From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Rupert to stage, Kim approves? Australia’s most famous playwright is penning a theatrical biography on Australia’s most famous citizen. Last night David Williamson took to the stage at the Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2013 season launch to announce a new play called Rupert — an apparently “enthralling political fantasia” on the life and times of the media baron. We don’t know if Murdoch knows his life is being dramatised for Melbourne audiences next August, but we do know his Australian leader has been informed. We hear Williamson contacted News Limited CEO Kim Williams, a friend, to get the green light. But it seems the story didn’t make the cut in Murdoch’s Herald Sun today. Too sensitive a topic?

Campaign barney. Which prominent advocate of same-s-x marriage is under fire internally due to claims they are using the campaign to promote a business venture they are closely associated with?

Thanks, boss. Tips and Rumours has been on the scent of great / terrible gifts from the boss this week. One gift was so memorable it was cremated with its recipient. Aw.

I have a friend, Donald, now deceased, who was the driver for a well known Scenic Railway at Katoomba NSW. The job entailed taking the tourists down and back on the “train” and piloting the cable car across the valley. We calculated that he probably did around 200 trips a week. The owner of the Skyway attractions was notoriously stingy … he had a farthing in his pocket and it was believed it was the first one he duped the original Pommie tourists out of. My friend Don arrived one Christmas Eve at the nearby Katoomba Golf Club and proceeded to shock everyone in the club by holding aloft an envelope and claiming that it was his Christmas bonus, handed to him by the boss … he held aloft a ticket, giving the holder one free ride on the scenic railway! The ticket was part of the cremation service for Don earlier this year.

Back in the day, as they say these days — back in my day we said back in my day — the West Australian gave editorial employees a Christmas bonus of $100 each and $10 for each child the employee had. Doesn’t sound much, perhaps, but I am talking about the late 1960s, when a dollar was … well, a D-grade journo got almost two weeks’ pay each Christmas. One year I bought six bottles of what was then called Grange Hermitage, and had $52 change. Drank ’em all, of course.

Regarding Xmas hampers (see previous Tips). At the racing channel the same applied. A rather nice hamper, turkey, smoked salmon, hams lots of goodies. Very generous but the pay was at least 15-20% less than the going rate in the rest of the industry in Sydney (still is). The racing channel had been owned by Channel Nine! Yet when Tabcorp took over and got rid of the hampers, it was seen as being being mean. Funny how loyalty can be bought so cheaply.

And we’ve heard another tip about the late Tasmanian media baron Edmund Rouse taking “a certain delight in personally handing staff their Xmas lollipops”. This tipster wonders if he continued the practice when inside the big house? (Rouse did time for trying to bribe a politician.)

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