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And now...the envelopes please

Author: Ross Warneke
Date: 26/04/1995
Words: 2204
          Publication: The Age
Section: Green Guide
Page: 12
The readers of the TV Week have had their say, now it's our turn. ROSS WARNEKE has studied the Logie form. This is his guide to TVs night of frights.

THERE is one big question hanging over tomorrow night's 37th Logie Awards. Will Sofie Formica, the latest Aussie envoy to the global entertainment industry, the newest talent from Down Under to take America by storm, return from Tinseltown to grace the Melbourne Concert Hall of the Victorian Arts Centre with her multi-talented presence?

Sofie who? You're kidding. She is a genuine, gold-plated Aussie starlet. For her not to attend tomorrow night's TV night of nights would be a tragedy. Why import Big Bird or TV's latest Superman to hand out statuettes when Sofie is the one we really want to see?

Sofie who? Well, in between extended visits to the US, where she is even to guest-star in Melrose Place I read it in TV Week, so it must be true Sofie, who began years ago as one of those clear-skinned, ever-smiling teenage hosts of Channel 7's Saturday Disney, co-hosts Channel 9's cerebrally challenging Candid Camera clone, Just Kidding, one of the ratings phenomena of 1994.

As well, she is a mainstay of the publishing industry or, more particularly, the fan magazine gossip columns, which breathlessly report her every move. Last year, after taping the first series of Just Kidding, she packed up her talents in her dilly bag and went off to Hollywood where she became an instant mega-hit, a gi-normous success, a celebrity who mixes with other headliners at swank nightclubs and about whom American network bosses drool in adoration.

Cynics might ask what came first the success or the publicity. And how much of the latter can be believed, anyway? Let's face it, in many cases, ``stars" are manufactured, wheeled off a big production line operated by the TV networks, talent agents and magazines like TV Week.

Their every move is the stuff of headlines like ``Rebecca's Day of Agony", ``Kylie's Brush With Death" and ``Shane's Horror Christmas".

But Sofie is a genuine ``star". To her credit, she has steadfastly avoided having a ``brush with death", which means she has not been stuck in a traffic jam two kilometres behind a fatal car crash or, while flying to New York for delicate contract negotiations with a US media tycoon, her plane did not stop over at Oklahoma City three weeks before last week's bombing.

No, she only allows the facts to be reported, the facts about her love life, her marriage, major showbiz contracts and her uncertainty, twisted by those same cynics into a suggestion that she may have got too big-headed, about whether to ever return to Australia now that she is such a success in America.

No, if anyone deserves a Logie, it is Sofie. We would suggest a special one-off award for the star who has most avoided trifling publicity since that other Sophie, Sophie Lee, made unknown American rabbit Bugs Bunny famous.

Sophie who?

THE Logies, and the hype machine that fuels them, are like that here tomorrow, forgotten by Monday. If this year's awards ceremony (televised by Seven tomorrow at 8.30pm), are like the others, the major talking points next week will be who monstered whom at the notorious after-Logies parties and who was hung over on Saturday.

The awards themselves hardly matter. It's a big party and little else.

In fact, the two people most deserving of awards tomorrow night will go home empty-handed. They are the hosts, Andrew Daddo (yes, another Daddo!) and Noni Hazelhurst, the poor fools who stuck their hands up for the most perilous and thankless task in television. No matter how well they hold the show together, it's likely most people will say ``Bert would have done it better". It happens every year.

The glory days of the Logies are long gone. Last year's ceremony was watched by fewer Melbourne viewers than even one of Channel 9's telecasts of Rugby League State-of-Origin football. In a town where Aussie Rules is king, that is a testimony to their irrelevance.

But it was little wonder. Voted on by readers of a magazine with a dwindling circulation and, perhaps more importantly, a group of viewers whose interests, according to the nominations they submit to TV Week, rarely extend beyond teen soapies, tabloid current affairs shows, police series and gag-fests such as Hey, Hey, the Logies are not representative of very much at all these days, if they ever were.

