Hollywood comes to Pitt St

On the Friday night before Christmas, Pitt St Mall in the CBD is usually a festive mixture of mayhem and mania,  but this year it will also factor in a large chunk of Miserables.
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Last-minute shoppers will be making way for guests and gawkers on and around the red carpet for the Sydney premiere of Les Miserables tonight, the third and final premiere that the Oscar-tipped film will receive.

Guests are due to start arriving from 5.30pm with the screening scheduled to begin at 7pm.

Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe are set to join director Tom Hooper and producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh to walk the red carpet which will run the length of the mall before turning right to lead right up to the State Theatre doors.

For Jackman, the homecoming marks a welcome relief after two much smaller but far more nerve-wracking screenings. “My aunty is French, and a big film buff, and always unfortunately, honest with me about everything I do,” he says. “She was the one I was most nervous about. And she was nervous about the French, the musical has never been as popular there, but she loved it and She said to me ‘Victor Hugo would be proud’.”

“Then I had the unbelievable honour of having the opportunity to watch it with the Emperor’s son in Japan. Throughout the entire thing it was wonderful. He was making so many noises at all the right times that I kept nudging Tom Hooper and saying ‘I think he likes it’.”

Jackman has been surprised by every audience response to Les Miserables. “It’s been a different ride for me. I’ve done enough movies to know this one feels different,” he explains. “Both times I’ve seen it with an audience have been very different. I was surprised, they were clapping throughout.”

Hooper agrees, noting that “there’s something terribly exciting about seeing this with a thousand people in a big room. In London they applauded I think twelve times during the film, in New York fourteen or fifteen times. Then in the final scene where there’s this massive barricade, they started clapping at the beginning of the scene and went straight through. I’ve never seen anything like it on any film.

“On top of that as the film ends you hear this extraordinary sound of sort of rustling and you realise you’re hearing the sound of hundreds of people crying. It’s like little animals rummaging through the undergrowth, it’s a very weird sound. The first time I heard it, I was like, is this a technical problem with the sound?”

Jackman has enjoyed the tears as much as the cheers. “Yes, you could visibly see and hear people crying at the end which is an amazing feeling to be part of that.”

Not that he is planning for tonight to end in tears. “This actually is our last premiere for the movie that I know of. It feels great to be back at home. Tonight there’s no game plan, the wheels may come off a little bit tonight.”

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Hyundai faces fresh recall

Hyundai VelosterHyundai has been caught up in its second recall controversy in three days, with the manufacturer now baulking at recalling cars with sunroofs that could be prone to cracking.
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A spokesman for Hyundai Australia, Bill Thomas, said today it had not yet decided whether it would recall a number of Veloster sports models over the sunroof problem.

The company is resisting pressure to recall the popular Veloster, despite the fact that Hyundai America has announced a full recall.

Earlier this week, the Australian operation was criticised for not recalling thousands of vehicles that could have faulty brake lights.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reportedly received 11 complaints from consumers about the roofs. Seven of those said the roofs shattered while they were driving, but the NHTSA hasn’t had any reports of injuries.

Thomas said “a small number” of Australian vehicles had experienced similar problems.

He said a local recall was “likely” but said the company was also looking at a potential service campaign.

“We’re just looking at the implications for our market.

“We don’t know whether it will be a full recall or not. We are not refusing to recall the vehicles.

“Our priority is to fix it and make things right for the customers,” he said.

Thomas said the cars affected were built between November 1, 2011 and April 17, 2012.

According to Thomas the problems were caused by an intermittent fault with a robot that unloads roofs at Hyundai’s plant.

“It has caused some damage to some of the roofs that has led to subsequent fracture,” he said.

The Veloster is the most popular sports car in Australia with more than 3600 sales already in 2012. The glass sunroof is standard equipment on the more expensive Veloster Plus model. The Veloster SR Turbo model is not affected.

Drive has contacted the Department of Transport and Infrastructure, the body responsible for regulating recalls, for comment. Follow Drive南京夜网.au on Twitter @Drivecomau Like Drive南京夜网.au on Facebook

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Fairfax quick to jump on new assets

Fairfax Media confirmed today that it has completed the sale of its stake in New Zealand online auction house Trade Me for $616 million, and dipped straight back into the sector with the acquisition of tech investment firm, Netus, for an undisclosed sum.
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Fairfax, which publishes the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, paid $NZ700 million for the entire Trade Me business in 2006.

Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood said on Tuesday that the sale’s proceeds would “provide us with a very strong balance sheet and the financial flexibility to invest and complete the company’s structural transformation”.

The sale cuts Fairfax’s net debt below $200 million.

While the Trade Me sale was supported by some of Fairfax’s major institutional shareholders, it also deprives the company of a key source of digital earnings.

The Netus acquisition – which is understood to be in the tens of millions of dollars – is designed to address this.

Netus founder, Daniel Petre, said the company will be charged with finding ‘‘investments that can benefit from the traffic Fairfax can point at new businesses’’.

He said Netus will be looking for opportunities that ‘‘have the potential to move the dial in a reasonably short period’’ which he identified as three years.

