Hard News by Russell Brown


The big #spill

I'm often awake late on the nights we record Media7, even if I'm physically tired. It just takes a few hours for the mental cogs to stop whirring. It can be dull. But not last night. Last night was an unexpected media feast.

First, I had the New Zealand Maori vs England match on the MySky. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that was one of the best rugby matches I have ever seen. The Maori looked dead and buried after 15 minutes: outmuscled – and, more surprisingly, outrun – by England's midweek side.

And even when the Maori had hauled themselves into a narrow lead, a 14-point turnaround in the last couple of minutes of the first half looked to have ended their chances. But no. They were playing for something bigger than themselves. It was thrilling and extraordinary.

And then, someone on Twitter said, turn on Sky News – it's going nuts. And it was. A move against the leadership of Kevin Rudd was in rapid and unexpected motion.

On one hand, it was classical Aussie politics – a numbers game in which commentators ticked off the manifold Labor factions: the "New South Wales Right", and this or that trade union flipping to Julia Gillard.

On the other, it was bang up-to-date. Twentysomething ministerial staffers, stuck indoors waiting for something to give were furiously tweeting and texting. The key Twitter hashtag, regularly plugged by Sky's presenters, was #spill.

We went from a bizarre live cross, with Sky's reporter standing inside, talking breathlessly into a mobile phone and looking out a window at the only viable camera – a stationary one that Parliamentary staff eventually switched off – to, just before 1am, Kevin Rudd's defiant, doomed speech. Minutes later, the massed cameras caught Gillard sweeping through a corridor, barely pausing as the confirmed her leadership challenge. Even in rage mode, he looked soft, round and feminine. And she looked, and sounded, like a tough Aussie bird.

I don't entirely grasp how Rudd plummeted from a virtually unprecedented degree of personal popularity only eight months ago to the point where one of his own MPs could describe him last night, spitting out the word, as "toxic".

I gather his indecision over an emissions trading scheme, the hostile attentions of the mining lobby, and a fairly nasty public mood over refugees all contributed, but it still seems bizarre to me. And now he will, literally, be gone by lunchtime. And then they try and contest an election.

Our Australian readers are warmly invited to fill in the rest of us.

UPDATE: It's over. Rudd has apparently stood down before the vote.


Meanwhile, tonight, that Media7 show is on at 9.10pm on TVNZ 7.

We looked at the changing cinema business, and at the likelihood of cinemas becoming venues for non-feature-film content – especially in 3D.

Event – the firmer Sky City Cinemas – is already selling tickets for 3D screenings off all the FIFA World Cup matches from the quarter-finals onwards.

And local company 3DLive is some way down the track towards doing the same thing next year with the Rugby World Cup – perhaps in venues as large as Vector Arena. Already there is a separate 3D right available for these major sports events (ordinary HDTV being merely 2D).

Stuff happens fast. And I guess Kevin Rudd is already finding out the truth of that.

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