Wednesday, September 23, 2009

the prince steps out of the darkness

For over 40 years John Laws dominated the airwaves making him one of the richest broadcasters on the planet and then quietly retired a little under 2 years ago. 

Last night he made a rare public appearance for the launch of Bruce Beresford's Mao's Last Dancer, premiered this week at the Toronto Film Festival to critical acclaim and screened for a Sydney audience at the elegant State Theatre.

The film is based on the life of  Li Cunxin, born into poverty who was selected to train at Madame Mao's Beijing Dance Academy. At 18 Li was offered one of the first scholarships between America and China to train in Houston, Texas.

He defected with the help of then VP George Bush Snr and went on to become one of world's ballet greats.  Cunxin wrote a best-selling book of his life and now lives in Melbourne where he works as a stockbroker and on the lecture circuit.

Lawsie-who earlier last year sold up all his properties and huge vintage auto collection to retire to the Woolloomooloo penthouse next to Russell Crowe rarely moves far from home.

Especially as he half-owns Ottos, the wharf's chic premier restaurant where he lunches everyday..very long lunches with his beloved 'Princess' Caroline. Added to his much smaller car collection -his personal favourite the latest powder blue Rolls convertible, is a golf cart to avoid that cumbersome walk from Ottos to home -about 100 yards-without any pesky breathalyzer vans in sight. Lawsie's great love of Jack Daniels is legendary,

Laws spent years expounding his home-spun wisdom and won over the hearts of the working classes and the truckers of the land. They all thought he was one of them, especially when he regularly attended the Tamworth Country Music Festival. But Laws is an avowed opera and ballet buff and every year  slipped off quietly to spend a month at his 2 favourite hangouts, the George Cinq in Paris and the Cipriani in Venice.

Now he spends 2 months in each plus 2 months onboard the extraordiary luxury apartment liner
The World while it casually cruises the Mediterranean. And perhaps shares a cuppa over the fence with Russell when both are at home.