Beautiful end to Helpmann awards

(Australian Associated Press)


In a fitting second act finale Beautiful: The Carole King Musical has beaten out tough competition from Muriel’s Wedding to take out the top prize at this year’s Helpmann Awards.

For the first time, the showbiz awards were split between two nights with Act I seeing 20 awards for best creative, designer and supporting roles awarded on Sunday before Monday night’s finale at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre.

But while the musical version of the popular Australian film Muriel’s Wedding scored the most nominations it was the production about the woman behind chart-topping hits ‘I Feel The Earth Move’ and ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ that finished with the coveted best musical gong.

Finishing with five wins in total Beautiful, directed by Marc Bruni who won best direction, scored Esther Hannaford a gong for best female actor in a musical for her outstanding performance as the legendary Carole King.

Former Voice Australia contestant Mat Verevis and Amy Lehpamer had previously kicked off the musical’s Helpmann landslide, with wins in the best male and female actors in supporting roles in musicals categories on Sunday.

While it ultimately lost out to Beautiful for the top prize on Monday, Muriel’s Wedding tallied up five wins including best costume design, best choreography and best original score.

Today Extra host David Campbell took out the title of best male actor in a musical for his role as Bobby Darin in the world-first production of Dream Lover.

Hollywood heavyweight Hugo Weaving’s performance in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui saw him awarded the best male actor in a play.

Pamela Rabe, who played Hazel in Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children, won the gong for best female.

But a multiple winner over both nights was Bangarra Dance Theatre, which won big for its landmark production Bennelong.

Beau Dean Riley Smith’s gong for best male dancer and awards for best dance production and best new Australian work brought the theatre’s tally to a whopping seven wins.

The Helpmann for best comedy performer went to Celia Pacquola for her live show All Talk.

Now in its 18th year, the annual Helpmann awards ceremony recognises Australia’s live performance industry across 43 categories with genres including theatre, music, opera and musicals.

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Australian directors, actors join Academy

Peter Mitchell, AAP US Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)


Australians Warwick Thornton, Isla Fisher and Craig Gillespie are among almost 1000 film industry leaders invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The organisation behind the Oscars has been heavily criticised in recent years for a membership dominated by white men.

The Academy has aggressively moved in the past two years to grow and diversify.

The 928 members invited to join the Academy this year come from 59 different countries.

The Australians invited to join include Sweet Country director Thornton, actress Fisher, I, Tonya director Gillespie, actor/filmmaker Josh Lawson, director Nash Edgerton and actress Elizabeth Debicki.

There are plenty of famous names among the other invitees.

They include: Jada Pinkett Smith, Melissa Etheridge, Kendrick Lamar, JK Rowling, Dave Chappelle, George Lopez, Daniel Kaluuya, Emilia Clarke, Ken Jeong, Blake Lively, Amy Schumer, Kumail Nanjiani, Olivia Munn, Daisy Ridley, Blair Underwood and Quvenzhane Wallis.

In 2015, just 15 per cent of Academy members were women and eight per cent people of colour.

This year’s invitees were 49 per cent female, bringing the total Academy female membership to 38 per cent.

The Academy said 38 per cent of this year’s new members were people of colour, bringing the total Academy membership to 16 per cent.

The Academy invites elite members of the film industry to join its ranks each year, but the membership drive has accelerated in the past two years after it faced criticism and the (hash)OscarsSoWhite campaign.

Australia’s A-List, including Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts and Eric Bana, are already members.

Pinkett Smith boycotted the 2016 Oscars when non-white actors were shut out of the acting categories that year.

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INXS team up with producer Giles Martin

Aaron Bunch
(Australian Associated Press)


Aussie rockers INXS will team up with renowned Beatles re-mixer Giles Martin to repackage the band for a new generation of music fans.

The Grammy-winning producer and composer will remix and extend the band’s studio albums and oversee their release as a theatre show.

Martin, whose father Sir George Martin is referred to as the fifth Beatle due to his work on the band’s early albums, will also have input on an upcoming documentary on the band – The Untold Story of INXS.

