Wednesday, October 7, 2009

just another balmy day in Sydney...

The perfect start to a warm sunny spring day with a light breeze. Breakfast at Doyles with former chat-show king Michael Parkinson

In Watson's Bay with it's boardwalk lined with weatherboard houses-Doyles gives the feeling of a Mediterranean fishing village cafe. It was where the legendary Marlene Dietrich dined before she appeared on stage one night at the Theatre Royal in 1972, promptly fell over mid-song and broke her leg which not only ended the cabaret but the great Marlene's stage career forever.

Parkinson is as amusing and interesting as any of the guests who appeared on his show. He doesn't mind he may always be remembered for Rod Hull and the Emu incident or the Meg Ryan debacle."Part of the territory" he says. Asked what went wrong between he and Ryan, Parky has a quick answer-"it was hate at first sight and went downhill from then on".

2 of Parkinson's favourite interview subjects were Dame Edna Everage and the late Kenneth Williams : "both made an interviewer's job so easy-one could sit back and let them do all the work".
He related the tale of when he, Kenneth and the late Marti Caine were invited by Lady Hardy to go on a Sydney Harbour cruise aboard an ancient clipper. A proper boat as opposed to the gigantic gin palaces that now blight the docksides.

" I'd warned them both it was a sailing boat-not a cocktail cruise. Marti turned up in 6 inch stilettoes and Kenneth wore a suit, a homburg and a mac. He spent the next 3 hours shivering in the cold wind and complaining about his piles" .

His most satisfying interview-Nelson Mandela who he travelled to South Africa to interview. "I couldn't have the president walking down that staircase on the show like he was a celebrity" says Parky.

He won't name the few stars whose interviews were nipped in the bud just as they were about to appear-totally written off. But he did cope with a stoned Robert Mitchum, and a drunken Elliot Gould and Donald Sutherland . Sutherland apologized 20 years later.

And his very first interview for TV in Manchester ?. A young Mick Jagger who reckoned he had about one year to make the most of his rock career-as long as Parky thought he himself may last.

Parkinson's reason for his cool manner during interviews-"sheer terror "!. He doesn't miss being on television and he doesn't miss 'modern ' celebrity and says he wouldn't touch reality stars with a barge poll. This weekend he gives the keynote address at a journalism conference.

"Ironic" says Parkinson,"especially as I know less about the business than I did 40 years ago. But I'll muddle through ".

Michael Parkinson's "the One-Man Show" begins in Melbourne on Monday 12th October. Bookings at the Arts Centre

And so to a light lunch at our favourite Manta Restaurant on Woollooomooloo Wharf. It's strangely quiet for mid-day, mid-week. Except for one table looking alarmingly like the Last Supper.

It's new 'media personality' Mick Gatto and associates. Mick has been doing the rounds of the chat shows to promote his auto-biography (see below). As I took a snap and eyed the small gold mine adorning his wrists and fingers he kindly gave me a quick rundown-'Cartier, Versace and Bulgari" he said beaming. 

Mick Gatto (centre) with friends (c)

Mick's a pretty friendly bloke for someone who the National Crime Commission says is a figure behind organized crime and may have been involved in a few murders." Would you like a copy of my book" he asked ?."I declined."Never much time to read" I replied as Gatto's pals eyed me suspiciously.
I made my excuses and left.