Jana: ‘I welcome the challenge’
A Current Affair host Jana Wendt (pictured) talks to TV Week about the changing news and current affairs environment taking place – in particular, the launch of Real Life, produced by her former 60 Minutes boss Gerald Stone, going head-to-head with ACA. “I think anything that increases the competition is good,” she said. “It will sharpen our edge and I welcome that.  I’m confident we can deliver.  I don’t want to sound masochistic, but I welcome the challenge.” Not only will ACA be duelling with Real Life, but it will also have Derryn Hinch’s new Network Ten show at 6.00pm, giving him a half-hour head start on ACA and Real Life for the day’s big stories. Ten has also re-launched Ten Eyewitness News as a 5.00pm bulletin, and Nine has its own 5.30pm local news programs coming soon in each state. Asked how she feels about this changing landscape, Wendt said: “We’ll have to wait and find out, but Nine believes there is a market for news at 5.30pm, so perhaps there is at 5.00pm.”

stangrant Stan: ‘It’s the only gig in town’
Former ABC reporter Stan Grant (pictured) said that he had been made offers before to change to commercial television but had always knocked them back in loyalty to the national broadcaster, but then the offer to front Seven’s new Real Life came “out of the blue”. “This offer came along initially as a reporter,” Grant told TV Week. “Then (producer) Gerald Stone came to me and said, ‘How would you feel about presenting it?’ It basically came out of the blue, and I said, ‘Yes’. I’d given presenting a bit of thought at the ABC. I’d piloted a program there. I’d also read news updates during the Gulf War, but I was committed to Real Life. This was to me the only gig in town.” But although Grant will be the front man of the new show, he emphasises that Real Life is a team effort. “There’ll be a lot of interaction between myself and the other reporters. You’ll get a sense of a team at work here, as opposed to a presenter and a lot of sort of faceless, nameless reporters. It’s definitely not the Stan Grant Show, but I think A Current Affair is the Jana Wendt show.”

kymwilson Kym’s rockin’ role
A Country Practice star Kym Wilson (pictured) has signed on as the new co-host of Seven’s Saturday morning Video Smash Hits. Wilson replaces Emily Symons who recently left the show after a two-year stint to pursue acting full time, and will be leaving Home And Away later this year. “It’ll be interesting to meet the people whose music I love,” Wilson told TV Week. “I’m an avid music listener. It’s going to be great fun.” Wilson, who previously starred in Brides Of Christ, will be continuing in her A Country Practice role as Darcy Hudson. “I just hope people don’t forget about my acting and consider me just a TV personality,” she said.

andrewdaddo Briefly…
Andrew Daddo
(pictured) is making his return to Australian television in Nine’s new ‘whodunnit’ game show, Cluedo. Daddo, who has returned from the US after a year with MTV, will join Frank Gallacher, Jane Badler, Nicki Paull, Joy Westmore and Peter Sumner as the principal characters based on the Cluedo board game.  George Mallaby is also tipped to be joining the show, but this has yet to be confirmed.

E Street star Toni Pearen, whose character Toni is the next potential victim of mass-murderer Mr Bad (Vince Martin) in episodes to air this week, says that the serial killer storyline has done wonders for the show’s ratings. “Every soap has mediocre times and E Street was going through such a period when, all of a sudden, this serial-killer storyline comes along,” she told TV Week. “I just think it is something that no other soap has done before, so viewers have really taken to it.” When it is pointed out that in the Seventies, Number 96 shocked the nation with its pantyhose strangler mystery (pictured), she is nothing less than amazed. “Wow, a pantyhose murderer!  Okay, so I wasn’t around then. This serial killer thing is new to my generation.”

tammymcintosh Actress Tammy MacIntosh (pictured) is looking forward to her new role in the ABC series Police Rescue after a year of setbacks. After quitting The Flying Doctors in 1990, a collarbone injury saw her withdraw from a role in the $4.5 million film Garbo. Then a role in feature film It’s Now Or Never, alongside Jason Donovan, came to an abrupt end when the film’s finance fell through. Things looked better when she signed on for Nine’s Chances, but a controversial incident over a nude scene saw that role short-lived. “I rang my agent every day for a month to find out if I’d got the Police Rescue part,” she told TV Week. “When I found out I had the role, I just burst into tears. I couldn’t believe it. I feel very lucky about the way things have turned out.”

lisapatrick The Nine Network has announced that Lisa Patrick (pictured) will replace Jacki MacDonald as host of Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show. “I just feel so privileged,” she said. “I’ve watched Jacki for years and she always made me laugh. Now, to go in after her… well, I don’t quite know what to say.” Patrick, 26, was a former model who hit the big time in 1989 with a role in the US sitcom Live In, although the series was axed after ten episodes.

John Laws says…
”You have to admire the tenacity of the people behind Nine’s The Flying Doctors. I’ve lost count of the number the times the series has almost crash-landed. Yet – amazingly – it remains airborne, its continuing survival achieved by switching the route and turning a handful of hapless actors into free-fall sky divers. But, in television, and especially in the soapies field, survival is the name of the game. Any actor who joins a soapie realises only too well that he or she could be out on their ear in weeks or months, depending on the acceptance level of their character. In the latest shake-up, there appears to have been a casting slaughterhouse, with one actor – Sarah Chadwick – already gone and six others, described as playing “favourite” characters, pencilled in for departure. This is draconian, even by soapie standards.  Crawfords, though, are old hands at the soapie business and the tendency is to believe that they know what they’re doing. In the case of The Flying Doctors, let’s hope so, because it has been around a long time, providing employment for hundreds of people, and enjoyment by millions.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, January 25-31):
  Saturday afternoon sport includes tennis (the Women’s Singles Final for the Australian Open) on Seven, test cricket on Nine and golf followed by lawn bowls on ABC.

Sunday: Australia Day is dominated largely by sport – more golf on ABC, more cricket on Nine, and the Men’s Singles Final of the Australian Open on Seven. ABC presents the Australia Day Address by the Governor-General just before the 7.00pm news. Sunday night movies are The Fremantle Conspiracy (Seven), City Heat (Nine) and Stealing Heaven (Ten), up against soccer (Australia versus Sweden) on SBS, and ABC’s tribute to conductor, the late Stuart Challender on Sunday Stereo Special.

Monday:  ABC crosses to Minnesota, USA, for live coverage of the NFL XXVI Superbowl, hosted by Don Lane.  Seven’s morning news program Eleven AM returns for the new year, as does ABC’s evening current affairs program The 7.30 Report.

Tuesday:  Beyond 2000 (Seven) returns, with Simon Reeve reporting on Jamaica’s solution to pollution from bauxite mining. Amanda Keller takes a ride on a turbo swing, and Bryan Smith discovers growing food in space is a tricky business.

Wednesday:  In Home And Away (Seven), Sally’s (Kate Ritchie) first day at high school does not go well.

tonipearen Thursday:  In E Street (Ten), an anxious neighbourhood awaits news on Toni (Toni Pearen, pictured), who is missing and has found herself trapped in dense bush and tied to her car bumper by serial killer Mr Bad (Vince Martin).

Friday:  Blackout (ABC) looks at the topics of assimilation, adoption and sexual abuse in the Aboriginal community, and how these circumstances have prompted the creation of addictive personalities.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  25 January 1992.  Southdown Press

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