EXCLUSIVE: Industry representatives including union, networks and television critics have called upon TV Week to adjust its rules for the Most Popular New Talent category for next year’s Logie Awards.
It follows US singer Joel Madden winning for The Voice ahead of other Australian performers such as Alex Williams (Underground: The Julian Assange Story), Robert Irwin (Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors), Will McDonald (Home and Away) and David Campbell (Mornings).
The New Talent category has its origins in the 1970s, long before international performers could effectively “fly in, fly out” for short term contracts. The question the Logies must now face is whether the rule now flies in the face of the spirit of the category, particularly with social media able to exert campaigning influence.
TV Week rule (2012):
This award is to recognise new talent on Australian television. A new talent is a performer who has made their major TV debut in at least three episodes of an Australian-made program of any genre in 2012, as the same character. This may or may not be their first appearance on Australian TV. It will be their first major role. Most Popular New Talent candidates cannot be submitted for any other Most Popular Awards or for the Most Outstanding Actor Award.
Under current rules Ricky Martin, Dawn French, RedFoo and Geri Halliwell will all be eligible for the award next year, unless the rule changes before voting begins in December.
TV Tonight has canvassed a number of opinions from industry representatives, most of whom advocate for change:
Sue McCreadie, Director, Actors Equity:
Australian television is a hotbed of emerging talent. Our young writers, actors, producers and directors are some of the best in the world. I would hope an award such as Best New Talent is used to honour our own creative professionals who are trying to build a sustainable and long-lasting career in this country.
Graeme Blundell, The Australian:
The Logies have increasingly become a mystery in terms of who votes and the sheer bizarreness of categories, let alone the concerted and callously orchestrated effort by networks to plug their people on social media. The Logies were once – in the pre-digital age that is – a ritual of comfortable national togetherness, a celebration of the way TV created unity out of fragmentation. We were all connected in TV land by the night’s playfulness, its self-reflexive jokes and the sheer silliness of congratulating shows that would have made us sigh with irritation if we had watched them. Now they seem a little beside the point, as so many viewers dream of ways of avoiding commercial TV altogether in an emerging media landscape that even Marshall McLuhan could not have envisaged.
Surely the so-called “best new talent” awards should be locally presented – the idea of it going to overseas celebs already on the way out is ludicrous and insulting. It’s a joke, Joyce and Graham Kennedy must be turning in his grave. I’m sure the man who named the Logies and who won so many so insouciantly would be appalled at so much second rate talent being celebrated. But then it might have amused him. He never had much time for TV. “The best thing about it,” he used to say, “is the free wine and haircuts.”
Michael Idato, Sydney Morning Herald:
First, and foremost, it does need looking at because irrespective of anyone’s position, it does seem contrary to the “spirit” of the category that veterans and professionals of many years standing can swamp it ahead of genuinely emerging talent.
The category exists for two reasons. The first, obviously, is to reward emerging artists on television. The second, more commercial, is to keep the young TV stars who are TV Week’s meat and drink centre stage, lest they themselves be swamped in bigger categories, such as outstanding or most popular actor/actress.
With regard the Logies, the “most popular new talent” category, because it is voted by the audience, is vulnerable to a very high profile newcomer to TV. For that reason we see people like Matt Preston, Joel Madden and David Campbell in those categories because they are “new” to TV.
Simple answer: it’s not fair, and the definition of the category should be changed to bring it into line with something more closely resembling the spirit of the award.
The definition does seem a little too arbitrary. David Campbell, for example, has been on TV for many years. He has hosted shows. He is not a “new talent”.
Joel Madden is a recording artist of many years standing. He has not hosted TV shows, but to put him in a competitive category against young, emerging acting talent, for whom the category was originally intended, gives him an unfair advantage.
The simplest solution would be to put an age cap on the category – that is, to leave it open only to emerging talent under the age of 30, perhaps. In truth that isn’t ideal, but it would certainly smooth out the wrinkle that presently allows media professionals from other disciplines, such as Preston, Campbell, Madden and Annabel Crabb to displace genuine “new” talent from the final list of nominations.
Andrew Mercado, TV Historian:
It’s totally ridiculous that Joel Madden was even nominated in the Logies‘ Best New Talent category, let alone that he won. He’s been a huge American rock star for years now and there aren’t that many Aussies who could match his worldwide fan base, let alone win against him in such a contest. Change the rules now to exclude international superstars who only fly into Australia to appear on reality shows (and snag lucrative advertising campaigns on the side) or next year a Spice Girl could win Best New Female Talent.
James Manning, Mediaweek:
I am very relaxed about Australian artists competing against the best from around the world. It would be nice to have an all-Aussie event, but it is also good to open it up to anybody working here. If Australian audiences enjoy watching these people at work in our productions they should be able to vote for them. If one of the international judges win next year good luck to them.
Seven Network spokesperson:
Nine and TV Week were way too cute in the way this award played out. The true spirit of a genuine vote is under threat and needs to be overhauled if TV Week want to protect the integrity of the awards.
SBS has always championed up-and-coming, home-grown Australian talent and would of course want them have a fair chance of winning in the New Talent category at the Logies.
Brian Walsh, Foxtel:
I’m a bit bemused by some of my colleagues who get very indignant about the TV Week Logie Awards primarily because we all need to remember the awards are run by a magazine and they’re in the business of selling magazines and people like Joel Madden sell TV Week magazines. So before the the industry starts jumping up and down as to whether Joel Madden was the right or the wrong choice I think we need to recognise it is the TV Week Logie Awards and the industry would be far better off putting their energy into doing something that was a recognised industry awards event that was celebrated by the industry at large, rather than spending all their time criticising what TV Week do.
TV Week is a commercial enterprise so they’re entitled to run it the way they see fit. We support the TV Week Logies Awards but we don’t always agree with some of the decisions that are made in the categories. But we respect that their position is that they are running their business. We, for one, are very supportive of the AACTA Awards. It’s something which we think the rest of the television industry would support as well. That really is in my view the national awards event that recognises excellence in Australian film and television. Its purpose is to recognise excellence from new and old talent and so before the networks get on the old jumping horse criticising TV Week, I think they might be wiser spending their energy to support the AACTA Awards as another outlet for showcasing Australian talent.
The ABC confirms it lodged a protest with TV Week over Joel Madden winning Most Popular New Talent and didn’t seek to comment further.
TEN declined to comment.
A Nine spokesperson maintains that the nomination of Joel Madden was fairly submitted and fairly voted by the public under the 2012 Logie rules.
TV Tonight believes the category should apply to Australian-based performers.
The final word goes to TV Week itself. With awards that have spanned over 50 years, it has continually had to evolve its categories to reflect a growing industry and a changing landscape.
It is currently consulting with networks over proposed changes for the 56th Logie Awards in 2014.
Emma Nolan, Editor TV Week:
We reassess the awards and criteria every year based on current industry trends, ratings and feedback from the networks. We will have some very exciting changes to announce over the coming weeks.