The Diary: Chiefs heart-throb off market

Richard Kahui pops the question to his long-time Aussie girlfriend

Amy Rhodes and Richard Kahui. Photo / Supplied
Amy Rhodes and Richard Kahui. Photo / Supplied

Ladies, it's over. Waikato Chiefs heart-throb Richard Kahui, 27, has proposed to his longtime Australian girlfriend, Amy Rhodes, breaking collective female hearts around the country.

The All Blacks centre, who is out this season with a shoulder injury, popped the question to Rhodes, a teacher, last week.

Kahui's agent, Kent Hale, confirmed the marriage news, but said Kahui would not comment and is fiercely private about his personal life.

That's a pity. Who doesn't love a good tale of romance?

Rhodes, who moved from Sydney's Coogee to Hamilton to live with Kahui, has changed her relationship status on Facebook to, "engaged [to] Richard Kahui".

Kahui was set to star on TV2's new pop culture show, Aotearoa Social Club, which premieres tonight. But he is no longer part of the presenting line-up, due to other commitments.

Planning a wedding and getting back to match fitness is surely a prerequisite.

Closing door on Close Up

Yesterday, TVNZ announced Close Up would wind down and a new show, with a different format, will start in that timeslot next year. Quite what that new show entails remains confidential. But insiders suggest an infotainment programme is on the cards and former Breakfast co-host Pippa Wetzell is tipped to present it.

In a confidential email to staff yesterday, TVNZ head of news and current affairs Ross Dagan said the company "is proposing a new current affairs-based programme for 2013", but insiders say this will most likely be a talk-show programme with a mix of news and entertainment.

Head of programming Jeff Latch would not be drawn on the talk-show concept but he ruled out the new show falling under his purview, as some have suggested. "It will remain in news," he said.

TVNZ rep Megan Richards told The Diary it's "not appropriate for the company to talk about 'who or what' might feature in future - that would imply it was all settled". Asked if Wetzell was a contender, Richards said many names had been suggested. "It appears that Kim Dotcom is finding favour in certain quarters," she joked.

It is no secret the format of Close Up has not been working.

"It has become clear that our audiences are growing tired of that type of format," Dagan told staff.

Insiders say there was a struggle to sell advertising around Close Up, and there was pressure on Dagan from the programming department to reinvent the show at that prime time.

Dagan told staff in the confidential email that the live studio crew used for Close Up would not be affected by the proposed changes. "The proposal does not impact on operations resourcing around the 7pm slot."

Interestingly, Dagan, who comes from Network Ten Australia, was behind The Project - an infotainment programme hosted by comedians presenting news stories in that primetime position.

Insiders suggest this format could be introduced to TVNZ to replace Close Up. "It's comedy-meets-current affairs and it generates big advertising," our mole gushed. "If TVNZ goes down that route, it will change the nature of how we digest our TV news."

That scenario is also likely to have big implications for Sainsbury's nemesis, John Campbell. "It's always been a game of chicken between Close Up and Campbell Live," a source said. "TVNZ is blinking first and TV3 is bound to follow."

As for Sainso, he told The Diary his last day will be November 30. "It's the end of an era," he said wistfully. "I love this job, it's great. You know, I'd be happy to stay forever."

Kiwis in land of tango

It's been a romantic vacation for lovebird Olympian rowers Mahe Drysdale, 32, and Juliette Haigh, 29, in Buenos Aires this week.

The pair, who have been together for four years, are in Argentina checking out the rowing, perusing the sights, eating steaks and trying tango.

And hanging out with the All Blacks.

Drysdale took to Twitter to acknowledge the hospitality of his rugby friends. "Thanks for having us for dinner and including us last night," he tweeted.

Insiders say Drysdale's appearance at All Blacks supporters' functions in Argentina has generated much excitement. "He's almost as popular as the players," said a member of the Fourth Estate.

Even Dan Carter took to the micro blogging site to share his enthusiasm. He posted an intimate snap of Drysdale elbow-to-elbow with All Black captain Richie McCaw, tweeting: "At dinner with a couple of Kiwi legends."

There's been much enthusiasm, too, for the strong-arm police protection that accompanies our national rugby team to and from training, like rock stars.

Baton-wielding, gun-strapped motorcycle cops have been assigned to the All Blacks as security escorts to ensure their double-decker bus makes the 20km journey from the hotel to the training field safely.

Owen Franks posed outside the team's hotel with three burly guards still brandishing their helmets. Victor Vito told media this week the armed escort meant no traffic jams. "The police entourage is something new; they're looking after us really well."

Also novel is the amount of beef devoured - and we don't mean the well-chiselled variety. Funny man Dai Henwood, who's in Argentina with the ABs hosting a group of Air New Zealand customers, told The Diary eating one's weight in steak is de rigueur.

Partying for Cure Kids

Actors Will Hall (Nothing Trivial) and Ben Barrington (Almighty Johnsons) are hosting a fundraising event tonight - and everyone is welcome.

They are taking part in the Cure Kids $10 Challenge next week - a race from Auckland to Queenstown with just $10 in their pocket.

"We have been champing at the bit to do it," Hall told The Diary.

"I got involved with Cure Kids a few years ago through [ex-Shortland Street cast mate] Faye Smythe. She asked if I'd like to play golf and raise money for this great cause. I was like, 'sweet'."

The party tonight at Grace Bar (cnr Hobson St and Victoria St) will help to raise funds for the charity.

Various companies and celebrity friends have donated items for a small auction - including Valerie Adams, who's signed a Nike singlet.

- NZ Herald

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