Pop superstar Taylor Swift slipped into Auckland in the wee hours of yesterday morning, ahead of three concerts at Vector Arena, and avoided the ever-present paparazzi photographers and amateur snappers. She was announced music's top money-maker this week, earning US$35 million ($43 million) in the last year from album sales and touring. Swift is big business.
The 22-year-old is in town for her Speak Now tour which she performed in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. She is understood to be staying on the top floor at SkyCity Grand Hotel with a large security team.
Pictures of the young star, who has more than 11 million Twitter followers, could fetch more than US$20,000 with international photo agencies. Getting access is key.
While U2 took sanctuary at Michael Fay's private Mercury Island, and Chris Martin and Eddie Vedder avoided the snappers at Neil Finn's Piha bach, Swift was not publicity shy on the Australian leg of her tour. She was snapped in a bikini on Perth's Cottesloe Beach, strolling on the sand at St Kilda, and sailing up Sydney Harbour.
"The photos of Taylor in that black-and-white bikini in Perth went all around the world. Every tabloid news agency ran them. It would have generated big bikkies for the photographer," a source said.
Taylor has become the queen of the earners according to the 2012 Billboard Money Makers poll. The six-time Grammy winner pocketed more than US$35 million last year, finishing ahead of U2, Kevin Chesney, Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne, who rounded out the top five. She earned more than Katy Perry and Adele combined.
So, where can we expect to find her? Vinnies restaurant in Herne Bay is courting. "Hear you're a foodie. Would love to host you for some fine NZ dining whilst in Akld," the eatery tweeted Swift.
Reps at Universal Music, distributors of Big Machine Records, Swift's label, couldn't comment on the pop superstar's private plans in Auckland. "We haven't been given any information by the promoter," a publicist said. A rep for the promoter said they were in the dark too.
Adult fans of Swift, however, were a little more willing to share. "Swelling excitement in this house for the [Taylor Swift] concert on Sat. 6 kids plus us," Kate Hawkesby said on Twitter.
MP TO PLUNGE OFF TOWER
Models paraded in jackets and skimpy suspenders at Trelise Cooper's corporate collection launch on Tuesday, but MP Nikki Kaye was having her own crisis of conscience.
Nigel Morrison, SkyCity's top brass, announced that the Auckland Central politician and the MP for Napier, Chris Tremain, would jump off the Sky Tower. Kaye's lip quivered.
She told The Diary: "I was keen to promote Auckland tourism and was thinking of taking the associate minister, Chris Tremain, to feed the new baby giraffes at Auckland Zoo. Instead, he suggested jumping off the Sky Tower!
"I told him I'm petrified of heights so it would be a very tough ask. Naturally I was surprised to hear Nigel announce I was jumping off the tower. To be honest, it gives me chills riding the lift up there, let alone jumping off."
Fellow Nat Judith Collins, who was also present at the announcement, said jumping off New Zealand's tallest building was not on her agenda.
"No, I'm somewhat busy dealing with the ACC privacy breach. However, I'm sure Nikki can bounce once or twice on my behalf."
LAST ONE LEFT, TURN OUT THE LIGHTS
Is TVNZ facing a management crisis? The announcement on Wednesday that Richard Sutherland, TVNZ director of coverage, had quit came as a blow for the state broadcaster's news and current affairs division.
He is the fifth news man at the company to leave in as many months, with insiders saying One News is in a serious state of management flux.
Two weeks ago, daily news programmes editor Paul Patrick quit TVNZ to follow former boss Anthony Flannery to Channel Ten.
Aussie Ross Dagan, who starts at TVNZ next month, takes up Flannery's spot and Michele Romaine from the BBC is holding the fort in the meantime.
Patrick's role is unfilled. Cliff Joiner and Guyon Espiner have also left vacancies, exiting to rival MediaWorks. There is serious concern more key people will be poached by the opposition if they're not tied down during this interim phase.
Sutherland, a former NewstalkZB editor and Sky News manager, is jumping ship to rival TV3. He will be deputy director of news and current affairs under Mark Jennings, who told The Diary, Sutherland "is a big loss for them and a big gain for us".
"Richard is a top operator and he has been on my radar for quite a long time, in fact, I offered him a job about 10 years ago, but he was too chicken to take it.
"Finally, he has seen the light."
TVNZ's state of management flux extends to the top. Rick Ellis, who left this year to run digital media at Telstra in Australia, leaves the CEO job empty.
The Diary understands two prominent names have made the board's final recruitment shortlist - a broadcasting exec and a manager from the technology industry.
Our money's on Lynley Marshall, the director of commercial operations at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Kevin ("KK") Kenrick, Telecom's former chief operating officer.
An announcement is expected soon.
STAR STORK GUIDE
Celebrity Jaquie Brown's book, I'm Not Fat, I'm Pregnant, is a rulebook for mums-to-be, and a funny read.
With confessional gems like: "I was standing naked in front of the mirror in the bedroom today, sort of examining, marvelling and gawking at the shape of my body now, and [Guy, my husband] pipes up with, 'You look like a silverback gorilla'. A silverback gorilla???"
Brown tells The Diary it was important the book was honest and candid.
"I wanted answers to, like, 'is it OK to have an orgasm while you're preggers'?"
PS: In a week where Jock Hobbs was called the saviour of rugby, the Dunedin City Council tried to trump that by wiping the Otago Rugby Football Union's $480,000 debt. Are they rugby redeemers or have they just set a dangerous precedent?