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Monday, February 27, 2012

NSW Premier delighted with new Sydney casino plans; Packer Crown Limited pending jackpot


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The Australian casino (or gaming) wars have got to a whole new level. It's Packer's Crown VS Echo Entertainment in an almost 'State Of Origin' type battle for the bulk of Australia's land based casinos. One that will take place in a boardroom, rather than on a football field, but make no mistake - it's war.

But, there is no war but peace between Crown Limited and NSW Premiere Barry O'Farrell.

The New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell advised he is very pleased with plans for a second Sydney casino at Barangaroo.

James Packer's Crown Casino - Crown Limited gaming giant desires to construct a world class hotel, casino and entertainment complex at the site based Sydney Harbour.

It's a given that Packer has been watching the success of Echo Entertainment's The Star, which overlooks Sydney Harbour - but has recently got itself into a few scandals.

Last week Crown Limited increased its stake in Echo Entertainment, which runs The Star casino.

Mr O'Farrell says the proposal for a second venue would bring jobs and tourism to Barangaroo, however it would need to achieve regulatory approval before moving forward to development.

John Lee from the Tourism Transport Forum says it would add life to the area.

"You only have to go to Melbourne and see that area around the Yarra River, yes there's Crown Casino there, but there is also movie cinemas, bowling alleys - there's all sorts of things that entertain people when they go to the precinct," he said.

"It's actually a place now, or a destination that people love to go to."

Currently the law allows for only one Sydney casino licence until 2019.

Greens MP John Kaye says Sydney does not need a second casino.

"There shouldn't be a back door deal between the Packers and the Premier - this should be a matter of public debate," he said.

"If you put this to the people of New South Wales they will say no to a new casino because they know it increases problem gambling, they know it increases connections to organised crime."

Packer and his team have a history of getting things done... perhaps move than that of say Prime Minister Julie Gillard.

Watch this space.

NSW Premiere Barry O'Farrell applauds Packer proposal for a second casino...

The NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell, has embraced plans by James Packer's group for a hotel and second Sydney casino at Barangaroo on land set aside as playing fields for office workers.

On Friday Mr Packer's casino group, Crown, advised Mr O'Farrell that Crown wanted a second Sydney casino as part of a hotel and restaurant complex in the centre of the harbourside site, which the Barangaroo Delivery Authority says is intended for "civic, educational and recreation spaces".

Mr O'Farrell said: "I think it's an exciting proposal which could add extra life to Barangaroo, give Sydney another world-class hotel, generate jobs and boost tourism."

The plan also involves building a 5 star hotel well north of the proposed commercial precinct, ensuring guests on upper floors have unobstructed views of the Sydney Opera House and the Heads.

"It's the sort of tourism-related investment we want in Sydney but everyone's aware there are a range of regulatory approvals needed before it could proceed," Mr O'Farrell said.

Those approvals include permission from government bodies for a second Sydney casino because the law now allows only one licence until 2019.

On Friday Crown increased to 10 per cent its stake in Echo Entertainment, which owns the Star casino, and has sought permission from regulators to increase its stake further.

If Crown Limited can gain control of the Star, its executive chairman, Mr Packer, could in fact pursue his plan for a Barangaroo casino to operate under an extended licence for the Star.

He has flagged that such a casino would not need poker machines and could simply have gaming tables, of which the Star can have an unlimited number.

As well as approval for a second casino, Crown Limited or another developer would need the government to change planning rules for the site which now restrict any building to 30 metres high and allow only 60,000 square metres of development in the whole of Barangaroo Central.

Last week a US landscape architect, Peter Walker, who has been retained to design Barangaroo's headland park, revealed that his plans included open playing fields for office workers, similar to the Domain on the eastern side of the central business district.

He has also proposed an outdoor space or amphitheatre for concerts in the central area of Barangaroo, which is proposed as a transition between the commercial towers in the south and the headland park in the north.

James Packer planning $1.5bn casino investment...

Crown Limited plans to spend more than $1.5 billion on building new luxury hotels in Sydney and Perth, after boosting its investment in rival casino operator Echo Entertainment, Crown's executive chairman James packer advised The Australian Financial Review.

Mr Packer's plan to expand the Crown chain beyond Melbourne is part of a campaign to attract wealthy Chinese gamblers aka "Oriental whale VIP high rollers" to Australia's shores, he told the newspaper.

“Australia needs to have truly world-class hotels,” he said, acknowledging that regulators would probably raise competition concerns.

“I want to build one in Perth and one in Sydney to go with what we have in Melbourne. It puts these cities on the map."

Mr Packer's comments come after Crown spent more than $250 million lifting its stake in Echo, which owns The Star casino in Sydney, and Jupiters on the Gold Coast, to 10 per cent, from 4.9 per cent previously.

Echo rejected Mr Packer's call for representation on the company's board.

