August 7th, 2019

Ten needs Fox-style right wing ‘revolution’, says former investor Laurence Freedman

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Elizabeth Knight: Smoke says there’s something afoot at Ten
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Network Ten must completely transform itself, possibly into a right wing news channel like Fox, says a former investor in the struggling free-to-air broadcaster.

Pioneering funds manager Laurence Freedman, who made a fortune after steering Ten out of receivership in the 1990s then selling his holding in the mid 2000s, said the network as few options left to return to profitability.

His comments come after the broadcaster posted a $168 million full-year loss and  Fairfax Media, owner of The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review, confirmed it had met Ten executives about a possible merger.

But Mr Freedman said a partnership with Fairfax would not solve Ten’s woes.

“It’s the decrepit talking to the destitute,” he said.

Such a merger would hinge on Fairfax selling its profitable radio stations so it didn’t breach media ownership laws. Mr Freedman said these laws, which prevent a media company owning a newspaper, television network and radio station in the one market, were outdated and irrelevant.

“New technology a long time ago has made a nonsense for the reason for those laws.

“Every person on the planet is a journalist or an opinion maker or taker and there are no boundaries. To have artificial boundaries makes no sense and also is making life more difficult for media businesses that are caught like Ten and Fairfax.

“For Fairfax to sell [its radio stations] in order to buy a semi defunct, old technology company, without a direction or audience, doesn’t gel with me.”

A Fairfax Media spokesman confirmed the company’s management met with Ten recently, but said it didn’t mean it would lob a takeover offer.

“We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t talk extensively across the industry so we fully understand the opportunities and challenges,” the spokesman said.

Ten has stressed that it is undergoing a multi-year turnaround, focusing on event and reality television, sports rights and winning back media buyers through the success of shows like Family Feud and The Bachelor.

Mr Freedman helped deliver Ten riches in the 1990s by focusing the network almost exclusively on targeting the 16 to 39 year old age group.

But he sold out of the company in 2004 after he bought his third phone in a year and found that it had internet connectivity.

“That was a very big warning bell for me that the medium was changing, there was newer technology and therefore I was very cautious.

“If the audience migrated were going to have a huge problem because who were we going to advertise to. We had the biggest budget of people like Levis, Just Jeans, Coke, Pepsi and all those sorts of things and very little of David Jones because of our audience.”

People called Mr Freedman mad for selling his stock but his fears were eventually realised.

He said Ten was unlikely win back its audience, which has permanently shifted to online platforms or to rival networks, even if it delivered the best television programs at attractive timeslots.

“The way you advertise television is not by putting ads in the newspaper, you put it on your own network. You can’t put it on anybody else’s network.

“But If you put it on your own network and there is nobody watching your own network, then you don’t get the viewers going to the new program. It’s a very vicious cycle. How you get out of it? You have to transform yourself.”

Mr Freedman said a free-to-air television licence was still valuable and suggested the network becoming a “hard right wing news channel, a la Fox” could solve its problems.

But he said there were a lot of hurdles to achieving that goal. Indeed, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said he would have difficulty approving a Foxtel/Ten merger.

“We would have concerns if Foxtel sought to own a free-to-air station because that could substantially lessen competition in the viewing market,” Mr Sims said.

And Mr Freedman conceded that News Corp, which owns jointly owns Foxtel with Telstra, would face the same problem as Fairfax because its non-executive co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch owns the Nova Entertainment radio network.

“There are lot of things in its way but my point really is that to turn around is not about trying different programs or different timeslots for the programs it’s got. It needs to be revolutionary, not evolutionary.”

“The management [at Ten] is OK. But they can’t do anything with it.

“It’s like you’ve got a very good old car but it hasn’t got a synchromesh gearbox, it has got narrow tyres, it’s got a top speed of 70 kilometres an hour, and its competing with everyone who has got hybrids, and cars that can go 0-100 kmh in three seconds etc, etc… that’s what the problem is.”