Further, it's often alleged and I have never seen it denied that the networks buy up copies of TV Week in the six weeks each year when the magazine publishes nomination forms and submit multiple votes supporting their own personalities.

But there are more subtle influences at work, too. Network publicists vie for space in TV Week to promote their shows and their personalities all year round. The key time, however, is the weeks before and during the Logies voting period.

This year, Channel 7 did well, with numerous picture stories about Blue Heelers, the series about country cops. Sure enough, Blue Heelers has nominations in four key categories Most Popular Series, Actor, Actress and New Talent. Not that it does not deserve them. But can we take the final voting results seriously when they may reflect little more than who got their pictures in the magazine more than anyone else?

IT IS a grand night. For TV Week and, this year, Channel 7 (the commercial networks take it in turns to televise them), the Logies cost a small fortune to stage. But at the end of the night, what do they mean? They might give the circulation of TV Week a boost and Channel 7 some good ratings. But do they matter? Can we take them seriously?

For those planning to endure it all, here are the TV Week readers' nominations for tomorrow night's awards (with last year's winners in brackets, in case you have forgotten), along with the awards we would like to see.

GOLD LOGIE.

Ray Martin; Daryl Somers; Gary Sweet; Melissa George. (1994: Ray Martin).

RAY MARTIN should be red-hot favorite for this award. Everything he does, even those boring Good Blokes and Spunky Sheilas interview specials, tops the ratings. His almost universal appeal cannot be denied.

But the youth of the TV Week readership might sway votes towards Daryl Somers, whose weekly Hey, Hey, It's Saturday and occasional Hey, Hey specials continue to draw huge audiences. And, while Seven's nightly soapie Home & Away hardly sets the ratings alight, its resident starlet Melissa George (who plays the series' crippled-teenager-cum- unmarried-mother-cum-newlywed) might expect solid support. Last year she was voted Most Popular New Talent.

The unknown here is Gary Sweet, who got the Sofie Formica treatment last year. Every time he went outdoors, he made it into the fan mags.

And, crucially, news of his engagement came at about the same time as the release of the Logie voting coupons.

SILVER LOGIE. MOST POPULAR ACTOR.

Nominees: Dieter Brummer, Gary Sweet, John Wood. (1994: Gary Sweet).

OF THE nominees, John Wood from Blue Heelers is the best by far. But these are ``popular" votes, and ``most popular" often translates to ``most photographed", so teen heart-throb Brummer (Melissa George's teenage hubby, Shane, in Home & Away) or Sweet must have good chances.

If the award went to the best as distinct from ``most popular", we reckon Wood would be fighting it out with Chris Haywood (the Hennessey family's lawyer Michael Kidd in Janus), or Aaron Blabey (Harvey in The Damnation of Harvey McHugh).

SILVER LOGIE. MOST POPULAR ACTRESS. Nominees: Melissa George, Lisa.

Hensley, Lisa McCune. (1994: Sonia Todd).

OUR TIP is Lisa McCune from Blue Heelers, if only because she recently has received even more publicity than Sofie. But while McCune impresses in her role as policewoman Maggie Doyle, the better actress is Lisa Hensley, who played the young country lawyer in Nine's under- rated Law of the Land.

MOST POPULAR DRAMA.

Nominees: The Battlers, Heartland, Janus. (1994: Police Rescue).

THERE is no question if Janus does not win this, the readers of TV Week should be forced to surrender their remote controls. But don't be surprised if Seven's eminently forgettable miniseries, The Battlers, wins. It had more than one-and-a-half million viewers nationwide, a figure its two rivals on the ABC could only dream of.

MOST POPULAR SERIES.

Nominees: Banjo Paterson's The Man From Snowy River, Blue Heelers, Home and Away. (1994: Home & Away).