INXS collaborated with Martin in 2017 for the 30th-anniversary remix at Abbey Road Studios of the band’s multi-platinum album Kick in Dolby ATMOS.

The album, which sold over six million copies worldwide since its release in 1987, made INXS one of the biggest bands on the planet thanks to a string of hits, including Need You Tonight, New Sensation, Never Tear Us Apart, Devil Inside and Mystify.

The veteran rockers, who originally formed in 1977 as the Farriss Brothers and have sold over 50 million records worldwide, continue to be popular among fans, with 9.8 million monthly streams and over three million monthly listeners on Spotify.

Giles Martin is best known for his double Grammy-winning work with his father in 2004 on the Beatles-Cirque du Soleil show soundtrack Love.

Following his father’s death in 2016, Giles has become the unofficial custodian of the Beatles music.

In recent years he has overseen new high-definition mixes of the band’s music, restoration of the audio from early concerts and preparation of the Beatle’s catalogue for streaming.

INXS’s updated albums will be released via Universal Music Group in partnership with Petrol Records.

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Ricciardo, Power create motorsport history

Oliver Caffrey
(Australian Associated Press)


The stunning feats of Daniel Ricciardo and Will Power have created motorsport history.

Their success on Sunday ensured Australia became the first country to have drivers win motorsport’s two most famous races on the same day.

Only hours after Ricciardo won the prestigious Monaco Formula One Grand Prix from pole, 37-year-old Power pulled off the greatest win of his career in America.

Power became the first Australian to win the Indianapolis 500, which was first held in 1911.

Only two other countries – Britain (1965, 1966) and Brazil (1989, 1993) – had provided the winning driver at Monaco and Indianapolis in the same year.

The last Australian to win on the streets of Monaco in 2010 and 2012, Mark Webber, was overjoyed about the duel successes.

“A little reminder for the Australian press … please feel free to load front and back pages with motorsport related success stories from Indianapolis and Monte Carlo,” Webber tweeted.

Ricciardo’s second win of the F1 season sees him third in the overall standings to put him within reach of a maiden championship.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, who have won four titles each, lead the series but 28-year-old Ricciardo has firmed into a $13 favourite.

Australia hasn’t had an F1 champion since Alan Jones in 1980, while the great Jack Brabham is the only other driver from this country to do so having won it three times (1959, 1960, 1966).

The victory in Monaco was sweet redemption for Ricciardo, who was denied a certain win in 2016 when his Red Bull Racing team botched a regulation pit stop.

“I lost power halfway and I thought the race was over. Thanks to the team we got it back. I’m stoked,” Ricciardo said.

While Ricciardo has become a household name in Australian sport, the same can’t be said about Power even after winning the IndyCar series in 2014.

“To be the first Australian to win the Indy 500, that’s very special,” the Toowoomba-raised Power said.

“Maybe they might recognise me down there now. I don’t think many people know who I am down there.”

Supercars championship leader Scott McLaughlin and fellow Ford driver Will Davison, who is Power’s close mate, were trackside supporting him.

“It feels cool to be here to see Will (Power) win. I was here when he finished P2 in 2015, and in the motorhome afterwards I could see how much that hurt,” Davison said.

“I know how much this race has meant to him and how much it’s annoyed him that he hasn’t been able to win this one.”

Power wasn’t the only Australian to race in the Indy500, with Melbourne’s James Davison, a cousin of Will Davison, finishing at the back of the field.

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Online shopping rivals TV for leisure time: The stats are in

Petrina Berry
(Australian Associated Press)


Online shopping has become as popular a pastime as watching television for young people in a new era of “retailtainment”, research from online payments giant PayPal has found.

Two thirds of smartphone users “digitally window shop” for fun, with 77 per cent of them making impulse purchases, PayPal says.

Fifty per cent of people under 35 say they shop on their mobiles in bed before going to sleep.