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August 7th, 2019

RBA concerned about global growth, says interest rates will stay low

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The RBA noted that economic conditions in China ‘had softened a little’. Photo: Louie Douvis The RBA noted that economic conditions in China ‘had softened a little’. Photo: Louie Douvis
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The RBA noted that economic conditions in China ‘had softened a little’. Photo: Louie Douvis

The RBA noted that economic conditions in China ‘had softened a little’. Photo: Louie Douvis

The Reserve Bank of Australia intensified its focus on global growth and market volatility in the minutes of its October policy meeting, with concerns about China, Japan and Europe more prominent than in previous releases around its interest rate position.

The minutes, which were drafted just after the release of Australia’s second-quarter gross domestic product figures earlier this month, also note sluggish business investment and continued growth in property investment. Most of this was foreshadowed in the commentary by governor Glenn Stevens when the RBA board voted to hold the cash rate at 2.5 per cent for the 14th month in a row.

The RBA said at the time it foresaw “a period of stability in interest rates”.

“Given the information available, the board’s judgement was that the current stance of monetary policy continued to be appropriate for fostering sustainable growth in demand and inflation outcomes consistent with the target over the period ahead,” it said at the time.

As seen in the statement, the RBA ramped up its language around China, noting that “some indicators of economic conditions had softened a little. Members were briefed that the Chinese authorities had scope to ease policy if needed to support GDP growth. In the property market, conditions had continued to soften and the government had announced policy changes designed to support the market.”

About Japan, another of Australia’s key trading partners, it noted that “prospects for growth remained unclear”, and that “growth in output in the rest of east Asia had been a bit below its decade average in recent quarters”.

Board members reiterated the need to keep the cash rate at a record-low 2.5 per cent and noted a further pick-up in lending to property investors.

The RBA said continued accommodative monetary policy should support demand and help growth strengthen over time.

“To date, this had been most apparent in the housing market, where dwelling investment had picked up and was expected to remain strong following the rapid rise in housing prices and high levels of approvals,” the minutes said.

The RBA minutes also note that the price of iron ore had reached its lowest point in five years, on “a combination of increased Australian and global supply and, more recently, some softening in the growth of Chinese demand for steel, perhaps resulting in part from weaker conditions in the housing market.”

Its observations of the domestic economy include a more than 8 per cent increase in dwelling investment over the year to the end of the June quarter. The RBA said “continued strength in building approvals and other indicators pointed to further growth in coming quarters”.

“House price growth had been a little slower, on average, over 2014 than in late 2013, but remained consistent with strong conditions in the established housing market,” the RBA said.

It also said volatile jobs data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggested “the possibility of some measurement problems”.

Despite some wild fluctuations in the August data, the RBA concluded that “labour market conditions remained subdued, although they appeared to have stabilised somewhat over the course of 2014 to date”.

It said some forward-looking employment indicators had picked up a bit, suggesting “modest employment growth over the coming months”.

The RBA notes increased volatility in global financial markets, which it attributes partly to diverging monetary policy directions. Deputy governor Guy Debelle has since warned of a build-up of risks in some sectors of the bond market, where buyers and sellers may not be well matched. It also refers to recent declines in the domestic currency.

“Members noted that the Australian dollar had depreciated by 4 per cent in trade-weighted terms over September,” the minutes say.

“This was primarily a 6 per cent depreciation against a rising US dollar (and the renminbi), although weaker-than-expected Chinese economic data and further declines in key commodity prices had contributed to some additional softening of the Australian dollar.”

August 7th, 2019

Larkham knocks back Cheika chance

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Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is staying put. Photo: Katherine GriffithsACT Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham wants to coach the Wallabies, but the World Cup-winning flyhalf has put club before country to ensure nothing compromises his mission to win a Super Rugby title.
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Larkham has rejected an approach to join Michael Cheika’s Wallabies as an assistant for the spring tour of Europe but says he will consider helping Australia’s World Cup hopes next year.

Cheika has accepted the position of the Wallabies coach and will juggle his duties as NSW Waratahs coach at the same time.

