The Diary: Dancing with the Stars set to return with a splash

More spectacular and dynamic version of show promised.

 Dancing with the Stars  in 2007 featured Brendon Pongia and Hayley Holt, 
here strutting their stuff in the quickstep.
Dancing with the Stars in 2007 featured Brendon Pongia and Hayley Holt, here strutting their stuff in the quickstep.

It's one of the biggest shows on US television, but was axed by TVNZ in 2010 after five seasons because of the "recessionary environment". However, Dancing With the Stars is set to return to New Zealand television in a new, modern format just as reality event shows are dominating the TV environment.

Great Southern Television, makers of The Apprentice, The Cult and Agent Anna, has bought the local rights to the television series, based on the British series Strictly Come Dancing.

Managing director Phillip Smith told The Diary the acquisition from the BBC will see the series return here "in a more spectacular and dynamic version".

"Great Southern Television has acquired the rights in New Zealand and we're going to bring it back here. It's had a good rest and it's ready for a completely modern turn now."

The natural home is TV One, where it once reigned, but Great Southern will pitch to all broadcasters.

At last week's new season launch, TVNZ would not confirm if it would deliver a third series of New Zealand's Got Talent, which is reliant on NZ on Air funding and commercial support.

Ratings were down on this year's season debut.

In 2009 the state broadcaster announced it would drop Dancing With the Stars the following year because its popularity had not translated into profits. The show was expensive to produce and inevitably morphed into a graveyard where Kiwi celebrities went to die in shame. The list of stars was less dazzling and more dismal.

But Dancing With the Stars has delivered impressive results for Channel Seven in Australia with 12 long series, and Strictly remains the biggest entertainment show in the UK.

"We are hoping Phil can work his magic and produce a fantastic show for Kiwi audiences," said Laura Dumbrell from BBC Worldwide Australia and NZ.

A new-look Dancing With the Stars could see the show screen several nights a week on prime time, much like The Block.

This type of scheduling, called strip-programming, ensures consistency, coherency and big commercial dollars for the network. It's the mega format of network reality shows.

Smith says his Dancing With the Stars has the potential to run three times a week: the dancing competition, the results show, and behind-the-scenes outtakes.

The original weekly series featured Jason Gunn and Candy Lane as hosts. This time Tamati Coffey and Hayley Holt are tipped.

As to the line-up of celebrities who could get their dancing shoes and sparkles on, a hit show needs a mixed cauldron of personalities, small screen stars, faded national icons, makeover names and a couple of sportspeople thrown in for good measure.

Here are The Diary's picks:
*Honor Dillon (ex-sports star, mum, chief Wag, looks terrific in sequins and fake tan).
*Kim Dotcom (loves publicity, could afford to lose some pounds, would get him out of a black fleecy).
*Polly Gillespie (rumoured to be transferring to Classic Hits next year, possible rebranding opportunity).
*Ali Williams (new physical challenge following his one-year rugby sabbatical in France).
*Judy Bailey (big telly comeback for the mother of the nation).
*John Tamihere (frankly, what else is on his agenda next year?).
*Bevan Chuang (burlesque queen is keen on a PR makeover after mayoral sex scandal).
*Siobhan Marshall (actress oozes charisma and we've seen little of her since The Blue Rose sank).
*Jon Toogood (muso would bring rock god sex appeal).
*Lisa Carrington (golden girl Olympian).
*John Banks (could tangle with Dotcom on the dance floor).

Channelling funds to Philippines
The race to raise money for the Philippines following the devastating Typhoon Haiyan has both TVNZ's Seven Sharp and TV3's Campbell Live in a battle of benevolence for the relief effort.

Campbell Live has so far raised a whopping $630,000 for Unicef via a $200k donation from Gareth Morgan and $3 texts from engaged viewers.

"Text donations are increasing by $100,000 a day", a TV3 rep tells The Diary, "and several schools are holding mufti-days this Friday to raise more money for the cause".

Director and producer Sir Peter Jackson. Photo / Getty Images
Director and producer Sir Peter Jackson. Photo / Getty Images


Rival Seven Sharp is fundraising for Oxfam and the Philippines emergency by holding a celebrity auction on Trade Me this week. But current bids show they have a long way to go to match TV3's stellar effort.

Lorde.
Lorde.


The charity auction includes signed gear by Sir Peter Jackson, Lorde, Anika Moa and the NZ Olympic rowing team. An autographed Xbox One by Kim Dotcom was listed at $850 at the time of print, while lunch at The Grove with the presenters from Seven Sharp is running at $505.

A golf putter signed by Lydia Ko has topped more than $2000, and is likely to go for considerably more when auction bids close on Friday.

However, with three days to go, TVNZ looks likely to lose the goodwill race. It doesn't bode well for the network which has failed to send any reporters to cover the devastation in the Philippines, while TV3 has found the funds to send teams from 3 News, Campbell Live and 3rd Degree.

Billy Apple is New Zealand's original pop artist. Photo / Dean Purcell
Billy Apple is New Zealand's original pop artist. Photo / Dean Purcell


Successful London stint by artist Apple
Billy Apple, New Zealand's original pop artist (sorry, Lorde) and his wife Mary Morrison, were snapped at the Christie's party in this month's Vanity Fair magazine. They've just returned from two successful months in London where Apple had a solo exhibition at The Mayor Gallery and had works in Christies' When Britain Went Pop exhibition. The auction house held a no-reserves, no-estimates auction, raising over 3 million for the Saatchi Gallery, where Apple rubbed shoulders with royal carpenter Viscount Linley, rapper Eve, fashion designer Peter Pilotto, celebrity sprogs Otis and Isaac Ferry and Brit-artist Tracey Emin.

From left, Shane Cortese, Cohen Holloway, Millen Baird, Jimmy Fletcher, Brian Manthenga,  Martin Henderson and  Mark Scott cameo in <i>Auckland Daze</i>.
From left, Shane Cortese, Cohen Holloway, Millen Baird, Jimmy Fletcher, Brian Manthenga, Martin Henderson and Mark Scott cameo in Auckland Daze.


Celebs flock for cameos in Auckland Daze
A who's-who of the Kiwi entertainment industry are making cameo appearances on series two of Auckland Daze which screens from December 5. Alan Dale, Martin Henderson, Kim Crossman, Tammy Davis, Shane Cortese, Brendhan Lovegrove and Anna Hutchison will play themselves. Comediennes Rose Matafeo and Urzila Carlson, from rival TV3 (via Jono and Ben Show and Seven Days) will guest star.

- NZ Herald

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