Picture this. The Red Cross Ball for Mary and Fred in Sydney Wednesday night. Uber chic. BlacktieFest. Sydney’s Westin Hotel, right underneath Macquarie Bank, around the corner from Martin Place, just down the road from Seven’s News Studio.

Everyone there: Governor, Premier, former Prime Ministers, media folk of all kinds, the great and the good of Sydney. Some have paid $1,000 a head for the privilege of joining Mary and Fred in a pre-ball cocktail party.

Seven and Nine among the major sponsors (after all Nine did its best to bang the Red Cross’ fund raising drum during the Tsunami appeal). Seven used its New Idea magazine from its Pacific Publications side as the sponsoring vehicle. Nine? Well, no sign of Woman’s Day, another sign of the decline in PBL’s sharpness?

Seven took three tables with Pacific Mags executives and some of their resident stars, Ian Thorpe, Dicko from My Restaurant Rules, Johanna Griggs from Better Homesand Gardens, Andrew O’Keefe from Deal or No Deal (what did happen to his late night gig, by the way?). All high-profile on-camera types.

Oh, David Koch and Melissa Doyle from Sunrise as well. Plus advertisers.

It’s much better when you have people who want to come on your table. It’s amazing what high rating programs mean for your popularity. Last year Seven would have struggled to get anyone, bar its long time ‘mates’ in advertising along. Last night though, no trouble in filling those three tables.

So what did Nine do? Max Uechtritz was the most senior executive there on the top table with the Royals, looking good, even though this report in the SMH said Nine CEO David Gyngell was there.

Ray Martin was another attendee. A Current Affair has been very interested in the Danish Royals, to the point of using a lot of material on Tuesday night from the Denton interview screened on Monday and Tuesday night on the ABC.

But a former Nine executive attending could not see David Gyngell, only Max, presiding over the Nine table, and Ray. Other Nine stars were in the audience.

Seven’s top ranker was Ryan Stokes, son of the controlling shareholder. He was on the top table with Fred and Mary, the Gov, Gough and Mrs Gough, Bob Carr, Malcolm Fraser and, of course, Max.

Mark Ferguson, the new 6pm Nine News host in Sydney was the host for the night. That was sort of appropriate given he fronted Nine News during the height of the Tsunami fund raising efforts from Boxing Day onwards and was the face of the TV appeals for the Red Cross on Nine.

But with New Idea strongly in everyone’s minds last night at the function, Seven made a determined effort to snatch the glory. Karl Stefanovic was a roving microphone carrier during a ten minute fund raiser that raised an impressive $100,000. Kochie puts his hand up and offers a $10,000 donation. Karl looks startled. Mark Ferguson understands it’s for charity and jokes that Koch’s money is fine. A nice moment, handled well.

And on Sunrise on Seven on Thursday morning, at about 8.45am, there’s Kochie and Mel, sitting in the audience in the Seven studios in Martin Place, with a young girl between them. And who is the young girl, why the one who handed our Mary the flowers on tele last night at the ball.

And at Nine, some coverage, but a big special is being put together of last night and the Mary and Fred Show tonight in Sydney for Nine on Saturday night. A senior News producer in Sydney is cutting the one-off show and has been frantic all day. Will Our Ray host and which network is Royalstruck?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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