Sunday, June 24, 2012

Girlfriend Rimmel Model Search; Johnny Ruffo at Parramatta Westfield, Sydney - 23rd June 2012

Johnny Ruffo at Parramatta Westfield, Sydney, Australia


Movies Hollywood Music Celebrities Fashion Entertainment Sydney Australia

Today the Girlfriend Rimmel Model Search was held at Westfield, Parramatta, with celebs such as Johnny Ruffo and 'Young Men Society' thrown into the mix.

Sydney is the third stop in a national tour of the country, offering teen Australians a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at international stardom. The Girlfriend Rimmel Model Search stands as Australia's most esteemed modelling initiative, launching the career of some of Australia's most celebrated modelling faces including Catherine McNeil, Alyssa Sutherland, Abbey Lee, Pania Rose, Samantha Harris and Ruby Rose.

As Australia's favourite teen magazine searches the nation to uncover fresh modelling talent, all teenage girls aged 13 years and over are encouraged to attend the roadshow at Westfield Parramatta today.

The overall winner of the 2012 Girlfriend Rimmel Model Search will receive a two-year contract with Chic Management and an opportunity to meet Next Model Management in New York; an all-expenses paid trip to Sydney for the finalists' fashion shoot; an appearance in two fashion shoots for Girlfriend magazine and a one-year supply of Rimmel London products.

The 22nd annual Girlfriend Rimmel Model Search for 2012 arrives in Sydney this morning, searching for the freshest modelling talent.

News Backgrounder...

Maddison Coluccio in Girlfriend magazine model search...

Maddison Coluccio is chasing a career on the catwalk under the watchful eyes of her big sisters.

The Ashcroft teenager has been shortlisted in the Girlfriend Rimmel Model Search.

Now in its 22nd year, the competition was instrumental in the careers of internationally recognised models such as Samantha Harris, Catherine McNeil and Abbey Lee Kershaw.

While Maddison said it would be "really cool" to win, she was most looking forward to the competition process.

"I really like all of it. It's exciting going through the costume changes and hair and make-up," she said. "It can be competitive but mostly just fun. If I get upset my big sisters Elyce and Lauren are usually there to cheer me up."

The teen advised her family is supportive and keeps her grounded.

"I know the whole cliche of real beauty coming from within and I totally agree," Maddison said.

"My family and friends are always there for me."

The competition arrives in Sydney this Saturday from 9am at Westfield Parramatta - the third stop in a national tour.

The overall winner will receive a two-year contract with Chic Management and an opportunity to meet Next Model Management in New York, an all-expenses-paid trip to Sydney for the finalists' fashion shoot, an appearance in two fashion shoots for Girlfriend magazine and a one-year supply of Rimmel London products.


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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth attend 'Snow White and the Huntsman' movie premiere - Bondi Junction, Sydney - 19th June 2012

Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth attend 'Snow White and the Huntsman' movie premiere - Bondi Junction, Sydney


Movies Hollywood Snow White and The Huntsman Chris Hemsworth Universal Pictures Entertainment Sydney Australia

Kristen Stewart, Australia's own Chris Hemsworth and a swag of other celebrities attended the Sydney premiere of 'Snow White' at Bondi Junction in Sydney earlier this evening.

Hundreds of fans and dozens of news media covered the event for the movie which is tipped to be a big money winner and a favorite with critics.

Well done to everyone involved in the success of this hot new Hollywood movie.

News Update...

Australian star Chris Hemsworth has been enjoying some time off back home with his family, ahead of the Australian premiere of Snow White And The Huntsman.

Hemsworth was photographed earlier today enjoying some free time in Sydney.

On a rare day-off the former Home And Away star took the opportunity to go for a surf, despite the cold weather.

He was also photographed with his shirt off taking a dip in the pool at the Park Hyatt.

Hemsworth's acting career has taken off in Hollywood with recent appearances in super-hero blockbusters Thor and The Avengers.

He credits much of his success to his parents, who always supported his career. "When most people said it (acting) is crazy ... they said, "The couch will always be your spare bedroom ..." Hemsworth told the Seven Network's Sunrise program on Tuesday.

The new father also said he gained a lot of experience with children from babysitting his manager's kids and his older brother's three children.