Shopping as a leisure activity is particularly popular among Gen Z (22 years and under) who rank it equally alongside watching television as a way to unwind, the research found.

PayPal’s findings are based on recent online surveys of about 1,000 smartphone users aged 18 and over, and of about 400 small to medium merchants with online stores.

PayPal Australia director of customer engagement Elaine Herlihy said the behavioural shift in online shopping towards “retailtainment” means technology such as augmented reality and voice assistance will eventually become mainstream.

Augmented reality (AR) allows people to try out merchandise virtually – including seeing what new wheels look like on their own car or superimposing a new pair of glasses on their face.

Ms Herlihy said only five per cent of retailers from the survey are currently offering AR, while 32 per cent said they were developing an offering or planning on developing it for their online store.

“The major cosmetic brands are using AR quite well, ” she said.

“AR allows people to try on make-up virtually so it takes the risk out of buying online so you can see the appeal.”

She said since the introduction of Google glasses and the popularity of AR games such as Pokemon Go!, AR has become more widely accepted as the next phase of online retail.

Australian-owned premium tech and fashion accessories brand STM Goods’ chief executive Ethan Nyholm said there has been a noticeable lift in sales and customers using its app since it introduced technology allowing customers to virtually try on products.

“We attribute this to giving customers the opportunity to explore our products and truly appreciate the thought that goes into their design,” he said.

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A look back at past royal weddings

(Australian Associated Press)



A look back at the weddings of members of the British Royal Family during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and where the romances ended up.



April 29, 2011. Westminster Abbey

The future King of England married Catherine Middleton in a ceremony watched by millions around the globe. The pair met while studying at St Andrews University in Edinburgh and finally tied the knot after eight years together.

After weeks of speculation as to who would dress the bride, Middleton walked down the aisle in a now-famous custom lace Alexander McQueen gown. The ceremony was followed by a reception at Buckingham Palace.

The pair, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, has three children, Prince George, 4, Princess Charlotte, 3, and the newly-born Prince Louis.



July, 30, 2011. Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh

More than seven years after they were introduced in a Sydney bar the Queen’s granddaughter and Olympic equestrian Zara Phillips and English rugby player Mike Tindall were married in Edinburgh.

The two sport stars tied the knot in a simple but lavish affair attended by key members of the royal family. They have since welcomed a daughter Mia and are expecting another child in the summer.



May 17, 2008. St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle

Peter Phillips became the first of the Queen’s grandchildren to wed when he married Canadian Autumn Kelly. The son of the Queen’s only daughter, Princess Anne, Phillips typically avoided the spotlight but sparked furore when he sold photos of his wedding to a celebrity magazine.

The pair met in 2003 while both working at the Montreal Grand Prix. Phillips did not tell his future bride of his royal connections for some time, with Kelly discovering she was dating a royal when she spotted him on TV.

They’ve since had two daughters, Savannah and Isla.



April 9, 2005. Windsor Guildhall

After a long and infamous affair, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles finally wed in a low-key private civil ceremony at Windsor.

The ceremony was followed by a televised religious blessing at St George’s Chapel in front of Queen Elizabeth II.

The pair first met in 1970 and were on-again, off-again lovers for decades.



June 19, 1999. St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle

The Queen’s youngest son married PR manager Sophie Rhys-Jones in a low-key ceremony at St George’s Chapel.

The prince winked at his bride as she joined him at the altar wearing a simple ivory gown.

The pair, known as the Earl and Countess of Wessex, have two children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.



December 12, 1992. Crathie Kirk, Balmoral

The Princess Royal’s second marriage was held in Scotland as the Church of England at the time did not allow divorced people to marry in its churches.

She wed Royal Navy Commander Timothy Laurence and became the first British royal divorcee to remarry since 1905.



July 23, 1986. Westminster Abbey

Married in a fairytale wedding on the heels of the pomp of Charles and Diana, all eyes were on the pair as the Queen’s second eldest son married a commoner who was the daughter of a major. The pair were known as the Duke and Duchess of York following their nuptials.

