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City scores rich praise as travel destination

Courtesy   SMH Online - Harriet Alexander
July 12, 2005


Sydney has been named the world's best city by wealthy American globetrotters.

Photo:  Jim Rice

Sydney has been named the world's best city by wealthy American globetrotters. Again.

It is the eighth time Sydney has won the US Travel + Leisure magazine award since it started 10 years ago, consistently beating the postcard cities of Paris, New York and Barcelona.

The magazine's 900,000 subscribers were asked to evaluate each city by its sights, culture and arts, restaurants and food, people, shopping and value.

This year Sydneysiders can permit themselves a modest smile to learn that the city rated particularly highly in the "people" category.

The NSW Tourism Minister, Sandra Nori, was more effusive in a statement released last night, ahead of the announcement in New York.

"Sydneysiders themselves deserve most of the praise. It's the friendliness, sophistication and vibrancy of the people that has contributed so much to Sydney's image," she said.

The announcement was made on NBC's Today Show at 1am today, Sydney time.

Tourism brings $23 billion to the NSW economy every year and the tourism industry employs one in eight members of the state's workforce.

The state has spent $4 million promoting the city through its "There's no place in the world like Sydney" campaign, with advertisements broadcast on television in Australia, New Zealand and Britain, as well as displayed on the internet.

The advertisement shows misty-eyed surfers and tourists staring at panoramas of the harbour, beaches and city.

Tourism NSW's executive director, John O'Neill, said the State Government and its partners spent $2.2 million a year promoting Sydney around the world. "Given the relatively modest resources for international activity, what we tend to do is market through a combination of PR, and also we work with partners to take our Sydney brand to consumers," Mr O'Neill said. "For instance, every year there's a 'G'day LA' Australia week in Los Angeles and this year we sponsored a couple of film premieres."

Travel + Leisure is pitched at wealthy people who enjoy travelling and leisure activities.

Sydney has won the gong every year except 2000, when it lost to San Francisco, and 2001, when Florence took the prize.

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Russell's New York blues

By AAP 
Courtesy SMH Online -  Jesse Hogan

June 6, 2005

Cameras on hand as Crowe is led handcuffed out of the 1st Precinct of the New York Police Department.

Cameras on hand as Crowe is led handcuffed out of the 1st Precinct of the New York Police Department.
Photo: Reuters

Russell Crowe, one of Hollywood's highest paid actors, has spent a day in a New York jail cell, a courthouse and in the eye of a media storm.

Keeping alive his bad boy image, Crowe has been charged with second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

The weapon was a telephone he is accused of throwing at an employee of New York's trendy Mercer Hotel.

New York police allege the phone struck 28-year-old Nestor Estrada in the face.

New York Police Department detective Kevin Czartoryski said the hotel clerk made a formal complaint to officers after dialing emergency number 911 at 4.22am directly after the alleged assault.

"He said the telephone struck him on his cheek ... which caused a laceration.''

Estrada's face was cut and he was taken to hospital for treatment, but later released.

Crowe's Los Angeles-based publicist said he lost his temper when a receptionist gave him "attitude" after the actor asked repeatedly for a faulty phone in his room to be replaced so he could call his family in Australia.

Crowe faces up to eight years in jail if found guilty of both charges, said a Manhattan District Attorney's Office spokeswoman.

Police were called to the hotel, where Crowe has been living the past week while promoting his new boxing film, Cinderella Man, at about 4.20am today (1820 AEST), according to police.

Crowe appeared briefly in Manhattan's Criminal Courthouse and was released on his own recognisance. He was ordered to return to court on September 14.

Earlier, Crowe was led in handcuffs to a police vehicle for the ride to court.

The actor, wearing dark shades, a blue bomber-style jacket and jeans, declined to comment.

Views on the incident, predictably, differ between the police and Crowe's camp.

"We have a strong case," Assistant District Attorney Chad Sjoquist said.

"This defendant is charged with hitting an employee of a hotel in the face with a telephone. Defendant admitted throwing the phone."

Crowe's publicist Beverly Hills publicist Robin Baum denied her star client had assaulted the employee.

"After asking the front desk several times to replace a faulty phone in his room - and getting only attitude from the clerk on duty - Crowe brought the phone down to the front desk in an effort to address the situation in person," Baum said in a statement.

"Words were exchanged and Crowe wound up throwing the phone against the wall. He regrets that he lost his temper, but at no time did he assault anyone or touch any hotel employee."

The incident occurred after Crowe tried to ring his wife Danielle Spencer, at home in Sydney with their 17-month-old son, Charles Spencer Crowe.

"He was in his room. He couldn't get a line and there was a disagreement," said his lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt.

Australia's consul-general in New York was attempting to contact Crowe to offer assistance.

Crowe, who won an Oscar in 2001 for his role in Gladiator and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2002 for A Beautiful Mind, is known for his temper in Hollywood film circles.

In August last year, he became embroiled in a fight with his bodyguard and close friend Mark "Spud" Carroll on the Toronto set of Cinderella Man, in which Crowe plays depression-era world heavyweight boxing champion James Braddock.

Early in 2002, Crowe verbally abused British TV executive Malcolm Gerrie and allegedly got him up against a wall after part of the actor's Bafta-winning speech was cut out for television.

Later in 2002, Crowe was spoken to by police after an alleged brawl in a London restaurant.

AAP

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Crowe steps into Hugh Grant's shoes

Courtesy SMH Online - Phillip McCarthy in New York
June 11, 2005


Is Russell Crowe doing a Hugh Grant remake? The British actor's languid charm seems a long way from Crowe's in-your-face aggression. But 10 years ago Grant wrote the book on how to succeed as a movie star in crisis mode.

When he was busted in July 1995 by Los Angeles police for "lewd conduct" his career in Hollywood hung in the balance. Grant's image, if anything, got a useful bad-boy makeover.

Because he was in Los Angeles he went on Jay Leno's chat show where he looked embarrassed, squirmed telegenically, apologised profusely to his girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley and to America, mentioned work pressure and wrapped the whole thing up in self-deprecating humour.

Crowe, because he was in New York, went to Leno's cross-country rival, David Letterman. He was in Letterman's hot seat 36 hours after his arrest for flinging a telephone at a desk clerk at the $US3000 ($3900) a night Mercer Hotel. A little late-night bonding with Jay or Dave, it seems, is a "morning-after antidote" worth trying in the midst of a particularly reckless behavioural crisis.

Letterman set the mood of confessional levity by introducing Crowe while the band played Telephone Man. To keep the laughs coming Letterman removed a telephone from his desk and let Crowe channel Grant.

So far Crowe is playing the strategy like the Oscar winner he is. His Letterman turn was front page news in New York's Daily News with the huge headline: "Eating Crowe". A sub-heading over a picture of the injured hotel clerk, Nestor Estrada, said: "Sorry I hit you, mate, I was jet-lagged." It might sound like jeering, but it does put across an essential positive message: "I'm just another flawed human, not an out of control movie star boor."

Unfortunately not everyone stuck to the script. The rival New York Post played up a NYPD inquiry into how Crowe got out of jail in seven hours when 17 hours is the norm for regular perps. Did a "movie star get special treatment?" it asked.

There are other problems. The self-deprecation strategy worked for Grant because there was no victim. Pictures of the gash in the cheek of the desk clerk with "attitude", as Crowe's publicist described Mr Estrada, 28, before the new damage-control script, were all over the media.

