The Diary: Duncan waits for Nation partner

Duncan Garner. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Duncan Garner. Photo / Mark Mitchell

TV3 political and current affairs show The Nation is facing big changes before returning to air on March 24.

Co-anchor Sean Plunket left last year but still appears as part of the team on the show's website.

Producer Richard Harman, whose company Front Page Productions makes the programme, confirmed 3 News political editor Duncan Garner would return to the co-anchor role, but said it was unclear who would join him on the panel.

"We're waiting to hear what's going on at TV3," Harman said.

Firstline host Rachel Smalley is tipped to front the show alongside Garner, and negotiations are understood to be in their final stages.

Ingrid Hipkiss, from Nightline, is also being touted as a contender.

However, there's little doubt Smalley and Garner would make a formidable double act hosting The Nation.

Both are skilled and experienced interviewers with youthful enthusiasm.

TV3 know they hold the trump card with Garner while TVNZ struggles to find a political editor to replace Guyon Espiner on One News and Q+A. Shane Taurima will step in to the latter role when the show returns on March 11.

Garner is a wanted man. The Diary understands RadioLive boss Jana Rangooni offered Paul Henry's drive show to Garner last week but TV3 news boss Mark Jennings is loath to give him up before the end of the year. He is being groomed by the company to be "the next Paul Holmes - a prime-time radio and television broadcaster", a MediaWorks exec said.

Holmes hosted an eponymous TV show for 15 years and a daily Newstalk ZB radio slot for 22 years. He now hosts Q+A and a Saturday morning Newstalk ZB radio programme.

Harman appears concerned with a connection to talkback station RadioLive. It may not be the right fit for The Nation and impact on Garner's credibility. "It would depend on what he was doing at RadioLive and what direction it takes," he told The Diary.

Harman needn't worry. A role at RadioLive for Garner would only bring more exposure and ratings for his telly show.

MOLD STAYS ABOARD SHEARER'S SHIP

While the Labor Party across the ditch is in disarray, spare a thought for Labour leader David Shearer, who's been criticised for a leadership image that's been less sleepy, more comatose.

Rumours circulated on the weekend that his press secretary, Fran Mold, had resigned but she told The Diary yesterday she had recommitted to Shearer.

"I was looking at other options ... at what I was going to do, but I'm signing my contract today [Monday]."

Staff contracts under the Phil Goff leadership finished on Friday. Mold said her role would be expanded to director of media and communications - with a $30k bigger salary, The Diary understands.

KIRI CHARMS CAMBRIDGE UNION

She's celebrating her 68th birthday next week, but Dame Kiri Te Kanawa is not slowing down.

Instead, she has a jetsetting year of recitals in Britain, America, Australia, Italy, the Czech Republic and a one-off concert at Rotorua's Civic Theatre on April 26.

Last week, she addressed student members of the Cambridge Union about her life and career, alongside Professor Lord Robert Winston.

Despite toting a small dog, her appearance did not provoke the sort of criticism Dominique Strauss-Kahn received after women's groups learned he will address the famous debating society next month, despite an ongoing investigation into an alleged prostitution ring.

TAIKA'S OSCAR TIPS

Before yesterday's Academy Awards ceremony, Kiwi film director Taika Waititi shared three tips with the New York Post on how the Oscars could be livened up.

"Ply the celebs with booze - and Us Weekly," he said. "It's frightfully boring in the [Kodak Theatre]. After the first three hours, most people just want to drink. It might be nice to have ushers handing out books or magazines. Definitely drinks."

The obituary montage should be followed by "mandatory tequila shots at the end of that sad dead-people video".

Participation from nominees who don't win is important, too. "I would make a rule that the losers of each category have to carry the winner on to the stage and worship them during their speech."

He doesn't, however, appear to have a rule for film funding. Waititi surpassed his goal of US$90,000 ($107,000) on crowd-funding website Kickstarter to get his movie Boy distributed in the US.

The Post article and an endorsement from Michael Jackson's nephew, Taj, helped with the publicity blitz.

STREWTH, THERE'S NO TRUTH TO THAT

Ray Meagher, who's played Alf Stewart on Home and Away for 23 years, said race had no part to play in Kiwi Jay Laga'aia's contract not being renewed, the Daily Telegraph reported yesterday.

Meagher supports the producers of the long-running Channel Seven show, following Laga'aia's accusations on Twitter this month they were racist after dumping him from the soap. Last week, Laga'aia took to Twitter again. "I just want an opportunity to feed my family, that's all!"

He added: "After my recent tweets. I feel I won't be invited anytime soon to the Logies, by channel Seven. Ha!"

- NZ Herald

Rachel Glucina is New Zealand’s reigning gossip queen, notorious for breaking celebrity scoops and dishing dirt on the country’s best known personalities. She’s feared. She’s loathed. She’s courted by anyone with skeletons in their closet. Rachel knows where the bodies are buried. Mick Jagger wined and dined her. Mike McRoberts devoted a chapter to her in his memoirs. And John Key has her on speed dial.

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