Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nice One, Andy

People with long memories will recall Andy Shaw as the host of the afternoon show Hey, Hey, It’s Andy! on what was then known as South Pacific Television (now TV2) during the 1970s.

He was an unappealing, if cocky, youth who could barely string three words together. He lacked any obvious talent and it mystified me (I was then the TV critic for Wellington’s Evening Post) that he’d been chosen to go up against the goofy but engaging Stu Dennison, host of Nice One Stu on the rival channel.

But it mystifies me even more that Shaw has subsequently led something of a charmed life in television, rising to the powerful position of TVNZ’s general manager for commissioning, production and acquisitions. Whatever other abilities he may lack, he’s obviously a survivor.

In view of his place in the hierarchy of the TVNZ Death Star, I’ve sometimes wondered whether I may have been wrong in my initial assessment of young Shaw. But then again, perhaps not. He was a yobbo then and it seems he's a yobbo still.

Today’s New Zealand Herald reports that at the launch of a new TV series last week, Shaw publicly dumped on Dominion Post TV critic Jane Bowron for having the temerity to shred TVNZ’s comedy programme Go Girls in a review.

Shaw was outed by Herald on Sunday gossip columnist Rachel Glucina, who reported that he called the Dom Post “just a waste of good shit paper”.

Glucina said he added self-satisfactorily: “I don't give a shit about shares or making money or columnists. I just care about comedy... If you don't laugh at this [show] you are fucking dead. I will find you and kill you ... [This speech] might cost me my job, but hell, I have options.”

Today’s Herald reports that Shaw has since apologised in an email to Bowron and told her that his comments did not reflect his real view of her or the Dom Post. Presumably he was just being clever then, perhaps carried away by the excitement of the occasion and a fawning audience of Auckland media luvvies.

The Herald quoted TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards as saying Shaw’s passion for television had outstripped both his humour and his wisdom.

I would say that in fact he has done us a favour by giving us an insight into the sophistication, refinement and wit of the people who run the state TV network. It helps explain the meretricious trash they bombard us with, night after night.

The episode seems to confirm that Shaw’s mental age hasn’t advanced much since the days of Hey, Hey, It’s Andy! and that the louts-and-loudmouths culture at TVNZ still hasn’t been entirely eradicated.

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