Former Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher has emerged as a potential interim assistant to Cheika for the five-game tour of Europe after recently joining English club Gloucester.

However, Larkham says his priority is guiding the Brumbies to a Super Rugby title and did not want to take on a role which would affect his preparations for next season.

The ARU has delayed the worst kept secret in rugby – Cheika’s appointment as Ewen McKenzie’s replacement – as the new coach tries to finalise his support staff and the playing squad.

Western Force coach Michael Foley was also approached but it is understood he will make the same decision as Larkham given the short notice. The Wallabies fly to England on Friday.

“Everyone wants to see success with the Wallabies … it’s been difficult as a rugby supporter over the past few years knowing we haven’t got the results at the top level,” Larkham said.

“You want to do something that helps. But I’ve committed to the Brumbies … five weeks in Europe is not conducive to me committing to that.”

Larkham backed Cheika to transfer his Super Rugby success into the Test arena as the Wallabies coach, adding that he was “honoured” when asked to be Australia’s attack coach.

Larkham, one of Australia’s greatest playmakers, played 102 Tests for the Wallabies in a career which included World Cup, Bledisloe Cup and Super Rugby titles.

Larkham also revealed his desire to be the Wallabies head coach in the future.

“I definitely have ambition to coach at that level. If you’re a rugby coach you’ve always got ambition to be at the top level,” Larkham said.

“Test level is a step up. To be coaching your national team would be something very special and a great opportunity. I have a lot of respect for [Cheika] and I think he’ll do a fantastic job.

“I haven’t ruled anything out after the spring tour, I certainly want to help the Wallabies provided it doesn’t distract or detract from my role here at the Brumbies.

“It’s a great opportunity for me at the Brumbies to really create something that is unique. We want to win Super Rugby titles, that may be next year or in five years. But we want to be at the top every year.”

Larkham is preparing to take the Brumbies reins for the first time as the sole head coach after joining Fisher in a co-coaching role last year and serving apprenticeships under Jake White and Andy Friend.

In the past the Wallabies’ assistant coaches have been employed to solely work with the national team.

But Larkham backed Cheika’s vision to have the best coaches involved, regardless of their Super Rugby alliance.

“I feel for the ARU at the moment with the way things have panned out,” Larkham said.

“It’s a great concept with Super Rugby coaches coming together for the good of Australian rugby and then breaking apart to compete against each other. We all feel the same, we’re trying to do our bit for Australian rugby.

“I see my role as making one of the Australian teams [the Brumbies] the best team in the competition.”

Fisher’s chances of joining Cheika’s set-up are unclear given he moved to Gloucester to resume his head coaching career and his team is in the middle of its season.

The Wallabies will play their first game against the Barbarians at Twickenham on November 1 before taking on Wales, France, Ireland and England.

August 7th, 2019

Chris Pelchen resigns from St Kilda

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Chris Pelchen will look to remain in the AFL system after resigning as St Kilda’s chief of football.
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The Saints’ football boss has quit the club after a lengthy review of the club’s off-field operation. The Saints could look internally for a replacement.

“I will look at what develops in the foreseeable future, both in and outside of the AFL,” Pelchen told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

“I still have high regard for the Saints and wish them every success for the future.”

The football department review was overseen by club chief Matt Finnis and involved Pelchen. His departure is understood to have been amicable despite rumours for some weeks that he was searching for a new role in the knowledge he would leave the Saints before the end of the year.

The club is expected to focus its search for a new football boss based more on performance and less on list management and strategy.

Pelchen, who joined St Kilda from Hawthorn three-and-a-half years ago, raised eyebrows internally last week when he outlined the club’s long-term strategy in a media report which came so soon before his impending departure and without the club’s full knowledge.

He departs the Saints almost 12 months after the sacking of coach Scott Watters, with whom Pelchen had fallen out.

Pelchen had been linked to a role at Carlton but the Blues have denied any interest.

Finnis, who only joined the Saints during the past season, said Pelchen had played a key role in beginning to revamp the playing list.

