A fascinating couple at Friday night’s Princess Mary function in Sydney It was another ball, sighhhhhhh. The Victor Chang Institute Ball, heart research. Some of Sydney’s ‘royalty’. It wasn’t as media driven as Wednesday night’s Red Cross Ball in Sydney which featured Seven and Nine battling for the honours.

Seen on the one table on Friday night was the Nine Network’s Sunday host, Jana Wendt, husband Brendan Ward and Sam Chisholm, PBL director and the man who reputedly, with John Alexander, hired her for Sunday, without telling Peter Meakin, then the head of Nine’s News and Current Affairs.

Chisholm is the man who when he ran Nine in the 1980s and helped turn Jana into a star, firstly on 60 Minutes and then on A Current Affair.

The fact that she was on the same table as Chisholm would indicate she and her husband were there as guests. Therefore, any suggestions that Nine might thinking of getting rid of her from Sunday, as speculated in the Sydney Sun-Herald’s gossip section and in The Australian’s Media Section last month, no longer has any currency.

As reported Friday, Jim Waley’s picture has disappeared from the Nine foyer. He was reportedly trying to be convinced by unnamed people at Nine that he could end his career ‘on a high note’ by returning to front Sunday, pushing out Jana, according to the gossip. Jim, of course, was replaced by Mark Ferguson in the Sydney 6pm newsreading slot.

In fact Sunday has started the year with very solid ratings and has a good mix of content, with the Laurie Oakes political interview still the highpoint.

Meanwhile, Princess Mary had another ball on Saturday night to which she dragged husband Fred. No doubt the gush will flow from that appearance onto our TV screens Sunday night, joining the overflow of tosh from the newspapers and current affairs and news programs.

There’s Nine’s A Current Affair, styling itself “Without Fear or Favour”. The way it has covered Mary, Fred and Charles in the past week, ‘Fawning” should be added to strapline on the graphic, “Without fear or favour, but fawning”.

There is just no sense of distance, no sense of being independent in the coverage. The Mary and Fred Show was described as “The Princess Diaries” on ACA. What is Ray Martin fronting? New Idea (which has gone gaga this week) or Woman’s Day?

The Sunday program at least looked at the Royals in a sort of tongue in cheek, hands-off fashion. The juxtaposing of the Royals in the segment after the good Macquarie Fields story on Sunday was a nice and telling way of saying the royals were ephemera and nothing more. They are amusing, but in the end a diversion. It’s a pity ACA and the newspapers didn’t treat it the same way!

At least the Madis Gras treated the royals as entertainment! Sunday reporter and close Jana mate Graham Davis summed up the situation best in his report when talking about Mary he said “there certainly was something about Mary that made normally sane Australians go gaga”. Were you watching, Ray?

Davis described Mary as a Sydney 20-something “who got lucky at the pub”. Cruel, but fair. Over to you Ray, Mark and the gaggle of Seven stars, newspaper reporters and executives, Andrew Denton and the like. Time for a return to reality now the fairy princess has gone!

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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