"We were around kids a lot," Hemsworth said.

Hemsworth walked the red carpet with co-star Kristen Stewart at the film premiere at Bondi Junction's Event Cinemas tonight.

In his next project, Hemsworth plays racing-car driver James Hunt in Ron Howard's Formula One film Rush.

A release date for the film hasn't been set but we understand it will be in time for the 2013 Oscars.


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Monday, June 18, 2012

Packer's stake in the Sydney pie - 17th June 2012


Crown Limited Crown Casino Echo Entertainment The Star Australian Casinos Casinos James Packer

They are the so-called whales, fabulously rich gamblers jetted into town to be pampered by their eager hosts. Often demanding, sometimes quirky and superstitious, they attract the very best and attentive service, and enjoy the trappings of the high life, often gratis: six-star luxury accommodation, fine dining, live shows, top-brand shopping.

They can win or drop millions of dollars at gaming tables on a single visit. Wagers of several hundred thousand dollars are not uncommon. Occasionally, as much as $1 million is bet on a hand of cards. Baccarat is a favourite game.

Predominantly ethnic Chinese, their money also buys discretion and exclusivity. Little is ever revealed by casino operators about their identity or their gambling habits, but in a single year, at Melbourne's Crown casino alone, these VIP punters turn over an extraordinary $30 billion - around $600 million a week.

''It's simply another world,'' says an insider, still agog after a decade's involvement in the industry.

It's a world, too, that is fast expanding, as China's exploding wealth and the rising prosperity of nations such as India, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, spawn a new and vast generation of high rollers.

That reality, and the intensifying competition for their business, lies at the centre of a stoush over control of the Star casino, one that has several elements, commercial and political, and which is flavoured by a hint of hoary Melbourne-Sydney rivalry. At its core is James Packer's ambition to retain his dominance over VIP gambling in Australia by having a key say in Sydney's newly rejuvenated casino business.

The Packer-controlled Crown group enjoys 75 per cent of the nearly $1 billion of annual casino revenue generated by high rollers in Australia through its internationally acclaimed Yarra River complex and its Burswood casino, in Perth.

But the once dowdy northern cousin, the Star, tarted up with a $900 million facelift, is aiming more aggressively at the same VIP market, a threat magnified by Sydney's standing as Australia's gateway for international tourism.

Packer's response has been fierce and multi-pronged, with Crown taking a 10 per cent stake in the Star's owner, Echo Entertainment, and applying to the regulator to be allowed to move to the takeover threshold of 20 per cent.

Simultaneously, the Packer camp has waged a public relations war against Echo over the latter's lacklustre recent performance to the point of forcing out its chairman, John Story, while pushing for its own boardroom appointee, the former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett.

Packer's pitch has been for a united Australian front in the quest to wrest bigger numbers of the region's high rollers, and he has wowed tourism chiefs, and the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, with a proposal for a 35-storey luxury hotel at Barangaroo.

Apart from a potential public backlash, the snag is that Packer wants the hotel to include exclusive gaming salons for high rollers. But the Star holds the state's only casino licence and would need to agree to a hybrid arrangement that split its facilities between its current site and Barangaroo.

O'Farrell, unimpressed by the recent sexual harassment scandal at the Star, has appeared to revel a little in the Star's discomfort by publicly praising Packer as a ''shrewd and successful businessman'', while acknowledging that the Crown push ''is starting to look like a political campaign''. While Packer's ultimate objective is clear - gaining the Star's licence - he faces stern resistance from an Echo board that accuses him of seeking control of the company on the cheap, by denying a premium to its shareholders.

They appear to be daring him to launch a full takeover bid, something that could be in the offing once Packer offloads his remaining media interests. The sale of those, which indirectly include a 25 per cent stake in Foxtel, could raise close to $1 billion.

The longer game plan could be his positioning for Crown's own casino licence in NSW when the Star's exclusivity expires in 2019.

''Everyone concedes that Crown has been the key venue for high rollers in Australia,'' says a close Echo observer. ''They've worked hard and put a lot of effort into that market.

''But the upside for Star is enormous. Sure, you could tackle that market through some joint venture or tie-up with Crown, so in that sense Packer is absolutely right. But Star doesn't need Packer to do that.''

