The Diary: Seven Sharp loses yet another team member

Seven Sharp reporter comes back from paternity leave only to announce he is leaving.

Mike Hosking, Toni Street and Jesse Mulligan still lack on-screen chemistry.
Mike Hosking, Toni Street and Jesse Mulligan still lack on-screen chemistry.

Seven Sharp reporter Craig Stanaway, who has been on paternity leave, returned to the new-look current affairs show this week and announced he is quitting.

He follows a string of names who have left the programme since its inception.

"I'm taking an indefinite break. It's not too dissimilar to the All Blacks taking a sabbatical," Stanaway told The Diary.

"I know the newsroom really rates me and Seven Sharp didn't want me to go, but I took the holidays to think about things."

Stanaway said he may return to TVNZ, but also said he has other plans outside the state broadcaster.

Alas, the farewell of another staff member has not been announced officially, not even in the rather peculiar sign-off segment Seven Sharp has incorporated into the end of its resurrected show.

On Monday the segment was dubbed "saying thanks", in which the three presenters bizarrely spieled off words of gratitude, as if delivering a sort of TV grace.

That's been secularly amended to "sharing their thoughts", which is more a 30-second show-and-tell speech.

Creating an on-set chemistry between the presenters should be step one for producers. Mike Hosking, I'm told, has invited his co-stars, Toni Street and Jesse Mulligan, home for drinks. Judging by the lack of TV rapport, more fraternising is needed.

Mulligan, ordinarily bright and fast-witted, appears scared and nervous; his self-confidence depleted. Street, whose role so far has seemingly been to provide the human empathy qualities, needs to be more than the smiling mumsy figure in the middle.

If she's not careful she'll morph into Kay Gregory, whose image of dowdy dull domesticity on TVNZ's Breakfast was designed to thwart Paul Henry's brutal bluntness. Women want more.

Seven Sharp might be the unsanctioned Mike Hosking Show, with his co-hosts and sideburns (will they get their own Twitter handle?) playing bit parts. But the lack of hard-hitting stories and interviews is unlikely to keep Hosking, and viewers, engaged for long.

Bennett's dramatic loss

Paula Bennett is sporting a new hairdo with her trimmed physique.
Paula Bennett is sporting a new hairdo with her trimmed physique.

Cabinet minister Paula Bennett has dramatically shed more than 15kg and has a cropped new haircut to go with her svelte new figure.

She tells The Diary it's a struggle and she's still getting used to it.

"It's hard and I'm just doing the best I can in a very unhealthy work environment. The haircut was a last minute decision. I've lost a bit more weight so I've rediscovered my jawline. I've got a full-on year ahead and I decided to go for something modern and simple." Think Audrey Hepburn gamine style.

Meanwhile, fellow Tory Simon Bridges is expecting the pitter patter of little feet in his Tauranga home. Wife Natalie is expecting their second child, a boy, at the end of March. The couple have a 2-year-old son, Emlyn. Bridges told The Diary: "Naming another boy is more challenging than finding girls' names. Maybe John?"

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says he prefers Beyonce over Lorde, but he won't be listening to her sweet lulls after his MP3 player was stolen at Ratana. "My car was broken into with a smashed window and my bag had an iPad and MP3 player in it. Most of all my iPad recordings of wananga as well my notes from years has gone. They are real taonga to me and that it was stolen at Ratana is the very worst part," he said.

Mayor's next Chinese affair

The Diary's thoughts are with Auckland Mayor Len Brown who has plucked up the courage to appear at the Chinese and Korean New Year Festival celebration tomorrow at Northcote Town Centre.

Whether his former mistress, Bevan Chuang, will be among the throng is unclear. Brown and minders will want to avoid a confrontation.

The Chinese community plays a significant part in Auckland, and Len, presumably through gritted teeth, knows he cannot avoid his duties. He has been harangued for the affair with Chuang, and for taking hotel freebies. His visit to China and Hong Kong with another close Chinese female friend also raised eyebrows.

In the year of the Horse, predictions say Brown needs to be a good boy.

Spreading media love

Wag Zoe Marshall (prettier half of Blues import Benji, who plays his first rugby match in over a decade tomorrow) has joined ZM's Drive Show, part of The Radio Network. Her celebrity agent Sara Tetro confirmed the move, which comes as a surprise as rival competitor MediaWorks is launching Zoe's new TV3 show The Great Food Race on Sunday. It's a jumbled media sandwich.

Carly, the everywoman

Like Marshall, former TV star Carly Flynn has set her sights on all-round media stardom. Her eponymous website says she is "a wife, mother, broadcasting personality, TV and radio host, writer, columnist, MC, and general multi-skilled media person". And furniture designer! The former Sunrise host has designed a collection of stools which she sells online from $379 each. Perfect for TV studio sets or MC gigs.

Our thesps get US roles

Kiwi actors are making a huge splash on international TV shows:

• Manu Bennett is now a regular on Arrow, and Spartacus co-star Jessica Grace Smith has been cast in Aussie soap Home & Away.

• David de Lautour (Xena) appears in the first episode of Mom, the new US comedy series starring Allison Janney and Anna Faris.

• Anna Hutchison appears with Charlie Sheen in Anger Management. Karl Urban is the lead in Almost Human, and fellow Shorty alumni Martin Henderson is in TV One's Secrets and Lies.

• Rose McIver, who's been shooting in snowy Canada recently, will appear as Tinker Bell in the new series of Once Upon A Time. She took to the red carpet in LA on Wednesday to plug her new movie Brightest Star.

• And Stefania LaVie Owen returns to The Carrie Diaries. She lives between New York and Porirua and recently hosted her co-star Anna Sophia Robb (who plays Carrie Bradshaw) in Wellington over the holidays.

- NZ Herald

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