Friday, July 3, 2015

Rupert & Matty Take Manhattan

There's more than one Aussie Rupert wielding power in New York. Whilst Rupert Murdoch oversees a global media empire from his NYC base, fashion entrepreneur Rupert Noffs is carving out his own successful career with his unique Gideon Shoes that are fast becoming the favourite footwear of young celebrities and popping up for sale in more and more US fashion stores.

Rupert Noffs (left) and Matty Bennett
Just last September we reported on the wedding of Noffs, grandson of Sydney's Wayside Chapel founder Rev Ted Noffs, when  Rupert married his long time partner Matty Bennett.
Now Bennett, known affectionately as Matty Bee is opening a restaurant with Noffs on Broome Street (where Whispers lived for 2 years in a loft) on the fashionable Lower East Side.

 To be called The Lucky Bee, food will be South East Asian inspired "from farm to table" and will join the small number of popular cafes and eateries run by Aussie ex-pats such as The Fashionable Cow and former model & photographer Lincoln Pilcher's Kingswood.
# When Whispers lived in Broome Street we were advised by the local plod to avoid walking home late at night. How times change.  Below : the location for The Lucky Bee

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bling & Rings & Things with Cate Blanchett

 Our favourite Malaysian gossip writer Kee Hua Chee has written of his great coup in obtaining a one on one interview with Aussie actress Cate Blanchett :  "like all ordinary unknowns all the way to superstars, no-one is immune to Dato Kee Hua Chee's shirt painted with his face !. Superstar Cate Blanchett ordered her personal videographer and cameraman to take this rare photo of her examining the shirt of a journalist for the time in her life !. Big honour for me" . Gee, the last time Whispers encountered Cate was at a Sydney Theatre Company party and she asked us where we got our (craggy) leather jacket from. Cate was in Kuala Lumpur to promote a beauty product presumably for big bucks. 
According to Chee he was given access to Cate  "due to his bling & rings & things, other top editors from across the world had to settle for a big press conference ". Chee covers the buzzy social scene in Malaysia for his own blog wearing some pretty colourful outfits more often than not, painted with his own image. We need this man in Sydney !
Below : some of Kee Hua Chee's outfits ,

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Doing The Rounds with Susan..

Susan Olsen above with Amanda & Jonesy from radio WFSM
If you didn't know by now Susan Olsen from the Brady Bunch is in Sydney.  She's here for the Supernova convention at the Olympic Park. These US style conventions have taken off like a bushfire in Australia and are proving to be real money spinners for all involved.
 How much does a (former) star make for a few day's work signing autographs and chatting to and posing with fans? Our inside source says top stars can make around $40,000 (all expenses paid) and lesser well known stars around $15-20,000 which is not bad considering they may attend 6 conventions during the year. You can find out more about Supernova coming to a city near you here.
Susan (left) with Ben Fordham & Sonia Kruger

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Dog / The Cat

It's an unusual name for a play, The Dog /The Cat opened tonight at Belvoir Street. It stars (heartthrob) Xavier Samuel of Twilight Saga fame, Andrea Demetriades of the ABC's Janet King fame and Benedict Hardie who just appeared in The Water Diviner (pictured above) and it's a romantic comedy with two interconnected tales of true love and stupidity from two of the hottest playwrights around, Brendan Cowell and Lally Katz (right). Opening night was packed and the audience roared with laughter and gave a rapturous ovation. And that's a good thing. The Belvoir season has been extended due to popularity but you need to book asap here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Everything Old is New Again :The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail : It's been described as the very worst and the very best of tabloids. Certainly their online version MailOnline is the most read newspaper website on the planet. The printed version has for decades had the most pleasing layout and graphics of any of the British tabloids and an excellent mixture of news, newsy tales and celebrity, society and show biz gossip.
So it's always a great compliment when the Mail takes a cue from Whispers at thesocialshuttle (as is their wont) to bring the public a tale as they did with this piece on 2nd June 2015  : about former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard with a fab pic of Julia jiving on stage to accompany the late Victorian premier Joan Kirner at the microphone.
The fact our tale with a similar headline appeared on June 29th 2013 is neither here nor there
JUNE 2015                                                                                       JUNE 2013
Hey a good story is always worth recycling and the Mail are experts at it. We reckon the later Peter Allen may have had them in mind when he penned this song:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Vale Bill Ranken

One of the leading lights of the Sydney social scene, Bill Ranken has passed away at age 85 after a brief fight with cancer.
Bill was known for the last 10 years or so as a photographer and a must addition to any smart party or red carpet launch but his life was one of great variety in many different occupations.

