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The Diary

Author: Edited by Rachel Browne
Date: 27/12/1998
Words: 299
          Publication: Sun Herald
Section: News
Page: 28
Connolly stirs up beach

SALACIOUS Scottish comedian Billy Connolly has arrived.

As one of Australia's most adored adopted sons, Connolly, wife Pamela Stephenson, and daughters Kara and Emma retreated to Sydney glamour spot Palm Beach for a two-week holiday.

The comedian has been happily chatting to any shop-keeper prepared to listen to him from Avalon, where he buys food, to the local Palm Beach newsagent.

The Connolly clan abandoned the six-bedroom, colonial-style home they have rented for $7,000 a week to have Christmas lunch at local restaurant La Palma.

By Boxing Day, it was each to their own with daddy drifting into the city and Kara and Emma hanging out at home and on the beach.

The fabulous house is one of the priciest piles on the peninsula with just the small strip - that is Ocean Road - between the front door and the beach.

Also on the strip yesterday was Hollywood-based hunk Julian McMahon who slipped into the surf for a dip.

But the buzz on the beach was the secret wedding on Tuesday of sister Melinda McMahon, daughter of Lady Sonia McMahon.

Lady Sonia has reportedly moved up from Bellevue Hill for the summer.

The nuptials were a private affair, first planned as a barefoot beach ceremony, but switched to the holiday home when the photographers arrived.

A neighbour reported seeing a lot of cars, "one of them white", outside the stained timber weekender, along with formally dressed photographers, which all added up to "I do", according to the locals.

As for the honeymoon, The Diary wonders if the caravan parked in the McMahons' driveway suggests a more typically Australian mode of celebration.

Besides the Connollys, London-based Australian barrister Geoffrey Robertson and wife Kathy Lette have moved into the beach.

Author Thomas Keneally also settled in for an epicurean summer. On Christmas Eve, he and his daughter, Jane, were entertaining American writer Debbie Then and her husband, George Foster.

Anna's beau

HOT on the heels of rumours that Rupert is set to marry his much younger girlfriend, Wendy Deng, comes news that his former wife, Anna Murdoch, is stepping out with a new beau.

Mrs Murdoch has been seen in the company of David Niven Jnr in Los Angeles.

Niven, the son of the late Hollywood actor, had a peripheral role in the Heidi Fleiss prostitution scandal.

Sherbet gig

THEY promised they'd never do it, but the golden boys of glitter rock, Sherbet, have succumbed to the temptation to reform - not for the money - for an appearance on the Elle McFeast New Year's Eve Countdown special for fun.

Unlike other recent band reunions, this will be a one-off.

Keating pad

PERHAPS he's trying to elude the prying eyes of the public but The Diary hears that Patrick Keating has moved into the exclusive Observatory Tower block, where apartments sell for up to $11,800 a sq m.

The 22-year-old economics student at the Australian Securities Institute and part-time videotape dubber at Foxtel bought an apartment at Coogee for $180,000 in 1996, just near his grandparents' $450,000 terrace.

Big dash

THERE'S movement at Mount Thomas Police Station with word that yet another Blue Heelers star is ready to bolt. Tasma Walton, who plays Constable Dash McKinley, has announced she will leave the series in the middle of next year.

Might as well sail

THE prize possession of media heir Lachlan Murdoch, a $200,000 BMW, was stolen early on Christmas Eve.

Thieves took the car from his luxury waterfront home in Elizabeth Bay while Murdoch was resting before the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Police believe he was at home when the robbery took place.

The car was parked in a double garage which faces Billyard Avenue, near the famous Sydney mansion, Boomerang.

The thieves forced open one of the garage doors from the outside, police said.

"It was done pretty quick - in and out," said Kings Cross Senior Constable Tony Adams outside the house.

"We have spoken to residents and nobody saw or heard anything."

He said nothing else was stolen. Murdoch's Ducati motorcycle and several sailboards were left behind.

Police dusted the garage for fingerprints.

The Net result: a lawsuit

AUSTRALIAN exercise guru Susan Powter has filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against her former husband claiming he's been spreading lies about her on the Internet.

She alleges Lincoln Apeland posted defamatory statements on his website, including claims that Powter is "mentally ill" and suffers illnesses ranging from "manic depression to schizophrenia to just about any sort of incurable emotional problem".

Powter, who rose to fame with her book Stop The Insanity, which advised women to ditch diets, seeks $1.5 million in damages. The pair divorced in 1995.

In November she was ordered to pay Apeland $210,000 in alimony. The Dallas mortgage loan officer went to court to collect the $6,000 a month payments Powter agreed to when they separated.

Apeland, 36, married Powter, 40, several years before she became a celebrity with her fitness videos and books.

