While Sir Peter Jackson's movie The Hobbit premieres in Wellington tonight pushing a clean, green message, British comedian Russell Brand, who performs in Auckland tonight, highlighted the other "pure" associated with New Zealand - methamphetamine.
Brand, a reformed heroin addict, arrived in the country this week with his mother, Barbara, and tweeted: "I'm in New Zealand. Now with 20 per cent more zeal". But it was his noting of some of our other, er, attributes that's being hailed by the NZ Drug Foundation.
"I just ate 2 kiwi fruits in the bath to celebrate New Zealand. Now I'm going to the harbour to smoke meth on a whale's back," Brand impishly tweeted to his nearly six million followers. He added photos of himself posing in the bathroom of his SkyCity Grand hotel suite.
Brand's nod to the fuzzy fruit, the film Whale Rider and our P epidemic is very relevant, says the NZ Drug Foundation.
"It's interesting that Russell has understood New Zealand has a reputation around methamphetamine," said executive director Ross Bell. "But I'm not going to slam him for making fun of meth.
"He is a comedian with a certain following, and offending people is part of his thing.
"The truth is, we lack people like him in New Zealand. People who have been there and done that - the addiction, treatment and recovery. There is a real stigma here. Hopefully more New Zealanders, in his position, will out themselves."
The British funnyman, who takes to the stage tonight at Vector Arena for his comedy show, I Am a Walrus, has had a long public battle with drugs. In a hard-hitting BBC documentary about beating his addiction, Brand said he took drugs every day.
Brand's autobiography, My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs and Stand-Up was on the New York Times best-seller list for five weeks in a row, and the follow up, Book Wook 2, has been well received. Brand made a surprise appearance at Auckland's Unity Books on Monday and inscribed two copies.
Satisfaction for Carter
Injured All Black Dan Carter has enjoyed his downtime in Britain this week. He went from hobnobbing with royalty in Wales to taking in a Rolling Stones gig and announcing he will become a father.
Carter took to Twitter yesterday: "Thought it was time to share our exciting news ... @HonorCarter is 21 weeks pregnant! We are both very excited about being parents."
But the pair, who are no strangers to chequebook journalism, have surprised many by giving the news away for free on the micro-blogging site. They were rumoured to have received up to $100,000 from a woman's magazine for the exclusive pictures of their nuptials last year.
But a former sports editor says the All Blacks will be keen on the good news coming out. "The All Blacks are getting terrible press, courtesy of Andrew Hore, and management - aware of Honor's baby bump - would be keen to deflect attention."
Carter has been allegedly wheeled out for good publicity before. He appeared on crutches in front of the shutterbugs during the RWC last year to wish his teammates well. "It was a way of diverting attention away from Ali Williams who had a tense standoff with a TV3 reporter ..."
This week, Carter celebrated by attending the Stones' 50th anniversary tour London concert. "Great time to be in London," he bragged on Twitter, posing among the 20,000 who crammed the O2 Arena for the anniversary gig, which included supermodel Kate Moss, U2 bassist Adam Clayton and rock legend Noel Gallagher.
It wasn't the only brush with celebrity. Liam Messam boasted the All Blacks were lodging with another famous face. "Staying at the same hotel as Rihanna. Boys getting star struck."
Close Up secrecy
TVNZ daily current affairs show Close Up will retire on Friday, but the network is no closer to unveiling what its replacement will be, and staff say they are feeling in the dark.
No on-air screen date has been given, and insiders say it could be as late as March before the new-look show premieres. Building a new set for the programme will take time, but The Diary understands the delay may also involve accommodating the new host, who is rumoured to be a prominent TV3 star.
"We've heard the show will be pushed back to March to take into account a three-month gardening-leave period for the new presenter," said a TVNZ staff member.
"The bosses screen-tested someone last week, but it was super secret. The make-up room was in lockdown. The newsroom was abuzz," said another insider.
TVNZ says there is "not much to report" at this stage and would neither confirm nor deny speculation that a TV3 star is in the running.
"Our intention has been to introduce the new show early in the new season and there's been no change to that," said a rep.
It's understood the Close Up 2 team is assembling in the next couple of weeks and an announcement on the new show may be made as early as December 10.
In the meantime, TVNZ says this week is just about paying tribute.
"It is about celebrating Close Up's long and successful run and Mark Sainsbury's contribution to TVNZ over so many years."
Prime time, says Henry
Paul Henry says he will host a prime time television programme next year but TV3 says nothing is confirmed.
Henry told the Sydney Morning Herald this week he would return to our screens in August, but a rep for MediaWorks says he's jumping the gun. "There are no concrete dates or plans with Paul, but there is plenty of development going on. It will be a while before we have anything to announce."
No decision has been made yet on how best to utilise Henry. The Diary understands plans for the defunct talk show programme, The Paul Henry Show, may be resurrected.
Last year, MediaWorks created a half-hour TV show built around Henry which planned to screen at 7pm on Sundays. It was to be produced by Anna Lynch, who made the first two series of New Zealand's Next Top Model, and an office was set up with a dedicated team. However, Henry jumped ship to Ten and, as they say, the rest is history.