On legal advice - read generous settlement required to make this go away - Mr Estrada wasn't doing much more than showing off wounds that suggested if Crowe was aiming for a wall behind Estrada, he shouldn't audition for any sharpshooter roles.

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Me and my stupid mate



Carroll and Prince

Courtesy SMH Online
June 13, 2005

An irrational robbery is set to ruin the lives of two young men who should have known better, writes Robert Wainwright.

AUSTRALIANS are making a big mark overseas, but for once it is for all the wrong reasons. Criminal feats of petulance, stupidity and just plain evil are quickly overwhelming the triumphant deeds of skill on the international sporting field and generosity in humanitarian aid.

While Schapelle Corby continues to argue her innocence from a Denpasar prison, the international spotlight has also fallen on the heroin trails of the Bali nine, Russell Crowe's short fuse and the unfathomable ineptitude of two teenage Australian bank robbers, Anthony Prince and Luke Carroll.

We know how, when and where, but three months after two teenagers from the sleepy surfing town of Byron Bay robbed a bank in the ski resort town of Vail, Colorado, and escaped with $US130,000 ($170,000), we still don't know why they did it or why they thought they would get away with one of the most ham-fisted robberies in memory.

The 19-year-olds face 25 years in jail for a robbery that most who know them say was larrikinism gone mad.

Anthony Prince will appear in a federal court on Wednesday to formally enter a plea. His lawyer, Warren Williamson, says Prince will plead guilty to the crime in the hope of a reduced sentence - perhaps five years - and the chance to serve it at home under a prisoner exchange program, rather than at a federal prison in the US. Luke Carroll is expected to do the same a week later.

It would be difficult to enter any other plea, considering the weight of evidence and public ridicule levelled at the pair since details of their exploits became known, not to mention the public apology issued within days of the robbery by Prince's distraught parents, Peter and Jennifer.

"We are the parents of Anthony Prince, one of the two boys who robbed the WestStar Bank last Monday," it read. "We are so sorry for the damage inflicted on your community by this event. We offer our sincere and unconditional apologies to the people of Vail and especially to the two female employees of the WestStar Bank.

"We also apologise to the local family and to the staff at Pepi Sport who sponsored Anthony and provided the opportunity for employment. We fail to comprehend how our son, who was raised in a family with strong ethical values and all the love and support in the world, could contemplate such an act. We will never understand the reason why. We know this act was so out of character for Anthony and we know that his remorse is absolute. Our thoughts are with you all."

The absurdity of the crime is detailed partly in court documents and filled out by witness statements and media interviews which have emerged in the wake of the robbery, labelled "Dumb and Dumber".

Just before 10am on March 21, the pair walked into the WestStar Bank brandishing a pellet gun bought from a Wal-Mart, manhandled a cashier and ordered another to fill up a bag with cash from the vault.

Although wearing masks, the attempts to cover their Australian accents failed dismally. Neither had they bothered to take off name tags used by employees at a sports store that had sponsored their working holiday.

Shaken staff, one of whom later resigned, told police their voices were "disguised but familiar and with a European or Australian accent".

The young men had been in the bank before. A cashier, Kim Vasquez, recognised them. WestStar Bank's president and chief executive, Dan Godec, said it took less than a couple of hours to work out who was behind the masks: "With their accents and descriptions, we had a good feel of who we thought they were."

It didn't take local detectives long to finger Prince and Carroll. The pair, who had arrived in the town last November, had been arrested two months earlier after a neighbour had reported them for firing air pistols and paintball guns at houses. "I think these guys have seen too many Ned Kelly films," the neighbour, Jim Donovan, quipped.

The description, including their accents, was passed onto the FBI and radioed to police patrols.

The next day the fun really started. Prince and Carroll were spotted making their way through security at Denver Airport after buying one-way tickets to Mexico. Again, it was their accents that gave them away.

Detective Greg Faciane, on duty at the security desk, had been given a flier with photographs of the robbery suspects only a few minutes before the pair sauntered towards him.

He let them through the metal detectors then asked a security screener to talk to them to determine whether they had accents and to check their passports. "When I was sitting there, I made eye contact with one of them and just got a feeling," he told the media later.

The arrest was immediate and without incident. The confessions came swiftly after police found $US9800 on Carroll and another $US33,000 stashed in a backpack dumped in a garbage bin outside the airport. Most of the cash, however, was in Prince's luggage.

Since their arrest, details have filtered out about the fun-filled hours immediately after the robbery. Apparently they used snowboards as initial getaway vehicles, travelling several kilometres out of town to get to their car. A quick change of clothes and they were off on a spending spree which defies belief. First stop was a McDonald's, where they took a series of "gansta" photos of themselves in the toilets, posing with guns and money. Police later found the digital camera with the pictures still on the memory chip.

The next day they walked into a jewellery shop in Denver, two hours west of Vail, and tried to buy a $US30,000 Rolex watch. Not only did the sales assistant think the request was strange, but the means of payment - cash in 6000 $5 notes - was enough for her to threaten to call the police. Prince and Carroll took the hint, left and went to another shop to buy diamonds before renting a limousine to take them to the airport. Their smiles, recorded on airport CCTV cameras, were soon wiped as their world fell apart.

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Women go wild for Wiggles

Courtesy - The Sun Herald -By Christine Sams
July 11, 2005

Hot potatoes: The Wiggles - Jeff Fatt, Anthony Field, Greg Page and 
Murray Cook  - have received some unusual fan mail.

Photo: Edwina Pickles

Desperate housewives in the US have besieged the Wiggles with sexually suggestive letters and comments, including explicit references about band members including Anthony Field (the blue Wiggle) and Murray Cook (the red Wiggle).

Insiders from internet chat rooms on sites including AOL have reported a number of adult women becoming so physically suggestive about the Wiggles, they need to be chastised by website moderators. (Some of the statements from female fans were so sexual, we can't actually reprint them in S.)

The skivvy-wearing Australian multi-millionaires have politely ignored the comments from US fans, but it seems some American mothers are now as eager to attend Wiggles shows as their toddlers.

The Wiggles' Australian spokeswoman, Dianna O'Neill, said the Wiggles had no comment about the attention of female fans. The band members obviously prefer to focus on their priority market: children.

Field has long been regarded as the best-looking Wiggle, and he's a lovely gentleman (as are the other members of the band) but like band members Cook and Greg Page (yellow Wiggle) - who have a couple of children each - he's already married with a child. The only single Wiggle is Jeff Fatt (the purple Wiggle).

Apart from topping BRW's rich list of Australian entertainers this year with a whopping annual income of $45 million, the band has been publicly praised by celebrities ranging from Sarah Jessica Parker to Ben Stiller (who jokingly described them as "the friggin' Wiggles").

Now they've become unlikely sex symbols in their own right (skivvies and all!) there's obviously no stopping Wiggles power in the US.

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Kath & Kim: Brits' latest fix

Courtesy SMH Online 18 June 2005

Gina Riley and Jane Turner in the TV series Kath And Kim.

The g-stringed hornbag and her mum have scored an excited "gee"-rating, writes Valerie Lawson.

JANE Turner came across as the bashful one, the exact opposite of her onscreen persona, Kath, in Kath & Kim. Gina Riley, in contrast, was as loud and in your face as Kim when they appeared this week on the high-rating BBC Breakfast co-hosted by Dermot Murnaghan.