While initially the monarchy had high hopes for the laid-back Ferguson, the marriage disintegrated and the pair divorced in 1996. However, they still remain close and have two daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.



July 29, 1981. St Paul’s Cathedral, London

It was the wedding of the century, but the romance was doomed almost from the beginning when the heir to the throne married Lady Diana Spencer in a ceremony watched across the globe.

The pair had two children, Prince William and Prince Harry, but separated in 1992 before divorcing four years later. Diana died in a Paris car crash in 1997.



November 14, 1973. Westminster Abbey

The first of Queen Elizabeth’s children to marry, Princess Anne wed army lieutenant Mark Phillips in a televised ceremony. Phillips was an Olympic gold medal-winning equestrian who unusually did not take a title from the Queen on marrying into the royal family.

The pair welcomed two children, Peter and Zara, while together before divorcing in 1992 – the siblings bear no titles.



May 6, 1960. Westminster Abbey

The vivacious younger sister of the Queen married photographer Armstrong-Jones after being talked out of marrying her first love Peter Townsend because he was a divorcee.

Armstrong-Jones was made the Earl of Snowden on the day of the wedding – which was the first to be broadcast on television.

Rumours of affairs circled in 1966 and the couple drifted apart before divorcing in 1978.

They had two children while together, David and Sarah.

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Missy Higgins voices her desire for change

Danielle McGrane
(Australian Associated Press)


Missy Higgins has never been afraid to speak up for what she believes in.

On Monday night, she appeared on the ABC’s Q&A, imploring the government to change its policy around refugees and to allow more people asylum in Australia.

“I don’t want to get on a soap box and preach anything, I just think it’s important to express your opinions whenever you’re asked or whenever you get an opportunity to contribute positively to the public conversation,” Higgins told AAP.

The singer tends to put her music where her mouth is, having released the poignant song Oh Canada in 2016, dedicated to the memory of three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi, who drowned on his way to Greece, via boat, to seek asylum.

She is also about to release a new album, Solastalgia, her first original record in six years which deals with issues like climate change, continuing that desire to use her platform for good.

“I realise that it can get a bit tiring when celebrities keep standing up and spruiking their causes (but) I think it’s an opportunity that is really special and I don’t want to waste that and I don’t want to abuse that,” she said.

“Ultimately I think my role is just to keep the conversation going. I don’t know any more than anyone else and my opinion isn’t worth any more than anyone else’s, but I think it’s important to stay a part of that conversation.”

Higgins, who is expecting her second baby, said she felt inspired by the arrival of her first son in 2015 to write new music. He gave her hope and a desire to protect the earth for his future.

“The first song I wrote for this album is called Starting Again and it’s about having a child in an unstable climate and all the anxieties surrounding that, climate change and politics, and just the mental process of working through that with my partner. The arrival of our son kind of changed everything, gave us a renewed sense of hope and a feeling of starting again,” she said.

“I think you have no choice but to feel optimistic and hopeful when you have a child because otherwise you have no motivation to contribute to a healthy positive future. So I think it’s been a really good motivation for all of us in our family to try and work towards a future that feels a little bit more secure for our son.”

* Solastalgia is released on April 27. Missy Higgins begins a national tour from May 2.

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Aussies’ most controversial cricket tours

Rob Forsaith
(Australian Associated Press)



*The Big Six boycott England in 1912

This game-changing scrap between players and administrators came long before the advent of World Series Cricket, the formation of a players’ union and last year’s ugly pay dispute. Six leading cricketers, including captain Clem Hill, were unhappy about a series of issues arising from the formation of the Australian Board of Control for International Cricket in 1905. They refused to take part in a triangular tournament, forcing the board to send a second-rate team. The power struggle later got physical, with Hill and chairman of selectors Peter McAlister coming to blows after a verbal argument escalated.

