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The great TV tiffs

Date: 09/02/1997
Words: 612
          Publication: Sun Herald
Section: NEWS
Page: 37
TV personalities often have a healthy appetite for tiffs, as RACHEL BROWNE reports.

WHEN Witness anchor Jana Wendt and reporter Graham Davis head to court this week in an attempt to resolve their differences with Channel 7, it will be the latest round in what has become one of TV's most bitter and public brawls.

When stars fall out with management, or each other, it's usually hushed up, with one party discreetly ousted and a convenient reason for the departure invented.

But office politics are as common in the TV industry as in any other profession. Viewers watching Today last Tuesday could be forgiven for thinking the early morning show was a less than happy ship.

After weather presenter Monte Dwyer told presenters Tracy Grimshaw, Steve Liebmann and newsreader Ian Ross he wasn't awake yet, Ross responded by rolling his eyes and saying: "Oh, well, everything's normal."

In the second news and weather break, Ross, after reading the cricket results, told Dwyer: "On-field sledging is a terrible thing, Mont ."

To which Dwyer sarcastically snapped: "On-field sledging is a terrible thing, isn't it? It's like sledging in the workplace, on national television. It's a good thing we don't do it."

Nine's news is a banter-free zone compared with Jessica Rowe and Ron Wilson's nightly chats to Tim Bailey, and Ann Sanders' warm reception to Brian Bury.

Speaking of Bury, word around the Seven corridors is that ousted weeknight weather presenter Adam Digby speaks of his replacement in less than flattering terms.

Those who want to keep their jobs won't speak publicly about internal feuding.

The sensible ones wait until they've left their place of employment to dump on their colleagues.

Soap star Melissa George had barely left Home And Away when, in a national women's magazine, she called Dieter Brummer, who played her on-screen husband, "stupid and undisciplined".

Totally shattering the soap's Shane and Angel romance, Brummer reacted by labelling her rude, demanding and jealous in a later article.

When actor Nick Freedman left the show, he scoffed at his on-screen love interest, Isla Fisher, calling her a silly little redhead. Fisher did not dignify his comments with a response, but then, she's still contracted to the series.

The 7.30 Report host Kerry O'Brien waited until Paul Lyneham left the ABC in late 1995 to shed light on the antipathy they shared. According to those working in the Canberra press gallery with the two, their bitter rows and rivalry over interviews with the political heavyweights were the stuff of parliamentary legend.

When O'Brien took over The 7.30 Report and ABC management decided he, not Lyneham, would handle the big political interviews, Lyneham, regarded as one of the public broadcaster's most astute interviewers, packed his briefcase and signed with Channel 9.

"Paul and I were once very close friends," O'Brien said later.

"We're not any more. There's something sad about that but there was something inevitable about it."

News and current affairs programs, by their nature, will always be hotbeds of tension but what of comedies?

One of TV's most-celebrated blues was between Hey Hey It's Saturday's Daryl Somers and former sidekick Denise Drysdale.

DRYSDALE'S continual upstaging of the star and refusal to be the butt of the jokes resulted in her swift departure from the show. Both parties say, however, that they have since made up.

But the biggest behind-the-scenes barnies are on American sets where over-stroked egos run out of control.

David Caruso's tantrums were more volatile than anything which went to air on his show, NYPD Blue. During one outburst, he threw a wastepaper basket at co-star Dennis Franz. After that, the pair spoke only when exchanging scripted dialogue and everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief when Caruso left to pursue a film career - which later flopped.

Still at war, however, are Cybill Shepherd and her co-star Christine Baranski.

Shepherd is furious that Baranski gets all the laughs on the sitcom, Cybill, and has been on a mission to fire Baranski sympathisers in the script department. Baranski, meanwhile, has said Shepherd treats her like pond scum and is said to be looking for another gig.

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