Who were the movers and shakers on the box this year? And who were the duds? Colin Vickery reports
SELECTING the most influential people on television is a tricky business. There’s been heated discussion among the Guide team as to who should be on and off our annual influential list and who should be near the top, ranked somewhere in the middle, or relegated to the not-sohot list. There are stars who make the Top 20 — covering the past 12 months — because they’re integral to the success of big ratings hits. Others have wowed us with compelling performances.
Super talents who topped the 2007 list — Chris Lilley, the Chaser boys, Jane Turner and Gina Riley — don’t appear because they took time off to recharge the creative batteries.
You can argue about placement in the rankings, but you can’t deny the stars of Packed to the Rafters and Underbelly deserve prominence on the list. Also, it’s time to acknowledge just how important stars such as Simon Baker, Anthony LaPaglia, Jesse Spencer and Melissa George have become on the international scene. 1 ERIK THOMSON Packed to the Rafters Channel 7 WHYHE’S HOT: Is Erik Thomson our most underrated local actor? After the disappointment of The Alice, Thomson was forced to take a reporter stint on Getaway to pay the bills. His deeply felt turn as the father of an autistic boy in movie The Black Balloon was a reminder of how good an actor he is. Dave Rafter in Packed to the Rafters was something else— the role of a lifetime. Thomson told the producers early on that he wasn’t going to play Dave as the stereotypical bumbling dad— and he delivered in spades. PROSPECTS FOR 2009: Another series of Packed to the Rafters — and that’s good enough for us. 2 SIMON BAKER The Mentalist Channel 9 Why he’s hot: Local boy makes good— big time. The former star of E Street, Home and Away and Heartbreak High relocated to the US and has been steadily building a Hollywood career. The one-two punch of The Devil Wears Prada and the lead role in The Mentalist, which made its debut before a whopping 17 million viewers in the US, has cemented his standing as one of the industry’s most appealing actors. PROSPECTS FOR 2009: Baker is in demand. As well as The Mentalist he’s linked to three movies— The Lodger, Not Forgotten and Fred Schepisi’s Last Man.
3 CALLAN MULVEY Underbelly, Channel 9 Rush, Channel 10 WHYHE’S HOT: 2008 was a great year for Callan Mulvey. First he was Mark Moran in the gritty crime drama Underbelly and then Sgt Brendan Joshua in Rush. The two roles were vastly different, but Mulvey brought a mustwatch intensity to both. PROSPECTS FOR 2009: Rush moves to 8.30pm for its second series. Channel 10 hopes it will grab even better ratings. 4 REBECCA GIBNEY Packed to the Rafters, Channel 7 WHYSHE’S HOT: Rebecca Gibney is back with a vengeance. The role of Julie Rafter seems tailor-made for the fortysomething actor who radiated beauty, warmth and charisma. PROSPECTS FOR 2009: More Julie, please. This lady’s on a roll. 5 JACK THOMPSON Find My Family Channel 7 WHYHE’S HOT: Jack Thompson isn’t on television enough. When he starred in the original McLeod’s Daughters, it was the highest-rating Aussie telemovie of all time. Hollywood has mostly beckoned since so it was great to see him back on the small screen with Find My Family— one of the highest-rating new series of 2008. PROSPECTS FOR 2009: Jack Thompson is an Aussie icon and can do whatever he darn well pleases. 6 ANDREW DENTON Enough Rope ABC WHYHE’S HOT: Andrew Denton the host and Andrew Denton the producer both shone in 2008. The Denton-produced The Gruen Transfer was a huge hit. By the time he called it quits on Enough Rope he was widely regarded as one of our best-ever interviewers. PROSPECTS FOR 2009: Denton’s company Zapruder’s Other Films producing ABC show Project NEXT and Foxtel’s satirical drama 30 Seconds. 7 GYTON GRANTLEY Underbelly Channel 9 WHYHE’S HOT: Won a well-deserved AFI Award for menacing portrayal of underworld killer Carl Williams in Underbelly. PROSPECTS FOR 2009: Stars alongside Anthony LaPaglia in Balibo and with William McInnes and Ben Mendelsohn in David Caesar’s Prime Mover. 8 11 14
ADAM HILLS MELISSA DOYLE JESSE SPENCER Spicks and Specks Sunrise, The Zoo House M.D. ABC Channel 7 Channel 10 WHYHE’S HOT: Still the funniest guy on WHYSHE’S HOT: Mel has been a winner WHYHE’S HOT: Aussie actors who take on television and considered one of its nicest on Sunrise for years, but cemented her Hollywood are a dime a dozen. Aussie actors blokes. That’s a potent combination and one prime-time credentials with stunning ratings who actually make it big in Hollywood are a that keeps him immensely popular with for The Zoo. Watch out Kochie, you’ve got much rarer breed. Spencer has turned a stint viewers of all ages. competition. as Billy Kennedy in Neighbours into worldwide PROSPECTS FOR 2009: Is there a PROSPECTS FOR 2009: Raising a young success as Dr Robert Chase on House M.D.
chance Hills is coasting on Spicks and family gives Doyle precious little time to take PROSPECTS FOR 2009: He is signed to Specks? We reckon it’s time for the ABC to try on more TV projects at the moment. House for three more years. him on new projects. 9 12 15
JOHN HOWARD ANTHONY LaPAGLIA SHANE BOURNE
All Saints Without A Trace Channel 7
City Homicide Channel 9 WHYHE’S HOT: All Saints is the quiet
Channel 7 WHYHE’S HOT: Anthony LaPaglia is a WHYHE’S HOT:
achiever of Australian drama and John He topped the rankings in stayer. His Without A Trace has notched Howard is the quiet achiever of All Saints.