*Rebel tours of South Africa in 1985-86 and 1986-87

Kim Hughes captained an unsanctioned Australian squad that visited South Africa during apartheid, at which point the nation was frozen out of international cricket. Hughes insisted the tourists were trying to make a difference – and highlighted how they had been treated poorly by Australia’s Cricket Board. Hughes’ team were widely criticised for taking part in the lucrative trip, with Prime Minister Bob Hawke labelling them “traitors”.

*On the cusp of pulling out of Pakistan in 1988

Australia were seething about the pitch and standard of umpiring during the first Test, which they lost by an innings and 188 runs in Karachi. The manager and coach called a press conference mid-match, making their displeasure clear. Captain Allan Border described the wicket as the worst he had ever see anywhere and floated the idea of Australia returning home after the game, wanting to make a stand. The tourists hung around, but not before calling on the International Cricket Council and Pakistan Cricket Board to take action.

*Homeworkgate tour of India in 2013

Australia were smacked 4-0 in the four-Test series, but it will forever be remembered for the four players who copped one-Test bans for failing to provide written feedback to coach Mickey Arthur. The instability was encapsulated by the fate of Shane Watson, who flew home, copped public criticism from team performance manager Pat Howard then returned to India and became Australia’s 44th Test captain. Watson later relinquished the vice-captaincy, while Arthur was sacked soon after.

*Cape Town cheating scandal of 2018

Controversy reigned supreme in this series. David Warner and Quinton de Kock’s staircase stoush marred the first Test, while the decision of Cricket South Africa officials to overrule venue security and allow Sonny Bill Williams masks into the second Test also strained relations between the rivals. Kagiso Rabada’s physical send-off of Steve Smith – and ensuing successful appeal – created more angst. Those incidents were soon overshadowed by a small piece of sandpaper. Warner and Smith have been sacked as leaders, coach Darren Lehmann resigned in tears, while Cricket Australia has ordered an independent review of team culture.

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Ticketmaster reveals best-selling events

Danielle McGrane
(Australian Associated Press)


It’s nearly 200 years old, but Sydney’s Royal Easter Show is clearly doing something right and has come out on top as Ticketmaster’s best-selling event in Australia selling 850,000 tickets.

The ticket seller has revealed the results of its best-selling events of 2017 with the 12-day annual show taking out the top spot.

When it comes to music, it’s no surprise that British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has sold the most tickets for his current tour of the country – the highest-selling single concert tour in Australian history, which cracked a total of one million ticket sales across Australia and New Zealand.

But Ticketmaster has also found the old songs are the best, as the 2018 Red Hot Summer tour – featuring John Farnham, Suzi Quatro, The Angels and Daryl Braithwaite – was the best-selling festival for the ticket seller. And the top-selling Australian artists of the year are Midnight Oil, Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly and John Farnham.

The 2017 Australian Grand Prix was Ticketmaster’s best-selling sports event, with almost 300,000 racing fans attending the four-day Formula One event in Melbourne last year, while the hilarious Broadway show The Book Of Mormon is the year’s best-selling musical, with more than 45,000 tickets snapped up by the end of the first day of public sales in Sydney alone.

Queenslander Carl Barron continues to tickle funny-bones as the best-selling comedian for his show Carl’s Drinking With A Fork.

*Ticketmaster’s best-selling events:

# Sydney Royal Easter Show – overall best-seller

# 2017 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix – best-selling sports event

# Red Hot Summer Tour – best-selling festival event

# The Book of Mormon – best-selling musical event

# Ed Sheeran – best-selling musician

# Carl Barron – best-selling comedian

*Statistics were collected using data gathered by Ticketmaster Australasia throughout 2017.

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AC/DC’s Bon Scott honoured in Melbourne

Callum Godde
(Australian Associated Press)


The late AC/DC frontman Bon Scott has been fittingly immortalised in stone above the Melbourne laneway bearing the name of the rock band that brought him worldwide fame.

A large-scale, permanent sculpture of the long-haired lead singer, who died in 1980, will be unveiled to the public and rock ‘n’ roll aficionados in AC/DC Lane on Tuesday.

