Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Bloodied But Not Beaten
I carried a piece on this just-published memoir from veteran journalist Rod Vaughan on Monday and last night spent a most entertaining few hours reading the book.
Vaughan has been at the forefront of news and current affairs for more than 40 years and has reported on an extraordinary array of events and issues. In his book he revisits some if his biggest investigations including Bill Sutch, Ray Smith (Goldcorp), German conman Ralf Simon, child sexual abuse, 9/11, nuclear testing, working with Paul Holmes, Peter Ellis, and the Aramoana massacre.
For a look back at the past 40 years and many of the big stories this is well worth a read.
The publisher has kindly agreed to let me reproduce the opening paragraphs of Vaughan's chapter on working on The Holmes Show.
memorable moments on the Holmes Show
time I joined The Holmes Show in 1990 it had been running for a year and
created enough waves to sink a battleship.
celebrated walk-out from the very first programme of America’s Cup supremo
Dennis Conner set the pattern for what was to come and it ushered in a
radically new and exciting era in television current affairs.
hands like myself Holmes himself was a strange beast, the like of which we had
never encountered before: there weren’t enough words to describe him. Quirky,
cantankerous, idiosyncratic, self-opinionated, smart, kind, volatile,
unpredictable, charming, funny, intense, brittle, egotistical, sensitive and
sometimes manic. But never boring.
personal meltdowns in those early days were a sight to behold and held us
spellbound as he ranted and raved about perceived problems with the programme.
It was high drama and we grew to love those occasions when he would spiral out
of control and launch a torrent of invective at anyone who dared cross his
never encountered such public displays of anger in my life before and I
wondered what possessed him to behave in such an obnoxious way. But I soon came
to the conclusion that he was a driven man, determined to put his mark on
television in the same way that he’d done on radio and to hell with anyone who
tried to stop him. And he succeeded spectacularly, perhaps exceeding his own
expectations; The Holmes Show went on to become an extraordinarily
successful daily current affairs’ programme.
one very memorable year I was part of the reporting team.
Pushing the boundaries was the name of the game and I found myself in
waters, the constraints of public service television subsumed by the race for
ratings. It was heady stuff and I relished the challenges and pressures of
working in such a competitive environment.
I grew to
respect and, yes, even admire Holmes himself. By any standards his workload was
phenomenal; his day began around 6.00am on Newstalk ZB and finished at 7.30pm
on TV One. Sometimes he would disappear for a nap in the middle of the day but
more often than not he would be out and about filming a story before presenting
the show in the evening.
It was a
punishing schedule that he maintained for most of the sixteen years that the
programme lasted and there is no doubt in my mind that it would have killed a
he was well rewarded for his efforts, his income at TVNZ peaking at around $700,000 a
year, probably twice as much as top television presenters are paid in this
country today. By accident or design he was at the forefront of the star
culture that emerged at the state broadcaster where presenters received obscene
salary packages and were treated like show ponies.
it developed into a class system which saw presenters flying business class or
better while their producers and camera crews were sent to the back of the
aeroplane. It aroused resentment and, of course, envy, but given his talent and
his work ethic I don’t think any of us begrudged Holmes getting a bit of
also intensely loyal and generous to those around him.
Christmas parties he hosted at his house were lavish occasions where vast
quantities of the finest French champagne were consumed along with the most
delectable items of haute cuisine that money could buy. Typically the
festivities would degenerate into drunken revelry and I well remember one such
time when a number of senior news executives and various glitterati ended up in
his swimming pool very much the worse for wear.
or loathe him, and some did, there’s no doubt in my mind that Holmes was the
pre-eminent broadcaster of his generation, as was Brian Edwards before him.
Bloodied but Not Beaten
David Ling Publishing - $39.99
Photo below shows author signing copies at the book launch on Monday evening. Front left foreground is publisher David Ling.