SBS means business
Looks like SBS might pip a slow-moving Auntie to the post in getting a new
business program on the air. Word is that SBS is planning an ``approachable,
broad-appeal" business show for a prime-time slot on Sunday nights from August.
A presenter has yet to be signed for the so-far unnamed program, which will be
executive produced by Walkley award winner Deb Richards. Richards won the Gold
Walkley as EP on Media Watch during its cash-for-comment revelations, and she
has also worked on Lateline and Four Corners.
If death is funny ...
US cable network HBO, which brought us Sex and the City and The Sopranos, has
high hopes for Six Feet Under, a new series about a family-run funeral service.
The drama is said to have the macabre backdrop and dark comedy of the cult
mafia hit. If it's successful in the US, it is likely to be bought by an
Australian network and screen here next year.
Barber joins Channel 31
Former Sale of the Century host Tony Barber is about to crop up on Channel 31
hosting Grey Matters, a weekly, one-hour panel discussion show. Barber
describes the program as ``Donahue meets The Panel", covering sport, politics
and television with the senior citizen's point of view in mind. Barber joins a
swag of other names at the community station, including Sue McIntosh, Paul
Cronin, Dr Feelgood, 3AW voice Denis Walter, Arthur Higgins and Doug Wade,
former Geelong star.
Judge Morag presiding
Cornelia Frances returns to Seven's soapie Home and Away on June 20 when her
character, Judge Morag Bellingham, is sent to Summer Bay to preside over an
assault case involving Dani Sutherland (Tammin Sursok) and Kane Phillips (Sam
Atwell). And we hear her ruling does not make her popular, especially with her
brother, Alf Stewart. The Weakest Link host left Summer Bay in 1994 but
occasionally returns for guest spots. Also about to return for a brief reprise
of her role as Marilyn Fisher is London-based actor Emily Symons. Symons will
appear in episodes shooting in the UK soon.
Heli Simpson, who plays bad girl Veronica in the ABC's horsey children's
series, The Saddle Club, is starting to enjoy some of the perks of a television
profile. Simpson, who, unlike her character, is mad keen on horses, will get
some riding tips from Sydney Olympics gold medal-winning equestrian Stuart
Heeler is a surf dog
The newest Blue Heeler, Ditch Davey, will appear on Channel Seven in the
forthcoming mini-series Do or Die before he is seen in Heelers. Davey has a
small role as Slipper, a small-town surfer who hooks up briefly with the lead
character, played by English actor Kate Ashfield, while she is backpacking in
Home stars away to Britain
Four Home and Away stars are off to Britain as part of a 10-day tour to
promote their series, which was recently sold to Channel Five. Kimberley Cooper
(Gypsy), Ada Nicodemou (Leah), Kate Ritchie (Sally) and Ryan Kwanten (Vinnie)
will fly to London on June 16 for a 10-day promotional tour. While there, they
may hook up with Spencer McLaren, the actor who didn't quite marry Ritchie's
character, Sally, a few months ago, and who may also be pushing his new series,
The Secret Life of Us, for Britain's Channel Four.
Effie: big hair, big issues
Effie, that goddess of the big hair, is hosting a six-part current affairs
show, Effie: Just Quietly, coming to SBS late this year. The series, produced by
Robyn Kershaw (Looking for Alibrandi), will consider issues including body
image and multiculturalism with a comedic spin in a style described as a little
like Norman Gunstan and a little like Elle McFeast.
Whole bunch of the Bradys
Brady Bunch fans are in for a treat with a back-to-back screening of all 117
episodes on cable's TV1 over the Queen's Birthday long weekend.
Drama well down the track
Principal photography has wound up on a new ABC drama, Road from Coorain,
based on Jill Ker Conway's autobiography about life, death and family. Starring
Richard Roxburgh, Juliet Stevenson, Katherine Slattery and Tim Guinee, it will
screen late this year.
Isla's mute point
Former soapie starlet Isla Fisher crops up soon on Seven's new international
series, Hearts and Bones, as an Australian mute. But if she's playing a mute,
will the rest of the audience know she's Australian? Fisher is now filming
Scooby Doo in Queensland with Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) and Freddy Prinze
Portia returns to Oz
Geelong's contribution to Ally McBeal, Portia de Rossi, will star in Love
Smarts, a romantic comedy being filmed in Australia later this year. It will be
directed and produced by Steve Vidler and shot by Martin McGrath (On the Beach).
Corser joins the Water Rats
Rodger Corser, former Melbourne rocker and star of the musical Rent, will
appear in Water Rats in a four-week guest spot on air from mid-July. His
character, Detective Senior Constable George Newhouse, joins the Rats as Jeff
Hawker (Peter Bensley) goes on leave and Jack Christey (Steve Bisley) takes
Nine man takes his lumps
The life of a travel reporter is never easy. Nine's Postcards team's trip to
New Zealand did not run as smoothly as hoped. The lack of light at 4am resulted
in reporter Steve Oemcke splitting his head open on an air conditioner before
they even left the office. We hear it had nothing to do with it being the
morning after the Logies ... Stitches were in order but he refused to let the
team down and went on to make an unscheduled bungee jump, all in the name of
good TV. Postcards' one-hour NZ special can be seen on Sunday at 6.30pm.
And another thing ...
Financing miss stops series
Southern Star has pulled the plug on one of Australia's biggest
co-productions - a TV action comedy series starring former Melrose Place star
Thomas Calabro - after a ``narrow miss" on financing. A movie-length pilot of
Hard Knox, the brainchild of Georgie Parker's husband Steve Worland (Bootmen)
and producer John Edwards (On the Beach, The Secret Life of Us), was shot in
secret in Sydney over five weeks during the Olympics. US giant New Line
Television had agreed to co-produce a spin-off series, possibly in New Zealand,
starring Calabro, Kim-Maree Penn, Lee Majors and Natalie Mendoza but the deal
collapsed late last week after lengthy negotiations. The collapse is blamed on
the tight international sales market and the risk faced by production companies
if sales aren't achieved. The telemovie, directed by Peter Bloomfield (Con Air),
is expected to screen soon on Channel Ten.