While Rusty Crowe and his
telephone were the stars of Saturday’s AFI awards in Melbourne’s
world-class (but sadly under-utilised) Docklands white elephant, it was
his new offsider who captured the attention of insiders.

Our
heroic on and off screen tough guy was followed everywhere by an
American “assistant,” imported specially for the occasion. His main
task seemed to be placing cigarettes in Rusty’s mouth and lighting them
for the great man.

This latest Hollywood fashion accessory was
on hand with the packet of fags behind stage – even though the state
government-owned film studios have banned smoking. But no one was going
to take on Rusty, not when he had a telephone next to him on stage.

The
only person willing to keep Rusty on a tight leash was veteran Nine
Network Producer Peter “the enforcer” Wynne who made sure no one,
including Russell, went overtime with the speeches. Son Sheldon Wynne
was on hand learning the ropes from his old man. It seems to be a Nine
tradition: Kerry and James Packer, Bruce and David Gyngell, now Peter
& Sheldon Inc.

Less powerful personalities attempting to
throw their weight around included Steve Bracks, who let it be known
that his Government wanted fewer long boring speeches and inane video
highlights.

A Dainty Entertainment executive was kept busy
running around shouting at his subordinates that the Government was
breathing down his neck and wanted the ceremony to kick-off ASAP.
Bracks has a lot of money riding on the new studio complex at
Docklands, Central City Studios, and was keen for the event to go
without a hitch.

Underlining where true power resides in
Victoria, when it was all over, Bracks dutifully asked wife Terry if he
could go to the after party. She gave him a permission slip, and he was
allowed to chew the fat with the boys for 30 minutes.

Eddie
McGuire schmoozed intimately with Bracks and his Arts Minister, Mary
Delahunty. The only place Eddie didn’t follow Bracks was into the
toilet. But he didn’t seem to give Federal Arts Minister, Senator Rod
Kemp the time of day.

Eddie couldn’t help himself when he came
across Rusty — they spent what seemed like hours chatting at the after
party. If Eddie takes up smoking, his long-suffering wife Carla should
shortly expect to see him followed around by a brand new “assistant,” a
new Robin to Eddie’s Batman.