Riley didn't miss a beat when Murnaghan said he knew Kath & Kim was a parody, but that some Britons "might think it's a documentary".

No worries, said Riley, as long as the audience laughed.

Well, they are laughing - 1.6 million tuned in for the first episodes - and so are the two Melbourne actors at the success of the show in Britain. It's weekly screenings are earning a cult following as passionate for their weekly cringe fix as fans of The Office.

Except there is a difference: The Office is concerned with ambition and self-delusion while Kath & Kim has evolved from a long line of comedy characters that make fun of middle-class Australia. The actors in Kath & Kim can laugh at themselves but their brilliant portrayal of two upwardly mobile women from the 'burbs reinforce stereotypes of Australians that began with Barry Humphries's Edna but more so Humphries's cultural ambassador, Les Patterson.

The BBC website is carrying a glossary to explain the terms used by Kath and Kim and asks readers to email their suggestions.

"Rachel" suggested "say it, don't spray it" in response to "moist shouting", while "Rob" has proposed "is a frog's arse watertight?" meaning "stating the obvious" and "Leith" suggested "pash rash" for facial rash around the mouth from excess kissing.

The show has even been the subject of a long article in The Financial Times by the Australian writer Margaret Simons. She explains the Kath & Kim phenomenon as a part of the "need for a home in a shrinking world - a desire for the particular, the idiosyncratic at a time of the global bland. Whatever the reason, television programs that succeed across national borders at present are often extraordinarily local - rooted in keenly observed particulars of accent, habit and custom. Somehow, it seems, they touch us all precisely because their focus is narrow, but knowing."

Kath and Kim, she wrote, are better off than Edna, "yet still unmistakably products of Australia, which for all its wide open spaces and bushman mythology remains the most middle-class and suburban of nations".

The mass market tabloid The Sun has also discovered Kath and Kim in a story headlined "Meet the Aussie chavs". Riley stayed in character as Kim for the interview when she said: "As soon as they see me with my G-string hoinked up over my low-rise jeans, people will be in. They will be absolutely desperate for us."

Coincidentally, another channel is showing an American version of The Office. It mimics the original, although the characters are renamed, the company, Wernham Hogg, has become Dunder Mifflin, and the setting is not Slough, but Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Perhaps only one person is not laughing at the new suburbia shows: Jane Turner's mother. On air this week, Turner said Kath was modelled on her mum.

Need some help with 'Kath & Kim speak' - see 'PLEASE EXPLAIN' on our Aussie Slang page.

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The story that ended a marriage and
 sent Don Warne to the naughty corner

Courtesy SMH Online
By Chloe Saltau in Birmingham

June 29, 2005

The story that drove Shane Warne into hiding finally broke when a London newspaper published more allegations about the cricketer's extramarital sex and explicit text-messaging.

Three days after Shane and Simone Warne announced their separation after 10 years of marriage, the Daily Mirror claimed Warne had an affair that lasted more than a month with a 31-year-old sales manager, Kerrie Colliemore, just before his family arrived in Britain.

The paper said Warne had assured Colliemore he had separated from his wife.

A "close friend" said Warne began bombarding Colliemore with text messages after they met at a nightclub in Southampton, where the leg spinner captains the English county team Hampshire.

The friend claimed to have found 48 text messages from Warne on Colliemore's phone, one of which was so steamy it could not be printed.

"Shane wouldn't leave her alone. The phone was on fire with his messages. Kerrie couldn't believe how raunchy he was. He had the hots for her big time. She didn't know anything about his past and thought he was separated," the friend is quoted as saying.

"He couldn't keep his hands off her. He wanted sex outside, inside, wherever he could," including, according to the article, on the bonnet of his black BMW.

The affair apparently ended when Colliemore discovered Simone and the children were on their way from Melbourne.

The lurid account of Warne's sex life is the latest in a string of off-field scandals to surround the drama-prone cricketer.

Less than two weeks ago the same paper published claims from a 25-year-old London student that Warne pestered her for sex after a night out with his friend, the England batsman Kevin Pietersen.

Five years ago, Warne was stripped of the Australian vice-captaincy after making a string of lewd calls to a Leicestershire nurse, and last year a South African woman, Helen Cohen Alon, was jailed for extortion after claiming he hassled her for sex.

Warne has not been seen since releasing a statement with Simone about the marriage break-up, and it remains unclear whether they have escaped to Spain.

Hampshire have given Warne a fortnight off, and he is due to join the Australian Test squad on July 11 before the Ashes series. Warne's brother and manager, Jason, was not available for comment last night.

Despite the vivid accounts given by the friend of Colliemore, the paper quotes the woman herself as saying: "I don't know what you're talking about. I have absolutely nothing to say."

The latest allegations raise more questions about how Cricket Australia handles constant unsavoury revelations about the private life of its most famous cricketer. Its public affairs manager, Peter Young, could not comment specifically but said: "Clearly we would prefer Shane Warne to be creating publicity for the game of cricket through his on-field performances."

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Warnie tries to end his losing streaks

Courtesy SMH Online 
By Jessica Halloran
June 14, 2005




Before and after … Warne before laser therapy and after with his thicker thatch.

It was last month when Shane Warne and his Hampshire teammate Kevin Pietersen visited a London barber together that the Australian bowler's flourishing bald patch was first noted.

"We went and got our hair done with the same dude," Pietersen said at the time. "[Warne] got his colours done, I had a bit of colour tinted in mine. Warnie's getting a bald patch at the minute."

But Warnie did something about it. In pursuit of a "lush new wicket" he approached Advanced Hair Studio, and now he's spruiking for the company. And going by the promo shots, he can suddenly shape his mop into a mini-mohawk.

"It's great," he said in a statement. "My hair is growing back and my hair loss has stopped."

"It's not so much a contract as a marriage … Greg Matthews has been with us for 12 years, Graham Gooch for 10 years," said Advanced Hair Studio's managing director, Carl Howell, referring to the former Australian spinner and former England captain. Warne now has laser therapy weekly to regrow his locks. He also rubs a serum into his scalp daily and takes Serenoa capsules.

It's not the first time Warne has signed up with a company to help fix his flaws. In 1999, in his quest to give up cigarettes, he had the help of a $200,000 sponsorship from an anti-smoking company. But it was a bald lie. He was caught smoking just months later.

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Bogut's hoop dreams

Courtesy SMH Online
By Ben Davey
June 29, 2005

Andrew Bogut (right) shakes hands with NBA Commissioner David Stern.

He is the first Australian and only the second non-American to be chosen No. 1 in the NBA Draft. He will earn close to $15 million over the next three years and is expected to earn $100 million during his career, excluding endorsements.

He has a junior world title under his belt and was a member of Australia's senior men's Olympic basketball team at the age of 19 where he faced opponents such as 2004/05 NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan.

He averaged 20.4 points and 12.2 rebounds a game in his last season with the University of Utah on his way to collecting eight College Player of the Year accolades, including the prestigious Naismith award.

He is 213-centimetres tall and has the basketball world at his feet but, despite his accomplishments, you could understand if Andrew Bogut was feeling a little anxious.

Over the next few years, Bogut will be one of the most scrutinised athletes in world sports. His new employer, the Milwaukee Bucks will want results, fast.

With the No. 1 pick comes great expectation and the Bucks are betting that Bogut will deliver. Like past No. 1 picks, LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal, Bogut joins a struggling team. In the 2004/05 season, Milwaukee finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference Central Division.

