As the eponymous nightly show that is the Paul Henry platform looms, little news of its form and content is being made public in a bid to have one over the competition.
At TV3's new season launch on Thursday the man himself introduced his much-hyped return with a mockumentary video which, we were told, would be nothing like the show.
"Phew!" Mike McRoberts would have breathed. He was the butt of all jokes, as Henry mercilessly teased the self-styled warzone correspondent on his proclivity for flak jackets and monopolising the camera when sick kids are in shot. The crowd chortled.
Not many at TV3 could get away with deriding the network's news anchor. McRoberts is well-regarded at the station.
But Henry, whose peals of laughter can be heard around the Flower St building with the high-pitched giggles of news director Mark Jennings in tow, is a law unto himself.
Nothing is sacred. It indicates a changing of the guard at TV3.
Henry has returned - for a hefty price - and he is top dog. The network wants to maximise his bark.
Sources tell The Diary his weeknight show will replace long-running Nightline, which has been steadily losing viewers.
Jennings won't deny it, saying, "I can't answer that just yet."
He won't rule it out. An insider said: "Paul Henry's show is expected to replace Nightline, but Nightline staff have yet to be told."
Realistically, fiscally struggling TV3 can ill-afford two highly produced, local, daily, late-night news shows from a news department where budgets are strained.
Henry's show, I'm told, will be a late-night entertainment news programme with a satirical bent in the vein of The Jon Stewart Daily Show.
TV3, forever playing the underdog card, is keen to bring back bold irreverence as a virtue in its late-night offering, which was Nightline's strength when Belinda Todd was the face.
Remember when the redhead used the channel's financial woes as comedy fodder by trying to flog the furniture when TV3 went into receivership (the first time)?
After 23 years, Nightline has lost its mojo. It is tipped to get the chop from TV3 in favour of Henry's haughty humour which, in my opinion, will be a welcome change to the traditional news vista.
SHOW'S SURPRISE AXING SHOCKS VOTE TEAM
Surprised staff on TV3's monthly debate show The Vote were unceremoniously told on Friday morning their show has been cancelled next year, but news boss Mark Jennings insists all is not lost.
"It wasn't my decision to dump The Vote, but the plan is to have an additional 10 episodes of 3rd Degree, which will be good," Jennings said.
The Diary understands the surprise conclusion to cancel the show sat with programming director Mark Caulton and the network's television chief executive Paul Maher, neither of whom returned messages.
The Vote, a monthly series of 10 national issue debates, is fronted by Duncan Garner, Guyon Espiner and Linda Clark, and produced by Terence Taylor and Tim Watkin. It received $905,000 from New Zealand On Air's Platinum Fund in the 2012/13 investment period.
Jennings says there will be no job losses, all staff finding roles on 3rd Degree or other outlets within the news department. "Aside from Linda [a lawyer at Chapman Tripp], there will be no loss of jobs. But, hopefully, we'll be doing some work with her next year during the election."
There's some suggestion the show may be reworked for a couple of one-off specials next year during the election, but Jennings would not be drawn on it.
However, when news broke on Friday that the referendum show was scrapped, staff were shocked. Jennings admits he has been dealing with the fallout. The timing was unfortunate and staff were none the wiser at the network's new season launch the night before.
Garner said: "Yeah, I was a bit disappointed, for an hour or two. I thought the show was bold, brave and new. Certainly it was bloody hard to pull off. But no one has died and it's only telly. It's a first-world issue, isn't it, losing a TV programme. I'm not losing sleep over it - my chickens are laying, the sun is out and my mum is moving to Auckland. My only issue is my lawn mower - it's stuffed."
The Vote next screens on November 6 and will debate whether New Zealand needs more mining.
Bungy's 25th birthday
What news of AJ Hackett, whose pioneering Queenstown bungy business celebrates 25 years next month?
The Kiwi adventurer with the eternal tan is now based in Sochi, Russia, where he is overseeing construction on an ambitious new project: building the world's highest swing, the longest suspended pedestrian walkway, Russia's highest bungy, and two giant flying foxes. The adventure site will be open to the public next year, hopefully in time for the Winter Olympics.
Hackett, who co-founded the global bungy jumping phenomenon with local businessman Henry van Asch, returns to Queenstown next month for the 25th anniversary.
The pair fell out and split the AJ Hackett Bungy brand commercially in 1997, with van Asch retaining New Zealand rights and Hackett developing overseas operations in Australia, Singapore, Macau, France and Germany, as reported in Queenstown's Mountain Scene. Ten years later they kissed and made up.
Next month, the old pals will put past frictions behind them and toast the anniversary together.
Star tribute to Dave McArtney
If, like me, Dave McArtney touched your life, you'll be joining the throng at the Powerstation on Saturday night for a one-off concert to celebrate his life and music. His untimely passing in April at the age of 62 shocked the music world. A group of famous friends are paying tribute to the founding member of Hello Sailor and putting their own spin on McArtney classics.
They include Shona Laing, Dave Dobbyn, Jordan Luck, Andrew Fagan, Peter Urlich, Mike Chunn and Debbie Harwood. General admission tickets are $67.50 from Ticketmaster.