Battle royal of the Harrys to hit Sydney


Sydney will become ground zero in the battle of the Harrys this weekend, with Prince Harry and the equally infamous pop royal Harry Styles both flying into the harbour city on Friday.

Officially, one of them is here to “review the fleet”, though it will be Sydney’s fair maidens who will eagerly be volunteering for their own review when the world’s two hottest Harrys touch down.

So ladies, start your engines.

While Prince Harry, who arrives on a commercial flight from London, is the official guest of the International Fleet Review, he will be in town for only about 48 hours.

Despite such a brief visit, plans are already afoot to make the most of what limited off-duty time the 29-year-old prince is expected have during his stay at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel in The Rocks.

A private party is planned for Saturday night, but he might also take in some of the night spots on Friday night – jet lag and official engagements permitting. There is talk of security teams sweeping several venues in case the prince wants to take in the city’s nocturnal delights.

A similar operation was carried out in 2010 when his older brother, Prince William, came to Sydney when he downed mojitos at Bungalow 8 on Kings Street Wharf.

Meanwhile, a few hundred metres away from Prince Harry’s Sydney digs, Harry Styles and his One Direction band mates are expected to check into the equally swish Park Hyatt Hotel, after arriving in Sydney aboard their private jet, which has been criss-crossing Australasia for the past week leaving a slipstream of screaming teenage girls in their wake.

One Direction’s first Sydney show is scheduled for Saturday night, leaving Friday night free for the boy band to wreak havoc on Sydney’s nightlife.

Styles, who alone is reportedly worth $24 million, has a reputation for partying and is considered one of the band members more popular among their legion of pubescent fans.

The 19-year-old has so far enjoyed his downtime Down Under by hitting the gaming tables at Perth’s Crown Casino in Perth.

But his management has expressed concern about his penchant for casinos, especially since he reportedly blew a six-figure sum on a roulette table.

Undeterred, Styles has a “17 Black” tattoo on his left shoulder, which is apparently a reference to the roulette wheel.

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‘Ridiculous workload’ – Alan Kohler ends ABC’s Inside Business


The ‘‘ridiculous’’ workload of host Alan Kohler has put paid to ABC TV’s Sunday morning business show, Inside Business, after 12 years on air.

Kohler, who also works for News Limited, will continue presenting his finance segment during the ABC’s flagship 7pm news bulletin.

He said that writing a column for website Eureka Report in addition to filming Inside Business meant his workload on Fridays was ‘‘ridiculous’’.

He also writes three columns a week for the Business Spectator website, where he is editor-in-chief.

‘‘I’m not lining anything up, no no no,’’ Kohler said. ‘‘This is to have more of a sensible working life.’’

Last year Kohler and his business partners, Robert Gottliebsen and Stephen Bartholomeusz, sold their company Australian Independent Business Media, which publishes Business Spectator and the Eureka Report, to News Limited for a reported $30 million.

Kohler said the ABC decided to stop broadcasting Inside Business after he told the government broadcaster he was stepping down as host.

‘‘I’ve been doing Inside Business for 12 years, it really has been great,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve really enjoyed it. I designed the program, started it off, had fantastic people working on it.

‘‘I really enjoyed doing the TV interviews, so I’m going to miss that. I’d like to find a way to continue doing interviews, if I can.’’

He said he initially opposed the show’s recent change in format from magazine-style to chat show but as ‘‘time went on I warmed to it’’.

‘‘I think in the end it was actually a good move and I think the show improved.’’

He said the decision to wind up Inside Business had nothing to do with criticism last year that he had a conflict of interest following the sale of Australian Independent Business Media to News Limited.

The end of Inside Business is a win for Nine, which this year started broadcasting Financial Review Sunday using talent from The Australian Financial Review, published by BusinessDay’s owner, Fairfax Media.

However, ABC current affairs head Bruce Belsham said the government broadcaster ‘‘remains committed to strong business coverage’’.

‘‘We will continue to work with Alan on a range of business content,” he said in a statement issued by the ABC.

From next year sports panel show Offsiders, hosted by Barrie Cassidy, will directly follow politics panel show Insiders, also hosted by Cassidy.

Inside Business is to broadcast for the last time on December 1.

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Tell-tale sign? Cemetery setting for Breaking Bad finale screening


Eerie … A scene from the finale of Breaking Bad, starring Bryan Cranston as Walter White.Breaking Bad crew and cast, including Bryan Cranston (centre left) next to Aaron Paul (in yellow), at the Hollywood Cemetery. Photo: Michael Idato

Gilligan wanting Walt White to winBreaking Bad spoilers v spoilsports

It seems fitting that the final episode of the dark series Breaking Bad would be screened in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Cemetery; a magnificent, sprawling gothic necropolis whose tombstones record the who’s who (or used to be) of Tinseltown’s A-list.

The show’s creator, producer/writer Vince Gilligan, and its cast, including Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, gathered on a stage surrounded by diehard fans, friends and the gods and ghosts of Hollywood.

“You have changed history,” Aaron Paul said to the show’s producer Vince Gilligan. “You have changed television. I cannot begin to thank you for giving me a career.”

