It's the party of all parties, a backslapping celebrity fest that the
beleaguered Australian television industry really needs right now. Bring back
the stars, bring back the showbiz, bring back that overworked night of nights
and ... hey, even bring back Bert.
Tonight's 43rd annual TV Week Logies Awards show is not only the hottest show
in town, but, cynicism and scoffing aside, a celebration of what television
still can do.
When those 1100 polished guests shuffle into Melbourne's Crown Casino for
their glittery dress-up they will be gathering together the movers and shakers,
talented creatives, young and mature performers, international observers, hacks
and hangers-on, and some of TV's hopes for the future.
Australian television has never been in such a state of uncertainty. The
ratings game is a mystery, the promise of pay TV and digital technology is yet
to be realised, and, importantly, there is a desperate need for a boost in
budgets, support and enthusiasm for local production. And not just for the
The Logies allows us all to look at the state of the art. But, above all, the
Logies, a once high-circulation entertainment magazine's promotional
centrepiece, is supposed to be fun. That, and, of course, a top-rating
television special for guest James Packer's Nine Network. So bring out the
gifts, the surprises, the superstars.
Top of the bill is Latin singer Ricky Martin, who is flying in just to
deliver the hits Loaded and She Bangs. There will also be performances from
Vanessa Amorosi and a medley, with dancers a la Michael Jackson, from the hit
group Human Nature.
Michael Crawford, remembered by some for the Phantom and by the olds as Frank
Spencer in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em will be a guest presenter. As will that
grittier Brit actor, Christopher Ellison, star of The Bill and, more recently,
Burnside. Magda Szubanski, star of Babe and the Dogwoman series of telemovies,
will head up the local presenters.
But surely the most sentimental drawcard of the night will be the presenter
of the Gold Logie, Bert Newton. In that era of Muhammad Ali, John Wayne, Graham
Kennedy, Dallas, M.A.S.H. and the golden age of TV variety, Bert became the Bob
Hope of the Logies, from 1967, hosting 18 of the shows with impeccable skill and
There is an undoubted revival of interest in this awards show and the sole
reason for that is the witty, acerbic and irreverent performance of Andrew
Denton as the program's host for the past two years. With his decision to give
it a rest, the organisers have turned to another left-of-field choice as master
of ceremonies, ABC comedian Shaun Micallef. The TV comic could be an inspired
gamble. Micallef has the comic ability to surprise, an elastic performance that
is unpredictable and unconventional. He is also a versatile actor, switching
from the nerdish, nice-guy romantic in SeaChange to that Basil Fawlty-ish
talk-show host in his own sketch comedy series without difficulty.
But there are three big shows trapped within the Logies. There is the
presentation of the 22 or so awards, half of them voted for by the magazine
readers and half judged by peer groups. There are those VIP guests who need to
be wined, dined and kept from getting bored. And there is, for the Nine Network,
that all-important TV spectacular.
Hillary Innes, who has produced the People's Choice Awards for Seven and
worked on Ray Martin's Midday, is the new executive producer of the telecast.
Through the anxiety, tension and planning, she understands how essential it is
to keep all the elements in tune.
``There is a great vibe in the room," Innes says. ``People are there to
party. You know you want to entertain young people, but also know there is a
traditionally older audience tuned in. So you choose entertainers that appeal
right across the board. It's not cultish, not niche market at all.
``I love it. You're out there live and anything can happen, anything can go
haywire. But as well as being nerve-racking, it's a wonderful feeling. There's
nothing else like it in television."
Just how difficult is it guaranteeing the right mix of performers? Kerry
Roberts, the network's entertainment executive, spent six months working on
getting Ricky Martin to come to Australia just for the Logies. ``He loves
Australia, really does, but he's just flying in, then there's a press conference
and he's flying out again," Roberts says.
What viewers at home won't see, of course, are the lesser delights of the
great parade at the Crown Casino. They will miss the guests trying to push their
way along the red carpet past Richard Wilkins and the fashion sleuth. They will
miss the ``mezzo-nod", that nervous flick of acknowledgment from one celebrity
to another ``Do they really know me, or do I only know them from TV?" They
will miss the mascara-smudged gossip from the overcrowded ladies loos. And they
will also miss all the parties that go on into the scandalised night.
But much as we crave the opportunity to spot that tipsy star, sink the
fashion fiascos, yawn through the thankyous, scorn the mean-spirited
air-punching nongs who use the acceptance speech as a soapbox, and catch
celebrities and network bosses scowling, the Logies, like so many televised
awards shows, has become warily efficient.
The bland plays on.
There is precious little time for editing, but, if someone does make an
extravagant fool of themselves on camera, the cynics will delight in being
proved right, the viewers will remember the awards embarrassment forever, and
television will again confirm its ability to entertain and excite us with the
* Planning for the first Logies began in 1958, two years after TV began in
Australia. Run by TV Week magazine and then known as the ``TV Week Awards", the
first winners were announced in 1959.
* The first ``star of the year" was In Melbourne Tonight's Graham Kennedy.
* The awards were named after the inventor of TV, John Logie Baird.
MOST POPULAR PERSONALITY
Lisa McCune (Blue Heelers, The Potato Factory, 7)
Ada Nicodemou (Home And Away, 7)
Georgie Parker (All Saints, 7)
*Sigrid Thornton (SeaChange, ABC)
John Wood (Blue Heelers, 7)
MOST POPULAR ACTOR
Daniel Macpherson (Neighbours, 10)
William McInnes (SeaChange ABC)
Martin Sacks (Blue Heelers, 7)
*John Wood (Blue Heelers, 7)
MOST POPULAR ACTRESS
Rebecca Cartwright (Home And Away, 7)
Rebecca Gibney (Halifax f.p., 9)
Georgie Parker (All Saints, 7)
*Sigrid Thornton (SeaChange, ABC)
MOST POPULAR PROGRAM
All Saints (7)
Blue Heelers (7)
Home And Away (7)
MOST POPULAR LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM
Rove Live (10)
Surprise Surprise (9)
*The Panel (10)
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (9)
MOST POPULAR LIFESTYLE PROGRAM
Backyard Blitz (9)
*Better Homes And Gardens (7)
Changing Rooms (9)
Harry's Practice (7)
MOST POPULAR REALITY PROGRAM
Animal Hospital (9)
The Mole (7)
MOST POPULAR PUBLIC AFFAIRS PROGRAM
A Current Affair (9)
60 Minutes (9)
Today Tonight (7)
MOST POPULAR SPORTS PROGRAM
*The Dream, With Roy & H.G. (7)
The Footy Show: AFL (9)
The Footy Show: NRL (9)
The Olympic Show (7)
MOST POPULAR NEW TALENT: MALE
Beau Brady (Home And Away, 7)
*Jamie Durie (Backyard Blitz, 9)
Chris Egan (Home And Away, 7)
Ben Steel (Home And Away, 7)
MOST POPULAR NEW TALENT: FEMALE
Karina Brown (Sale Of The Century, 9)
*Caroline Craig (Blue Heelers, 7)
Tammin Sursok (Home And Away, 7)
Madeleine West (Neighbours, 10)
* Indicates Sunday Age Critic's Choice.