As for Packer's push for new blood in the Echo boardroom, he adds: ''Why on earth would you agree to put a competitor on your board?''

Echo is confident that it can offer a similarly impressive high roller experience as Crown's by coupling the Star with Echo's Queensland casinos, the soon-to-be upgraded Jupiter sites on the Gold Coast and in Townsville, as well as the Treasury in Brisbane.

''The truth is,'' suggests one stockmarket analyst, ''Packer might need Star more than Star needs Packer.''

But that's if the Star gets it right. There are plenty who see Crown's management expertise as vital in finally raising the Star to the high roller firmament. And they offer as evidence the Star's recent admission that the collapse of a Macau-based junket operator (businesses that scoop up high rollers and deliver them to casinos throughout Asia) had cost it $7 million in forward commissions and potentially another $23 million in unrecoverable high roller debts.

Echo, which has portrayed the losses as teething problems, unveiled on Friday details of a $450 million capital raising that will be used to strengthen its balance sheet and lend weight to its high roller push. But the announcement was accompanied by a downgrade in its profit outlook, further fodder for its critics.

The Packer camp argues that its agitation is on behalf of all Echo shareholders, who now include the Singapore casino group Genting, which has built a 4.9 per cent stake, along with Macquarie Bank, whose similarly sized holding on behalf of various investment funds would appear to be a punt on profitable future resolution. Standing steadfast, too, has been Perpetual Investments, with 8 per cent, which has backed Echo's board in rebuffing the Packer demands.

No one would dare suggest that the prevailing obstacles are insurmountable for the Packer camp, which has assembled an impressive roll call of political heavyweights. They include the former federal government minister Mark Arbib and former ALP national secretary Karl Bittar, as well as the former Liberal senator and federal communications minister Helen Coonan, a Crown director. Networking is also the name of the high roller game across Asia, and Packer's interests in Macau in partnership with Hong Kong-based tycoon Lawrence Ho provides a handy conduit for introducing more high rollers to his plush Australian salons. Their business is becoming increasingly vital as growth in the domestic gaming market tails off. While local punters contribute more in terms of profits, the high roller market (despite its skinny margins and greater risk) is growing more strongly, demonstrated by Crown's figures. In the latest corporate reporting period, revenues from local gaming in Melbourne grew by 5 per cent while those from its VIP program were 34 per cent stronger, albeit from a lower base.

Tourism chiefs recognise the potential should this trend be replicated in Sydney, drawing ever greater numbers of big spenders willingly pumping money into the local economy. The boss of the Tourism & Transport Forum, John Lee, sees the Bangararoo development as upping the ante in Sydney's claim for higher tourist numbers, just as Singapore's so-called ''integrated resorts'' have pulled a flood of new visitors to the city-state. He says the Packer plan has merit and would add to the harbour precinct's ''tourism offering''. But intensifying competition for VIP punters has not just triggered a casino ''arms race'' in Australia, but one that is region-wide.

At its epicentre is Macau, the only city in a country of more than 1 billion people permitted to run casinos and the site of several billion-dollar developments.

Having already eclipsed Las Vegas, the territory's 30 casinos are expected to rake in revenues of more than $US40 billion in 2012 (about 10 times the gaming revenues of Australia's 13 casinos), of which high rollers can be expected to account for 70 per cent.

Singapore is fast establishing itself, too, as a key high-roller destination. The 31 VIP salons of the $5 billion Marina Bay Sands, for example, already draw 60 per cent of that complex's gaming revenues.

The widespread assumption is that - notwithstanding the Chinese economy's recent slowing - the premium gambling pie has years of expansion ahead, and the chairman of Marina Bay's Las Vegas parent company, the US billionaire Sheldon Adelson, identifies a growing new class of gambler.

''We are constantly surprised at who they are, the number of people, how they come out of the woodwork and how many there are in the world,'' he recently told Singapore's Straits Times. ''There was a time, 10, 15 years ago, that people thought that in the entire world, there were as few as 150 VIP players. We sometimes get that in a few days, a week or two weeks. So the word plateau, in terms of Asia, is not in our vocabulary.''