*the writer is an investor in Crown Limited, Network Ten and Virgin Enterprises


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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Australian Blues Music Festival Comes To Goulburn, NSW


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The Australian Blues Music Festival, now in its 16th year, is one of Australia's greatest music festivals down under bar none.

The festival wasn't always as big as production as it is today.

When the fest was in its infancy it was a privately controlled one-venue event. Today it is a multi-event festival outsourced via a private management company.

The festival actually happens at a wide array of venues and consists of mainly free performances, with a couple of ticketed shows.

Over the four day duration of the fest fans, media and everyone else has a chance to enjoy some of the favourite blues performers close up.


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Friday, February 3, 2012

Reality TV News From Australia And U.S; Excess Baggage, Mrs Sly Stallone, WWE Legends House


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Excess Baggage For Channel Nine?...

Channel Nine's weight loss reality TV program 'Excess Baggage' might be pulled from TV screens before viewers see the contestants drop weight!

It premiered on Monday with 880,000 viewers. Only 555,000 Aussie's tuned in to watch last night. Its Channel Ten rival The Biggest Loser attracted 734,000 viewers on Thursday.

The Australian newspaper, a Murdoch publication, is reporting that Channel Nine executives held a crisis meeting last night to discuss the future of the program, shown in the paramount 7pm timeslot.

The network is reportedly considering moving the heavily-promoted show to a later timeslot or to one of its digital multichannels.

Production is still underway, however there is the possibility that it will be cut short.

Its replacement may be re runs of US sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The Celebrity Apprentice Australia could also get a fast track back to Nine around Easter time.

The official TV ratings year begins on Sunday, February 12.


Eight celebrities, eight ordinary Australians and one life changing decision. Their physical and emotional baggage is holding them back, and they’re ready to reclaim their lives. Travelling far across this country, and deep inside themselves they will discover the secrets to shedding life’s Excess Baggage. Hosted by Kate Ceberano with celebrities: Kevin Federline, Christine Anu, Kate DeAraugo, Gabby Millgate, Darryn Lyons, Brant Webb, Ajay Rochester and Robert “Dipper” DiPierdomenico.

Sylvester Stallone’s Wife Approached Again For Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills...

Sylvester Stallone's wife Jennifer Flavin has reportedly been approached to feature in their reality show The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills.

And it appears that the 43-year-old former model could have the looks, the fortune and the connections to best all the women on the show. is reporting that the good looking brunette has been invited in for talks with producers of the Bravo series.

'The producers asked Jennifer Flavin to talk to them about being on the show,' an informer told the website.

Stallone and Flavin own a huge mansion in Beverly Hills... just down the road from her potential co-stars Vanderpump and Adrienne Maloof and her husband Paul Nassif.

The action star and his wife have three beautiful daughters together, Sophia Rose (15), Sistine Rose (13) and Scarlet Rose (9).

As well as being a model, Flavin has also appeared on two reality game shows, including Gladiator and alongside her hubby in 'The Contender'.

The brunette is also a business queen of sorts, owning her own skin care line Serious Skin Care.

She is also said to be already friends with some of the women on the popular programme.

'Jennifer would be great on the show, she’s married to a super famous guy and she’s friends with a few of the women on the show,” the source told media.

'She has her own business and she’s really successful all on her own. Plus she’s got a great personality for reality TV.'

It does however remain to be seen if Sylvester will actually let his wife appear on the show.
The actress' friends are believed to think he will be opposed to the idea.

'Her friends don’t think that Sly would ever let her be on the show,' the source added. 'They don’t think he would ever want her to do it, but he might if she really wants to.'

The news comes as it was reported earlier this month that Camille Grammer does not intend to continue her role on the reality show when it returns for its third season.

And the executives behind the Bravo show are allegedly already auditioning women to replace the blonde.

A source told media 'Producers are asking Lisa Vanderpump, Adrienne Maloof and Kyle Richards if any of their wealthy female friends would be interested in appearing on the show.'

And the informant added that the reality star is displeased with the way she has been portrayed during the current second season of Real Housewives.

The source said: 'It's an open secret that Camille most likely won't be back for a third season. She came off as such a b**** during season one, whereas this season she has been very reserved, and she isn't exactly eager to return.'

The mother of two apparently intends to move on to bigger and better things should she leave the popular show.

The informant claimed: 'Camille has some other projects in the works, but she needs to get released from her Bravo contract before she can pursue those.'

The source told Radar Online that viewers can expect some changes when it returns for a third season.

The blonde denies that Bravo had any influence on the ploy and said she she believes that it was solely the women's idea.

'No, I really don’t think so, no one at Bravo ever told me what to say, there was plenty of drama, there was no need for Bravo to create any,' she said.

'The reunion opened some old wounds, we were ok and then we had to rehash the past arguments, it brings it all out again.'

WWE Legends House May Appear On TV Before WWE Network Hits The Air...

Wrestling fans from Sydney's Bondi Beach, New York, USA, Hollywood and around the world are buzzing at the news of an upcoming WWE television show - WWE Legend's House, may be one of the showcase programs on the new WWE Network.

