Hard News by Russell Brown


I was scrambling to finish yesterday's post when it was suggested that I jump in a taxi and get myself down to the Hilton for Paul Holmes' press conference. Only Holmes could presume to upstage the most important US Presidential election in a decade …

So I've been up since 5.45am writing a last-minute replacement for my Wide Area News column in The Listener, on the news that Holmes, having declined to accept a one-year contract with TVNZ, will be going to Prime TV on a contract worth $3 million over three years. Naturally, I don't have much to add to what I've just written, so you'll have to wait until the weekend for my thoughts on that.

The Holmes news did, of course, make top fodder for a nice little lunch at Vivace, where my elders Hamish Keith and John Daly-Peoples were also in attendance. Hamish began work this week on What's Wrong With This Picture?, a six-part documentary on the history of art in New Zealand which promises to be prodigious and - to hear Hamish talk - provocative. We'll have to wait until 2006 to see it, but I'm fascinated already.

Our hosts were the people from Telecom Directories, who were celebrating the selection of this year's crop of works to grace the country's 18 regional phone books. The 18 successful artists win $3500 each, and all the 1500-odd entries now go into a charity auction for the benefit of Women's Refuge. The gallery and auction details are here.

What with one thing and another, I've been too busy to say what a great afternoon our event on Sunday, The Great Blend, was. Most of our experiments - the venue, the time of day, the mix of talk, music and lawn bowls - came off nicely, and a couple of hundred folks all seemed very happy. We'll be doing one of these every quarter, and I'm already thinking about the next one. We ran over time a little, which meant that quite a few people had slipped away by the time Ladi Six played, but for those of us who were there, with the late, amber sun reaching into the hall, it was really a beautiful thing. (I must say it was nice having both her and the sprawling Lil Chief clan around as people, and not just as performers.)

I was surprised and impressed by how much people liked the Meet the Bloggers panel, and I'm particularly pleased that we could do something nice for the Public Address punters. Thanks for coming, folks: we'll certainly have you back next time. I'll get around to posting my introductory speech soon, but for the moment there's a story in the Herald about it (no, Che and Jolisa weren't able to join us as suggested in the story - a pesky subbing error rather than a reporting one, I understand). Actually, you might be seeing a bit of me in the media over the next week or two …

And you can hear Jolisa reporting the election atmosphere live from New Haven at 1.30pm today on my 95bFM Wire show. After that, I'm heading home to stake a place on the couch and anxiously watch American democracy's big day on TV. Speaking of which, Sky TV got in touch with an updated schedule of coverage on its news channels - all times are local:

SKY News Australia New Zealand
ABC Network Coverage of the race for the US presidency. Presented by Peter Jennings.
2pm: NZ Parliamentary Question Time: Live from Wellington.
3pm - 7pm: Non-stop Coverage of the final chapter in the race for the US presidency, from the close of voting to the declaration of the winner, led by Peter Jennings and the ABC network, with special comments by Bruce Wolpe.

BBC World
12.45 - 7pm:
David Dimbleby in Washington DC, presenting live coverage of the US elections as the polls close across the country, including reports from Massachusetts, Texas and the key swing states of Florida and Ohio.
7pm - 1.30 am (Nov 4th): BBC News Special
Including live coverage of reaction to the outcome of the US Presidential election.
1.30am - 2am (Nov 4th): US Presidential Election Interactive Special Your chance to have your say on the election result, and put a question or comment to studio guests. Presented by Jon Sopel in Washington.

US Election 2004 Special: A two-hour election results preview special anchored from Atlanta by CNN International's Richard Quest and Jonathan Mann, featuring reports from Bush and Kerry HQs
1pm- 4.30am (Nov 4th): 'US Election 2004' Live’
As the first polls close, Wolf Blitzer will be joined by Larry King, Aaron Brown and the network's senior analysts Bill Schneider and Jeff Greenfield who will be presenting real-time vote information, exit polls and analysis of key state races across the country in front of the screen video wall in Times Square.

Oh, and we'll finally have changes bedded in to let us publish Bill Pearson's essay 'Fretful Sleepers' on Friday, to illuminate your weekend. Look forward to it.