Moreover, being the No. 1 pick does not guarantee a successful NBA career. For every Hakeem Olajuwon (career average of 21.8 points a game, 11.1 rebounds a game) there has been a Michael Olowokandi (career average nine points a game, 7.4 rebounds a game).

Bogut was chosen above Marvin Williams, a player who lacks experience against world-class opposition but is touted as being a future NBA All-Star. Williams will join the Atlanta Hawks, a team whose recruitment of several young players over the past few seasons points to a long-term resurgence.

Bogut got the top pick but it may be Williams who ends up with the sweeter deal as the Hawks will be more willing to allow their new recruit time to develop as a player. Bogut will not have that luxury.

Bogut is the first Australian to be chosen as the No. 1 pick, with the previous highest being Luc Longley (No. 7) who won three NBA Championships alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen during the Chicago Bulls '90s dynasty.

With most pre-draft analysts regarding Bogut as the panacea to Milwaukee's ills (former Phoenix and Philadelphia star Charles Barkley said his selection was a "no-brainer"), the 20-year old will be feeling the burden not only of being one of Australia's tallest poppies but also the demands of suffering Milwaukee fans.

Still, Bogut's comments regarding his NBA prospects indicate he does not lack confidence.

"I've had a better collegiate career than anyone else from Australia that came over here," he told reporters in a pre-draft interview.

"I'm not as slow as Luc Longley, I'm more athletic, I can shoot better, I'm more competitive. So I think it's not even fair to bring that name up."

These comments should not be dismissed as cockiness. They reveal a self-assuredness Bogut will need to compete against the likes of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Allen Iverson in the world's most elite basketball competition.

Bogut was wise to dismiss a comparison with Longley, whom Milwaukee fans will remember as the Australian guy who played alongside Michael Jordan.

Statistics suggest that Longley's three championship rings came from being at the right place, at the right time.

Longley was drafted to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1991. His best season with the Timberwolves (1992/93) was humble in comparison (5.8 points a game, 4.4 rebounds a game) to other NBA centres of his size.

After being traded to the Bulls in 1994, Longley replaced Bill Cartwright as centre to a team that did not require him to stand out. The Bulls boasted Jordan and Pippen - two members of the NBA's top 50 all-time players - Chicago had anough chefs.

By dismissing comparisons with Longley, Bogut sent a message to Bucks fans: I'm here and I'm the real thing.

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The King is dead

By David Dale
May 26, 2005      Courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald

                

 

Australians like to say they have a "larrikin sense of humour", going back to the convict days when satire was the only way to get back at those who ruled us. Graham Kennedy, the long-reigning King of Television who has died at 71, was the embodiment of the larrikin.

He'd do anything for a laugh, no matter how embarrassing to himself or others. And warnings from the authorities that viewers might be offended only spurred him to grander outrages. He'd wink at the viewers, letting them in on the joke before springing it on those unlucky enough to be sharing his studio.

That made him post-modern decades before such jargon was invented. Other candidates for the title of Australia's greatest television comedian - Paul Hogan or Norman Gunston, for example - offered humour based on innocence, even when they were ridiculing pretension. Kennedy's style was knowing and cynical.

As "the court jester of Australia", he was comfortable with cruelty. In the late 1980s, by then a 30-year television veteran, he suggested it would be helpful - for the ratings of his comedy-news program - if the Pope's aircraft were to fly into a mountain. And he told viewers that the Queen "didn't have bad breasts" for her age.

As his old boss at Channel Nine, Sam Chisholm, said yesterday: "Graham Kennedy will go down in television history as probably the most, if not indeed the most, significant influence on television in this country."

His manager of 20 years, Harry M. Miller, said: "Everybody ... has tried to duplicate, replicate, copy anything he ever did, but nobody was able to do it."

In the 14 years since we last saw Kennedy, Australia has become a more solemn place. Our television is safe, suburban and comfortable. We've retreated five decades.

Variety shows such as Rove Live might contain the odd dirty joke, but nobody offers the sense of danger Kennedy brought to his work. He was never predictable, so he could have only succeeded in the time before television became fossilised by formulas.

When Australian television started on September 16, 1956 it did so not with a bang but with a variety show. Immediately after saying "Welcome to television", Bruce Gyngell crossed to singer Johnny O'Connor, who established what was to become the "tonight show" format - a host who sang a bit, told a few jokes, introduced guest singers and conducted worshipful interviews with celebrities. It was all very safe and comforting.

The big bang happened a year later. That was when Kennedy, then a 23-year-old radio announcer, launched In Melbourne Tonight and subverted the whole notion of "variety".

Graham Kennedy didn't sing and didn't interview. Instead, he indulged a penchant for double entendres and pies in the face that went back to the days of vaudeville, did sketches in which he kept dropping out of character to break up the other performers, and showed a contempt for his sponsors' products that horrified producers and delighted audiences.

In 1959 a planned 30-second commercial involving a temporary presenter, Bert Newton, turned into 27 minutes of chaos, and Australia's greatest TV partnership was born.

Kennedy first went national in 1960, but Sydney took a while to warm to him. For us, he was too abrasive, "too Melbourne".

His national show lasted only two years the first time around, and didn't return to Sydney for a decade. But by 1975, when Kennedy was suspended from live TV for doing a crow imitation that sounded a bit like "Faaaaaark", he had the hearts and minds of a nation in his hand.

We stuck with him when he returned as host of Blankety Blanks in the late '70s, then as a weird sort of current affairs commentator in the late '80s. By then his treatment of the hapless sidekicks assigned to feed him lines was so humiliating, the viewer sometimes had to turn away. Only Newton was a match for him.

By the time he presented Funniest Home Videos, before his final retirement in 1991, we'd come to realise, through films such as Don's Party, The Club and The Odd Angry Shot, that he was a pretty reasonable actor, with a quality of deep sadness.

In Graeme Blundell's biography, King: The Life and Comedy of Graham Kennedy, Kennedy described himself as "just a sad little weird kid from Balaclava with funny eyes". And there was a sad, solitary way about the man. In retirement, he became a virtual recluse. He lived with his golden retriever, Henry, at his home near Bowral. "I prefer my own company to a lot of others," he said in 1989.

He suffered several long illnesses. Close friend Tony Sattler recalled a scare in 2000. "I rang him and said 'Are you dead?' And he said, 'I don't know, I'd better check.' "

In 2003 Kennedy fell down a set of stairs, breaking his leg and skull. He died at about 4.30am yesterday from complications of pneumonia at a nursing home in the southern highlands.

Rove MacManus acknowledged a debt to Kennedy: "I think he will remain unmatched on Australian television." And actor Stuart Wagstaff lamented: "They say 'The King is dead, long live the King'. But there isn't a King to take over from him. He was a one-off."

It was Kennedy who named Australia's top TV award, the Logie - ostensibly after John Logie Baird, the inventor of the medium. He would go on to win 19 Logies, including five gold ones. But as one viewer pointed out, a Logie sounded "more like something you pull out of your nose". The larrikin would have loved that.

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Kylie's breast cancer removed: surgeon

 AEST Sat May 21 2005
AAP     Courtesy of ninemsn.com.au

Kylie Minogue's breast cancer has been successfully removed, her surgeon says.

Reading from a written statement, Dr Jenny Senior said the Australian born pop diva underwent surgery at 5pm (AEST) Friday in St Frances Xavier Cabrini Hospital in Melbourne.