The three-metre-high, two-metre-wide sculpture leaps from the brick wall of local music venue Cherry Bar and features the shirtless rock icon belting out a tune wearing his trademark denim jacket.

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Mardi Gras feels the love as it turns 40

Belinda Tasker
(Australian Associated Press)


Sydney’s first Mardi Gras may have been marred by violence, but this year’s 40th anniversary parade will be full of love.

For the first time in the parade’s history, a same-sex couple will officially tie the knot atop one of the 200 glitzy floats winding their way through the city’s streets on Saturday night.

A record 12,300 people will march in the parade, the first since last year’s historic vote by federal parliament to legalise same-sex marriage.

Mardi Gras chief executive Terese Casu said the fact that a couple would be able to legally tie the knot during the parade highlighted how much Mardi Gras had changed since it began in 1978 when more than 50 people were arrested after police tried to stop it.

“In the beginning it started as a protest with that incredible activism and then it went into the 80s and protest was still there but it became much more about social issues including the AIDs era,” she told AAP.

“In the 90s it became much more hands in the air and it changed again. And in the 2000s I think people are re-visioning what equality looks like.

“So this year for the first time we will see weddings on our parade. Someone is getting legally married on parade this year, which is a dramatic change.”

About 250 people who took part in the first Mardi Gras will lead this year’s anniversary parade.

Dubbed the 78ers, the group will be honoured for their groundbreaking efforts that have led to Mardi Gras becoming a major international tourist attraction.

The parade’s famous Lesbian Marching Girls will also put on a dazzling display of the costumes they’ve worn over the years, while the famous AIDs float from 1985, when the disease was wreaking havoc on the gay community, will also return.

“One of the challenges for us this year with the 40th was when we look back what do we weave in, what stories do we pick up, what do we honour,” Ms Casu said.

“We’ve looked very carefully at those four decades and looked at those iconic moments, not necessarily political moments but those social moments that made change.”

More than 500,000 spectators are expected to line Sydney’s streets to take in the spectacle of this year’s parade.

Tickets for the after-party, starring 71-year-old music legend Cher, sold out weeks ago.

Ms Casu said the LGBTQI community was in a mood to celebrate big time, especially after last year’s heated debate in the lead up to the same-sex marriage vote.

“It’s a combo of marriage equality and people wanting to get out and celebrate,” she said.

“The party sold out just after Christmas and when we looked back in history we couldn’t find a time where that had ever happened before.”

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Fast facts about AFLX

Steve Larkin
(Australian Associated Press)



* Played on rectangular fields about 110 metres long

* Seven players per team on-field, with three interchange players

* Two 10-minute halves, no time-on

* Team that touches ball last before going out of bounds surrenders possession opponent

* Ten points awarded for goals from outside 40-metre arc

* Kick-ins from all scores

* No marks paid from backward kicks, except in 40m-arc

* Twenty-second shot clock for scoring attempts


* Three round-robin tournaments featuring six clubs

* The six teams split into two pools. Each team plays two games

* Winners of both pools to play-off in a grand final


* Adelaide, Thursday night: Port Adelaide, Geelong, Adelaide, Collingwood, West Coast, Fremantle

* Melbourne, Friday night: Carlton, Melbourne, Hawthorn, Essendon, St Kilda, North Melbourne

* Sydney, Saturday night: Greater Western Sydney, Richmond, Sydney, Western Bulldogs, Brisbane, Gold Coast


North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has a blunt message for doubters of the AFLX experiment: don’t bag it until you try it.

The AFL’s short-format competition kicks off in Adelaide on Thursday, with seven-a-side teams playing abbreviated games at a soccer stadium.

“We can’t tell exactly how it’s going to look on TV and for the fans but to any naysayers, all I would say is ‘try it’,” Scott told reporters on Wednesday.

Six clubs will be the guinea pigs for AFLX on Thursday night at Adelaide’s Coopers Stadium – home ground of A-League club Adelaide United.

