The Diary: Sainsbury diplomatic on Seven Sharp's ratings dip

Mark Sainsbury. Photo/supplied
Mark Sainsbury. Photo/supplied

Sainso vindicated for Seven Sharp slide
Mark Sainsbury may have been shown the door and his daily current affairs show dumped and discarded for a capricious sibling bearing little genetic resemblance, but ask if he feels vindicated and the veteran journo responds graciously. His chortling, however, tells another story.

"Oh, you know it's apples and pears," he laughed. "You can't compare that show to what I used to do on Close Up. There's just no comparison."

Close Up, evidently viewed by TVNZ as an antediluvian predecessor, has been usurped by Seven Sharp, a show light on content, heavy on criticism. Armchair dissenters turned off in droves last week, more than 200,000, in fact.

"I don't think it's fair I comment on Seven Sharp," Sainso said. "You have to probably give it some time."

But he has a right to feel justified. He won't vent his regret or pass judgment, especially not while a return to the state broadcaster is on the cards.

Sainso is playing the diplomat because he'd like to return to the TVNZ fold.

"They talked to me ages ago about a role on Q+A, but they haven't offered me anything yet. I'm quite keen to come back. It'd be a part-time role. But I haven't heard from them," he told The Diary.

Q+A, the weekly current affairs show which returns on March 10, has, ironically, lost its presenter Greg Boyed to Seven Sharp. Sainso would be a tag team solution for executive producer Maryanne Ahern, who also lost producer Tim Watkin to TV3's current affairs show 3rd Degree.

TVNZ won't comment at this stage on a possible return for Sainsbury, who took home a substantial redundancy package when he left in November.

"Nothing to announce at the moment," a rep said.

Sainsbury is philosophical. "If it comes off, great. But if TVNZ doesn't want me, life goes on."

Producers on Seven Sharp should probably take heed. Their stay-calm-and-carry-on line of attack is apparently not shared by everyone. The Diary understands if ratings continue to plunge, producers may not have the luxury of experimenting with the show and encouraging viewers to wait and see.

"If Seven Sharp doesn't work, it will simply be closed down and TVNZ will surrender that slot. It will herald the end of current affairs at 7pm and we'll see a new programming strategy from TV One," a well-informed insider said.

Paul Henry understands that all too well. He was controversially approached by TVNZ to front Seven Sharp after his Aussie breakfast show - a Network Ten experiment - was canned because of dire ratings.

His former co-host Dr Andrew Rochford told a Sydney newspaper the show became "unworkable" with Henry.

"There are a lot of people with theories about what went wrong. My personal theory is somebody who was publicised for pointing out the white elephant in the room became the white elephant in the room."

Ouch. Sainsbury and his show may have been rolled for a brasher, brassier alternative, but there's something to be said for his quiet style of (vindicated) diplomacy.

Gilda set to become a mum
As Britons prepare for the royal birth, Auckland's own Persian princess is also expecting a bundle of joy in July. Gilda Kirkpatrick, 39, is nearly five months pregnant with her first child.

The advertising director is thrilled with the news and is preparing to kiddie-lock the Paritai Drive mansion she shares with her octogenarian husband, James, and their three dogs.

Gilda and her sister Gitta emigrated to New Zealand from Iran more than 20 years ago. They have been firm fixtures on the Auckland social scene and regular subjects for social snappers.

Gitta married property developer Andrew Krukziener in a lavish ceremony that included a glittering fireworks display and lion cubs on a leash. They have two young sons.

Younger sister Gilda wed property titan Kirkpatrick 12 years ago. They live in a $12 million mansion dubbed the "Wedding Cake" house on one of Auckland's most expensive streets, where they own two other homes.

Kirkpatrick is said to be worth $125 million, according to the NBR Rich List, with an empire built largely on commercial property investments established over 50 years in business.

Friends close to Gilda say she is thrilled at the impending birth - due two days before her 40th birthday.

A tale of two threads
Hollywood A-lister Kate Winslet may have scorned the wrath of the couture gods for shopping at Pagani in Masterton, but double Grammy winner Kimbra sparkled with an Australian designer's dress for her red-carpet appearance in Los Angeles.

Hamilton-born Kimbra, who took home two awards at the Grammys, wore a custom-made embellished tulle gown by Aussie designer Jaime Lee Major, complete with 2kg of pearls from Western Australia.

"I love knowing that she's taking a little bit of WA to LA," Lee told Australian Vogue this week.

The two went shoe-shopping at Miu Miu in Rodeo Drive and were swamped by fans. "The store literally ground to a halt," Major said. Alas, so did Kiwi Kimbra's sartorial emissary.

Lucky Winslet played ambassador, of sorts, for the garments of Godzone. She made headlines around the world and brought exposure to the little boutique in Masterton. Her agent, Sara Keene, told The Diary Winslet's trip - with new husband Ned Rocknroll - is just "a private visit", which makes her very public style splash-out that much more au courant.

A fond farewell
The funeral of Sir Paul Holmes at Parnell's Trinity Cathedral on Friday was a beautiful affair with heart-warming eulogies from friends and stirring readings from his two children, Millie and Reuben. Holmesy would have been proud as punch.

Everyone had a story to share. Jonah Lomu, who paid his respects before attending his son's fourth birthday party, regaled me with tales about Holmesy's prized red Bentley. Oh, how I remember that car. I drove it a couple of times with its owner sitting shotgun, urging me to "let her rip, Gluc".

Lomu, a car enthusiast, recalled playing honorary on-call mechanic. "Holmesy rang and said the Bentley was making a strange screeching noise. He was worried that something was seriously wrong, but it turned out it was just so new! The noise was the sound of new tyres."

More tales were exchanged at the wake at Holmesy's favourite eatery, Tribeca, where we had celebrated his 60th birthday just two short years ago. Society grande dame Rosie Horton and her husband, Michael, rubbed shoulders with Sir Peter Leitch, Lucy Lawless and MP Maggie Barry, and socialite Gilda Kirkpatrick was positively glowing.

Former TVNZ boss Rick Ellis dashed back from Sydney, as did Paul Patrick, who now calls Network Ten home. But speculation was rife that Patrick timed the trip with a secret interview at the state broadcaster for the head of news job, which Ross Dagan will hastily vacate next month. Patrick's insistence he is very happily settled in Sydney fell on deaf ears.

Media veterans gathered like a muster of peacocks to serenade and toast the biggest character of them all. Holmesy may have been small in stature but he was a towering magnet of charm and generosity of spirit. I'll miss my dear friend.

- 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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