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The Age

Networking

Author: Kylie Miller
Date: 22/11/2001
Words: 1300
          Publication: The Age
Section: Green Guide
Page: 14
Stingers fans stung

Just what is Channel Nine doing with Stingers? A few weeks after the network started showing the undercover-cop show twice a week, the programmers are now screening seven episodes in a fortnight - double-episode slabs on Tuesday and Wednesday nights - to beat the end of ratings season. Judging by fan websites, the viewers are not pleased. And rumblings from within the Abbotsford ``Crimplex", where Stingers is made, suggest they are not alone. Don't miss the season finale at 10.30pm on Wednesday - or tape it if you can't stay awake until 11.30pm. We hear earlier trysts return to haunt more than one member of the undercover team ...

Blair's big moment

Big Brother's Blair McDonough is doing something right in Ramsay Street: his three-month stint on Neighbours has been doubled and we hear the producers hope he will commit himself to a permanent role. Ramsay Street will undergo a few changes over the next few weeks with the arrival of McDonough's character, Stuart Parker, shortly before the season finale on December 14. Also joining the cast is Kendell Nunn, 17, playing a "likeable delinquent" Ellie, while Jansen Spencer and Jiordan Anna Tolli, who grew up on the show after her ``birth" as Lolly Carpenter, are leaving.

Sizzling spring

There is something in the water up at Mount Thomas - or maybe it's that springtime country air. Hot on the heels of Tom Croydon's entanglement with the Reverend Grace Curtis (Debra Lawrance), we hear Jo Parrish (Jane Allsop) also finds love. Or does she? In an episode filmed recently, Damian de Montemas (the cheating Jason in The Secret Life of Us) moves to town as sports journalist and fencing tutor Guy Merrin, sweeping Parrish off her feet. The romance quickly explodes into steamy bedroom scenes - a somewhat hastier consummation than for the plodding Sergeant Croydon (John Wood) who enjoys his first kiss in the series' season finale on November 28.

Be afraid

Channel Nine is casting around for a young host of either sex to front its newest reality game show. More than 300 people were put through a regime of push-ups, chin-ups and balancing last week in a fitness-based elimination for the Southern Star ``extreme stunt show" Fear Factor, which starts shooting in Melbourne on December5. Based on the United States format, the show pits contestants against their greatest fears. The American version required contestants to eat bugs, crawl along a tightrope between buildings and leap from a jet-ski to a moving helicopter. Channel Seven may also be joining the fun. It has advertised for over-18-year-olds who like ``using body and mind for winning big cash prizes".

Dark picture

Cunnamulla, the controversial AFI-winning documentary by film maker Dennis O'Rourke (The Good Woman of Bangkok), has its first television airing tonight at 9.30pm on the ABC. Cunnamulla paints the bleak picture of black and white relations in the tiny south-western Queensland town, exposing a seedy underbelly the townsfolk would have preferred left covered. Residents threatened to lynch O'Rourke if ever he returned.

Kelley capers

Reports from overseas suggest television wunderkind David E. Kelley has signed on to executive-produce The Understudy, a drama for Fox Broadcasting, which follows the story of a 21-year-old and her life in New York theatre. Meanwhile, two familiar faces crop up in Seven's double-episode finale of Boston Public this month. Kelley favorite Kathy Baker, who played Jill Brock in four seasons of Picket Fences, stars as a domineering mother, quite unlike her apple-pie mom role in Picket Fences. Also appearing is Chicago Hope regular Mandy Patinkin, who comes in as Isaac Rice, a character likely to reappear when the show returns next year.

Ponderosa prolonged

The Daylesford-based production team on Ponderosa is praying for a change in Victoria's unseasonably chilly weather after a particularly bitter couple of weeks. Even the hardiest souls were startled to see snow falling on one particularly wintry day last week - an unexpected occurrence in mid-November. But the series, being made for the United States cable channel PAX TV, must be striking a chord: the season has been extended from 13 episodes to 22. No news yet on an Australian sale. Producer Jan Bladier says the group will pitch the series once a more saleable number of episodes is in the can. Ponderosa is shooting until March15.

Signatures for sale

Kevin Harrington (SeaChange) and Lois Collinder (Prisoner) are among those organising a memorabilia auction to raise money for actors in need. The final SeaChange script, signed by the cast, a Footy Show football and tickets to next year's show, Russell Coight's Akubra, Nicole Kidman's autograph, and signed objects from Blue Heelers, Home and Away, Always Greener, Stingers and Rove Live will be auctioned on the Internet as part of the inaugural CAST 2000 (Celebrity Autographs from Stage and Television) to raise money for the Victorian Actor's Benevolent Trust. See the wares at www.entertainmentlink.net and start bidding from November26 to December 10.

Sounds like Rove

It ain't a TV show without a soundtrack, with Ten talk-host Rove McManus the latest to cash in on the trend. McManus has recently launched rove[live]some music, a compilation that includes live performances by Alex Lloyd, Something for Kate, Anastacia, Wheatus, Kasey Chambers, paulmac and You Am I.

Vince Colosimo's secret

Vince Colosimo is one of two new semi-regulars poised to join The Secret Life of Us. Colosimo plays a love interest to one of the main female cast members. Todd MacDonald's guest role as Nathan, a love interest to Deborah Mailman's unlucky-in-love Kelly, continues. And while all of the cast is signed on to return, Networking hears at least one of the main cast will not be with the show for the full season. Filming of series two starts in Melbourne on December6.

Early release

The Secret Life of Us' best-actor winner at Friday night's AFI awards, Sam Johnson, didn't make it to the ceremony because he was busy shooting night scenes for Mick Molloy's new film, Crackerjack. However, he was spotted partying into the night with his award tucked firmly under his arm. Fellow winner Vince Colosimo (Lantana) only just made it - he spent the early evening locked in the Melbourne Assessment Prison, shooting scenes from Channel Ten's Life. Security at the prison was so tight, we hear producers were asked to supply in advance the names and birth dates of all cast and crew admitted to the jail so they could first be vetted by prison authorities.

Red alert

Shafted, the quiz-show format being adapted by Channel Nine for host Red Symons, went to air in Britain for the first time last week. The show is described as requiring a mix of intelligence and strategic cunning with contestants voting each other off. But despite obvious comparisons, we hear the show is quite different and ``more academic" than Seven's The Weakest Link.

And another thing...

Buffy's coming back

Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Emma Caulfield, queen of the social faux-pas as the former demon Anya, is starring in Don't Peek, a movie being filmed in Melbourne. Australians in the film include Sullivan Stapleton (Something in the Air) and John Stanton. Buffy fans will be thrilled to know Channel Seven is repeating the series from December3 at 10.30pm. Much excitement, too, among fans in the US over a musical episode from the new season that screened recently. Unlike the gimmick used in last season's ``The Body", in which the music and much background sound was drained from an episode dealing with the death of Buffy's mother, in this episode a musical demon casts a magic spell over the Scooby gang, forcing them to reveal their deepest feelings and secrets to each other - in song. And the episode ends with an unlikely snog!

Email: kmiller@theage.com.au

 
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