However, a source tells us that if the WWE Network takes too long to launch, "Legends House" may start on a TV station such as Sci-Fi.

Filming is to commence next month in Rancho Mirage, California, USA and its turned into quite a news media frenzy with video camera operators and photographers all seeking out shots of the legends.

This February at least eight former World Wrestling Entertainment stars will be under one roof in a show not too unlike MTV's "Real Life" with a bit of "Jersey Shore", "Big Brother", "The Ultimate Fighter" and "Tough Enough" thrown in there for good measure.

WWE Legends House will be filmed in Rancho Mirage at the historic home of late comedian Harpo Marx at the Tamarisk Country Club.

WWE Hall of Famer "Mean" Gene Okerlund, the legendary wrestling announcer and interviewer, has been confirmed for the show. Australian fans will recognise Gene as the host of "WWE Vintage Collection" as seen on Foxtel - Fox 8, usually in a TV spot next to WWE SmackDown or WWE Superstars.

We're been tipped off that other cast members with include "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and The Iron Sheik. We're hoping that Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, "The Honky Tonk Man", "The Magnificent" Don Muraco or even Ric Flair (*Flair is currently under contract to Impact Wrestling) are also a chance to appear. Don't expect Scott Hall to appear as the man formally known as "Razor Ramon" has been getting some WWE Wellness Program rehab (for real) in recent years, and to have Hall on the new show would not be a wise risk to take at this stage of the game, however we're hopeful Hall may be able to appear on future episodes of Legends House, should the show be as wildly successful as anticipated.

Sadly Australia's "Outback Jack" - real name Peter Stilsbury (circa 1987 with WWF) won't appear, nor will Nathan "The Front Row" Jones. Neither would be considered an outright WWE legend, however both were certainly well known in their day.

Can you imagine The Iron Sheik drinking, eating and just socialising in general with other WWE legends. Something tells us they are going to have to bleep out much of his foul language, but fans familiar with the very funny and vulgar sheik will get the idea.

Hardcore fans will remember the time Australia's Wide World of Sports on Channel Nine aired the Madison Square Garden matches featuring "The Iron Shiek". One was when then WWF Champion Bob Backlund got caught in the camel clutch by the Iranian and Backlund's manager, (the late) Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel. The other famous sheik match that aired on the then Kerry Packer owned Channel Nine was when Hulk Hogan beat the sheik with his famous clothesline and atomic leg drop. The old WWF Championship Wrestling used footage from the Hogan - Sheik match for its intro music video for many years.

The WWE is going to pitch "Legends House" to audiences as unscripted drama, which is curious as pro wrestlers by nature usually work of a script. Wooooo! - we just broke kayfabe again, but most of the western world knows pro wrestling aka "sports entertainment" has storylines, angles, script writers et al these days, but that's not to say they are not talented athletes - they are indeed some of the best athletes on the planet, but only a few such as Roddy Piper could be considered a very talented actor as far as regular movie appearances go.

The concept does share some similarities to the UFC's Ultimate Fighter (TUF) series, but its wrestling legends - not up and coming UFC stars, who have to prove their worth in matches.

Many fans are hoping for a few outcomes - legends sharing tales from the road trips and locker rooms, who hated who for real, secrets of the profession and that sort of thing. We suppose if a real fight breaks out on set that will be a bonus.

The Media Man agency's spokesperson said "We fully expect that WWE Legends House" will become one of the most popular and most talked about shows on both American and Australian television. WWE top brass genius Vince McMahon has really hit the sweet spot with this one. It's got ratings winner all over it and fits in perfectly with the current "reality era" of the WWE, where the pro wrestling action and scripts carry a much more realistic edge than in the '90 - 2000 era. Australian TV networks, be it Foxtel or Network Nine or Ten, would do well to get in early on this one and secure the rights of a sure fire winner. Kids and parents should try not to copy some of the bad language and practical jokes that are bound to be a staple of this hot new show".

Australia fans are hopeful that Aussie pay TV will get the show. Foxtel, are you listening?

Australian TV Ratings - 2nd Feb 2012...

1 My Kitchen Rules Seven 1,439,000
2 Seven News Seven 1,129,000
3 Nine News Nine 1,050,000
4 A Current Affair Nine 994,000
5 ABC News ABC1 983,000
6 Today Tonight Seven 981,000
7 Home And Away Seven 934,000
8 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Nine 764,000
9 The Biggest Loser Ten 734,000
10 Ten News At Five Ten 684,000
11 7.30 ABC1 678,000
12 Desperate Housewives Seven 620,000
13 The Straits ABC1 599,000
14 Law And Order: SVU Ten 570,000
15 Excess Baggage Nine 555,000
16 Desperate Housewives E2 Seven 537,000
17 CSI: NY Nine 535,000
18 Hot Seat Nine 535,000
19 The Project Ten 527,000
20 A Gifted Man Ten 524,000



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