Paul described his co-star Bryan Cranston as his mentor. “Without him I would not be the actor I am today,” Paul said.

Cranston paid tribute to the show’s crew.

“We were together for 13 or 14 hours a day,” he said. “These are our family members. The crew are the unheralded heroes of our show.”

The gothic backdrop, and those luminous ghosts whose star is diminished but never extinguished, set the stage for what may go down in history as the biggest TV finale since the end of M*A*S*H. On more than 25 hectares of landscaped memorial park are the remains of Cecil B. DeMille, Peter Finch, Fay Wray and Rudolph Valentino. Even Terry, the cairn terrier who played Toto in the Wizard of Oz, is buried here.

The special event was organised by one of the show’s stars, Aaron Paul, with the proceeds going to his wife Lauren Parsekian’s anti-bullying non-profit organisation, The Kind Campaign.

Last episode ever of Breaking Bad. It would not be possible without all of you. Thank you all for the amazing ride. Love you Vince!!!!— Aaron Paul (@aaronpaul_8) September 30, 2013

“@Provennoble100: @betsy_brandt The End Of An Era. :'(”. So true. XO— Betsy Brandt (@betsy_brandt) September 30, 2013

As the sun set on the Hollywood hills behind the cemetery, the total funds raiused had reached US$1.8 million.

When tickets for the event went on sale on September 4 they sold out within minutes. The guests were not the first to see the episode – that honour went to fans on the US east coast, which is three hours ahead – but they did get to see it with the cast and crew.

The final episode, 75 minutes long with commercials, was preceded by a special screening of the pilot episode. After the screening, members of the cast and crew answered questions from guest host, American talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

Gilligan revealed the producers considered a range of ways to finish the series.

“Our six writers considered just about every possible outcome with this thing. This was the one that felt right,” he said.

Cranston said the cemetery screening was the first time many of the cast and crew had seen the final episode.

“I saw it in a very unfortunate situation, [when] we did the DVD commentary and I was watching and going silent,” Cranston said. “It was a strange way to see it for the first time.”

The event was organised so Gilligan and the cast could take their final bow for a television series which, despite a modest kick off in 2008, had become one of the most critically-acclaimed TV dramas of all time.

Well, this is it. The last episode ever of Breaking Bad. Thank you for sharing this ride with me. Without you we never would have lasted.— Bryan Cranston (@BryanCranston) September 29, 2013

Let’s do this bitch!!! Get ready everyone for some madness.— Aaron Paul (@aaronpaul_8) September 29, 2013

In the short space of five years it has become the benchmark by which other dramas are now measured.

Among the VIP guests at the cemetery screening were actor Ewan McGregor, Netflix boss Ted Sarandos, porn icon Ron Jeremy, and music legend Marilyn Manson.

Vince Gilligan. Creator of Breaking Bad. Thank you. You’ve changed my life— dean norris (@deanjnorris) September 29, 2013

Breaking Bad party in NYC! Me, Michael Slovis, Andy Vogeli, and the rest of the family. #mariegaritaspic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训/lWvbo1Wytu— Betsy Brandt (@betsy_brandt) September 30, 2013

Michael Idato is reporting from the Hollywood Cemetery in LA.

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Aug 08

Boat carrying 80 suspected asylum seekers arrives at Christmas Island

The latest boat arrival comes as Prime Minister Tony Abbott heads to Indonesia to discuss among other issues, asylum seekers. Photo: Kate Geraghty Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Operation Sovereign Borders acting commander, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, attend the weekly update in Sydney. Photo: Peter Rae

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Australian authorities has confirmed that three boats carrying asylum seekers have arrived during the past week, with Indians and West Papuans among those on board.

In the second update on Operation Sovereign Borders, acting Commander Mark Binskin said that 18 Indian nationals had arrived in Darwin last Tuesday, seven West Papuans arrived in the Torres Strait on Wednesday and on Thursday, a further 70 passengers and five crew arrived at Christmas Island.

Air Marshal Binskin also noted reports that a further group of about 80 people had arrived at Christmas Island on Monday, but said this boat fell outside the reporting period and would be confirmed next week.

He said that over the past week, 88 people had been transferred to Manus Island and 60 had been sent to Nauru.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison also told the briefing that the West Papuan group had already been returned to Papua New Guinea and the Indian group would be sent back to India.

In Monday’s briefing, Air Marshal Binskin also defended the actions of Australian authorities, when responding to a boat that sank off the coast of Java last Friday, killing an estimated 31 people.

The acting commander said that contrary to some reports, Australian authorities were not aware of the boat for 26 hours prior to it foundering and said extensive work was done to try and locate the vessel.

”Our response was professional and timely,” he told reporters in Sydney.

In an interview with Fairfax Radio shortly after the weekly update, it was put to Mr Morrison that the sinking was “Indonesia’s tragegy” as the boat was in Indonesian territorial waters.

“Well, I think that’s true. I know that’s true,” Mr Morrison responded.

Air Marshal Binskin read out a chronology of Australia’s response to the boat that sank, which showed that the AFP on Christmas Island first got word a boat was in trouble at 7.57am on Friday but were not given its location.