Brought up on the family estate near Goulburn, Ranken lost interest in working on the property when a tractor accident cost him the sight in one eye.

Whispers first encountered Bill over 30 years ago when he arrived at a Mayfair art gallery on the arm of the late Princess Margaret causing gossip as perhaps her latest flame with his tall elegant looks.
"Landed gentry from Australia" was legendary Daily Mail gossip columnist Nigel Dempster's description when asked who Margaret's date was.
Chatting with Bill at the launch- an exhibition of artists Gilbert & George's  huge canvas depicting bodily functions he leaned over to the Princess and quipped: "for God's sake don't look too closely Margaret, it will put you off the champagne".

Commenting that we were soon leaving for Sydney to live, Bill retrieved a business card from his wallet- he always carried a variety from his different jobs -and a phone call 6 months later started a long friendship of nightly telephone "debriefings" as we called them, to chat and laugh about everyone and everything that had happened during our day.

Ranken was often far grander than those he photographed. As co-owner with his sister Jean of two of the most desired country properties in the state, he was a millionaire many times over but few seem to know. With houses on both properties at Gunning and Goulburn, Bill lived an almost monkish style life usually bedding down in the working men's quarters in a barn. When not planting trees or retrieving lost sheep he loved to check on his favourite animals, ducks, which he had installed in the various lakes.

In Sydney he lived in an Elizabeth Bay apartment and breakfasted at one of the local cafes sipping Green Tea which he swore kept him youthful.

A man of great contrasts he had an innate ability to talk to anyone and everyone no matter their status and make each feel important. He would laugh that he sat next to former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser at the snobby Tudor House prep school.
"God Malcolm was boring when he was young"  Bill would say and Fraser would return the compliment saying to Bill  "you give our class a bad name" referring to Bill's admitted snobbishness But he was anything but.
In the morning he may have a quick chat with a Kings Cross stripper, hooker or a nightclub bouncer on their way home after a night's work. In the afternoon he could be chatting to Barry Humphries at a Double Bay cafe while later that evening he might be dining with Princess Mary of Denmark.

Meeting a new young artist, actor, singer perhaps a budding caterer Bill was always happy to delve into his extensive list of contacts and help in anyway he could.  With a natural kindness and expecting nothing in return, there are numerous now famous names who pay tribute to Bill's ability to point them in the right direction after a chance meeting. Always alert to meeting an interesting new person on the circuit he could also be cynical at times : "if Jesus Christ came through the Heads I'd want to know who his PR agent is" he once said.

At a social functions it was no surprise to hear Rupert Murdoch or Kerry Packer or the latest Prime Minster say : "Hi Bill, I need to talk to you about some rural matters" on which he had an encyclopedic knowledge. 

For Bill life was never meant to be boring and each day brought an incident to be laughed at and crafted into an amusing anecdote. Even his 6am run from Kings Cross to Double Bay (right up until the last 6 months) brought a tale to tell. He recounted that he was once taking a breather in Rushcutters Bay Park when 2 large policeman emerged from the bushes dragging a naked, wild looking man.
"There's my pal Bill Ranken" cried the man who Bill swore he did not recognise. As the nude felon was bundled into a Paddy Wagon he yelled "Bill,  please call my solicitor Sir Laurence Street!"

When the Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared off the Victorian coast in choppy seas in 1967 Bill was disappointed that he had turned down an invitation to accompany the swimming party: "I would have liked to have seen that Chinese sub" said Bill.

Whispers worked with Bill on many different projects, an airline magazine, Penthouse Magazine after owner Bob Guccione who had flown into town to launch the local edition spotted Bill at the launch party and told the editor: "hire that man immediately as our social correspondent", plus a variety of newspapers.
At one stage he put his rural upbringing to good use as the Rural Consultant for the late real estate agent Andrew Gibbons where he advised on properties for identities like Lady Susan Renouf and Lord McAlpine. He nearly got caught in an embarrassing episode when Gibbons asked him to bid during the auction of a harbour side mansion which was knocked down to Ranken for $5M while he wasn't paying attention. He quickly exited out a side gate pursued by the property media.

Whispers produced some of the first real estate videos for Gibbons with Bill fronting the camera. When the visiting British film director Michael Winner expressed interest in purchasing a local property and watched one with Bill extolling the virtues of a Moss Vale estate Winner said "oh bugger the house, I want that man in my next film".

On another occasion  he was flown first class to Tonga by the late King George Tupou V who asked Bill to advise on his  flock of sheep. Arriving at the airport he was met by the King's limo, a London taxi and driven to a bungalow to be shown just 6 forlorn looking ewes in a small paddock. "Shoot the lot" was Bill's advice.

