November 03, 2004

Now is the Hour

The DogBitingMen team write...

This is the day the world has been waiting for.

Armies of lawyers watch like hawks for the hint of a decision. They are ready to swoop and contest. The officials who must announce the outcome cannot put a foot wrong...

Paul Holmes has left TVNZ, and it is time to find his replacement.

Having successfully predicted the trifecta at the Melbourne Cup, DogBitingMen is on a winning streak. We’ve put this to good use to create our very own tip sheet for the Decision That Will Change the World. Think of this as Holmes Idol. In no particular order, here are the candidates that Smart People are talking about:

Kerre Woodham
Pros: If Judy Bailey is the mother of the nation, Kerre Woodham is the nation’s older sister’s unruly best friend. She speaks truth to power in the pages of the Herald on Sunday and has won praise for “telling it like it is”.
Cons: History. Woodham unsuccessfully followed Holmes in the prime-time 1ZB talkback radio slot, bleeding off a third of his hard-won audience within a year. Does not execute irony well in her Herald on Sunday column: it remains unclear whether she identifies with the redneck bigots or latte-sipping liberals. Then there was the Hamilton restaurant thing...

Simon Dallow

Pros: Experienced and intelligent, Simon Dallow has only recently developed the on-screen assurance that should come naturally to someone who takes home Alison Mau each night. Has made a very good fist of Agenda. It is probably the best news show in the country now. He finally possesses gravitas.
Cons: The primetime slot is about branding more than quality interviewing or analysis. It can be difficult to create a sexy brand from the 8.30am Saturday morning shift.

Greg Dixon
Pros: Holmes will not be told what to do by a Ghanaian. Greg Dixon, 47, will not be told what to do by anyone over the age of 25 because "they are all sell-outs and phoneys”. The 7pm slot would be an ideal platform for Dixon to shock apathetic middle New Zealand out of its bourgeois complacency. Has already self-consciously demurred at the very idea of being a news presenter.

Cons: Possibly has contractual commitments to Fuse magazine which would prevent him from assuming the role. His loathing of corporate juggernauts might cause him to bleed on-air.

Russell Brown
Pros: Is there a journalist, commentator or scholar in New Zealand with the extraordinary breadth of knowledge that Russell Brown possesses? An expert on Chechnyan, American, Middle East, Australian and Point Chev politics and culture, Brown’s chances have been talked up by New Zealand’s greatest media ethics-purveyor and broadcasting commentator, Russell Brown, who hinted heavily today, “you might be seeing a bit of me in the media over the next week or two”.
Cons: Has Brown’s “we’re not married but have a perfectly wonderful relationship” wife Fiona Rae been involved in underhand tactics on Brown’s behalf? Notice that in this television review column Rae systematically rips apart perceived competitors for (sort-of) hubby’s potential job. New Zealand doesn’t like cheats.

Mikey Havoc
Pros: Mikey Havoc was seen as a serious contender at the beginning of the year during succession planning, and is lobbying the network hard by all reports. Seen as having the Holmes touch with the ordinary folk after Havoc and Newsboy’s World Tour traversed the country in a way that only Holmes or It’s In The Bag have done. He is charismatic and experienced; as a former Push Push frontman and DJ he would put out a better Christmas album than Holmes.
Cons: Then came Quality Time. Widely (and justifiably) derided after “investigative journalism” turned out to be dumbed-down Michael Moore gags and “satirical” interviews where Havoc sneeringly mugged for the camera while bemused guests looked on. Was always a risk, even before he blew his credibility.

Kate Wrath
Pros: Everybody likes a slutty sex kitten with a loud mouth. Look at Mister Neil Falloon.
Cons: Is Middle New Zealand quite ready for a show hosted by a rightwing chick-with-a-dick?

Peter Williams
Pros: He can be a good interviewer. He is laid-back and suave. Appointing him would highlight a move away from personality-driven television.
Cons: Appointing him would highlight a move away from personality-driven television.

Ian Wishart
: Wishart is actually not a bad investigative journalist, and has extensive experience. Although Investigate is panned by pundits and ignored by the media, Wishart’s constituency of the conservative, disaffected and paranoid is closer to Holmes’ natural audience than many in TVNZ news might like to admit.
Cons: New Zealand is not ready for the truth. Proportion of respondents to Investigate readers’ poll who would vote for the Destiny Political party (50%) slightly higher than in the general population; may cause controversy when Wishart breaks his exclusive story about the proven existence of God.

Eric Young
Pros: He’s an empty slate that wears nice suits and sits beside Kate Hawkesby in the evenings. He is so good at facial expressions that you wonder who is hiding under the table in front of him, and what they are doing to him. Bill Ralston likes him. (This is not intended to imply we think Bill Ralston is under the table in front of him).
Cons: He’s called Eric. His evening contorsions have not converted into a ratings bonanza alongside the solid performance of TV3’s Nightline.

Damian Christie
Pros: Intelligent, articulate interviewer with wide broadcasting experience and range of views.
Cons: Will only get the offer if Russell Brown turns it down.

Aja Rock
Pros: The daughter of Bob Rock has had a meteoric rise in profile in the last few months. One local commentator points out that "a Google search produces no hits for Aja that predate Celebrity Treasure Island”, leading one to wonder why she was on that television programme.
Cons: As the sad face of Ben Lummis staring out of newspaper front pages reminds us, New Zealand should not be allowed any more fake celebrities until it looks after the ones it has.

Susan Wood
Pros: She’s cheerful, luvverly, friendly and nice, yet doesn’t veer from questions that others would avoid – like saying to Jack Black, “I just wondered about you and this thing with young boys”.

Cons: New Zealand hasn’t forgotten the time she didn’t turn up to work because her child had locked her in the wardrobe. One wonders if Holmes kept her as his understudy because he felt safe that she’d never take over his job. Better suited to a chirpy breakfast show. So long as they don't call it Morning Wood.

Bill Ralston
Pros: Ralston certainly has the track record; it’s possibly a shame this opportunity didn’t come along years earlier for the man who is now a suited head of news and current affairs. Was it Ralston’s idea to precede Holmes’ farewell speech with a (much longer) story about a retiring 50-year veteran production line worker at the Dunedin Cadbury factory? “They moved the chocolate years ago; the chocolate's all in Auckland now”, the southern stalwart informed the nation. Is Ralston itching for a hands-on role?
Cons: Who would replace him as the TVNZ News Bigwig? Mike Hosking?? Giggle. Surely experience shows Ralston being coach-and-player doesn't work.

Michael Barrymore
Pros: It would stop him from writing an utterly dreadful column for the Herald on Sunday.
Cons: It may interrupt his return to stardom through the Maeroa Valley Amateur Dramatics Club.


Mister Neil Falloon: Heart says Wishart. Head says they will get to him before that can ever happen. Then it will be up to Ralston to be a man and prove his critics wrong.

MediaCow: I’m a big fan of Williams and I really like Dallow when he's not preening for a women's magazine. I’m not sure if I can warm to somebody named Eric.

Jimbo Hopkins: I'm not convinced we have identified a winner yet. If anybody could find Lindsay Perigo, wouldn’t he be great! (Editor's note: Hopkins watches Shortland Street anyway).

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