2006 and came in at No.5 last year. No Thank seven seasons and nearly 150 episodes and He has kept this show at the top of the ratings
God You’re Here in 2008 but still a standout is still rating strongly. The secret is the strong despite the departures of Erik Thomson and conviction he brings to his portrayal of the on cop drama City Homicide. Georgie Parker. PROSPECTS FOR 2009: A new series of FBI’s head of the Missing Persons Unit, PROSPECTS FOR 2009: Seven has Jack Malone. TGYH, this time on Seven, as well as more announced All Saints is set for a revamp with
City Homicide. PROSPECTS FOR 2009: Stars as Roger more outdoor action. East in the movie thriller Balibo, plus more 13 16
ROVE McMANUS Without A Trace. RODGER CORSER
Rove, Are You Smarter Than a Underbelly, Channel 9 10
5th Grader, Channel 10 Home and Away, Channel 7 ROB SITCH The Hollowmen WHYHE’S HOT: Rove looked like he was Rush, Channel 10 ABC having a ball in 2008. He had a genuine WHYHE’S HOT: One show isn’t enough for WHYHE’S HOT: Part of the Working Dog rapport with the kids on Are You Smarter Than Rodger Corser. He had three shows on three team that delivered underrated satire The a 5th Grader and was funnier and more networks and was terrific in everything. He Hollowmen. relaxed on Rove. brought a solid decency to his portrayal of cop PROSPECTS FOR 2009: A multi-millionPROSPECTS FOR 2009: The Rove Lawson Blake in Rush. dollar deal with Seven for a new series of variety show will be back. He also remains PROSPECTS FOR 2009: A second series Thank God You’re Here. keen to crack America. of Rush. 17 MELISSA GEORGE In Treatment, Foxtel Grey’s Anatomy, Channel 7 Why she’s hot: Melissa George has come a long way since she played Angel on Home and Away. This year, she was riveting as therapy patient Laura opposite Gabriel Byrne on In Treatment and is making headlines as bisexual intern Sadie on Grey’s Anatomy. PROSPECTS FOR 2009: Movies Stopping Power and Triangle and making out with lots of docs on Grey’s Anatomy. 18 NATALIE BASSINGTHWAIGHTE So You Think You Can Dance Channel 10 Why she’s hot: The critics were lined up to give the former Neighbours star and Rogue Traders lead singer a bagging as host of SYTYCD before the show had even started. Bad luck— she was excellent in what was one of television’s most challenging hosting roles and the show was a huge hit. PROSPECTS FOR 2009: A second series of Dance and the release of her solo album. 19 WAYNE HOPE Stupid, Stupid Man, Very Small Business, ABC WHYHE’S HOT: Wayne Hope has built a memorable gallery of losers on recent Australian TV comedies— magazine editor Carl Van Dyke in Stupid, Stupid Man, husband Terry O’Brien in The Librarians, and shonky businessman Don Angel in Very Small Business. PROSPECTS FOR 2009: Series two of The Librarians. 20 SAM NEWMAN The Footy Show Channel 9 WHYHE’S HOT: Prostate cancer, a broken ankle, the infamous mannequin incident, angry AFL women, being dropped from the show, counselling— Sam Newman was up to his neck in it in 2008. And at the end of it all he was re-signed on a multi-million-dollar contract. Now that’s power for you. PROSPECTS FOR 2009: Hopefully a quiet year— but don’t count on it. 1 JACKIE O Big Brother Channel 10 Jackie O topped this list last year and she has done it again in 2008. Her stint as co-host of Big Brother finally brought an end to that one-time ratings champ. The TV kiss of death continues. 2 KENNY Kenny’s World Channel 10 Kenny was a terrific movie. Kenny’s World was a naff series. A great disappointment. 3 TREVOR MARMALADE The Footy Show Channel 9 The Footy Show had a tough year, but the only head that rolled was Trevor Marmalade’s. A strange decision because he wasn’t the problem. Sure to bounce back. 4 JAMES KERLEY Taken Out Channel 10 James Kerley is a promising up-andcomer. Pity his first prime-time hosting role was this dating-show turkey. 5 CHARLIE COX, WARREN BROWN, STEVE PIZZATI Top Gear Australia, SBS A pale imitation of the UK series hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.