“Chris has professionally led our football department since August 2011 and in that time introduced a strategic focus to the club’s list management activities and helped turn around our total player payments position,” Finnis said.

The Saints had been under enormous salary-cap pressure as a result of the bonuses paid through the team’s 2009-10 grand final appearances.

“Amongst other initiatives, Chris was instrumental in the club entering a new market in New Zealand and the establishment of the Saints player academy while the strategy to recontract a significant number of our young players in a single campaign throughout 2014 can also be attributed to Chris’ expertise,” Finnis said.

“However, following our end-of-season review, we agreed to make some changes to drive further development in our high-performance programs across our football department.”

As the Saints continue their rebuilding plan, as part of the club’s Road to 2018 blueprint, the Saints will have three selections in the top 22 in next month’s national draft.

“This upcoming national draft is an exciting period for the club and Ameet Bains, Tony Elshaug and their team are a long way down the path in determining which talented young players will be recruited into the club,” Finnis said.

In another move, Saints list manager Bains will soon leave that position to become the club’s chief operations officer.

August 7th, 2019

Zetland’s violet tower wins award

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The distinctive violet hues of Meriton’s award-winning glass tower, VSQ North at Zetland. The distinctive violet hues of Meriton’s award-winning glass tower, VSQ North at Zetland.
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Landscaping around the VSQ North complex by Meriton.

The distinctive violet hues of Meriton’s award-winning glass tower, VSQ North at Zetland.

The distinctive violet hues of Meriton’s award-winning glass tower, VSQ North at Zetland.

A complex of four buildings in Zetland including a 27-storey tower has won this year’s Housing Industry Association NSW award for buildings over 10 storeys.Developed by Meriton and designed by Turner Architects, the residential complex is known as VSQ North.

The elegant glass tower with its purple-hue is the tallest building in the area.

“It has become a landmark for Zetland and for Sydney itself,” said Meriton’s founder and managing director, Harry Triguboff.

“It is one of the first buildings you see as you drive in from the airport.”

VSQ North, on the corner of Gadigal and O’Dea avenues, has 297 apartments of one-, two- and three-bedroom configurations.

Completed last year, all the apartments were sold by the end of the year.

Prices ranged from $450,000 to $1.17 million for a three-bedroom apartment with two car spaces.

Meriton has a one-bedroom-plus study apartment with parking available for resale in VSQ North. It first traded for $600,000 in 2011 and is for sale at $670,000.

The complex is set in landscaped gardens and includes an indoor pool and spa, gymnasium, sauna and childcare centre as well as the services of a building manager. There are 131 bicycle storage spaces.

The judges said the project was visually appealing and well executed with good use of energy efficiency and acoustics.

The HIA’s NSW executive director, David Bare, said the awards show the housing industry’s innovation.

“It is encouraging to see that HIA’s builders and designers have maintained their commitment to excellence,” said Mr Bare.

“The high standard of entries shows that support for these awards has yet again been remarkable. Each year the bar is raised higher.”

VSQ North is close to the $8 billion Green Square project.

“We’re very proud of it and the residents love living here,” said Mr Triguboff.  “We believed in Zetland from the beginning.”

July 7th, 2019

The X Factor grand final, won by Marlisa Punzalan, sheds 1 million viewers

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Celebrations on the set of The X Factor last night.Latest:Marlisa will be home-schooledX Factor winner announced

Has The X Factor lost its “X-factor”? 

Last night’s “winner announcement” segment drew  1 million fewer viewers than last year’s announcement – its worst winner result ratings since the talent show switched from Channel Ten to Seven.

Almost 1.43 million metropolitan viewers watched schoolgirl Marlisa Punzalan take the crown – compared to the 2.43 million who saw Dami Im win in 2013.

The remainder of the grand final episode had an audience of 1.38 million. (Commercial networks now regularly split reality show finales in two for ratings purposes, to take advantage of the peak in viewership when winners are revealed.)

