So was the page three story in today’s Daily Telegraph another attempt at a staff “boning” at the Nine Network?

The
appearance of the story along with the page one pointer – “Watch Out Jana, Ellen
the hot tip for Nine’s Sunday” – was a pretty crude attempt to get current Sunday
host, Jana Wendt.

Ellen Fanning looked like a “perfumed steamroller” (Jana’s old nickname
at A Current Affair) in the accompanying picture but the story hasn’t done her any good
at Nine. She’s
been doing Nightline and filling in at ACA
for several years now and while she hasn’t been able to nail down a
permanent gig, Fanning does have her supporters at Nine. Eddie McGuire
is said to be one, along with Sunday and Business Sunday Executive Producer, John Lyons.

Nine’s
News boss, Gary Linnell claims there’s nothing to the
story by Luke McILveen (a Tele “attack dog” journo) which insinuates that Jana is lazy (she “rarely comes into the
office”) and that “Eddie McGuire was unimpressed” with the Sunday
host. But
Sunday staff say that Jana is often absent doing stories and columns for Linnell at The Bulletin (he is still overseeing the
magazine). Would
he want to see Jana fired from Sunday and then expect her to continue working at
The Bulletin, even after he was gone? And if that was
the case, what would Laurie Oakes think of it all – that he’s
next?

The
story says Linnell refused to comment on the
suggestion that Jana was going to be replaced but confirmed Sunday was being
shaken up. And the network does have form in this area: Mike Munro was undermined when hosting A
Current Affair
in exactly the same way during the David Gyngell years. Ray Martin was also hung out to dry at ACA
the first time in a similar fashion.

Meanwhile the Page 3 story on Jana and this story in the Tele‘s Sydney Confidential gossip column suggesting that NRL Footy Show
host, Paul Vautin, is the new host of Who Wants To Be
A Millionaire
, should be read together. Both
stories are high class “drops” from Nine and both could
have been killed off with a very strong denial from Eddie McGuire or Gary Linnell. They
weren’t.

Do
these stories have anything to do with a lunch Eddie had with Tele editor, David
Penberthy, the week after the Mark Llewellyn affidavit
story broke? Has
peace broken out between the Tele and Nine? These stories would suggest it has. Someone
has obviously realized that “boning” someone through the Tele is cheaper than
doing it by affidavit!

Peter Fray

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