As Crikey goes out to subscribers today, the man known as “Black Sambo” in TV circles (this is not a Hey Hey reference) is celebrating his 70th birthday at an upmarket Sydney noshery.
Samuel Hewlings Chisholm is hosting some of his nearest, dearest and even the odd enemy at the very posh Guillaume restaurant at the Opera House.
“Twelve for 12.30” said the invite, and some of the biggest names in the Australian media will be there. Ian Frykberg, former Nine News and Current affairs boss and Sunday and Today Executive Producer, is jetting in from Singapore. He’s Rupert Murdoch’s sports “fixer” these days for rugby union. Bert Newton and wife Pattie, Trevor Kennedy and Sean Howard, Liz Hayes … all invited. So are Sydney stockbroker, Colin Bell (a year or so younger than Sam), Former NSW Premier, Neville Wran (12 years older than Sam).
No doubt Gerald Stone, the former EP of 60 Minutes will be there, as will John Westacott, the former EP and now consultant to Nine. Perhaps he can get a few tips from Gerry about rebuilding the battered 60 Minutes audience figures.
Watch for reports about Ray Martin; Sambo seduced our Ray by taking him from 60 Minutes and showing him fame and fortune as host of Midday (long departed), and gave him a black Merc, the first 300 series in the parking lot at Nine’s Willoughby HQ.
So will John Alexander be there? After all, he thinks Guillaume is one of the best restaurants in Australia with his “mate” Guillaume Brahimi doing the cooking.
That’s a big ask. Mr Chisholm doesn’t much like Mr Alexander.
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Many former Niners remember Sam’s 50th birthday, held on a Friday at Willoughby, with a crane employed to lift a Harley Davidson bike into the third floor of the newly renovated top building (it was owned by Bond Media, remember them?). The party was held the same day as Bond Media’s receivers were sacking 60 people in an intensifying battle for survival.
While those celebrations happened, Sam was negotiating with a couple of US Networks (one of which was reportedly CBS) to help him buy the company. A sharp slump in the market a month later, saw Wall Street plunge 189 points on a Friday and usher in the big bear market and nasty recession.
Sam was to leave Nine and head for London to save Rupert Murdoch’s bacon by making the merged BSkyB work after previous managers had failed.