The Flying Doctors and The Bugs Bunny Show star Sophie Lee (pictured) has hit out at critics accusing her of being offered fame based on looks rather than intelligence or ability, likening their comments to schoolyard taunts. “Of course plenty of it hurts,” she told TV Week. “If the comments are witty or well done, then you have respect for what that particular person is doing. But often it’s coming from an empty-headed DJ and you find yourself asking, ‘Where’s the wit?’. There’s an unusual situation to contend with in Australia. When you begin to succeed, you have to put up with jealousy and sexism. And the more successful you become, the more negative things people say.” The daughter of academics, Lee received outstanding results in her high school certificate but decided against a tertiary education and entered the entertainment industry, starting with the local repertory company in Newcastle and then taking on modelling assignments which took her overseas. Her first major TV appearance was in the telemovie Raw Silk before gaining the hosting role for The Bugs Bunny Show and the part of Penny Wellings in The Flying Doctors.
Two celebrations of Oz TV’s historic anniversary
To celebrate this year’s milestone of 35 years of television, the Nine Network this week pays tribute to the small screen in a three-hour special, produced in co-operation with all the networks. The special will feature segments devoted to various program genres – including Bert Newton making a return to television to present the quiz and game show segment, Olivia Newton-John presenting the tribute to children’s shows, Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum looking at the history of rock music on TV, and Kylie Mole (Maryanne Fahey) presenting the look at Australian TV comedy. “Like, some of the shows in this special are so good like Aunty Jack and Norman Gunston and they were on telly when Mum was a kid, so they must be, like, from the 18th century,” Mole told TV Week. Graham Kennedy, not seen on TV since hosting Graham Kennedy’s Funniest Home Video Show a year ago, will be presenting the tribute to variety shows. Meanwhile, Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art has launched its own tribute to Australian television with the exhibition TV Times: 35 Years Of Television In Australia. The exhibition includes a ‘Hall of Fame’ of some of Australia’s most famous stars, and a unique game show wheel which spins not prizes but old clips of game show winners and losers.
Just horsin’ around
On the eve of his return to TV – as above – Graham Kennedy (pictured) allowed TV Week to visit his country property in the NSW southern highlands, but as per Kennedy tradition, the interview still had to be carried out by fax. The multiple Gold Logie winner is now based full-time at his 124 acre property with Dave and Sarah, his beloved clydesdale horses. Kennedy told TV Week that Nine had offered him the opportunity to present another series of his Funniest Home Video Show after a successful run last year but he declined. “I’ve reached a time in my life when I’m captivated by something for only a short time,” he said. He also mentioned that his upcoming TV appearance is likely to be his last for a while, as he now sees himself as “just an Australian who lives in the country with horses”. When asked if he would consider writing an autobiography, he responded, “Well, who else could write my autobiography?”
Former A Country Practice star Josephine Mitchell has joined E Street, playing the part of fashion designer Penny O’Brien. “Forrest Redlich, the producer, has a lot of ideas for the future of E Street, and it’s nice to be one of them,” she told TV Week. Meanwhile, actress Tammy MacIntosh has signed up for the second series of ABC’s Police Rescue, marking her return to TV following a brief stint on the Nine Network’s Chances.
Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show is going global as host Jacki MacDonald (pictured) links up with hosts of overseas versions of the show for a special international edition to screen this week. “I can’t even begin to think what’s going to happen on the night,” she told TV Week. “I don’t speak French, German or Spanish, so I hope the hosts all speak English. But there is no language barrier where humour is concerned. Regardless of nationality, people enjoy a good laugh.”
As the Nine Network’s Sunday program celebrates a decade on air, host Jim Waley doesn’t take the credit for the show’s longevity. “The difference between Sunday and every other news program on TV is we don’t have any tall poppies. Everyone pulls together and that is the only reason we have survived,” he told TV Week.
John Laws says…
”SBS’ eminently watchable The Movie Show celebrated its fifth birthday recently. Not many TV shows can claim that many birthdays. David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz have got the formula worked out to a nicety. They’ve had some 225 programs to air and reviewed close to 1000 movies. Like many other programs that work well, The Movie Show succeeds because it keeps the action tight and flowing. The hosts don’t preach and they never pull a punch when it comes to crunching a bad movie, and that’s exactly how it should be.”
Program Highlights (Melbourne, November 16-22):
Saturday: Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine) presents its second Hollywood-based special, with guest stars Madonna, Rita Rudner, Alison Porter, Christina Applegate and Richard Crenna. This week’s contestants on Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune (Seven) are Brian Wenzel, Agro, Fat Cat and performer Maria Venuti.
Sunday: The Nine Network televises the annual Rock Eisteddfod, featuring performances of secondary school students from around Australia, hosted by Steven Jacobs and Jane Hall. Ten crosses to Bondi Beach for the Iron Man Super Series. Sunday night movies are Nuns On The Run (Seven) and Legal Eagles (Ten), up against the Australian Opera production of Carmen (ABC) and the Nine Network’s three-hour special 35 Years Of Television, featuring Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton, Jana Wendt, Mike Willesee, Ray Martin, Craig McLachlan, John Waters, Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum, Brian Henderson, Olivia Newton-John, Kylie Mole (Maryanne Fahey), Max Walker and David Lyle.
Monday: In Col’n Carpenter (Ten), Colin (Kim Gyngell) discovers he has a copy of a very rare Phantom comic. Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum presents a half-hour special on Nine, Michael Jackson – Dangerous, previewing the pop star’s new video Black And White. ABC’s Four Corners and Media Watch present their final editions for 1991.
Tuesday: In A Country Practice (Seven), Esme (Joyce Jacobs) gets her just rewards after she thinks she is being investigated by ASIO. In Beyond 2000 (Seven), Amanda Keller presents a two-part report on stress – looking at its effects on elderly people and pregnant women. Former The Flying Doctors star Liz Burch guest stars in Chances (Nine).
Wednesday: Couchman Over Australia (ABC) presents its final show for 1991.
Thursday: Hey Hey It’s Saturday’s Wilbur Wilde (pictured) guest stars in The Flying Doctors as a lovable, irresistible musician who lures the Coopers Crossing locals to an outback feast when a wedding is cancelled and the gourmet food is up for grabs. In E Street (Ten), Joey Valentine (Lorry D’Ercole) is caught up in a rock’n’roll duel. ABC debuts a new documentary series, The First Australians – the first episode looking at the Watson family of Mt Anderson Station in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Friday: Rock star Jimmy Barnes is this week’s guest on Burke’s Backyard (Nine). Seven crosses to the State Sports Centre, Homebush, for the World Amateur Boxing Championships final – with 54 countries competing in the competition, Australia is represented by five NSW boxers, five from Queensland and one from Tasmania.
Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 16 November 1991. Southdown Press