Jamie Durie, the Backyard Blitzer, Dancing On Ice host and would-be acolyte of Oprah, has been divorced by the Nine Network and now looks like ending up at rival Seven Network.

The separation was revealed in a terse statement late yesterday: “The Nine Network Australia today announced that it has parted company with Jamie Durie. After seven years association with Durie, the Nine Network would like to wish him all the best in his future endeavours. No further comment will be offered by the Network.”

Stark, to the point and cold.

The Network, which axed his TV show Backyard Blitz last November last year, wouldn’t say anything. Nor would Durie’s publicist, Maria Farmer.

It’s clear negotiations between Durie and Nine on new TV projects had broken down and his future may now lie solely in the US, where filming for his new gardening and travel show on the Public Broadcasting System (hardly prime time, or the big time in the US) is due to start shortly.

Maybe. I hear he’s bound for Seven in Australia and will share his time between here and the US where he wants to be “The Big Star”. There apparently is a belief in someone’s mind that with the death of Steve Irwin, there’s a vacancy in the US for the larger than life Aussie TV personality.

Durie will be making regular appearances on Oprah as the resident renovations expert after he screen tested for her late last year. He claims to have moved to the US and that it would be permanent.

But sources in Australia say Nine said “no” because Durie wanted $2 million a year, wanted to work part-time in Australia, wanted to be allowed to work in the US, wanted control over his “projects”, wanted a magazine and wanted control over his ideas.

Unfortunately no ideas were forthcoming and Nine is continuing to talk to Don Burke, whose company produced Backyard Blitz, about new projects.

But I understand Durie’s demands were more along the lines of an ambit claim and that he will end up working for the Seven Network in Australia.

Stay tuned, as they say, but it would seem the Nine Network refused to be held to ransom by Durie. And how can anyone be as silly and dumb to ask for $2 million after seeing what the Nine Network has been through in the past year?

His hosting of the Torvill and Dean’s Dancing on Ice (which was a moderate performer for Nine last winter) wasn’t impressive. He needed the autocue and a riser to stand on to make himself seem taller than he is.

Torvill and Dean were unimpressed.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey