The Diary: PM in the press pool

Patrick Gower (left) and John Key in a pool in Indonesia. Photo / Jared Mason
Patrick Gower (left) and John Key in a pool in Indonesia. Photo / Jared Mason

As Prime Minister John Key faced a political barrage from opposition parties and problem gamblers this week following the revelation that a SkyCity-backed convention centre was his brainchild, the National Party leader took refuge with a bromance bathe in the pool.

Key travelled to Indonesia and Singapore for trade talks with a posse of political reporters all eager for the scoop. Maybe there'd be an international diplomatic incident. A sheep joke by the Asean secretary general. A beef with beef from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Feeling the stress of unfinished negotiations, Key - who found his mug plastered on a Jakarta billboard - stripped off to his black boardies and waterproof watch and plunged into the pool at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel washing off the qualms of quota-hurt Kiwi exporters. His security guard paddled behind.

Patrick Gower, a TV3 political reporter with schmooze skills to envy, frolicked, too, and a photo bromance was born.

In the movies, mafia guys meet in the pool to be sure the other guy isn't wearing a wire. This was dip date; not tea-gate.

"He could be sure I wasn't carrying a secret recorder," Gower joked to the Diary.

But he wasn't laughing at rumours he sported a pair of 3 News-branded budgie smugglers.

Fiscal cuts at the network have snipped the sartorial promotional budget.

Gower's boss, TV3 political editor Duncan Garner, told the Diary he was open-minded about the Special Relationship.

"I don't want to judge the company that either men keep. I potentially feel sorry for both of them. Although I was never offered a swim with Helen Clark or Jenny Shipley on other trips."

ALE OF A GOOD TIME

Keisha Castle-Hughes, who has admitted problems with alcohol in the past, tweeted a photo of herself this week at a Toronto Raptors basketball game holding a team flag and what looks to be a glass of beer. But her agent Gail Cowan does not believe the 22-year-old is drinking again.

"It won't be beer. She's there with my daughter. She's not drinking," Cowan told the Diary.

Two years ago, the Whale Rider star told the NZ Woman's Weekly she had quit booze after battling an alcohol problem. Paparazzi photos surfaced of Castle-Hughes leaving a support meeting for alcoholics. The young mum declared her sobriety and served tea at her 20th birthday.

Alcohol experts last month urged her to get help after she made headlines in drinking-related incidents - involving leaving a bar in handcuffs last year and a more recent altercation with her on-off boyfriend Michael Graves. He was charged with assault and banned from contacting her. The charge was later dropped.

But things looked up for the young actress when she left for Canada last week after landing a role in US sci-fi pilot Rewind. Cowan said filming starts soon on the production in which Castle-Hughes - who was nominated for a best actress Oscar for Whale Rider nearly a decade ago - plays a behavioural anthropologist.

During the downtime it appears Twitter calls. She has kept followers up to date with her personal activities in Canada, including shopping, eating, getting her hair coloured and enjoying free swag.

On sobriety, Cowan thinks the media should back away from her young charge. "It's not news. She should be allowed to grow up in private." Fair enough. But privacy is a hard request to make when the attraction of social networking beckons and with it a desire to reveal every candid detail.

MIKE'S KNOCKOUT BLOW

TVNZ was dealt another blow this week when long-serving Close Up executive producer Mike Valintine announced he was stepping down. The news came two days after Ross Dagan took the helm of the newsroom.

The daily current affairs show is considered one of the toughest gigs in the business. Valintine, who ran the award-winning programme for five years, said he felt it was time to hand over the reins to someone with fresh ideas and energy. "I had an epiphany and I needed to reclaim my life," he told the Diary. "TVNZ has been fantastic and the timing is right."

Graeme Muir, executive producer of Breakfast, will fill the role in the interim until Dagan makes an appointment. Valintine has agreed to cover the director of coverage position for six months, starting Monday. The role was vacated by Richard Sutherland who defected to TV3.

Michele Romaine was gushing in her praise. "Mike has won Qantas documentary of the year for producing and directing Enemy of the State. He also launched 20/20 on TV2 achieving outstanding ratings and managed to find time to win Qantas best investigative and Qantas journalist of the year."

GIRL POWER

Congratulations to actress Anna Paquin who is pregnant with her first child. And to Chelsie Preston-Crawford who was crowned best new talent at the Logies in Melbourne for her role as Tilly Devine in Underbelly: Razor.

Indian-born Zia Mandivwalla received good news this week too, after her short film Night Shift was selected as one of 10 (out of 4500 submissions) to compete for the Short Film Palme d'Or at Cannes.

GALA DINNER GREATS

All Black captain Richie McCaw and ex-coach Sir Graham Henry ("Ted will do") were the guests of honour at a gala event last night in which Waka Nathan, Inga Tuigamala, Frank Bunce, Jerome Kaino, Grant Fox and Shane Cameron attended.

The dinner, sponsored by TelstraClear and TV3, raised money for two youth at-risk organisations. Dan Carter and Ali Williams donated their fishing services as an auction prize, and Dave McArtney, from Hello Sailor fame, performed. The day before, Henry and McCaw went on radio as part of the MediaWorks sponsorship deal associated with the dinner. Richie revealed he's been working towards getting his helicopter licence and finishing a couple of papers at Uni. "Learning is something that energises and stimulates me."

The ladies were more stimulated to learn the rugby hunk is single and on the lookout for a prospective girlfriend. All vetting is to go through Ted. But don't bother applying on social media. "I thought Twitter was a five-eighth who played for England," Henry said. "My social media awareness is limited."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 22 Aug 2014 21:58:12 Processing Time: 496ms