SIL­VER LIN­ING

How TV's sur­prise hit of the year in­spired an un­likely friend­ship

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER -

Dan­nii Minogue is no stranger to wag­ing war with her fel­low judges be­hind the scenes on re­al­ity TV shows like The Masked Singer. Every time the stun­ning pop star would shimmy her way on stage for The X Fac­tor or Aus­tralia’s Got Tal­ent, a head­line would ap­pear al­leg­ing she was em­broiled in nasty fights with her co-stars be­hind-the-scenes.

It started with a par­tic­u­larly hor­ri­ble stint on Bri­tain’s Got Tal­ent, when the younger Minogue sis­ter was hired by uber pro­ducer Si­mon Cow­ell to sit along­side Sharon Os­bourne, without telling the feisty wife of punk rocker Ozzy.

Ask Minogue about it to­day, al­most a decade after Os­bourne threw her toys out of the pram and went for her jugu­lar, and the 47-yearold still winces.

So when Ten signed her and no­to­ri­ous diva, Lind­say Lo­han to its Aus­tralian pro­duc­tion of the hit Korean singing show, Minogue ad­mits the stiletto shoe was on the other foot.

Even be­fore film­ing had started, Minogue fed the grapevine gos­sips, telling Kiis FM’s Kyle and Jackie O break­fast show she was un­sure whether she’d like Lo­han “un­til I get there”.

Lo­han’s rep­u­ta­tion — in her pri­vate life and on set — pre­ceded her.

Wild par­ty­ing, stints in re­hab, les­bian love af­fairs, dys­func­tional par­ents, a stint in jail for DUI, and the al­most in­evitable Play­boy shoot … La Lo­han was the poster girl for way­ward celebri­ties.

But as Minogue ex­plains: “I went into it com­pletely open-minded but she was prob­a­bly think­ing the same things about me. I didn’t want to (dis­like her) but you know … a few things crossed my mind, I just wanted to give her the ben­e­fit of the doubt.”

Borne out of her ex­pe­ri­ence with Os­bourne, Minogue in­sists: “I never want to go through what I went through … ever again. That was just re­ally hor­rific and no­body wants to go through that.”

But soon after meet­ing the Par­ent Trap and Mean Girls star on the set of a mar­ket­ing shoot, Minogue’s fears were set aside in one ges­ture from Lo­han that could not have been bet­ter scripted to win her over.

“Her hair­dresser had brought along all these wigs and at one point she turned to me and said: ‘do you want to try on some wigs?’ and I was like,” Minogue says, beam­ing, ‘um, do you know any­thing about my life? Of course, I do!’ We all put one on, in­clud­ing (fel­low pan­el­list) Dave (Hughes) … and it’s now one of my most favourite mo­ments of any­thing we did to­gether.”

Es­tab­lish­ing a good rap­port be­tween judges and hosts isn’t al­ways a pre­req­ui­site for rat­ings suc­cess, but in this case, view­ers have taken to this off-the-wall for­mat, which puts them on equal foot­ing with the panel when it comes to guess­ing the guest singers.

Au­di­ence fig­ures for the first few episodes gen­uinely shocked in­dus­try ex­perts, av­er­ag­ing over the magic mil­lion viewer mark since it launched two weeks ago.

Em­brac­ing its “bonkers” ap­peal, even play­ing to it, has been the key, and that, ar­gues Minogue has proved a com­fort­able fit for ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing their in­ter­na­tional guest.

“We were very wel­com­ing to her, but she brought out a lot of great things in us too. She was re­ally bonkers and I loved that. There were days you could see how scared she was … we all were. It was like we were about to step onto a roller-coaster to­gether; but she brought out a fun side in us, and Dave too.” In a gen­uine mo­ment of sis­ter­hood, Minogue tried to ease Lo­han’s nerves and make a con­nec­tion with the fel­low child star.

“I think the show has been a great op­por­tu­nity for all of us, but I re­mem­ber a con­ver­sa­tion with her where I said, ‘you know, it’s less than one hand full of peo­ple that I know per­son­ally who started work around the age we did who are work­ing now,” she re­calls. “You don’t get through that un­scathed, you know.

“It can be a messy af­fair and I said to her, ‘I want you to know that I read that you started when you were five and I started at seven. Not many other peo­ple will have done that or know what you’ve been through’,” Minogue says. “I just wanted her to know, ‘hey, I to­tally get it and I’m not go­ing to judge what’s out there be­cause I wouldn’t want peo­ple to do that to me ei­ther; work­ing out what’s real and what isn’t.”

The ge­nial ap­proach was Minogue’s way of re­as­sur­ing Lo­han she was safe.

“I just didn’t want to even ask her (about her wild past), but say, ‘this is me and who I am and I wanted to wel­come you and we all want you to have an amaz­ing time in Aus­tralia’.”

Lo­han was be­lieved to be hol­i­day­ing in Dubai last week but told In­sider Minogue’s kind­ness was the key to her pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence and she was touched by her co-star’s ef­forts to “have my back”.

“Dan­nii was like a big sis­ter to me,” Lo­han says. “We got along right away, straight off the bat.”

She claims she was asked to ap­pear as a singer on the US ver­sion, but had to knock it back be­cause “at the time I was work­ing with refugees in Syria, after open­ing a club that I trade­marked and de­signed in Greece. Then I saw my friend Blake Lively’s hus­band, Ryan Reynolds on the South Korea show and I thought, ‘why not?’ ”

With Ten ex­pected to re­new the se­ries for a sec­ond sea­son at its 2020 pro­gram­ming launch this week, it’s likely this un­likely sis­ter act will re­group again.

And with re­ports Lo­han is look­ing to use The Masked Singer to re­launch her own mu­sic ca­reer, she’s got a fan in Minogue.

“Lind­say was play­ing me her new mu­sic that she’s been work­ing on and one of the songs she played to the au­di­ence dur­ing the last record­ing. It’s awe­some, in­cred­i­ble,” Minogue en­thuses. “I can­not wait for her to put it out.” THE MASKED SINGER AIRS 7.30PM, SUN­DAY, TEN.

“There were days you could see how scared she was …

we all were

Dan­nii Minogue and Lind­say Lo­han (below) bonded over wigs and shared ex­pe­ri­ences on the set of The Masked Singer.

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