Popular weather presenter Jim Hickey is retiring from his longtime post with One News. The 65-year-old quietly told TVNZ staff this week and an official announcement is expected on air one night next week at the end of the news bulletin.

The Diary has learned Hickey will remain on air for a while, but will retire to his home in Taranaki to run the Airspresso cafes he co-owns at New Plymouth and Queenstown airports.

He was reluctant to discuss his departure yesterday. "Leaving TVNZ? No, don't know what you're talking about," Hickey deadpanned.

But plans are being made for him to announce the news on air next week.

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"TVNZ wants to give Jim the chance to break the news of his retirement to his longtime viewers," a friend said.

A TVNZ spokeswoman would say only: "An official announcement on Jim's retirement has not yet been made."

Sources The Diary have spoken to say Hickey will be sorely missed by the state broadcaster, for which he was the senior weathercaster from 1988 until 2003, returning in 2007 to replace Brendan Horan.

He is well-liked and respected by colleagues and bosses, and beloved by viewers around the country.

His warm, infectious style of presenting prompted TVNZ to use him on several shows, including Country Calendar, Jim's Car Show, A Flying Visit, Good Morning and the documentaries How's the Weather Jim? and The Real Middle Earth.

Hickey, a pilot, travels back and forth to work via private Cessna each week.

Last month, TVNZ announced meteorologist Dan Corbett was joining the One News weather team.

Another pop star notch

Grammy winning Kiwi producer Joel Little can add another international pop star to his stable. The man behind Lorde's hit tracks has been in a London studio with Brit pop princess Ellie Goulding, and the pair have been sharing snaps on social media.


Joel Little and Ellie Goulding joke around in the studio in London.

Little, who heads back to Los Angeles soon for work commitments, won two early Tui gongs this month in the New Zealand Music Awards technical category for Best Producer and Best Engineer for his work on Lorde's debut album Pure Heroine.

Sam Neill: not dead

Reports that actor Sam Neill is dead are completely false says ... Sam Neill.

This week, Media Mass reported the Kiwi's demise and said an R.I.P. Sam Neill Facebook page had attracted nearly one million likes. But the report from Media Mass was, bizarrely, a hoax itself.


Sam Neill tweeted his reponse to the death hoax.

There was no Facebook page. However, the story generated a big buzz on the internet, enough to cause the Jurassic Park actor to tweet that he was alive and well.

"I see there have been reports of my death on the internet. News to me certainly, fairly sure I'm alive. Let me check, I'll get back to you. Took a while, but yes Houston, I have a pulse."

Celebrity death hoaxes are nothing new. Plenty of stars have been killed by the rumour mill, including Jeff Goldblum who was said to have died by falling off a cliff in New Zealand.

Neill's role on the universally-panned Fifa propaganda film United Passions has been described recently as dead-on-arrival. He has the chance to resuscitate his popular career with news this week he will join the Mark Burnett CBS miniseries The Dovekeepers.

Female Felicitations

Congrats to New Plymouth-born actor Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men, Heavenly Creatures) who wore a va-va-voom plunging cocktail dress at Elle magazine's 21st annual Women in Hollywood party this week and spoke out about aesthetic pressures.

"We live in a culture," the 37-year-old said, "where women are shamed for showing any signs of ageing, but also shamed for having 'noticeable' cosmetic procedures." Too right. Renee Zellwegger, anyone?

Hooray to Kiwi-born, UK-based Emilia Wickstead, 31, who was nominated this week for best designer in the British Fashion Council's new establishment award category. The Duchess of Cambridge, a fan, will be chuffed.

Celebrity Challenge

The Television Shopping Network (TVSN) is hosting Celebrity Challenge next Wednesday as a fundraising initiative for Starship.

Breakers stars Duane Bailey and Rhys Carter, Sky TV's Melodie Robinson and Dennis Katsanos, ex-Masterchef winner Brett McGregor, comedian Penny Ashton, and society girls Amber Peebles and Helena McAlpine will pit their best TV sales pitch to outflog and outwit all in the name of charity.

MacGyver star joins Sea Shepherd

American actor Richard Dean Anderson, who will appear at the pop culture Armageddon Expo tomorrow, lent his star power yesterday to the radical Sea Shepherd environmental cause.

The popular 80s DIY action hero MacGyver is on the board of advisers of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a friend of captain Paul Watson and got involved with the organisation about 15 years ago.

Anderson boarded Sea Shepherd's vessel Sam Simon, which is in Auckland this week for a six-week stay ahead of a Southern Ocean campaign to fight toothfish piracy.

Just asking...

1)

Which mumpreneur has hired a celebrity stylist to buy pricey designer gym garb just for the school run?

2) Whose engagement was abruptly called off after news about a secret affair with a colleague leaked? The fling is over. The engagement is back on. The couple are playing nice again.

Look who we spotted

Who:

British TV star Jenna Coleman (pictured below) looking nondescript on a public ferry yesterday.

Where: Going to Waiheke for a wine tour with Armageddon chums.

Why: Enjoying the downtime before the expo tomorrow and the hordes of crazy Doctor Who fans.

What else: Shunned requests for interviews and pictures. There's widespread speculation she is leaving the high-rating cult classic and is avoiding pesky journos.