Seven days of TV view­ing

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - DEBBIE SCHIPP

TINA Arena is jug­gling sev­eral lan­guages, a phone rapidly run­ning out of charge and credit and an exit from a Mel­bourne cab as her voice bub­bles down the phone.

Time, it seems, is al­ways at a premium for the diminu­tive star with the big, big voice who this week re­turns to our screens as Young Tal­ent Time judge, rather than as the tiny Tina who en­tranced au­di­ences in the orig­i­nal ver­sion of the show. Time, and tim­ing. For Arena, who has been in the spot­light since the age of seven when she be­came a star on Young Tal­ent Time, and par­layed that into a ca­reer now span­ning more than 30 years, mul­ti­ple hit songs, six ARIA awards and more than eight mil­lion record sales, join­ing the re­boot of the show that launched her was all about the tim­ing.

‘‘ It just felt right,’’ the 44- year- old says, with her cus­tom­ary no- fuss frank­ness.

‘‘ And don’t think I haven’t been asked be­fore. There have been many, many ap­proaches and plans to re­vive the show in the past but it just wasn’t the right time.

‘‘ As a singer I’m all about the tim­ing, and the tim­ing is right and the qual­ity is right so it just made sense.

‘‘ Any time be­fore would have been too early to re­visit this show not for me, but for view­ers. But now I think with the tal­ent and singing shows that are on at the mo­ment, the in­ter­est is there.

‘‘ And this is a dif­fer­ent genre again to those shows be­cause it has a core cast and it’s just good fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment.

‘‘ Young Tal­ent Time is an Aus­tralian prod­uct. It’s ours, its not a for­mat that’s been adapted for here and that makes it all the more valu­able. Aus­tralia is ready for it.’’

It’s that qual­ity that has seen Arena, who is based in Paris with part­ner, French artist Vin­cent Mancini and their son, Gabriel, 6, re­turn home for the show in what will be her long­est stint in Aus­tralia since 2008.

They en­joyed Christ­mas in Mel­bourne with the fam­ily, and she and Gabriel will be here for six months, with Vin­cent di­vid­ing his time be­tween Mel­bourne and Paris.

Arena will clock up the fre­quent flyer points be­tween Mel­bourne, where her par­ents are lov­ing time with their grand­son, and Syd­ney for the show.

‘‘ I re­ally didn’t have to think hard about it,’’ Arena says.

‘‘ It com­pletes a cir­cle for me, and I be­lieve lots of things in life go in cir­cles. This com­pletes one cir­cle for me and very pos­si­bly starts a whole new one.’’

Arena takes up men­tor­ing and judg­ing du­ties on the show, and shies away from the word judge. Her style is far more hon­est than tough love.

She was part of the judg­ing panel of a French ver­sion of re­al­ity tal­ent show Sing Off late last year, and laughs that she was seen as the the nice judge, be­cause while she can be blunt, she has noth­ing on the French.

‘‘ The funny thing was I was seen as the re­ally po­lite and nice judge, be­cause I was play­ing it straight and hon­est, but the French are so much more di­rect,’’ she said.

Arena isn’t into the idea of judg­ing chil­dren as she and fel­low judge and men­tor, US chore­og­ra­pher Chucky Klapow, will do for weekly tal­ent quest show­cases on the show, but she is into hon­esty.

She’s ea­ger to men­tor YTT’S new core cast and nur­ture as well as de­velop them.

‘‘ I think it’s im­por­tant you be hon­est,’’ she says.

‘‘ Ten has been great as far as look­ing af­ter these kids. They are lov­ing Millsy [ YTT host Rob Mills], he’s great fun.

‘‘ They need to be nur­tured and not pa­tro­n­ised and it’s a del­i­cate bal­anc­ing act.

‘‘ We were nur­tured on YTT and it was a dif­fer­ent time. To­day these things are so much more pub­lic and the kids have to be bet­ter pre­pared to deal with pub­lic ex­po­sure.’’

Arena can teach them plenty aside from tech­nique, in­clud­ing life in the spot­light, and the im­por­tance of al­ways re­mem­ber­ing the joy of per­form­ing.

‘‘ All I can re­mem­ber of my first ap­pear­ance when I was seven is ex­cited,’’ she says.

‘‘ I don’t re­call be­ing ner­vous. I do re­call hav­ing that buzz of per­form­ing. I still get it now. If I ever lose that feel­ing, I will stop do­ing it.’’ YOUNG TAL­ENT TIME TDT, tonight 6.30

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