"Her spirits are high and she's feeling fine. She has family and friends around her," Dr Senior said.

"Kylie has been the perfect patient and has charmed all my staff. I just wish I could have met her under happier circumstances.

"Kylie has asked me to pass on her thanks once again to all who have expressed their love and concern for her. Your support has certainly helped her through a tough time."

Minogue was admitted to the hospital on Friday afternoon, and Dr Senior said the operation had removed "an early breast cancer".

Dr Senior said the medical procedure that she performed was considered "best practice around the world for a girl with an early breast cancer".

"I'm very pleased to be able to confirm that the operation was successful.

"I feel confident that we caught the cancer in time and that she is now on the road to complete recovery," Dr Senior said.

"Kylie is currently resting after the operation and her spirits are high and she is feeling fine."

Dr Senior refused to take questions after her brief statement to reporters outside the hospital, including where the pop star was recovering from the surgery.

Earlier, a silver Audi was seen speeding into the family's home in the Melbourne inner-eastern suburb of Canterbury.

Dr Senior also would not comment on how long Kylie's recovery would take.

She thanked the medical specialists who were part of Minogue's procedure, particularly workers in the hospital's radiology and pathology departments for helping her in her pre-operative assessment of the singer's condition.

"I'd also like to take a moment to thank the nursing staff for assisting me in caring for Kylie while she recovers," she said.

"I would also like to thank Kylie, her family, and (boyfriend) Olivier (Martinez) for making my job very easy. They were so welcoming."

 

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Kylie diagnosed with cancer

May 17, 2005      Courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald

     

Photo: Ken McKay

Kylie Minogue has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has been forced to postpone her Australian Showgirl tour.

The following statement was issued by her management:

"Whilst at home in Melbourne with her family this week prior to her Australian Showgirl tour, Kylie was diagnosed with early breast cancer. She will undergo immediate treatment and consequently her Australian tour will not be able to proceed as planned."

Minogue said today: "I was so looking forward to bringing the Showgirl tour to Australian audiences, and am sorry to have to disappoint my fans.

"Nevertheless, hopefully all will work out fine and I'll be back with you all again soon."

Minogue had been scheduled to tour Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth over the next month.

The promoters, The Frontier Touring Company, said ticket holders should hang onto their tickets pending the announcement of new dates.

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Olivia, Mary among nation's most trusted

May 17, 2005     Courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald

Someone you can trust: Olivia Newton-John
Photo: Reuters

Aussie songbird Olivia Newton-John and Princess Mary are among the nation's most trusted people.

A Reader's Digest survey has found burns specialist Dr Fiona Wood is Australia's most trusted person, followed by Newton-John and Tasmanian-born Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone was ranked the least trustworthy of 100 prominent Australians in the survey.

The list includes four former prime ministers, a host of politicians, sportspeople, television and movie stars, singers, businesspeople, models and media moguls.

Prime Minister John Howard's wife Janette (at 74) is more trusted than her husband (85).

Model, mum and charity patron Sarah O'Hare (43) is well ahead of her husband, media executive Lachlan Murdoch (93), while Home and Away starlet and mum-to-be Bec Cartwright (59) also is more trusted than her partner, tennis player Lleyton Hewitt (73).

The annual survey of trust, now in its fifth year, found ambulance officers, firefighters and mothers were the most trusted professions, while politicians, car salesmen, real estate agents, psychics and journalists are the least trusted.

Cadbury, Colgate and Panadol are Australia's most trusted brands.

But it's the first time Reader's Digest asked respondents to rank the perceived trustworthiness of 100 well-known Australians.

Macquarie University social psychologist Julie Fitness said the most trusted people would be perceived as putting our interests ahead of their own.

"Politicians, of course, are prototypically self-interested, whereas Fiona Wood is the prototypical nurturer. She's a carer who obviously does what she does not for money, but because she truly cares about people," Dr Fitness said.

"You would trust her with your life. You'd trust her with your children's life because you trust her motivation."

Reader's Digest editor-in-chief Tom Moore said the findings of the most trusted list mirrored those of the wider trust survey.

"It is clear from our survey results that many of Australia's most trusted individuals and professions share a generosity of spirit, while on the flipside, those with a low trust ranking are perceived to be motivated by self-interest," he said.

Body language and human behaviour expert Allan Pease said weight, although not politically correct, played a part in the list.

"We tend to trust large people less ... we trust them 50 per cent less than medium-weight people," he said.

"Bigger people are seen as caring more about themselves than for us.

"Really thin people are also less trusted than medium-sized people as well."

Smiling also was an important indicator of trust that was hard wired into the brain, he said.

"Kids born blind, for example, still smile after four weeks even though they have never seen it," he said.

Reader's Digest surveyed 1502 adult Australians.

AAP

Jackson named America's MVP              

Australia's Lauren Jackson has become the first international basketballer to win the American women's National Basketball Association's Most Valuable Player award.

22-year-old Jackson has had an outstanding season for the Seattle Storm, leading the scoring for the Washington side.

She arrives back in Australia this week to prepare to play for the Canberra Capitals.

Courtesy ABC News Online 15 Sep 2003

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We're still a nation of mates, but the fair go is going fast

Australians don't live up to their self-image - and for a nation that sees friendship as its main characteristic, there are signs that intolerance is on the rise.

A survey suggests that friendliness rates as highly as it did 50 years ago but fair play and generosity are not seen so often as
 the best Australian characteristics.

Gambling and drinking are seen as lesser problems than they were 50 years ago but self-centred attitudes, intolerance and 
apathy have all risen.

Last month's nationwide survey by UMR Research and Hawker Britton was compared with an Australian Gallup Poll taken
 50 years ago.

"Beneath the illusion of permanence, deep changes have taken place in the Australian character," said Bruce Hawker, managing
 director of Hawker Britton.

Respondents were asked: "Thinking of the Australian people as a whole, what would you say is our best characteristic?" 
And: "What would you say is our worst fault?"

Thirty-one per cent said friendliness/hospitality - which Hawker Britton calls mateship - was the best quality.

This was almost exactly the same as Gallup's 1953 figure - 31.9 per cent. The next best quality was carefree/casual, 
at 19 per cent against the 8.7 of 1953.

"In the wake of September 11, the Bali terrorist attacks and instability in the Middle East and our own region, Australians are
 taking notice of the core values they might have previously taken for granted," Mr Hawker said.

The percentage of people who nominated tolerance and democratic qualities doubled to 8 per cent, but 13 per cent said that
 being self-centred and intolerant was our worst fault; in 1953, it was just 6.3.

Australians see themselves as being more modern and open-minded (5 per cent against 0.4) and more loyal and patriotic 
(5, 2.9). But fair play/good sports was less prevalent (5, 7) and generosity much less so (4, 9.3).

Apathy took over from gambling as our worst fault (18 per cent against 14.5). Gambling fell from 15.4 per cent to 1 per cent
 and drinking from 12 to 2.

However, the survey team has added to the 13 per cent intolerant figure the 5 per cent who rate selfishness and greed as
 our worst fault, the 3 per cent who nominated the tall poppy syndrome, 3 per cent who chose racism and 2 per cent who 
said we were insular with closed minds - 26 per cent.

"Taken together, a quarter of the population think Australians are generally intolerant of others," the survey says.

Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald 8 July 2003

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I've had enough: Freeman retires as hunger dies

Sydney Olympic Games gold medallist Cathy Freeman announced her retirement in mid July after 14 years at the top, 
saying "my heart was not in it".

