An item in the Sun Herald’s gossip
column last Sunday has astounded some knowledgeable media observers.
Annette Sharp – a former junior in the Nine publicity office in the
late 80s and early 90s – suggested that Richard Wilkins would be in Sam
Chisholm’s bad books after a recent lunch for the on-air staff and
senior production people of Today.

According to Sharp, while alcohol was offered most attendees drank
sparingly, but Wilkins had a few too many glasses – which was noted by
Chisholm. How do we know he noticed? Because Sharp suggested that Sam
Chisholm was counting the drinks everyone consumed.

Now
he is not abstemious, nor is he known to be stingy. In fact he can’t
help but spend other people’s money. When last at Nine, Chisholm ran a
free bar on the second and then third floor for selected staff. (David
Leckie continued that tradition, but the bar was closed when Leckie was
sacked).

How did Sharp know that Sambo was counting the drinks? The Today people certainly didn’t know. Only Chisholm knew, so how did that news get out of the Nine bunker?

More casualties of Chisholm

Meanwhile, there are more COCs (Casualties of
Chisholm) at Nine. Two senior executives have been told they’re no
longer wanted, while a third is having his status downgraded. And there
are reports of more staff changes in non-production areas by the end of
this week.

Nine insiders say that Steve Wood, the head of daytime TV (appointed
last December by David Gyngell) has been sacked by Chisholm, and Stuart
Clark, the director of lifestyle and reality TV, is also going. Clark
was involved in The Block, which didn’t appear this year for cost reasons and his big failure this year was Our Place on Friday nights.

Meanwhile, Glenn Pallister, who was replaced as EP of the NRL Footy Show
(a role he kept when promoted by Gyngell to head of light entertainment
and variety programs last year) has been downgraded. Pallister had also
been involved in Starstruck, as was Andrew Blackwell, the head of Development. His status remains unclear in all these latest moves.

Peter Fray

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