Earlier this week, Mr Hywood said the company is looking for small scale digital acquisitions.

Netus will also focus on helping Fairfax’s current digital business achieve better results.

‘‘We think there is some scope here as well,’’ Mr Petre said.

Netus claims success with previous investments like ReachLocal and Travel南京夜网, with an average internal rate of return (IRR) across its investment portfolio of 50 per cent.

Netus currently owns a 27 per cent stake in online video ads business, The Video Network, and 85 per cent of digital publisher Allure Media. Fairfax announced on Friday that it has acquired the other 15 per cent of Allure.

Mr Petre and Netus chief Alison Deans, both worked with the Kerry Packer-backed tech investment firm ecorp and helped develop eBay’s local operations which Ms Deans headed.

Mr Petre set-up Netus in 2005 with a $40 million investment from Fairfax rival, Rupert Murdoch-owned News Ltd.

News sold its half share of Netus in May this year for $22.3 million, saying the company wanted to focus its resources on ‘‘larger opportunities than those within the scope of Netus.’’

This year, Fairfax announced plans to cut more than 1900 staff and take about $235 million in structural costs out of the business. This includes plans to close its largest print plants in Sydney and Melbourne, turning the Herald and The Age into compacts, and introducing a metered model to charge digital subscribers for access to these mastheads.

At the shareholder meeting, Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett said a break-up, or demerger, of the core media business was ruled out after detailed analysis as it would not add to shareholder value, and would undermine future value creation.

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Christmas at kinder? Please sign…

Parents at a Montrose preschool had to sign a document indicating they were comfortable with a small nativity set, Fairfax Media has found.
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A parent at Japara Neighbourhood House in Montrose rang radio station 3AW on Friday morning expressing disbelief that she was asked to give permission.

Joanne Scanlan, the executive officer at Japara, told Fairfax Media the nativity set would have been withdrawn if a parent had indicated they were uncomfortable with it.

“It was one small Fisher-Price set,” said Ms Scanlan. “It was a nativity scene of Christmas and we were advised to ask the parents to just…initial next to the child’s name when they signed them in that they had no problem with it being in the room.”

Ms Scanlan said she made the decision requesting parents to sign.

“It was made by myself. It was brought to me and I said as long as the parents are comfortable with it, that’s fine.

“It was purely to respect everybody’s beliefs.”

Ms Scanlan denied being overly politically correct, saying “I thought I was making a decision that meant that everybody felt at ease.”

But she said she would have withdrawn the set if a parent had indicated they weren’t comfortable with it.

“I wouldn’t have had it on display when that child was here…(it) would have made that family feel comfortable. That’s the respect that I have for them.”

Ms Scanlan said she didn’t know if any parents had raised objections. “In hindsight it probably wouldn’t have mattered if we hadn’t done it,” she said.

The news comes after City of Monash councillors rejected a motion earlier this week to change the wording on council decorations from Season’s Greetings to Merry Christmas.

Mayor Micaela Drieberg defended the move, saying a large proportion of signs already had Merry Christmas written on them. The “Season’s Greetings” signs were there to reflect the beliefs of Jewish residents and others who did not celebrate Christmas, she said.

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Marketer wins gong for engaging volunteers

University of Wollongong researcher Dr Melanie Randle has won an international award for her research into marketing that really makes a difference.
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Dr Melanie Randle. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Dr Randle isn’t interested in marketing campaigns to promote new brands or products – she’s more concerned with marketing that achieves good social outcomes.

Specifically her research looks at how marketing can help foster-care and volunteer organisations find the best carers and volunteers, and keep them.

This research has led to the senior research fellow at UOW’s School of Management and Marketing receiving an Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy (ANZMAC) award.

The ANZMAC Emerging Researcher of the Year award is highly competitive and attracts nominations from universities across the world.

“It’s great to get recognition for my research. People typically associate marketing with commercial marketing issues – such as selling products or advertising,” Dr Randle said.

“My focus is on the social side of marketing. For instance my research on volunteering is about trying to understand the range of reasons that people volunteer.

“The research can then be used by volunteering organisations to design advertising and marketing campaigns that promote the particular aspects of the volunteering experience that are attractive to particular parts of the community.

“This will hopefully increase the number of people engaged in volunteer activities which has so many advantages not just to these organisations, but to individuals and the whole community.”

Dr Randle’s research is already benefiting Illawarra organisations such as Bushcare Wollongong, an environmental volunteer organisation run by Wollongong City Council.

“Bushcare has been able to use my research to run a campaign which has helped them achieve their goal of around 300 volunteers,” she said.

“Now it is using my research into what types of volunteering experiences people want, to develop support programs to get them to stay.”

CareSouth, a not-for-profit organisation which provides a range of services in the Illawarra and the southern region including foster care, is another organisation benefiting from Dr Randle’s research.

“My foster care research looks at what types of people make good foster carers, which has helped organisations like CareSouth design targeted marketing strategies to reach those particular types of people,” she said.

Dr Randle said volunteering and foster care organisations typically had minimal budgets to conduct their own research or marketing.

“Providing them with the findings of my research allows them to use whatever budget they have more effectively,” she said.

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