As forecast in yesterday’s Crikey, Jamie Durie has ended up at the Seven Network after parting ways with Nine earlier in the week. Seven announced his signing hours before Eddie McGuire came out of a very transparent closet and revealed himself as the host of Nine’s new game show, 1 vs 100.

Durie rejected claims he had asked for $2 million and lots of freedom, as suggested by sources around the Nine Network, and revealed that McGuire had chaired an hour meeting to try and get him to change his mind. Durie said one of the things driving his decision to defect was the direction at Nine in recent times.

At his press conference in Melbourne Eddie was defending his decision to host the game show by comparing himself to the likes of Donald Trump and Dickie Branson. Branson and Trump are very rich people and have made their money out of becoming “brands”, in their own minds and in the minds of the consuming public. Eddie is hardly a smidge along the way in becoming a brand like Sir Dickie or the Trumpster.

And for Nine there’s an added worry. There will be 15 programs of the new quiz show made first up. It’s claimed these will be done over the next six weeks, which means two days in every five are taken up with the show. The idea was originally to try and do them ahead of the start of ratings.

It’s also thought Nine could record these in less than a week: Millionaire and The Price Is Right were turnaround recordings. Two weeks of Price were recorded at GTV in two days, even at an hour’s length. A month of Millionaire could be recorded at GTV once a month. But Eddie was in Melbourne, so it was easier then.

Despite what Eddie says about being able to do both jobs, he can’t. Programming matters are between Michael Healy and Park Street; cost matters are handled by Ian Audsley and the station directors elsewhere and Audsley and Pat O’Sullivan/Ian Law at Park Street.

He is a CEO with time on his hands. And he was talking about the possibility of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire returning in the second half of this year (It’s a case of “when not if”, he was quoted as saying). If that happens that will take him out of the management equation in the back half of the year, when it could be all irrelevant for Nine.

And then there’s the pressure of the AFL Footy Show which he won’t rule in or out.

All this underlines the point that critics have said when his hosting ambitions resurfaced before Christmas. Eddie can rekindle his on-camera career because he’s got all the time he needs.

All the big decisions at Nine are being taken at Park Street by the junta consisting of Ian Law, CEO of PBL Media, John Alexander, his chairman, Chris Anderson, the deputy executive chairman of PBL and Pat O’Sullivan, the chief toecutter of PBL Media.

Park Street will let Eddie do as much hosting as he wants because it gets him out of the office and out of Willoughby and gets the company a return on the $4 million it is paying him. After all, the mantra at PBL Media is “Programming for Profit” and that’s how the ruling junta is using Eddie.

The Eddie story led Nine News in Melbourne but wasn’t as high in the bulletin in Sydney where they know the value of a real news story, like a mad Sheikh.

That says as much about why Eddie is back on camera. He loves it, can’t get enough of it and not even the job of CEO of the Nine Network is enough for him. And the way Nine, especially in Melbourne, treated it tells us that the Network sees him as the returning conquering hero, not the boss.

 

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