Danielle Cormack adds jailbird to her list of bad-girl characters

It's not lost on Danielle Cormack that she's carved a niche in Australia playing characters on the wrong side of the law. But her latest role - hard-as-nails jailbird Beatrice "Queen Bea" Smith in the remake of Prisoner - is her favourite.

"I am absolutely rapt to be part of the reboot of such an iconic drama. Prisoner left an indelible mark on fans and I really hope that the re-imagining of this series will be just as popular with viewers now as it was back then," Cormack said.

The 10-part Foxtel TV series, Wentworth, will feature updated characters and some new ones. It starts filming in Melbourne next week. Co-stars Robbie Magasiva and Aaron Jeffrey, who play correction officers in the fictional Wentworth Detention Centre, say the Kiwi camaraderie is strong.

"There's a familiarity you sink into automatically with your own kind," Jeffrey told The Diary. "I've known Danielle since I was 15 years old. We used to go to the same nightclub. And Robbie reminds me of the good old Kiwi rugby and league guys I grew up with at home. He's definitely a big unit."


Cormack laughed: "I'm looking forward to someone else, other than me, getting mocked for their Nu Zild accent".

Magasiva, the only Samoan in the cast, said he's chuffed New Zealanders are so well accepted. "I feel proud that the Kiwis are shining over here in Oz."

Also better are the conditions the actors are working under, he told The Diary.

"I'm struck by the better working conditions over here," Magasiva said.

It was clear evidence of the fight for standard working conditions by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (the parent union of the New Zealand Actors' Equity.

Cormack said: "The industry over here is thriving with great drama, and the chance to be part of a show that is produced for paid-TV enables the show to take more risks."

The original series ran for seven years and spawned a cult following.

Bic expecting bundle

Her agent unceremoniously leaked the news on Twitter this week: Bic Runga is expecting a baby. Campbell Smith, a self-described curmudgeon, couldn't help but share the good news. He labelled Bic's partner, Kody Nielson, "a stupidly talented little f***er and dad-to-be".

Neilson was named producer of the year on Wednesday for his work on Bic's fourth album, Belle, in the technical awards section of the Tuis.

Sister Boh Runga - Smith's ex-wife - told The Diary Bic and Kody are very happy and have been telling friends and family the good news. Bic has a son, Joseph, with ex-partner Darryl Ward.

Boh is on the road with Anika Moa and Hollie Smith performing in the Acoustic Church Tour. Last night it was Napier, tonight Palmerston North.

Small star gets heavy

Two things annoyed me about Eva Longoria's junket this week. One, she travelled with no security (a PA and a fashion stylist are not protection) but was heavy-handed with media at the tightly controlled launch of The Shopping Channel. Two, it was hard to buy into.

Those of us who attended the media conference were herded onto a bus and hauled from one hotel to another "for security reasons".

Apparently we couldn't be trusted to know the location in advance.

Incidentally, it was the Langham Hotel - the venue that has hosted superstars the Rolling Stones, Justin Bieber and One Direction without a hitch.

"Ask me anything," Eva the diva smiled through teeth so white it felt like sartorial Labour Day had passed. Problem was, she wouldn't necessarily answer. So why waste our breath?

Protection was beefed up at the cocktail party - security men wearing dark suits and ear pieces warmly welcomed guests by confiscating their smart phones. Sally Ridge, I'm told, kicked up quite a fuss.

Evidently feeling safe from phone-wielding guests, Longoria removed her stilettos, prompting one high-brow caller to chastise: "It was very unprofessional for someone paid by the hour."

Woman's Day, the host, couldn't chance a snap of Longoria leaking on Twitter or Facebook - well, not before the magazine went to press. It had paid part of Longoria's appearance fee of about US$100,000 ($122,000), and guarded its investment with might.

A gaggle of minders was installed with umbrellas open to prevent paparazzi shots.

The amateur and histrionic strong-arm tactics deployed would have been more at home in a dictatorial state.

The TV star, who has sanctioned cat food and potato chips since the demise of her primetime series Desperate Housewives, was here to endorse a TV network in the commercial business of flogging stuff.

As far as sales go, it's left an odd taste of inanity in this buyer's mouth.