When a location was first established, it was approximately 25 nautical miles off the coast of Indonesia. Later in the afternoon, the boat was reported to be 8 nautical miles off Indonesia.

Australia sent out broadcast to shipping and tasked a Navy plane and a border protection surveillance plane to look for the boat.

At 10.41am when Australia asked Indonesia authorities to take over the rescue coordination, it was knocked back.

An Australian surveillance plane searched the area from about 12.50pm to 5pm, but did not see the boat.

Merchant vessels were also not able to get close to the area because of shallow waters close to the coast.

Air Marhsal Binskin said that contrary to an account from a survivor, Australian authorities did not indicate that assistance would be provided within two hours.

Air Marshall Binskin also reported that Australian authorities had gone to the aid of two other boats on Thursday and Friday and had transferred the passengers and crew back to Indonesia.

The acting commander stressed that both boats were unseaworthy.

A turn-back or tow-back under the Coalition’s Operation Sovereign Borders would differ from a rescue operation in that the asylum vessel would be deemed seaworthy, and the Australian authorities would order it back, or tow it back into or near Indonesia’s waters.

Earlier on Monday, Christmas Island councillor and union leader Gordon Thomson posted on Twitter that about 80 men, women and children had arrived on the island between 11 and 12.30 AEST.

Mr Thomson also told Fairfax Radio that the group arrived on two Navy boats and had numbers pinned to their clothes, which indicated they may have been rescued.

While Air Marshal Binskin would not confirm the exact details of the boat arrival, he told reporters in Sydney that he did not believe it had involved a rescue operation.

Under a new Coalition policy, the government does not announce each boat carrying asylum seeker as it arrives, providing a weekly briefing to reporters instead.

Labor immigration spokesman Tony Burke hit out at Mr Morrison’s weekly briefings on Monday, accusing him of being a ”part-time” minister.

”Its not good enough to simply turn up once a week,” he told reporters in Sydney. ”The Australian people deserve a full-time government.”

News of the latest boat also comes as Prime Minister Tony Abbott travels to Indonesia, his first overseas trip since winning government.

Mr Abbott is going to Indonesia with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Trade Minister Andrew Robb and a delegation of 20 business leaders.

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Aug 08

The media is to blame: Wayne Bennett

I was never leaving: Wayne Bennett. Photo: Darren PatemanKnights coach Wayne Bennett has indicated he will remain in charge of Newcastle’s NRL club for the final two years of his four-year contract.

Bennett has been linked to the vacancy at the North Queensland Cowboys, or a return to the Brisbane Broncos, but at a media conference on Monday he blamed the media for ongoing speculation about his future and said he was “never leaving the Knights”.

In an article on Monday in News Corporation’s The Daily Telegraph, the Knights’ official newspaper, Bennett was quoted as saying: “I’m staying”.

Asked by a reporter at the media conference on Monday to repeat that statement, Bennett said: “Why do you want to hear it from me for?”

“It started with the media. You just keeping going on about it. You absolutely fascinate me.

“I’ve said what I’ve said today, and I don’t really want to keep going on about it until you raise its head again somewhere in six months time when some other club hasn’t got a coach.”

Bennett said he reaffirmed his commitment to the Knights almost a year ago when the Australian Taxation Office, seeking more than $3 million in unpaid tax, moved to liquidate eight companies linked to Knights owner Nathan Tinkler, including the Knights, the Newcastle Jets A-League club and their parent company, the Hunter Sports Group.

Asked on Monday why he had decided to stay at the Knights, Bennett said: “Well I was never leaving the Knights. It comes back to you [media] people. It starts with you [media] people.

“It’s fascinated me the rubbish that went on about it. Here I am justifying why I’m staying here. I’m here. Do you understand that? … Don’t you ever read your own articles or read what’s said?

“This time last year, about December last year, I came out publicly and said even then, when there were some issues or other things around the club with regards to Nathan, I made the point then. It looks like I’ve got to do it every couple of months here. It’s a funny place.”

Cowboys chief executive Peter Jourdain fuelled speculation about Bennett’s future in News Corporations’s Sunday Telegraph when he was quoted as saying the Townsville-based club would be interested in pursuing Bennett if he was available.

Speaking before the Roosters had eliminated the Knights from the title race with a 40-14 victory at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, Jourdain said the Cowboys had delayed any announcement on a replacement for coach Neil Henry until after the NRL grand final “because the person or persons in the short-list could well be involved in the grand final”.

“It probably wouldn’t be fair to either team to have it announced before that,” Jourdain said.

“We’re going to have to go through contract negotiations, so if they’re involved in the grand final it’s not going to happen that same week.”

Bennett said he was unaware of Jourdain’s comments.

“I haven’t read what he’s said, or anybody else. I never applied for a job up there, I never went for an interview for a job up there,” Bennett said.

“As I said, it started somewhere else and had nothing to do with me.”

It is understood Manly assistant coach Brad Arthur is the favourite for the Cowboys job as Roosters assistant coach Paul Green, another candidate, has reportedly been told by the Cowboys that he has missed out on the position.

The Newcastle Herald

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