But the breadth of competition is likely to demand more creative ways for luring gamblers farther south than Singapore, a fact that could affect the sort of inducements offered to ''whales'' by local operators, such as the extent of ''loss rebates'', where casinos cover a portion of a high roller's losses.

Packer's remedy of a united front also calls for better support from governments to maintain tax and other advantages, which could be extended to faster visa and customs clearances for high rollers to match the efficiency of Singapore.

The Star's ''fate'', meanwhile, may not be determined for some time, with no guarantee that a takeover bid will materialise to unlock the stalemate.

But some ponder a deal that would see some of Crown's interests in Macau passed to Genting, providing Packer with the financial muscle to swallow Echo. At the moment, its link to the Ho Group demands exclusivity in Asia and, as one analyst noted: ''Who would want to rock that boat?''

But another gaming expert based overseas thinks otherwise, wondering if Packer might, in fact, prefer to be the big fish in the smaller pond. "If I was Packer, and if I had the option of cornering the Australian market or keeping a 30 per cent stake in one of six operators in Macau, I'd probably corner the Australian market. It's as simple as that." (Fairfax Media)

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gambling on advertising billboards in Sydney NSW; Packer and Singleton: You Bet, by Greg Tingle


Advertising James Packer John Singleton Crown Limited Politics Sydney Australia

With the 'Mad Men' TV series all the rage in Australia, Hollywood and all points in between, we thought the timing was excellent to bring you up to speed on some roadside advertising news in Sydney, Australia.

A mega cashed up company part-owned by media tycoons James Packer and John Singleton has started to cash in on major Sydney motorways, headed up by the M2 motorway.

Construction work on advertising billboards owned by Packer and Singleton's firm first started about 12 months ago and some campaigns are already up and running beautifully.

The firm is not disclosing its full client or campaign list, as you would expect - not that anyone else could likely give them much of a run for their money.

These are not any average billboards... they cost about $500,000 each all told, "Packer and Singo" are looking for strong return on investment and are looking to stand out from the pack.

The concession to erect billboards over the M2 was purchased by Manboom, a company owned by JP, Singo and Robert Whyte, from the M2's owner, Transurban, back in 1998. Talk about forward planning.

For more than a decade Manboom was unable to erect signs over the road because of road blocks from local councils! The M2 passes through three council areas and only one, Hornsby, would permit advertising billboards.

But in 2007 the then planning minister, Frank Sartor, amended legislation that stripped away councils of the right to determine policies for signs over motorways. The Department of Planning became the sole consent authority for motorway advertising.

The Media Man agency strongly suspects that a strained economy (and diluting council coffers) lessened council opposition to the advertising proposal put forward. You know... "Money talks and BS walks", whispered a Media Man insider.

It is not clear how much income Manboom makes from the concession to advertise over the congested M2. The firm has in place an annual payment deal with Hornsby Council, the Hills Shire and the City of Ryde in return for its signage rights.

It also pays for public benefit works commissioned by Roads and Maritime Services.

Transurban's spokesman said months ago: "The installation of advertising signage will fund improvements to the aesthetics and operation of bridges on the motorway, including new bridge facade cladding.

"The project will deliver safety improvements to the motorway and a designated source of ongoing funding for safety enhancements to the motorway," he said.

"The use of advertising signage provides an important alternative source of funding for infrastructure improvements and enhancements."

The M2 is in the middle of a two-year upgrade.

The former RTA last year opposed four of Manboom's 15 proposed signs on safety grounds. It cited a fear about "sign clutter" and a concern the angle of one billboard would distract motorists.

The Department of Planning upheld the RTA's concerns about the four signs.

Some studies say billboard advertising helps keep drivers alert, whilst others suggest they are a dangerous distraction. Readers - what do you think? A gamble with safety or a gamble on the investment?

Its a safe bet that Packer, Singleton and Whyte have done their sums.

In the meantime plenty of other Sydney councils are watching the project closely to see if they may be able to also benefit financially from extra advertising on their roads.

*the writer owns shares in Crown Limited, Network Ten and Virgin.

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Welcome to Media Man Sydney News.

This news blog publishes news and information which is specific to Sydney, Australia, as as events, entertainment news, property and financial, sports, technology, political and more.

Media Man is primarily a media, publicity, talent management and website portal development company.

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