Taking up photography gave him a reason to be at a party. Bill loved parties even though he rarely drank. He could tell you anecdotes from parties from the 1950s onwards and it gave him a good reason to chat to a pretty girl. Often after asking her name he would exclaim "I took your mother out". Sometimes it was true but in later years that became "I think I took your grandmother out". He dreaded there may come a time when he might be saying he took their great grandmother out.

A few months ago Bill complained of a back pain and uncharacteristic weakness. Diagnosed first as a virus it was eventually found  to be liver cancer.. Always practical he said : "I just want go to one of those rest homes where they'll fill me full or morphine until I shuffle off ".
For a while he was cared for by newspaper executive Cristan King in his Bowral home but the cancer got the better of him and Bill died last Thursday. He leaves behind his beloved sister Jean and nephew Matthew and will be missed by many people as another bright light in Sydney is dimmed.
This was Bill Ranken's favourite song and one he thought summed up his life. From Noel Coward:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Whispers at the Tony Awards

excited show biz folk..
We go to all sorts of lengths to bring the latest glossy news to our readers. And if that means New York then so be it. Here are our exclusive pics from the fabulous Tony Awards last night and gosh, Hugh Jackman wasn't compering or even singing !
The big winners : Fun Home won five Tony Awards, the most of any musical at the 69th Annual Tony Awards. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Simon Stephens also won five Tonys, including Best Play, the most of any non-musical play.
 And we went one step further and whipped out the I-phone on the Red Carpet. Spot the stars and their sensational frocks- they're all household names. That yelling is quite normal- it's the media who go quite mental at these times. Fortunately they are corralled in a pen.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Selfie Attacks at Terminator Genisys

And so to the George Street cinema complex for the preview screening of Terminator Genisys. It's an action pscked movie-if you like that sort of thing- and  Arnold Schwarzenegger was still in top form as he first avoided one fan tickling his chin, posed for a few selfies & then the dreaded selfie stick emerged. Below :some of the glamour puss' who also attended the evening.
Jade Albany    *    Pia Muehlenbeck   *   Laura Csortan   *    Fleur Egan    *    Sasha Simone 

Terminator Selfie

Jai Courtney poses during a 'Terminator Genisys' press conference today while Arnold Schwarzenegger takes a souvenir selfie with the Sydney Opera House.

Photos by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Heath Ledger Scholarship Awards

Heath Ledger & winners : Matt Levett , Emilie Cocquerel and Lily Sullivan
  Matt Levett was announced the winner of the prestigious 2015 Heath Ledger Scholarship Award and Emilie Cocquerel and Lily Sullivan were named the runners up.
For the high calibre judging panel at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Los Angeles the choice was not an easy one to make. Emmy award winning casting director, Laray Mayfield (Fight Club, Gone Girl, House of Cards, The Social Network), who joined the panel for the first time this year said, ‘It was inspiring to be on a judging panel where every person was passionate and invested in the result. The decision was not easy as each of the applicants are talented and unique and we are sure they will have long and lovely careers."
At the awards: 
at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Los Angeles : Denise Roberts, Phil Noyce, Luke Hemsworth & Mark Morrisey

Skye does Bassey

A video arrives in Whispers' inbox.
 It features prominent Aussie socialite Skye Leckie, wife of media mogul David Leckie who has revived the fortunes of several TV networks including the 7 Network for Perth billionaire Kerry Stokes.  Skye and David plus kids divide their time between a magnificent mansion in Sydney's Centennial Park and a very nice Southern Highland's farm. Skye performs her rendition of Big Spender.  We reckon Skye is a pretty hot dancer. Enjoy....

She's Baaack..

The Scourge of Fleet Street Madame Arcati has succumbed to pressure from her fan base and is back in business. Go here for the latest jottings of the British blogger who strikes fear into the hearts of society and those who dare to comment on it via the pages of the UK's ghastly tabloids.
Alternatively, Madame Aracti's long suffering manager (this is the UK's Dame Edan Everage / Barry Humphries very own Odd Couple) renowned astrologer "to the stars" (why not) Victor Olliver has just published his latest guide to your prospects for the next year. As we only half way through this one why not download his 2015 daily guide. We swear by it and won't even step outside the front door before we have consulted our Lifesurfing paperback.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

B/W Moment: The Unsung Aussie Orry-Kelly

 The Sydney Film Festival is now in full swing and there is one movie that should not be missed. Produced and directed by Academy Award winner Gillian Armstrong, it is the story of one of Hollywood's most celebrated artistes Orry-Kelly who died in 1964.
Gillian Armstrong
The chances are you have watched a movie where Orry George Kelly-his birth name, designed unforgettable costumes for the most famous legends of the day from Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot to Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.  Kelly is also Australia's most prolific Oscar winner having won three for costume design and nominated numerous times.

