Don’t tell Bert. Shhh, don’t show this edition to Bert Newton or his family. It might ruin the surprise. really. But I can tell you that those generous folk at the Nine Network are giving Bert a surprise 70th Birthday edition of This Is Your Life . Yep, that’s the program that seems to be almost as old as Bert. Certainly host Mike Munro isn’t a spring chicken any more. He, like Bert is in the grey and henna club of TV personalities. The Nine Network gushed in a press release this morning:

In a special birthday edition of This Is Your Life , superstars of stage and screen will turn up to throw Bert a surprise party he’ll never forget in a special event screening at 7.30pm on Channel Nine the day “Moonface” turns 70 – Wednesday, July 23. Since the 1950s, Bert Newton has been laying us in the aisles with his wicked wit and larrikin attitude. Comic, singer, dancer, actor and television host – there isn’t much this Australian legend hasn’t done. The star-studded birthday party will feature Hugh Jackman, Olivia Newton-John, Clive James, Michael Buble, Joan Rivers, k.d. lang, Julian Clary, Eddie McGuire, Julia Morris, Sam Newman, Anthony Callea, Jules Lund, Ugly Dave Gray, Lisa McCune and Rove McManus, along with many others. It promises buckets of tears and laughter, with tributes from a score of Bert’s closest friends… Bert’s 70th Birthday kicks off with one of the most elaborate surprises ever undertaken in the history of This Is Your Life.

But don’t tell Bert. Free tissues at the door. It’s another cynical and cheap attempt to get ratings and to tell us that Nine is doing something important. — Glenn Dyer

The Footy Show — nobody cares. Another audience loss for the AFL and NRL Footy Shows last night. They shed around 100,000 viewers nationally to end at 906,000 compared to 1.008 million the Thursday night before. The program dropped 18,000 in Melbourne to average 400,000 last night. That’s down 54,000 since Sam Newman returned three weeks ago, or 11%. The AFL program lost 12,000 viewers in Adelaide and shed 29,000 in Perth.  The audience in Sydney rose 4,000 last night for the NRL program, to just 196,000, but fell in Brisbane by 48,000 to average 105,000. — Glenn Dyer

Judy gets a payout. The actress Judy Davis should be awarded $140,000 in damages from News Ltd, following the publication of a series of articles in The Daily Telegraph and other News Ltd publications in Queensland and Western Australia, a Supreme Court judge said today. Justice Peter McClellan said he would not enter a judgement immediately, because he wanted to allow parties to decide on what Ms Davis was entitled to in terms of interest and costs. Ms Davis sued after the articles reported what they said was her attitude towards a proposal to upgrade lighting at Birchgrove Oval. The articles were published in The Daily Telegraph, The Courier-Mail, the Sunday Mail and The Perth Sunday Times in February 2006. — SMH

Jana then … and now. Yesterday’s front page of The Australian was all about Jana Rawlinson’s (nee Pittman) heartache about pulling out of the Olympics. Her toe, it seems, is her achilles heel. But perhaps the subdued ex-drama queen didn’t look quite shattered enough for the media … which picture did The Oz use to illustrate her woe? One from as early as 2004, when Debbie Flintoff-King comforted a distraught Jana after she placed 5th in the 400m hurdles. The Age followed suit.

Going ballistic with photoshop. As news spread across the world of Iran’s provocative missile tests, so did an image of four missiles heading skyward in unison. Unfortunately, it appeared to contain one too many missiles, a point that had not emerged before the photo was used on the front pages of The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Chicago Tribune and several other newspapers as well as on BBC News, MSNBC, Yahoo! News, NYTimes.com and many other major news Web sites…

Does Iran’s state media use Photoshop? The charge has been leveled before. So far, though, it can’t be said with any certainty whether there is any official Iranian involvement in this instance. Sepah apparently published the three-missile version of the image today without further explanation.

The New York Times teams with Apple The New York Times and Apple struck a deal today that allows readers to access all sorts of unique material–including off-line material when you’re on an airplane–from The Times on your iPhone! The release proudly boasts that readers can have “offline reading capabilities, a photo browser with links to the related articles and personalization options for the iPhone and iPod touch models. Available for free at the iPhone Apple Store, the NYTimes iPhone application allows users to take advantage of the advanced capabilities of the iPhone and iPod touch user interface.” It looks like The Times-Apple corporate relationship is only getting closer by the minute. — New York Observer

Projected baby earnings for the new financial year What generates more buzz than forking over $6 million for photos of a celebrity’s barely conscious newborn? Letting people think you did, a maneuver that disingenuous editors at leading tabloids seem to be embracing. Earlier this year, Ad Age leaked reports that People had paid that immodest sum for cover snaps of Jennifer Lopez and her new twins, quoting insiders “familiar with the negotiations.” The news that the songstress’ offspring were apparently worth enough to buy her 600 mink coats flooded the Web, stunning even People’s competitors. “It was an astronomical figure,” a source at a rival tabloid tells Radar with a laugh, “way beyond what we’re prepared to spend.”

When the unremarkable world exclusive issue showed up a few weeks later, the hype helped move 36 percent more copies than average and doubled traffic at people.com. Only after the issue left newsstands did People’s editors coyly admit that the $6 million figure was inflated. — Radar Online

With the Tribune newspaper redesigns taking place this summer (Orlando, Chicago, Baltimore, Hartford . . .) and the just-debuted redesign of The Times of London, it might be a good time to share a recently published chapter of the top Newspaper and Newspaper Web site redesigns published by the World Editors Forum — Trends in Newsrooms 2008. The in-depth report by the World Editors Forum presents the most important developments in today’s newsrooms with detailed case studies of some of the world’s most innovative newsrooms. — Robb Montgomery

Last night’s TV ratings:
The Winners: 14 programs with a million or more viewers last night. Seven News was top of the pile with 1.436 million, followed by Today Tonight with 1.366 million. Getaway was third with 1.286 million and Nine’s Celebrity Singing Bee averaged 1.266 million at 8.30pm. Law And Order SVU averaged 1.220 million for Ten at 9.30pm and the 7pm ABC News averaged 1.175 million for 6th. 7th was Home and Away at 7pm with 1.159 million and Nine’s repeat of Two And A Half Men averaged 1.140 million in 8th spot. Then came Nine News with 1.107 million. Law And Order Criminal Intent averaged 1.101 million for Ten at 8.30pm. 11th was Seven’s How I Met Your Mother at 7.30 pm with 1.083 million, Seven’s 8.30pm program, Bones averaged 1.075 million, Big Brother with Double D Pammie averaged 1.023 million and A Current Affair was in 14th spot with 1.025 million viewers and was the last member of the million viewer club for the night. My Name Is Earl averaged 993,000 at 8pm, the Gil Mayo Mysteries on the ABC at 8.30pm averaged 816,000 and Q&A on the ABC at 9.30pm, 486,000.

The Losers: Losers? Well, The Amazing Race at 9.30pm for Seven: 797,000 last night. Inspector Rex: 445,000 watched SBS exhume the poor dead doggie again. For SBS that’s not a loser, for TV it is. Nine’s hour of News and A Current Affair from 6pm to 7pm (and ACA in Sydney). See below.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market as did Today Tonight. Both Nine programs (News and ACA) were especially weak in Sydney. The 7 pm ABC News was second in both Sydney and Melbourne behind Seven in the news rankings. For the second night in as many weeks, the 7.30 Report had more viewers in Sydney than ACA : 257,000 to 250,000. For a program that costs a lot more than the ABC product, and is spending heavily on buying content at the moment, that’s a poor return. Ten News At Five averaged 874,000 (Its Sydney audience was 249,000 from 5pm to 6pm, while the Sydney audience for Seven’s Deal Or No deal was 260,000 at 5.30pm to 6pm). Neighbours beat ACA in Sydney with 259,000 viewers! The 7.30 Report averaged 919,000 viewers nationally; Lateline, 316,000 and Lateline Business with 163,000. Nine’s Nightline averaged 413,000. World News on SBS at 6.30pm averaged 219,000, the Late News at 9.30pm, 142,000. 7am Sunrise down to 329,000, 7am Today flattish at 262,000.

The Stats:  Nine won 6 pm to midnight All people with 27.8% (30.9% a week ago) from Seven with 26.5% (25.3%), Ten 22.5% (21.2%), the ABC with 17.1% (17.8%) and SBS with 6.1% (4.8%). Nine won Melbourne and Adelaide, Seven won Sydney narrowly by 0.1%, Brisbane by 0.2% and won Perth by 1.7%. Nine won because of the bigger margin in Melbourne. Nine still leads the week, 27.7% to 26.6% for Seven. Seven will gain tonight with the AFL, then its even stevens tomorrow night. In regional areas a win to Nine with WIN/NBN on 30.1%, Prime/7Qld with 26.7%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 20.9%, the ABC with 15.5% and SBS with 6.8%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments:  School holidays mean viewers are not as interested in TV, despite what you might think. They watch, but not at the usual time because in homes with school kids, the usual nightly regimes are relaxed a bit. But what was very interesting last night was that the most popular program in all demographics, bar the over 55s and the rich folk in the OG1-2 was a surprise, given the size of its total audience. My Name Is Earl on Seven at 8pm averaged 993,000 viewers: it has done well over 1.2 million. And yet in all those demos from 16 to 39 men and women up to 25 to 54, it was either top or second most popular program. It is probably the biggest cult program on Australian TV at the moment. Pammie Anderson’s Big Brother exploits was also popular, but dropped 400,000 viewers from the night before to average 1.023 million. Seven’s How I Met Your Mother at 7.30 pm averaged over 1.08 million and was a top three program in many demos, especially amongst female viewers. Celebrity Singing Bee on Nine at 8.30pm was saved by Dermie Brereton but wasn’t as popular as the two 7.30 to 8.30 programs on Seven. The Footy Show sank again, as did Nine News and A Current Affair , especially in Sydney where the team of John Westacott and Ian Cook have no idea about bridging the gap with Seven.Tonight, tomorrow night and Sunday there is a bit of football, a bit of bike riding, cars and odds and sods. No epic tennis match to please us. But as the highlight, stay up and watch Cadel Evans, now second, battle to maintain his position. The Tour De France is about to head into the Pyrenees (The race is in the Massif Central now) for the first time. If he wins the Tour it will be the biggest Australian sporting story on the year and possibly for quite a long time. It’s on SBS. If he’s in the lead on the last day on July 27 (A Sunday), watch the non-SBS TV Networks flee to Paris (ahh, Paree in summer, in late July, just before it shuts down in August) to pick up on a story they have ignored for years.

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks reports.

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