From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Publishing changes. A literary mole has asked some questions about the departure of Maree McCaskill, CEO of the Australian Publishers Association. She resigned as of last Friday; our mole claimed it was abrupt and said it was a sensitive time for the APA because it “is currently launching the long-awaited and much delayed TitlePagePlus, an extension of the successful TitlePage bibliographic service. TitlePagePlus will enable shoppers to order out of stock titles at a bookshop or through a bookseller’s website and have them delivered direct to their door. If the initiative succeeds as intended it will help bring shoppers back to Australian bookstores.”

We talked to APA president Louise Adler (the same Adler who was much in the news last year over her involvement in the decision to sack Rosa Storelli, then principal of Melbourne’s Methodist Ladies College). She said the timing of McCaskill’s departure was related to the publishing calendar and was “neither abrupt not anything to do with TitlePage”. She said McCaskill had given “great service” and left with the APA’s best wishes. Michael Gordon-Smith has been appointed interim CEO, effective July 1.

The Voice scandal that wasn’t. After all the pyrotechnics and tinsel of The Voice season finale this week, Crikey heard some juicy gossip about the winner Harrison Craig, whose image as a young and humble man who overcomes his stutter through singing won over the fans:

“Harrison Craig already had a contract with Universal before he was on the show. They used The Voice as a platform for him because it was cheaper than having a promotion budget. I don’t think they expected him to win.”

Except, that’s not quite true. “No artist can have a current recording contract when they sign up for The Voice,” clarified Charlotte McLauchlan, head of communications at Shine, the production company behind the program. “We are not aware of Harrison having had a recording contract in the past.”

The confusion is likely to be around management deals: Craig had management before signing up to the show (quite common, as many Voice contestants are already carving out professional singing careers before appearing on the show). He then signed a co-management deal with Universal before the show began, as did many other contestants. As McLauchlan explained: “The co-management deal is a relationship between the artist’s existing manager (if they have one) and the new one they receive if they end up being signed with Universal”. But the management deal with Universal isn’t a recording contract.

There’s one aspect of the tip that rings true:

“The David Jaanz singing school turns out a few contestants for every one of these reality TV programs every season — they stagger them in their auditioning, which is how there is always ‘new’ talent. These aren’t kids who have been singing in the shower for five years, they’ve been doing lessons since they were little tots.”

Craig’s been getting twice-weekly singing lessons for the last nine years. Yesterday the David Jaanz School of Singing was busy celebrating “Harrison Day” …

University challenge in Feeney race. Interestingly, of the three female front runners Crikey named this week to replace the ALP’s David Feeney in the Senate, two of them were ex-presidents of the Melbourne University Student Union (Lizzie Blandthorn and Julia Mason) and the third used to be married to a president (Kimberley Kitching). And Feeney was once MUSU house and services officer. And the story’s author was involved in student newspaper Farrago. Seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree …

Stockbrokers in secret. We heard a few whispers about a large stockbrokers’ gathering at Star City Casino last week — was there some flesh on show from scantily clad waitresses at the male-dominated party? And what happened with the “stockbrokers’ assistant” award? This tipster reckoned there was funny business going on:

“According to a friend, ‘the assistants were UNDER the tables’.”

While a second tipster said it was all good clean fun:

“What a ridiculous notion. The waitresses were not ‘scantily dressed’ — yes, they were in gold dresses, above the knee, but only marginally and certainly not low-cut. They assisted attendees to their tables and sold raffle tickets to raise money. I think the gold dresses were to give the evening an ‘Academy Awards’ feel to it. They did not serve alcohol, and left at the end of the formal part of the function. Drunkenness? Probably, but no more than any other industry (and a lot less than journalists), and certainly less so than previous years. In any case, there were several reminders that the venue host (The Star) practised responsible service of alcohol. It was pretty quiet really, and I certainly did not witness any violence. As for the assistant of the year award. It went to a female. Big deal. They are hard workers under a lot of pressure — they deserve an award. Who cares what gender the winner was … No idea who your tip is from, but they clearly have no idea.”

Well, it’s not quite clear what happened on the night. If you were there, did you see any boozy s-xist behaviour? Drop us a line

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to[email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

Peter Fray

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