Susan Wood is returning to TVNZ. She took the company to the employment court in 2005 for trying to slash her salary - and won - but now Susan is returning to the TVNZ fold to host current affairs show Q+A, the role formerly occupied by her old friend Sir Paul Holmes.
"I think Holmes would be very happy for me," Wood told The Diary. "This is my dream job and I'm really excited to be working on a show where you get to set the agenda and debate, and provide in-depth investigation."
Wood owns a communications consultancy (she produced Rob Fyfe's farewell video from Air New Zealand) and has worked recently at NewstalkZB, filling in for broadcaster Larry Williams. She thinks the radio role has helped to develop her ad-lib conversational skills. "It keeps you on your toes."
Q+A returns to TV One on March 10 with Wood at the helm, alongside political editor Corin Dann, deputy Jessica Mutch and Shane Taurima, who was promoted this week to the network's head of Maori and Pacific programming.
However, it's the prodigal daughter Wood who is undeniably the drawcard. TVNZ knows she has the current affairs pedigree to pull off the big political interviews and the celebrity name to reinvigorate the show. She has big shoes to fill following Holmesy.
"Susan is a smart, experienced interviewer and broadcaster who will bring energy and enthusiasm to a refreshed Q+A format this year," TVNZ executive Briar McCormack told The Diary.
Q+A executive producer Maryanne Ahern came knocking, Wood said. She won the role over Mark Sainsbury, who replaced her on Close Up. Sainso told The Diary last week he was keen to play host, but hadn't heard back from TVNZ.
"Mark will be fine, you know. He'd be really good at a sort of Gary McCormick-style TV show touring the country and talking to people," Wood said.
As for her return to the state broadcaster after the acrimonious lawsuit over her $450,000 salary, Wood's not holding a grudge. "Oh, that was years ago! I'm so over it. That was just a commercial dispute. Anyway, I'm not earning $450,000 this time," she laughed.
Asked how much she is pocketing, Wood retorted: "Put it this way, what they're paying me won't make the annual report [where salaries over $100,000 have to be listed]."
Honor for the girls
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may be staying mum about the impending royal birth, but not so the Carters. Dan and Honor constructed their baby's cot on Wednesday via micro-blogging site Twitter.
"Ahhh help?" mum-to-be Honor tweeted her absent hubby with pictorial proof of her crib chaos. "Leave it a week then the old master will be back in town to put it together," Dan said, dripping in patronising chauvinism. No surprise that tweet was later deleted.
His wife, no slouch at achieving things herself, wasn't about to wait. "Don't fear, you married a practical and independent woman," she replied tartly. And faster than she could say "millions-of-yen-to-be-made-on-a-rugby-sabbatical", the cot was erected. Never mind the left-over screws.
Digger's new cobber
The Aussies are proud of their national identity, but it's New Zealand they've turned to to represent them on the world stage. A Kiwi television production company has been commissioned by an Australian network to shoot a TV series showcasing Australia's geographical and cultural history.
Auckland-based Great Southern Film and Television (creator of Agent Anna, starring Robyn Malcolm) has started production on Coast Australia, a multi-million dollar eight-part, one-hour TV series hosted by British celebrity historian Neil Oliver and various Aussie experts.
Phil Smith, owner of GSFT, will be executive producer of the series, which has been commissioned by Foxtel and will screen on The History Channel later this year. It's an Australian version of the Bafta-winning British series Coast.
The irony that a Kiwi company has been headhunted to show off our neighbour's coastline and culture is not lost. But given the esteem we've granted Peter Jackson's The Hobbit in peddling our tourism banner, we also know the economic value of scenic shoots and profiling New Zealand talent on the global stage.
It's a pity, then, NZ on Air turned down funding for Smith's television drama The Kick, for TVNZ this year, showcasing All Black Stephen Donald's winning boot and what the Rugby World Cup achieved for New Zealand.
Oddly, the funding agency did see the benefit in another series on a fantasy family of Norse Gods.
Double trouble telly
TV3's 3rd Degree, otherwise known as "The Duncan and Guyon Show," has released a new commercial of the former rivals supposedly deep in voyeuristic conversation about "exposing the truth".
Think [Washington Post journalists] Woodward and Bernstein staging a tete-a-tete about Watergate.
Garner and Espiner will anchor 3rd Degree and The Vote and the promo reveals a younger, fresher, go-getting approach to the network's current affairs.
Whereas predecessor Mike McRoberts (a la 60 Minutes) adopted a style that was more wooden than a Swedish sauna, these two are lively, informal and opinionated. They've dropped the autocue and dropped the necktie.
Conchord helps co-op
Father-of-two Bret McKenzie is putting his celebrity power behind a Wellington early childcare centre by taking part in a fundraising concert next week. Playspace, a co-operative daycare run by the parents, told The Diary they're thrilled to have so many "fantastically talented dads" to call on.
"There's Bret, Toby Laing and Rio Hemopo, who are all musician dads with kids at Playspace," a rep said. "Bret's got his second child here now, and it's great he's taking part in the concert." The Playspace Society Variety Show is at Wellington's St James Church on Wednesday night.
Ridge painting passed in
Sally Ridge may have lost her primetime TV show, but spare a thought for the vendor of an oil painting by the celebrity mother-of-four this week.
The picture, In A Child's Eye, was painted by Ridge in 1998 (when married to Matthew) and sold from a Ponsonby art gallery for $3400, according to the vendor on TradeMe, complete with the receipt.
However, the painting had no bidders and didn't meet the $600 reserve.