  Kelly (left) was born in Kiama NSW in 1897 before he embarked for New York in 1923 where he shared an apartment with Cary Grant and then to LA and a Hollywood career. In many ways he is similar to Aussie legends Sir Robert Helpmann and Peter Allen, both born in rural communities but with fathers who actively encouraged them in their pursuit of the arts.

Armstrong's film is titled Women I've Undressed after an unpublished manuscript Kelly wrote which reputedly detailed his affair with movie legend and his former flat mate Cary Grant

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Clover to The Rescue

  Sydney's esteemed Lord Mayor Clover Moore held a small shindig last week to farewell Town Hall worker Rachel Healy who is leaving to join theatre director Neil Armfield  (actor Geoffrey Rush's best pal) to work on the Adelaide Festival with Armfield. Left pictured are Armfield, Lord Mayor Clover Moor and Rachel.
Alas proceedings were drawn to a sudden halt when a party guest went crashing down in a faint perhaps overcome by the excitement of it all. Leaping into action Clover was by the side of the prone body in seconds and soon administering a cool clothe to the brow of the hapless guest. Below is a snap of all the drama taken by noted Sydney photographer and chronicler of this town's society, William Yang.

 Australian cultural icon Dame Edna Everage has sent Whispers a doctored snap she also sent to Sir Ian McKellan for his 76th birthday. McKellan was so taken with it he is now using as his profile pic on Facebook.

 Meanwhile Dame Edna's manager Barry Humphries has been interviewed in The Guardian in his capacity as director of the Adelaide Festival with some comments to make about the noted Australian diplomat Sir Les Patterson pictured below next to Humphries.

And a Tale of Woe : singer and musician Sean Lennon currently on tour in the UK has posted a snap (right)  on his Facebook page of the empty spot in his band's van where their radio was stolen a few days ago in Shepherd's Bush while they were performing. At last estimate his mum Yoko Ono was worth a cool $500M.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Voice..

We know you have been wondering what Double Bay's new Intercontinental Hotel looked like. The Voice filmed their new advert for the 2015 season there a month ago and here is our sneak preview with the Madden Bros, Ricky Martin, Delta Goodren and Jessie J. Coming soon- an exclusive tour of Ricky's Sydney base.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

VIPs Only !

You have to hand it you nightclub entrepreneur Karim Gharbi who rules the roost at Double Bay's Casablanca nightclub. His new VIP venture is a much needed service for Sydney : the concept is a one-stop-shop for anyone that wants the very best this city has to offer. Whether it's a Lear Jet on standby, the best suite at one of this cities luxurious hotels, the best table at our world renowned restaurants or just perhaps the latest Rolls Royce to ferry you from point to point, Gharbi promises to smooth the way. And we love his 5 day cosmetic package that will rejuvenate the most jaded.
How appropriate that Karim should launch his business at the amazing Penthouse at the Top of The Town in Kings Cross.
The above vista is just part of the sensational view from one of Sydney's secret party spots. And yes, the Roller with the open doors greeted us upon arrival. No, the pushbike does not belong to Whispers (we walked) but we can report that magnums of Moet & Chandon flowed for one of Sydney's best parties of the year. Whispers approved. And we aren't even VIPS!. Russian oligarchs should form an orderly queue.

A Feel Good Story

If you have not encountered Sydney solicitor Christopher Murphy (on the left) - it's probably a good thing !
Don't get us wrong. Murphy is one of the most sought after criminal lawyers in Australia. He's also contributed to many newspapers with regular columns and he's one of those lawyers that goes into bat for the underprivileged.
Murphy is also great pals with many of this cities most notable personalities from all walks of life : sports persons. politicians, movie stars and business people.
This is all by the way of introducing a nice little poem penned by Chris' young son Jesse. Whispers thinks it's a pretty neat poem in that sort of extensional manner in which children (Jesse is 9!) somehow have the ability to cut to the chase and tell the truth. Out of the mouth of babes etc etc.
Others agree including broadcaster Alan Jones (above centre) who read out Jesse's work on radio and Whisper's favourite thespian Russel Crowe who tweeted his appreciation this morning.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

When Aussie Stars Arrive

Have you ever been to Cannes. Whispers has several times. During Summer the lovely town is the ideal French resort. Meanwhile the Cannes Film Festival is an experience everyone should have at least once. The whole town is in a party mood and every day is an adventure.