Despite the slump, the two X Factor segments were Monday’s top-rating programs, giving Seven a whopping 34.5 per cent slice of the audience – well ahead of Nine’s 24.4 per cent share, ABC’s 20 per cent, Ten’s 17.7 per cent and SBS’s 3.3 per cent.

“The [X Factor] grand final was a superb production, with a worthy winner, and it was the most watched show on TV last night by a long way,” a Seven spokesman said.

Ten, meanwhile, enjoyed another Bachelor-fuelled ratings bump for The Project.

The second half of the news-based show, airing at 7pm, soared to eighth place with more than 1 million viewers – an excellent result given The Project sometimes draws an audience half that size.

But Ten’s new drama-comedy Party Tricks fared poorly, attracting just 407,000 viewers. If the network had considered this series as a possible replacement for the popular Offspring, which remains in limbo, it may be re-thinking that plan this morning.

Ten’s Family Feud was last night’s top-rating game show (592,000), beating both Seven’s Million Dollar Minute (535,000) and Nine’s Hot Seat (532,000) – though it does not compete directly with either show.

Tracy Grimshaw gained a narrow win of 5000 viewers over Alf Stewart, with Nine’s A Current Affair (907,000) beating Seven’s Home and Away (902,000). Yet neither was a match for the ongoing Bachelor saga, which helped The Project claim a rare timeslot victory.

ABC’s top show was Australian Story with 901,000 viewers, followed by Four Corners with an audience of 840,000.

The politician-free episode of Q&A was watched by 595,000.

Nine’s sitcom The Big Bang Theory remains popular: a fresh episode took third place with 1.13 million, while a repeat managed to crack the top 10, claiming seventh spot with 1.01 million.

Nine also had the most-watched news service with a metropolitan audience of 1.06 million for the first half of its one-hour bulletin.Most watched shows on Monday

1. The X Factor Winner Announcement (Seven) – 1.428 million

2. The X Factor Grand Final (Seven) – 1.378 million

3. The Big Bang Theory (Nine) – 1.127 million

4. Nine News (Nine) – 1.064 million

5. Seven News (Seven) – 1.045 million

6. Seven News/Today Tonight (Seven) – 1.029 million

7. The Big Bang Theory, rpt (Nine) – 1.012 million

8. The Project 7pm (Ten) – 1.002 million

9. Nine News 6.30pm (Nine) – 943,000

10. A Current Affair (Nine) – 907,000


20. Big Brother (Nine) – 653,000

*Source OzTAM

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July 7th, 2019

Myer softens bonus blow for Bernie Brookes

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Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes was paid a total of $2.57 million in 2014, up from $2.54 million in 2013. Photo: Josh Robenstone Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes was paid a total of $2.57 million in 2014, up from $2.54 million in 2013. Photo: Josh Robenstone

Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes was paid a total of $2.57 million in 2014, up from $2.54 million in 2013. Photo: Josh Robenstone

Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes was paid a total of $2.57 million in 2014, up from $2.54 million in 2013. Photo: Josh Robenstone

Myer executives have missed out on cash bonuses for the fourth consecutive year after the department store chain reported a 22.6 per cent fall in profits in 2014.

However, the Myer board has softened the blow for chief executive Bernie Brookes and finance director Mark Ashby, increasing their cash salaries by 11.1 per cent and 7.1 per cent respectively.

The board is also seeking shareholder approval to grant another $600,000 in performance rights to Mr Brookes in 2015 as part of his long term incentive and to pay termination benefits in the event of his departure.

Mr Brookes was due to step down in August after eight years at the helm. However, in February, in the midst of Myer’s failed ‘merger-of-equals’ proposal for David Jones, the board renewed Mr Brookes contract.

Under the open contract, Mr Brookes’s fixed remuneration was increased by 11.1 per cent to $2 million, the first increase since September 2011.

Mr Brookes is also eligible to receive as much as $3.6 million in short term and long term incentives, taking his total remuneration to $5.6 million, if performance hurdles are achieved.

Mr Brookes will no longer be entitled to a payment of $1.8 million if he ceases employment at Myer. However, subject to shareholder approval at the annual meeting in November, Mr Brookes will be entitled to retain some of his performance rights and may also be entitled to a pro-rated cash award.

According to Myer’s annual report, Mr Brookes received total remuneration of $2.57 million in 2014, up from $2.54 million in 2013, while Mr Ashby’s total package rose from $750,364 to $916,577.

Three senior executives – Adam Stapleton, Greg Travers and Mark Goddard – left during the year and were replaced by three new executives, strengthening the bench.

Myer’s profits have fallen each year for the last four years, from $169 million in 2010 to $98.5 million in 2014, as growth in costs outpaced sales growth.

However, chairman Paul McClintock has flagged better times ahead for 2015, when Myer expects to start realising the benefits of recent investments in new bricks and mortar stores, refurbishments, e-commerce, customer service and loyalty.

“We anticipate our performance will be assisted by a number of factors including the benefits of completed store refurbishments and openings; growth of the online business supported by an enhanced customer experience; new partnerships with Australian designer brands; continued growth in Myer Exclusive Brands, sass & bide, and other new national and international brands; as well as a new Christmas merchandise and marketing strategy,” Mr McClintock said in the annual report.

“We will continue to invest in the business in 2015 with a focus on accelerating our omni-channel strategy, investing in our people, optimising the Myer Exclusive Brands strategy, customer service innovation, and refreshing the Myer brand,” he said.

“These investments are important to deliver the operational improvements and capabilities required to underpin long-term, sustainable growth.”

Myer shares are currently trading around $1.80, their lowest level for two years, compared with $2.50 when Myer first approached David Jones with a merger proposal last October.

Investors have wound back expectations for a rebound in profits this year and analysts are forecasting a 2 per cent fall in net profit to $96.5 million, according to consensus estimates.

In 2014, Myer introduced a new “business transformation” metric for executive remuneration, which relates to the successful delivery of the company’s strategic plan. The business transformation hurdle accounts for 25 per cent of the performance rights granted to senior executives under long term incentive plans.

July 7th, 2019

X Factor Australia’s youngest winner Marlisa Punzalan plans to focus on stardom

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Marlisa Punzalan’s show-stopping Titanium, which won over The X Factor and made her the youngest ever winner. Marlisa thought Dean Ray was a sure-fire winner.

Ratings: X Factor sheds 1 million

She is Australia’s youngest ever X Factor winner and the only girl under 25 to have won the television talent quest, but Marlisa Punzalan says she was convinced she wouldn’t win.

The 15-year-old Mercy Catholic College student beat 22-year-old Queensland crooner Dean Ray and folk-pop trio Brothers 3 in a surprise finish on Monday night.

“I’m feeling amazing, I just cannot believe it,” Punzalan told Fairfax Media.  “It hasn’t sunk in yet. I was expecting Dean to win because apparently he was the favourite, he had a lot of votes and his fan base is humungous.”

But seemingly not as “humungous” as Punzalan’s, whose victory was watched by 1.316 million nationwide, making it the most watched TV show last night.

Having now secured herself a recording contract Sony Music Australia, Punzalan will wave goodbye to her everyday life as a teenager.

While her classmates are in school today, Punzalan begins her winner’s journey and first up is a mammoth day of meeting the press.

“It’s going to be so busy. I have more than 30 interviews I think,” she said, but added that her mum Ria was with her at every stop.

As for school her days in the playground may be over, but she said she was still very focused on studying.

“I will be doing home-schooling because school is really important and I really need it in my life, but of course I will also be doing my music,” she said.

Throughout her time as a contestant on the show Punzalan spoke of former Australian Idol contestant Jessica Mauboy as her inspiration.

Performing with Mauboy on Sunday was one of the biggest highlights in the finals experience, Punzalan said. “She said to me, stay true to who you and keep your family close.”

Mauboy was among a number of Australian performers who publicly congratulated Punzalan on Twitter.Well done marlisa !!! 🙂 enjoy the ride gorgeous girl ! ❤️ — S∆MANTH∆ J∆DE (@sjademusic) October 20, 2014Marlisa Ann, I loved sharing the stage with you gorgeous young lady! May you continue to shine, stay true and… http://t杭州龙凤论坛/WN1sAXXzjW — Jessica Mauboy (@jessicamauboy) October 20, 2014

July 7th, 2019

Femme Fatales producers sue actress over refusal to go nude

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Legal case: the series in question aired in May 2011, but a court battle is under way for next year.

It’s a case which lays bare, so to speak, the grim realities of nudity negotiations in film production.

Actor Anne Greene is being sued by production company True Crime over an alleged breach of the unfortunately named “nudity rider” part of her contract for late-night TV series Femme Fatales, which aired in 2012.

Among the complaints swirling around, Greene is alleged to have refused to go topless for scenes and instead was fitted with “pasties” to cover her nipples, which is apparently a breach of network HBO’s “no pasties” policy.

The trial, which will begin on February 17 next year, will highlight the complexities of filming sex scenes, and at its core is the debate about whether actors can be legally obligated to go nude.

Producers claim Greene was contractually obliged to film nude sex scenes and are blaming her for “substantial delay and disruption” on the set, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In the latest development in the case, the production company was given permission on Monday to launch a countersuit against Greene.

Greene had previously filed a complaint in 2012 against Time Warner, HBO, Cinemax and True Crime alleging that she was bullied, sexually harassed and placed in a dangerous work environment.

Producers say there was no mistaking that the show was erotic in nature and that in Greene’s casting breakdown it said the role would “require partial nudity”, defined as “chest” and behind”.

Greene apparently objected on set to being filmed topless and was fitted with “pasties”, something which “would not be compliant with HBO’s policy prohibiting the use of ‘pasties’ in sex scenes”, according to the counterclaim. A body double and “substantial time editing” resulted in “significant unbudgeted expense”, according to the claim.

The actor claims she only went ahead with filming under a $100,000-plus threat of breach of contract.

Greene, whose previous credits include Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, has said she would not have agreed to the job if she knew it involved “soft-core porn”.

July 7th, 2019

Breakfast with the Best: the sausages sizzled, the punters roared, the horses strutted their stuff

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It might not have been the first Tuesday in November, but the second last Tuesday in October at Moonee Valley still provided plenty of excitement.

Some of the best weight-for-age horses from around the country, and indeed the world, strutted their stuff at the famous racecourse in preparation for Friday night’s Manikato Stakes and Saturday’s Cox Plate.

Trackwork might have started at the ungodly (for this journalist at least) time of 6.30am, but that didn’t stop a healthy horde of racing enthusiasts from descending on the Valley to scrutinise some of the horses that will take part in the weekend’s Group 1 races.

The lure of a free sausage sizzle undoubtedly also played its part in boosting crowd numbers. In fact, some punters were so absorbed in consuming their greasy snags and bread that they wouldn’t have noticed if Phar Lap himself had walked by.

An eclectic mix of people rocked up- from gents who deemed tracky dacks were suitable attire to geezers who looked as if they had just left the set of the latest Ladbrokes betting commercial. Some could easily have passed as extras in the 1986 Tim Conway movie The Long Shot.

And that’s what made the morning so great – the mix of characters and the genuine trackside buzz.

The punters were treated to an absolutely glorious Melbourne morning with a cloudless sky and a picture-perfect sunrise dotted by the odd hot-air balloon.

While Cox Plate fancies Fawkner and Adelaide were conspicuously absent, an enthralled crowd studied the likes of Sacred Falls and Royal Descent as they were put through their paces.

TVN regulars Richie Callendar, Bruce Clark and Jason Richardson added to the atmosphere with their live telecast beamed directly onto the racecourse big screen, although their words were often drowned out by the very vocal onlookers.

There might be no such thing as a certainty in horseracing, but one thing you can bet on is that the Valley will be pumping when Friday night rolls around and will reach fever pitch come 5.40pm on Saturday.