Six games of 20 minutes each will be played on a field 110 metres long before what has been dubbed a grand final between the two most successful teams.

Scott, a renowned deep thinker on AFL issues, said clubs were embracing the experiment.

“There’s a fair element of the unknown,” he said.

“We think it’s a really exciting concept.

“That’s not to say that we think it’s going to be a raging success or otherwise but certainly from North Melbourne’s perspective we think it’s a really good idea to trial it.

“We’re more than willing to put some of our good players out there and see how they go.

“Hopefully it’s a great product and if it’s not we haven’t lost anything.”

After the Adelaide debut, AFLX round-robin tournaments will be played in Melbourne on Friday night and Sydney on Saturday night.

Most clubs have picked teams with a blend of top-end talent and untried youth, including Port Adelaide.

“It’s a chance to have a look at some younger guys but we wanted to keep enough experience in the team so that they weren’t thrown out in the deep end,” Power assistant coach Matthew Nicks said on Wednesday.

“What you find, when you get out in the bright lights, anything from 10,000 to 15,000 people, the mind changes things.

“Some of our young guys who have been training really well, we would love to see them in that pressure environment.

“There will be some real pressure on because it’s one-on-one in a smaller field.”

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Margot Robbie scores Oscar nomination

By Peter Mitchell, AAP US Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)


Australian actress Margot Robbie is Oscar bound.

The Queenslander received a best actress nomination on Tuesday for her acclaimed portrayal of controversial US figure skater Tonya Harding in the dark comedy I, Tonya.

Australian editor Lee Smith also received a nomination for his work on World War II epic Dunkirk.

The Academy Awards nomination ceremony brought mixed news for Australia, with I, Tonya snubbed for a best picture nomination and actors including Hugh Jackman, for The Greatest Showman, missing out.

Robbie, as a producer, would have received a second nomination if I, Tonya was named a best picture nominee.

The big winner was The Shape of Water with 13 nominations, including best picture and director Guillermo del Toro acknowledged, while Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri received nine and Dunkirk followed with seven.

The Academy, criticised by the #OscarsSoWhite campaign and a lack of female directing nominees in past years, has increased its minority and female membership.

Greta Gerwig, for Lady Bird, and Jordan Peele, for Get Out, received directing nominations.

Aussie film making couple Sean Meehan and Sam McGarry, after surviving several cuts by the Academy in recent weeks and making the top 10 from 165 eligible films, missed out on being included as one of the final five nominees in the live action short film category for their 14-minute movie Lost Face.

Robbie will be a long shot to win the best actress Oscar at the March 4 Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood.

Frances McDormand, for Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, is the favourite while the remaining three nominees include the great Meryl Streep (The Post), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) and Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird).

There were plenty of surprise nominations and snubs, with Judi Dench, for Victoria & Abdul, and Michelle Williams, for All the Money in the World, failing to make the talent loaded best actress category.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri is the best picture favourite with The Shape of Water, after its huge nomination haul, the biggest challenger.

The other seven best picture nominees are Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread and The Post.

Darkest Hour’s Gary Oldman is the favourite for best actor.

The other nominees are: Timothee Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name); Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread); Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out); and Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq).

James Franco, a winner of a Golden Globe just weeks ago, was shut out of nominations for best director and lead actor for The Disaster Artist.

It appears he is a casualty of accusations by women of inappropriate behaviour.

The supporting actress category is headed by Robbie’s I, Tonya co-star Allison Janney.

The other supporting actress nominees are: Mary J. Blige (Mudbound); Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread); Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird); and Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water).

The directing nominees are: Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk); Peele (Get Out); Gerwig (Lady Bird); Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread); and del Toro (The Shape of Water).

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McCartney’s musical mistake

Belinda Tasker
(Australian Associated Press)


Paul McCartney might be a music icon who has written some of pop’s biggest hits but even he makes mistakes when it comes to remembering the words.

The Beatles frontman proved even he’s not infallible when he mixed up the lyrics to one of his songs in front of a sell-out concert in Sydney on Monday.