Freeman, 30, ended speculation about her future after a crisis meeting with Athletics Australia's head coach, Keith Connor, in London.

"I've lost that want, that desire, that passion, that drive," she said. "I don't care any more."

Freeman said she had realised that her gold medal in Sydney, achieved with the weight of the expectations of 19 million
 Australians on her shoulders, was a high point to which she could never return.

Since her spectacular, nation-stopping triumph in the 400-metres event at the Sydney Games, coupled with the emotional 
high of lighting the flame at the opening ceremony, Freeman has battled both on and off the track. She took a year's break 
in 2001,  gaining weight and suffering a leg injury upon her return. All the while she was fighting her ex-boyfriend Nick Bideau 
in court over their assets, and then endured a tough time when her husband, Alexander Bodecker, had throat cancer. Freeman 
and Bodecker split earlier this year.

Freeman first expressed doubts about her ability to compete at the highest levels when she was trounced in a Sydney race 
by 400-metre hurdler Jana Pittman in March this year. Then, in her first international appearance in two years, she ran fifth 
in a race in Oregon two months ago.

Freeman has been an inspiration for Aboriginal people since she burst onto the scene in 1990.

Four years later at the Commonwealth Games in Canada, she incurred the wrath of officials when she carried the Aboriginal 
flag on a victory lap.

Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald  17 July 2003

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Bali bombings film announced

The Bali bombings are to be made into a film, it was announced today.

The blasts on the tourist island last year left 202 people dead.

Now a British production company is to turn the atrocity into the subject of the film, Bali - The Bombing Of Paradise.

It will be shot on location in Bali, England and Australia.

The film is being written by John Goldsmith, whose previous credits include the BBC period drama Victoria And Albert 
and the Anjelica Huston film Agnes Browne.

It will revolve around three main characters who survive the bombings and help with the rescue operation.

A spokeswoman for production company New Concept Development Limited said the victims portrayed in the movie 
would be fictionalised.

Filming begins next April and the movie should reach cinemas the following year.

Two blasts ripped through the holiday resort of Kuta on the Indonesian island last October.

One hit Paddy's Bar while the second exploded in a van outside the nearby Sari nightclub.

Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald  10 September 2003

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Upbeat Delta ready for the fight of her life

The Australian soap opera star and singer Delta Goodrem has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer,
 her family announced recently.

The 18-year-old is being treated at St Vincent's Hospital.     

Goodrem released a statement saying she would return to her burgeoning career "just as soon as my treatment is completed".

"Knowing that I have your love and support is making a huge difference and I look forward to seeing you all very soon,"
 she said.

Given the early detection, the outlook in such instances would be positive," a hospital spokesman said.

Hodgkin's disease is a form of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. It occurs most often in people aged between 15
 and 34, or over 55, and is more common in men than in women.

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are the most common treatments for the disease.

Goodrem's album Innocent Eyes debuted at number one in Australia and has sold about 300,000 copies (four times platinum). 
Her current single, the album's title track, went to number one.

At 15, Goodrem was signed to an international record company. Her early career as a singer and songwriter attracted the 
attention of the producers of the long-running soap opera Neighbours, who introduced her to acting.

Last year, Goodrem's first single, Born to Try, went to number one in the charts, as did its follow-up, Lost Without You.

Both of the songs also entered the British charts in the top five this year and there is little doubt that this success will be 
repeated when they are released in the United States.

Send your messages of support to Delta at:  www.deltagoodrem.com
 
Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald  12 July 2003

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Hook, line and Sydney

Finding Nemo is the best ever representation of Australia in an American film, writes MICHAEL BODEY.



If anyone ever doubts the influence of our national cinema, one need only look at the success of Finding Nemo..

Already the computer-animated American film is the most popular film of the year in North America.

Recently it passed The Lion King to become the most popular animated film of all time. And now, the tale of a tropical fish 
stolen from the Great Barrier Reef only to land in a Sydney dentist's fish tank, has become the most attractive advertisement 
for Australian tourism since Crocodile Dundee .

Yet the latest film by the incredible Pixar Animation Studio, which developed the Toy Story films, A Bug's Life and Monsters 
Inc.
, could just as easily have been set in the US.

That was the choice facing its creator, Andrew Stanton.

He admits he "knew nothing about fish when I started this" but he knew where the world's tropical reefs are and he knew 
he didn't want to have to learn about a new culture just for this film.

That limited his locations to the Caribbean and Florida or the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney.

"I probably debated about those two for about five minutes because the Great Barrier Reef had every species I could ever 
want and Sydney Harbour is so much more recognisable internationally than anything I could think of for that setting," 
Stanton says.

"And I've always had a personal love of Australia because of Australian films."

While growing up in the 1980s, Stanton was an usher in a small arthouse cinema.

"I remember seeing Gallipoli, Breaker Morant and My Brilliant Career and just falling in love with this place from afar. So it 
was a real desire to see if the film could take place there."

Not only does the family film take place here, it's unarguably the best representation of Australia in an American film ever.

Even in Pixar's trademark computer-animated style, the Reef, Sydney Harbour and our incredible array of fauna look enticing,
 even lovable.

"It wasn't about promoting the Reef, it was about promoting the ocean," Stanton says. "Sydney Harbour and Australian 
culture was just my natural curiosity."

Pixar also dispatched research teams to Australia.

"I really didn't want to do the stereotypical foreigner's point of view of Australia and I didn't trust my guts about how to 
write colloquial," Stanton says.

"These movies are so huge and they take so long to do – we're probably never going to repeat them – so I want to get it right."

Courtesy Daily Telegraph  28 August 2003

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Our natural wonder

Purnululu National Park in Western Australia's East Kimberley region is officially a natural wonder of the world after being 
declared a World Heritage listed area.

The park, which is famous for its beehive structures, sandstone cliffs and towers of the Bungle Bungle range, now stands 
alongside Uluru and Kakadu National Park as one of the world's natural wonders.

The isolated area's domes, gorges and wet season waterfalls were virtually unknown except to pastoralists, scientists and 
the local Aboriginal community until 1982, when aerial pictures were first circulated.

It is Australia's 15th area to be listed by the World Heritage Committee.

Environment Minister David Kemp said the superlative natural phenomenon joined 14 other internationally outstanding 
Australian places that qualified for the rare listing, which includes Uluru.

"It is now seen as one of the scenic jewels of outback Australia," Dr Kemp said in a statement.

He said the listing would attract widespread interest from tourists and provide a financial boost to the region.

"The World Heritage listing process is detailed, demanding and exhaustive," Dr Kemp said.

"It ensures that only the very best examples of the world's heritage make it onto the world's premier heritage list."

Australia submitted a comprehensive nomination document to the World Heritage Centre early last year, supported by the 
WA government.

"Purnululu has also been nominated for its rich Aboriginal cultural heritage spanning over some 20,000 years," Dr Kemp said.

"The park provides exceptional testimony to this hunter-gatherer cultural tradition which has survived to the present day 
despite the impact of colonisation.

"Australia will continue to pursue the cultural element of the nomination."

The World Heritage Committee agreed to inscribe Purnululu National Park on the World Heritage List overnight.

The committee said the park's natural features represented major stages of earth's history, including the record of life.

The park contained superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance,
 the committee said.

Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald  3 July 2003

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Defy Matilda ban: PM

Prime Minister John Howard said he resented moves to ban the singing of Waltzing Matilda at Rugby World Cup matches 
and encouraged Australians to belt out the tune.

The International Rugby Board has ruled that only a country's national anthem can be sung before games at the
 October-November tournament.

Exceptions would be made for performances deemed of cultural significance, such as the All Blacks' haka.

Mr Howard said the move was ridiculous.

"I think it's very silly, I resent it," he told reporters.

"Waltzing Matilda is deeply evocative of Australian culture and how can you justify trying to ban the singing of it and allow 
other presentations which are evocative of the culture of other countries.

"But in any event I pose the question, how are they going to stop it being sung? You try and stop 82,000 Australians singing Waltzing Matilda, you'll only make their night."

Mr Howard, who in the past has supported Waltzing Matilda as Australia's national anthem, said he would encourage 
rugby fans to sing the song at World Cup matches.

"Of course I will, I think it's ridiculous," he said.

"I'm sure they'll rethink their decision, if they've made their decision.

"Nations determine their culture not other people."

Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald  28 August 2003

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Under 40 and loaded

John Ilhan, better known as mobile phone baron "Crazy John", has been named Australia's richest person under 40.

Mr Ilhan, 38, is worth an estimated $200 million and tops the new BRW Young Rich List which aims to be the official 
register of Australia's wealthiest individuals under 40.

The inaugural winner made a fortune connecting Australians to the Telstra mobile network, after establishing his
 "Crazy John's" mobile phone chain in Melbourne in 1991.

He now performs some of the country's most audacious marketing stunts, such as paying $670,000 for a Bondi apartment 
featured in real estate/reality TV show The Block.

Less successfully, he recently upset some Western Australians with plans to rename the Subiaco football oval "Crazy 
John's Stadium", and the proposal is meeting council resistance.

Still, he dominates a rollcall of some of Australia's richest, youngest and most famous, including Oscar-winners Nicole 
Kidman and Russell Crowe, pop star Kylie Minogue, tennis champion Lleyton Hewitt and
 supermodel-turned-businesswoman Elle Macpherson.

Ms Kidman, aged 36 and ranked sixth, has an estimated $123 million fortune helped along by a $90 million settlement for 
separating from actor Tom Cruise.

She is Australia's richest woman under 40.

Actor Mr Crowe, 39, who recently married, is worth about $40 million and ranked 20th.

Ms Minogue, a former Neighbours star now based in the UK, is 35 years old, has $34 million, and is ranked 29th.

Good times, too, for another former Neighbours star. Actor Guy Pearce, 37, whose Hollywood credits include
 LA Confidential and Memento, is ranked 53rd with an estimated $12 million.

Actor Cate Blanchett, 34, who appears in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, ranks 42nd with $15 million.

Ms Macpherson, 39, who now designs women's underwear, is worth $61 million and ranked 12th.

In the world of sport, Mr Hewitt is not only South Australia's only representative on the list, but the list's youngest overall.

Ranked 34th, the current Young Australian of the Year has $22 million at age 22 - or $1 million for every year of his life.

But he's not the country's richest sports star.

That gong goes to soccer player Herry Kewell, who currently makes $200,000 a week playing for Liverpool in the UK. 
The 24-year-old is ranked 23rd with an estimated $39 million.

Basketballer Luc Longley, 34, is the second richest sportsperson and Australia's 26th wealthiest individual under 40. 
He is worth an estimated $36 million.

Also ahead of Mr Hewitt comes Pat Rafter, who retired from professional tennis in 2001 but, at 30, has an estimated 
$35 million and a Young Rich List ranking of 28.

Streetwear vendors also feature near the top of the tree, with Globe International co-founder Peter Hill, 39, weighing in 
with $160 million as the nation's equal second richest person under 40.

Mr Hill shares his fortune with brother Stephen, who missed the cut because he's 41.

In equal second place is the 38-year-old former director of pathology and radiology services group Sonic Healthcare, 
Michael Boyd, also with an estimated $160 million.

The 31-year-old former chief executive of surfwear group Billabong International, Matthew Perrin, and his wife Nicole, 30, 
are ranked equal seventh with $107 million between them.

Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald  3 September 2003

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Paint the town red - and blue and lilac and . .

Let be light . . . City of Sydney Council's impression of what the skyline of the city would look like lit by lasers.

The Sydney skyline will be awash with laser art this New Year's Eve under a council plan to turn the city's tallest buildings 
into a "vast canvas painted with light".

But the plan relies on building owners agreeing to foot the bill for the light show in return for corporate promotional 
opportunities, including an image on the southern pylon of the Harbour Bridge for three weeks, the duration of the event.

According to presentations made by City of Sydney Council to building owners last week, the City of Light Project will be 
"the most ambitious and exciting art project ever staged in Sydney".

It is being promoted as Lucy Turnbull's "first major initiative" as Lord Mayor of Sydney.

A spokesman for the council said the project would not affect the scope of the New Year's Eve fireworks display, 
which would "go on as normal".

Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald  26 August 2003 

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Jana's our golden girl  

Australian Jana Pittman watched a Rocky movie before delivering a knockout blow to Russian rival Yuliya Pechonkina in the women's 400 metres hurdles final at the world athletics titles.

Pechonkina had started as hot favourite to take gold after smashing Kim Batten's eight-year world record earlier this month.

But Pittman, the Commonwealth champion, hauled in the tiring Russian over the final metres to clock a lifetime best of 53.22 seconds.

Pechonkina faded badly after the final hurdle and could only take bronze in 53.71 while American Sandra Glover won silver
 in 53.65.

Pittman, 20, said she pumped herself up before the race by watching "the one where Rocky beats the Russian" - Rocky IV.

"Rocky beats the Russian in it so it's appropriate that so have I," Pittman laughed after her memorable win.

Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald  29 August 2003

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Mundine lives the dream

World champion: Anthony Mundine celebrates becoming the super-middleweight champion of the world by defeating Antwun Echols in Sydney.. Photo: Steve Christo

Anthony Mundine fulfilled his vow as a nine-year-old to win the world championship his father Tony Mundine fought for 
and lost in Argentina in 1974 when he defeated Antwun Echols on points over 12 rugged rounds at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.

Mundine revealed after his fight that he gone into the bout with a broken rib, an injury he sustained a month ago.

His spectacular 20-fight boxing career never looked like coming to the brutal end Echols promised when he predicted he 
would stop him in five rounds.

Echols saw Mars exploding at close range last night, the Red Planet landing in the form of Mundine's left hand to the jaw 
to claim the World Boxing Association super-middleweight title.

Twenty-nine years ago, Tony Mundine snr, triple boxing champion of Australia from middleweight to heavyweight divisions, challenged Carlos Monzon for the world middleweight championship only to be stopped in seven gruelling rounds 
by the Argentine in Buenos Aires.

It was that defeat which was Anthony Mundine's burning torch within last night, having promised his father as a boy 
he would one day claim a world championship belt.

Now, the likelihood is that Mundine will take a long rest and prepare for a continuation rather than make a comeback to 
his first love, rugby league.

Mundine entered the ring last night to become Australia's ninth world boxing champion, following in the steps of Jimmy 
Carruthers, Johnny Famechon, Lionel Rose, Rocky Mattioli, Lester Ellis, Barry Michael, Jeff Fenech and Kostya Tszyu. 
Nathan Sting recently won the World Boxing Union's world bantamweight title, but it is one of the lesser-known organisations.

