Ten unveils gun young reporter “Georgie Boy” Negus
Channel 10 has launched its bold bid for an older, smarter, bigger-spending demographic by unveiling a young cub reporter, George Negus, who looks to have a real future in journalism.
Negus is said to be 68 and a veteran of Australian TV news and current affairs, but he cannot possibly be, as no one over the age of 30 has ever willingly worn an item of leather neck jewellery like the one above.
George Negus – if indeed that is the youthful cub’s real name – is the anchor of the new show, 6pm With George Negus. You can tell he’s the anchor because he helpfully did a publicity shot wearing what looks like a mock military shirt with an anchor motif (see below).
“Georgie Boy”, as he’s surely known on Channel Ten’s mahogany row, opened his show with the following gambit:
“G’day and welcome to the first 6pm. I’m thrilled to be part of a genuinely different way of looking at things that matter. A program that will go deeper to tell you not just WHAT’S happening but WHY.”
His first interview was with PM Jullia Gillard. In it, he asked two reasonably tough questions, including a question as to whether Julia really wanted to rule during tough times like current flood crisis, and a challenge to the PM to rate her performance out of 10.
No dice. Gillard wouldn’t bite. Though she did wish Georgie Boy good luck with the first show.
Negus struck firmer footing with a middle east report about child suicide bombers in Gaza from one of 6PM’s (even) younger correspondents.
That said, he veered dangerously towards outright self-aggrandisment when he back-annnounced the story from “one of my old stamping grounds, the Gaza Strip”, followed by this bizarre pronouncement: “As I know from personal experience on the job, trying to keep the peace in the middle east is tough”.
Say what? Is George suggesting that he and Yasser Arafat used to sit down and nut out the intricacies of the two-state solution? Maybe he just felt like a sheriff because he had such a cool collection of belt buckles.
Towards the end of the show, things got a touch sloppy. In an item about lascivious Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, Negus pronounced “orgies” with a soft “g”, as in “corgis”. This would have come as a surprise to those who still see George as an icon of the free love era.
Then came the really weird part of the show, the bit when you knew you were watching a media figure who has always done it his way, and always will.
In an interview with Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, who on Sunday was awarded the VC for conspicuous gallantry in Afghanistan, Negus asked “were you shit-scared?”
I’m not sure about Corporal Roberts-Smith’s emotions in the heat of battle, but I bet Channel 10 execs are shit-scared. Negus, if a little eccentric, undoubtedly knows his stuff, and there’s no reason why his show won’t work, backed as it is by a strong ensemble cast of reporters.
But will George’s journalistic credibility and youthful good looks entice viewers across from Seven and Nine? And will the Simpsons and Neighbours fans over on sister station 11 ever tune in?
“Stick with us, you never know, it could become a habit,” Negus said at the end of the show.
Whether enough people make it their nightly habit will be one of the most interesting media stories of 2011.
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