A few lines into Maybe I’m Amazed, originally penned for his beloved first wife Linda, Sir Paul had to stop and start again.

After a reprise, he confessed to the 21,000-strong crowd it wasn’t the first time he’d messed up.

“It’s a hard decision that you know if you should stop,” he said to chuckles from the audience.

“We were with a friend of ours, Cilla Black, once when we did a similar thing and we made a mistake like that and we started it again and she said, ‘Oh, I love that. Do you do that every night?’”

The audience were so happy to have Sir Paul back in Sydney after 24 years he could have messed up all his lyrics and all would be forgiven, such was the love in the room for what was one of the final shows in his One On One world tour.

McCartney took them back down memory lane, mixing up the first part of his three-hour set with Beatles and Wings songs.

There were plenty of singalongs accompanying A Hard Day’s Night, All My Loving, and Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da while Can’t Buy Me Love was set to images of the Beatles in their heyday on the big screens.

Mixed in among the hits were anecdotes from the swinging 60s about guitar legend Jimi Hendrix after the Wings track Let Me Roll It, and how Macca was surprised when a former Russia defence minister confided at a Beatles concert in Red Square that the first record he ever bought was Love Me Do.

Sir Paul dedicated Monday night’s performance of Love Me Do to famed Beatles producer Sir George Martin.

While recording Love Me Do, Martin asked McCartney to sing the title lyric instead of John Lennon.

“I was terrified,” Sir Paul told the Sydney crowd.

“And so if I hear the record to this day I can still hear the nerves in my voice singing Love Me Do.”

But there were no signs of nerves as Sir Paul effortlessly entertained his fans with Live and Let Die in James Bond-style, complete with fireworks and flames bursting from the stage against a backdrop of Westminster.

Hey Jude with its anthem of “la, la, las” finished the two-and-a-half-hour set before Sir Paul launched into half an hour of encores led by Yesterday before the Governor Macquarie Memorial Pipe Band joined him for a soaring rendition of Mull of Kintyre.

Finally Sir Paul reminded the audience that “there comes a time when we got to go home” before launching into Carry That Weight and promising “we’ll see you next time”.

The 75-year-old singer’s fans will be hoping that happens sooner rather than later.

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Last Jedi debut may awaken force in Event

Simone Ziaziaris
(Australian Associated Press)


Star Wars: Last Jedi’s premiere could awaken the force in Event Hospitality and Entertainment and drive full-year earnings to near record highs, a senior analyst says.

Morningstar’s Brian Han believes Last Jedi’s premiere on Thursday is capable of resurrecting the domestic movie industry, which is down 15 per cent in box office takings in the December half-year to date compared to a year ago.

He expects the film, the second in the latest Star Wars trilogy, to fall just shy of the success of its predecessor Star Wars: The Force Awakens that was released in December 2015.

The Force Awakens was a smash hit in cinemas and registered an all-time opening weekend box office record of $33 million in Australia and grossed $62.7 million in its 15 days of release.

It was also a major driver in Event’s record $88 million Australia cinema earnings in fiscal 2016.

“We see Star Wars: Last Jedi achieving similar success this time around, underpinning our eight per cent forecast growth in Australian cinema EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) to $85 million in fiscal 2018,” the senior equities analyst said in a note on Wednesday.

Event in February reported a 22.6 per cent fall in net profit, to $59.38 million, for the six months to December 31, and blamed the decline on Star Wars stand-alone film Rogue One’s failure to match The Force Awakens’ box office success of a year earlier.

Mr Han said 2018 full-year earnings will fall slightly short of 2016’s, due to a number of popular movies, including Deadpool, Spectre and Captain America: Civil War released that year.

“Fiscal 2018-to date has been relatively disappointing,” he said.

But Last Jedi’s expected success will not be enough to surmount industry issues such as digital streaming and piracy, Mr Han said.

“Critically, one film, no matter how strong the force is with this one, cannot eradicate the structural threats facing the cinema industry.”

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