NOT much doubt here if Melbourne's ratings are any guide, Blue Heelers should win this popularity vote.

MOST POPULAR NEW TALENT.

Nominees: Daniel Amalm, Isla Fisher, Lisa McCune. (1994: Melissa George).

FORGET the rest Lisa McCune really deserves to win this three-way race. But where is the most impressive newcomer of the year, Paulene Terry-Beitz, whose debut performance as Shirl Hennessey in Janus was outstanding? And Aaron Blabey iin Harvey McHugh deserved a nomination, too.

MOST POPULAR PUBLIC AFFAIRS PROGRAM.

Nominees: A Current Affair, 60 Minutes, The 7.30 Report (1994: Real Life).

AFTER last year, when Stan Grant's soon-to-be-axed, utterly dead in the ratings Real Life, got up and won, anything is possible. But this year, it must be out of the two Channel 9 shows. The 7.30 Report, despite some problems last year, deserves to win because it is the only one of the three that consistently stays in touch with the news.

But this is a popularity poll, not a test of quality.

MOST POPULAR SPORTS PROGRAM.

Nominees: Commonwealth Games, The Footy Show, Rugby League State-of- Origin (1994: AFL Grand Final).

PAROCHIALISM dictates that we opt for The Footy Show. But let's face facts it rates well in Melbourne, but nowhere else. Without doubt, Nine's coverage of the three games in last year's rugby league State- of-Origin competition should win, having grabbed unprecedented first, second and third placings in the top 100 shows on TV around the nation last year. Ten's coverage of the Commonwealth Games was mediocre.

MOST POPULAR LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM.

Nominees: Hey, Hey, It's Saturday, Just Kidding, Man O Man. (1994: Hey, Hey, It's Saturday).

HEY, HEY is our tip, mainly because when the voting was conducted earlier this year, Man O Man was long gone from our screens and Just Kidding was failing to match its ratings performance of '94. But we would have picked Denton.

MOST POPULAR LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT PERSONALITY.

Nominees: Andrew Denton, Larry Emdur, Daryl Somers (1994: Ray Martin).

DARYL SOMERS is favorite for this one. But Andrew Denton deserves it.

MOST POPULAR COMEDY PERSONALITY.

Nominees: Russell Gilbert, Daryl Somers, Magda Szubanski (1994: Ruth Cracknell).

HANDS up all those people, other than his family and the publicity staff at Channel 9, who voted for Russell Gilbert. Anyway, we would have voted for Magda, Denton, Jimeoin, Full Frontal's Eric Bana or Frontline's Rob Sitch.

MOST POPULAR COMEDY PROGRAM.

Nominees: Full Frontal, Hey, Hey, It's Saturday, Mother And Son (1994: The Late Show).

THE big mystery of this year's Logies is: What happened to Frontline?

The most likely answer is that the sorts of people who watched it are not TV Week subscribers.

Our vote would have gone to Full Frontal. It was patchy in '94, but showed more brilliance and inventiveness than Hey, Hey. Mother and Son is past its prime.

MOST POPULAR CHILDREN'S PROGRAM.

Nominees: Agro's Cartoon Connection, A*mazing, Totally Wild. (1994: Agro's Cartoon Connection).

ANOTHER mystery! What happened to Blinky Bill on Two or Half Way Across The Galaxy And Turn Left on Seven? They were undoubtedly the finest kids' shows last year. Sadly, Agro's daily advertising marathon on Seven is the likely winner of this category.

MOST POPULAR LIFESTYLE/INFORMATION PROGRAM.

Nominees: Burke's Backyard, Getaway, The Great Outdoors (1994: Burke's Backyard).

AND yet another mystery. Where are Our House, Looking Good and Money, the best and most watched lifestyle/information programs on TV nationwide last year by a big margin? This category, more than any other, makes the Logies look stupid. By the way, Burke's Backyard has won this award every year since its inception in 1990.

 
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