The Cannes Festival may not have invented publicity stunts but producers and publicists sure refined the art at this movie festival where just about anything no matter how outrageous will garner precious column inches throughout the world and in the hundreds of European glossy gossip mags. Here are a selection of two Aussie stars Miranda Kerr and Naomi Watts snapped at several events and this is just the beginning!. On the right is former Oz soapie star Simon Baker arriving at Cannes Airport.
(pics :AgenceFrancaisTele)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Another Opening

The good and great are gathering at the brand new Nobu Hotel City of Dreams today in Manila where the owners will celebrate with a few ceremonies and cocktail parties,. Amongst those owners are James Packer and actor Robert De Niro who have teamed up on several projects. One person who won't be there is the Sydney journalist who requested an invitation - several journalists and photographers have been bussed in for the weekend. Apparently a hapless pr girl who submitted the name of said hack to Packer was left red-faced when the mogul pointed out in his inimitable style that the writer was on his media 'enemies' list.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Growing Up

It doesn't seem that long ago when the 'scandal' erupted in Australia that billionaire Dick Pratt had fathered a daughter with the vivacious socialite and lawyer Shari Lea Hitchcock.

Now 17 years old, Paula Sarah Hitchcock was spotted out on the town this week with mum Shari-Lea and a school chum at the launch of Karim Gharbi's VIP venture hosted at the swish Penthouse at the Top of The Town in Darlinghurst.

Polish born Pratt who died in 2009 left a tidy sum to Paula that includes over $22M, a $7M Watsons Bay house on Sydney's harbour and a country property. Paula, who looks  like her late dad, is set to become a fixture on the Sydney circuit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sin City Sensation

 It's never dull in Sydney which in it's long and varied career has been called Sin City and once had a reputation as the "Chicago of The South Seas" due to it's fierce gang rivalries.
Where else could noted Captains Of Industry be found battling in smart Woolloomooloo restaurants or even a Bondi street when media moguls James Packer and David Gyngel engaged in clumsy fisticuffs (over a woman?) and now the latest bunfight that involved another media name John Singleton (worth a reputed $300M) and hamburger giant Jack Cowan (worth over $900M) who doubles up as a director of the huge Fairfax Media outlets.
There was even a claim the dust-up that had an excited Singleton, who from all accounts attacked Cowan over an alleged sleight to his drinking preference- rose wine instead of a butch beer - that it was the lack of female companions that caused the fisticuffs.
The last time Whispers encountered the amiable Singleton was at the launch of his new Balmain bar (pictured with pal, former PM Bob Hawke) and before that was when he hosted the launch, along with Paris Hilton of his Bondi Blonde Beer at the uber smart Icebergs Restaurant.
above : bringing urban sophistication to Sydney: Karim Gharbi and a bevy of beauties
How timely then that nightclub boss Karim Gharbi should be launching his new VIP venture tonight at an exclusive party at an inner city penthouse (we'll be there). His services surely will be in demand for visiting VIPs and even local ones who wish to avoid the pitfalls that see them on the front pages of the nation's tabloids.

Lunching with The Cerrones

The happy looking group above all attended jeweler Nic Cerrone's now legendary Mother's Day lunch. Nic(left) is one of the countries most amiable purveyors of gorgeous gems and has happy customers world-wide.
He's also logged up a raft of international awards for his designs.
Most visiting stars including Barbra Streisand drop by his store (she also dined with Nic and family at their Hunters Hill mansion.)
Weekends for the Cerrones are spent at their Bowral retreat when they aren't hosting the well heeled. Amongst his recent creations was a $200,000 engagement ring for Lara Bingle during her doomed romance with cricket captain Michael Clarke. Perhaps he can whip one up for actor Sam Worthington !

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Slipping Standards ?

One aspect overlooked in the reporting of the glamorous fundraising event  to aid The Costume Institute in New York, the 2015 Met Ball which is chaired by the Queen of New York Society Vogue high priestess Anna Wintour, was the inclusion of guests who normally wouldn't get a look-in at the snooty end of New York society.
Whispers has attended a few of these events and even at a ticket price of $25,000 a head, there is a waiting list of the well heeled anxious to crash into Big Apple society. Two celebrities that have been denied a seat in the past were finally allowed to put their ample assets on show : Kim Kardashian and Beyonce were first-timers at the gala with it's Chinese theme to reflect a current costume exhibition on show. Also there was Wendi Murdoch and her daughter Grace.
Right : Wendi & Grace Murdoch

Pictures by Nicholas Hunt & Clint Spaulding for 
Photography by Nicholas Hunt and Clint Spaulding for - See more at: