Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rudd channels Errol, in his dreams - Sydney Morning Herald

Kevin Rudd has an idea - yep, another one, this pitch being for a TV show, every Sunday night, like Countdown without Molly - and all it needs is a name. Perhaps we could call it The Errols.

We in the media insist on a hook, preferably with bait. And while Rudd's proposal for a five-week Sunday night TV series - starring himself as a busy home renovator and security guard and Tony Abbott as his feisty competitor - lacks the tasty casting blockbuster TV requires, the Prime Minister came to his press call with enough ideas to delight a media gaggle already dazzled by his earlier heroics as a seated passenger on a plane.

''I'm in like Flynn,'' Mr Rudd declared to the nation and to the assembled frozen statuary before him in a Parliament House courtyard, the live witnesses rendered solid by a combination of Canberra cold, rhetorical sedation and a dazzling fuchsia tie that demanded one's constant attention.

The PM was referring to a devilishly quick move by Sky News to invite the two major party leaders for a debate the very next day - Monday night - a move that no doubt appealed to lingering traces of the old get-it-done-yesterday management style of the Labor leader.

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Of course he was ''in like Flynn'', which to the ear comes from the same stable of Australian idiom as the sauce bottle so deserving, if I may say, of a shake by folks.

It's Australian, all right, but only in name. For the younger readers, we should note that the Flynn invoked by the PM was a Tasmanian by the name of Errol, whose rise to Hollywood superstardom in the 1930s was notable for an avoidance of being identified as Australian.

This, in a way, was Rudd's play on Sunday - he declared himself the loser of a theoretical poll held on Saturday - but he's backing himself that his strongest suit will prevail as further hands are dealt. To that end came his proposal for five Sundays of debate, a programming bauble he offered to whichever of the networks wanted to grab it. That sound you heard around 4.15 was TV executives across the land running to the executive loos to sob at the prospect of having to say no to the Prime Minister's invitation to partake in this unfolding civic celebration.

And let it be said, with Australia now served by two 24-hour news channels, there is arguably less reason for the free-to-air stations to throw over the juiciest ratings night of the week to the Rudd and Abbott show.

And on the evidence of Sunday's endless hours of election coverage on the all-news outfits, you can't blame them for looking askance at the idea.

The only memorable element of the exercise was Sky's canny call to broadcast the plane-tracking radar depicting Rudd's jet on its return to Canberra. It was surpassingly silly, yet carried on so long in the end it seemed inspired. It was that kind of day.


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