Super Sam

AUSTRALIANS have again managed to infiltrate an American awards ceremony. Merlin, which starred Sam Neill (OK, born in Ireland and raised in New Zealand, but he lives here now), has been nominated for a Golden Globe.

Waiting in the wings

WHILE one candidate fell by the wayside this week another, Cloudstreet director Neil Armfield, awaits his fate with the Sydney Theatre Company, with an interview pending.

The STC has searched for five months to replace executive producer Wayne Harrison, splitting his role into two with a chief operating officer and an artistic director.

Harrison is heading to New York after his commitments are complete in January to stage the opening of Dein Perry's Steel City.

As Armfield waits and wonders about the COO job, sources suggest the AD's role will be filled by the Queensland Theatre Company's Robyn Nevin.

She is set to pip Gale Edwards of the Really Useful Company. Edwards's chances dimmed when James Thane, her boss at Really Useful and favourite for the other half of Harrison's job, chose instead to join agent-to-the-stars Harry M Miller.

Those who loved and lost in 98

THE year started on a sad note when a broken-hearted Paula Yates returned to Sydney for the first time since the death of her lover, INXS front man Michael Hutchence. If that wasn't enough, she also had to endure the upset of losing custody of her three daughters to ex-husband Sir Bob Geldof in August. Then Kel Hutchence said he wanted to take care of Tiger Lily - her two-year-old daughter by Hutchence - after a widely reported fling with 26-year-old Kingsley O'Keke, a recovering drug addict she met while seeking treatment for depression in a London clinic. The custody claim was later dropped.

The Beatles said money can't buy you love but it hasn't hurt James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch. Packer Jnr switched models, from fiancee Kate Fischer to the swimsuit, sporty variety in Jodie Meares. Despite his juicy love life, the heir to ACP's millions mysteriously managed to stay out of the mags he makes his money from.

In January, Kate and Jamie were in Byron Bay denying baby rumours, but by October the society wedding of the year was off and the trainee tycoon was wooing Meares in Noosa. Not one to let the opposition grab all the headlines, Lachlan and his dad Rupert Murdoch managed to make a few of their own. Murdoch minor announced his engagement to supermodel Sarah O'Hare, while Rupert relinquished his 31-year-old marriage to wife Anna for a new girlfriend - 31-year-old News executive Wendy Deng.

OTHER losers in the marriage game were former Prime Minister Paul Keating and his wife Annita, who called it quits after 23 years together. Mr Keating was said to be "devastated", but both denied the "malicious" rumours referred to by Bill Hayden in the Abbott and Costello court case played any part in their separation. Gary Sweet and Johanna Griggs, regular revellers around town, called time-out on their relationship. It was Sweet's third marriage. The couple's two children, Jesse and Joe Buster, will spend Christmas in Sydney with their mother, while Sweet plays family to his other two children, Sophie and Frank, in Adelaide. Sweet is said to be hoping for a reconciliation, which TV journo Jennifer Byrne and radio host Andrew Denton managed earlier this year. They split in January, but were back together with son Connor by October.

ALSO getting things together were fashion designer Charlie Brown and her businessman beau Danny Avidan. They were married in September and this week welcomed a son, David - just in time for Christmas.

ALSO celebrating the birth of their first child, Lucia Mary Rose, was Antonia Kidman and husband Angus Hawley. So too did newlyweds and Packer pals Ben Tilley and Tiffany Baragwanath whose son, Thomas Oscar, was born two months ago.

Bride has beach abuzz

THE buzz on the beach - Palm Beach, of course - is that Melinda McMahon, the daughter of Sydney socialite Lady Sonia McMahon, wed in secret a few days ago.

Lady Sonia has reportedly moved for the summer from Bellevue Hill to the beach house overlooking Palm and Whale beaches and was spotted on Christmas Eve snooping around the boutiques of Mona Vale and Avalon for 11th-hour gifts.

The northern beach nuptials were a private affair, probably at the house.

A neighbour reported seeing a lot of cars, "one of them white", outside the stained timber weekender, along with formally dressed photographers, which all added up to "I do", according to the locals.

As for the honeymoon, The Diary wonders if the caravan parked in the McMahons' driveway suggests a more typically Australian mode of celebration.

The summer hideaway of Sydney's beautiful people has come alive, especially since the cast and crew of Baywatch retreated to Venice Beach, California.

Comedian Billy Connolly has taken up residence in a six-bedroom place along Ocean Road, for $7,000 a week, as have London-based Australian barrister Geoffrey Robertson and wife Kathy Lette.

Author Thomas Keneally, whose latest tome is doing brisk business, has settled in for an epicurean summer. On Christmas Eve, he and daughter Jane were entertaining American writer Debbie Then and her husband, George Foster, over a lavish seafood lunch at Beach Road Restaurant.

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