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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!