Mundine, 28, turned to professional boxing 38 months ago after a successful rugby league career with St George Illawarra, 
making a brief appearance for NSW in the 1999 State of Origin series. He paced restlessly during the American anthem.

In a turbulent, controversial change of sport which has provided boxing with a flood of back-page - and front-page - headlines 
and put new life into ailing sport, Mundine won 18 fights before last night's bout, 14 by knockout, his 2001 loss being 
by knockout to the German Sven Ottke. Echols came into the fight with 26 knockouts against 34 professional opponents 
with four losses and a draw.

Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald  4 September 2003


Star Wars comes to Sydney

By Garry Maddox, Film Writer
June 27 2003


The main cast is back in Sydney. A 1000-strong crew is hard at work. And director George Lucas has finished the script.

The final episode in the Star Wars saga is about to start filming at Fox Studios.

The producer, Rick McCallum, said yesterday that Episode III would be shot almost entirely inside the studios
 from next Monday. The main shoot would take 12 weeks, with Lucas returning for additional filming over the
 next 18 months.

The only shooting outside Sydney would be some plate photography - for visual effects - in Italy, New Zealand
 and Switzerland.

The $US115 million ($172 million) film has yet to get a title but covers Anakin Skywalker turning to the dark
 side to become Darth Vader - completing the six-film saga that began with Star Wars in 1977.
 
Episode III will use 60 Australian cast members and up to 300 extras. As well as returning cast members Joel
 Edgerton and Jay Laga'aia, there are roles for Bruce Spence, Rebecca Jackson Mendoza and Genevieve
 O'Reilly.

Also back are Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits and
 Christopher Lee, while Peter Mayhew plays Chewbacca for the first time since Return of the Jedi.

The last episode contained two scenes with an Australian flavour - some kangaroo-like animals and a podium
 shaped like the Opera House. McCallum described them as homages to the country and said more could be
 expected this time round.

After shooting in 40 countries in 13 years, the producer of the last three Star Wars films said Sydney was the
 easiest place in the world to make a film, partly because of the strong acting and film-making talent.

"There's no bullshit, no problems, everybody is so enthusiastic and not at all litigious."

Courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper
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Hollywood flirting with Australian shoots

June 27 2003

Hollywood studios are examining shooting at least six big budget films in Australia, including the sequel to
 comedian Jim Carrey's 1994 hit The Mask.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, in Los Angeles as part of a 12-day trade mission in the US, said he has held
 discussions with studio representatives, including Warner Bros, to shoot films in his state.

"We are very confident about bringing new projects to Queensland," Mr Beattie said yesterday.

The Premier said discussions were underway to shoot Mask II - Son of Mask in Queensland.

With the $200 million budgeted Peter Pan film shoot wrapping earlier this month at the Warner Roadshow
 Studios on the Gold Coast, Queensland was now in the midst of a slump in film production.

But Mr James said he was aware Hollywood studios were looking at Australia as a venue for at least six
 potential big budget films.

"The big picture films are there," he said.

Mr Beattie said he had been inspired during his US trip to investigate creating new film related industries in
 Queensland.

"I think we need to look even further in terms of the movie industry like, for example, computer games and
 special effects," he said.

"Look at the special effects in movies like Terminator 3, the Matrix, that's a huge part of the budget. If we can
 develop skills like special effects I think that will provide a greater strength for the movie industry long term."

Courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper

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Blues Origin blitz

26 June 2003

The NSW Blues last night brought the State of Origin trophy back to Sydney for the first time in three years
 with a bruising but convincing five-try belting of Queensland at Telstra Stadium.

The 27-4 win over a demoralised Queensland in front of 79,132 fans maintained their undefeated record at
 Homebush Bay and inflicted the first consecutive losses on a Wayne Bennett-coached Maroons side since
 1987.

The series-winning victory also squared the all-time Origin ledger at 33 games and 10 series each.

Having led 17-0 at half-time, Phil Gould's side ruthlessly rammed home their superiority in the second half.

While game three at Suncorp Stadium on July 16 has no bearing on the result of the series, there will still be
 plenty of intrigue based on a number of incidents last night.

Queensland prop Shane Webcke and NSW replacement Phil Bailey were involved in a punch-up midway
 through the second half and Blues second-rower Kennedy was reported for a high tackle on prop Steve Price
 in the first session.

Courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper
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Australian sporting slump?

By Ben Davey
June 24 2003


What's going on Australia? Some of our safest sporting bets have stumbled at hurdles they'd usually bound over
 effortlessly.

Lleyton Hewitt's early exit from Wimbledon follows a few results which put a sizable dent in the nation's recent
 dominance in international sport.

Sure it was only three years ago that we finished fourth in the Olympics with 58 medals (behind the US 97,
 Russia 88 and China 59) making the medal to population ratio contest with the United States an absolute joke.

With 16 gold medals Australia became one of world sport's most powerful nations.

But now our world beating cricketers have fallen to the West Indies in three consecutive one-day games.

And the world champion Wallabies were similarly humbled by England at the weekend.

So how are other Aussie sports teams fairing at the moment?

NETBALL: Australia's national netball team will defend its title as world champions in the World Cup next
 month, having recently swept the series against South Africa 3-0.

BASKETBALL: The Australian under 21's team (Sapphires) just ended a ten game tour of Europe with eight
 wins and two losses, losing just one game each to Czech Republic and Russia.

GOLF: Australian Steve Leaney finished runner up in last week's US Open.

HORSERACING: Newcastle based Choisir became the first Australian trained horse to win at Royal Ascot.

SURFING: Australian Joel Parkinson finshed runner up to Andy Irons in the Nijiima Quiksilver Pro earlier this
 week.

HOCKEY: Australia's Kookaburra's and Hockeyroos have been in erratic form lately, with the Hockeyroo's
 suffering a loss and a draw in the first two rounds of the KT Cup in Korea.

The Kookaburra's recently went down 5-3 to India in the final of the Hockey Australia's Men's Challenge.

Courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper
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Australia, you're just not famous enough

By Natasha Wallace and Reuters
June 21 2003

When it comes to worldwide fame and fortune, Australia simply does not rate, with only Nicole Kidman and
 AC/DC making it to Forbes's top 100 global celebrity list, published in the magazine next week.

Friends star Jennifer Aniston snared top spot for the world's richest and most famous person - despite only
 earning $US53 million ($79 million) last year. Her husband, Brad Pitt, must have been slacking as his name
 doesn't appear on the list.

Joint winners of the number two spot are rap stars Dr Dre and Eminem, who also made $53 million.

Kidman ranked 16th, behind the Osbourne family (12), although she was more popular than Eddie Murphy
 (18), Jim Carrey (20) and Julia Roberts (21).

AC/DC ranked 55th, behind the Dave Matthews Band (32), Robbie Williams (37) - but just above David
 Beckham (56), if that is any comparison.

Courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper
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Charlie's girls hit town

June 2003

The 3 stars of the new Charlie's Angels movie, Full Throttle, spent some time in Sydney in early June promoting
 the film.  Among other activities they attended a glittery premiere of the movie at Customs House in Circular
 Quay together with heaps of local celebrities and hundreds of adoring fans.

Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu were made honorary citizens of Sydney.  Diaz lived in the Kings
 Cross area of Sydney for a time during her modelling days.

The film opens in Sydney on 3 July.

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