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The Age

Networking

Author: Kylie Miller
Date: 07/06/2001
Words: 1123
          Publication: The Age
Section: Green Guide
Page: 12
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.

Riding high

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 Tinney.

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 Australia.

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 junior.

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 charge.

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.

kmiller@theage.fairfax.com.au

 
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