Wil An­der­son


Eight years after it be­gan, Gruen re­mains among the ABC’s high­est rat­ings pro­grams with an av­er­age au­di­ence of 1.4 mil­lion. It returns tonight, a month after the elec­tion and Wil An­der­son ex­plains how they missed this year’s big­gest load of spin.

Where’s home for you now? Re­al­is­ti­cally my life is in a suit­case. I have a place here in Syd­ney and I have a place I rent in LA and I duck be­tween the two where the work is. But even when I was back here for a cou­ple of months ear­lier in the year, you’re on the road.

Why did the The Ad­ver­tiser in Ade­laide re­ject you for a cadet­ship as a young man? I grad­u­ated first in my course and I was just swan­ning into these in­ter­views like ‘How much do you want me?’ And The Ad­ver­tiser were like ‘Not at all, to be hon­est!’ And they’ve kept that gen­eral dis­in­ter­est in my work through­out my sub­se­quent ca­reer as well ...

Gruen had its high­est ever rat­ings dur­ing the last two elec­tions — why did you miss the 2016 elec­tion? We wanted to. Our en­tire year was based around it. (But) we didn’t know when it was go­ing to be — Turn­bull had said it might be Septem­ber, so we put five months out of our (work) cal­en­dars and then Turn­bull called a re­ally, re­ally early elec­tion, which wasn’t in those five months. Todd (Samp­son) was train­ing with the French For­eign Le­gion and Rus­sel (Howcroft) was in Cannes. Sur­pris­ingly enough out of ev­ery­one, for once, I could have made it work.

Did you think of do­ing Gruen with new pan­el­lists? There was some talk, be­cause Todd might have been avail­able for a week or two, (that for) the sake of an elec­tion show could we cob­ble to­gether a bit of a dif­fer­ent style panel? But Gruen is one of those shows where it’s very hard to ex­plain why it works. Be­cause we’ve changed the show so much over the years the only real Gruen con­sis­tency is my­self, Todd and Rus­sel and I felt it wasn’t re­ally a Gruen show if it wasn’t that.

Were you dis­ap­pointed? I re­mem­ber be­ing dev­as­tated when we re­solved we couldn’t do it. (But) we dodged a real bul­let be­cause it was so long and so bor­ing and ev­ery sin­gle minute de­tail of that elec­tion was cov­ered by every­body, so the ca­pac­ity for us to iden­tify things that were unique would have been an in­cred­i­ble chal­lenge. I couldn’t have been more dev­as­tated at the time and I couldn’t be more re­lieved how it worked out.

And now you’re on dur­ing the Olympics, but not as Gruen Sweat. We said should we do Sweat, and risk hav­ing the ex­act same con­ver­sa­tions we had four years ago? There are still some re­ally in­ter­est­ing mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing as­pects to the Olympics (this year) so we just thought, let’s just make some Gruen shows and if there’s some­thing in­ter­est­ing to talk about around the Olympics, we’ll talk about it.

Are there any new pan­el­lists? I al­ways think the show ben­e­fits, even to just pro­voke Rus­sel and Todd, if there is some­one new in the mix.

How do they au­di­tion? There’s never any­one on Gruen who hasn’t done a full panel au­di­tion or mock show and of­ten more than one. We do four pan­els of four new guests — we au­di­tion 16 new pan­el­lists — and out of that process we might find two or three.

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