daily merry-go-round of faces have appeared in a bid to find a replacement. One insider says the show and its never-ending panel of presenters has just become a lucrative opportunity for talent agents to "parade their people".
"The agencies all approached TVNZ to put their clients forward and the network agreed to try a bunch out. They are trying everyone under the sun to keep the talent agents happy. Some have appeared as guests but are being screen-tested as hosts, like Chris Cairns, Brendon Pongia, Clarke Gayford."
But TVNZ says the show is not beholden to Auckland's big talent scouts. "We're working through this process as we would with any editorial decision," said John Gillespie, head of news and current affairs. "The decision about who joins the team is exclusively a TVNZ one. We're comfortable with our working relationships with the talent, including the agents."
Asked if a decision is imminent, a TVNZ spokesman said, "Unlikely."
Lorde charting new heights in US
Over the Lorde gush fest yet? The US isn't. The Takapuna teen hit No. 1 yesterday on the US Billboard charts. The young 'un with the covetable mane continued to take the States by storm this week with lauded performances in New York and an American TV debut on Jimmy Fallon's late-night talk show.
Comedienne Rebel Wilson, who hails from Oz, was on the chat show too, and was quick to board the Lorde bandwagon. "Just hanging with Lorde backstage!!" she tweeted brightly.
"Southern hemisphere takeover on Fallon tonight." Yeah, watch the Aussies claim our talent.
The New York Times, at least, acknowledged Lorde's roots and laudably distinguished the New Zealand singer-songwriter from pop superstars Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry, saying her music is "insisting that pop listeners don't have to settle for cliches".
Times music critic Jon Pareles wrote: "Ms Perry and Ms Cyrus sing about something teenage girls are presumed to have on their minds: what's left of self-esteem after a breakup ... Lorde, meanwhile, is singing about class consciousness and conspicuous consumption ... [Royals] is a thoughtful, calmly insubordinate song; it's also written by an actual teenager."
With only a debut album - launched this week - to her name, the praise has helped catapult the 16-year-old's singing credibility against that of over-indulged child star Cyrus, who's sold 50 million albums worldwide and has a string of middle-aged, over-paid songwriters on the payroll channelling teenage angst. For the twerker, that's less Wrecking Ball and more wrecking repute.