Behind the scenes of the Logie Awards

Back in the day when I worked on the TV Week Logie Awards as Senior Editor of TV Week magazine, there was one question I was forever asked – “is it rigged?”

And every year, I responded with the same line – I wish it was, as it would have saved me and a whole team of lawyers, accountants and assorted fact checkers from long days and nights of intricate checking and double-checking and even triple-checking the tabulated results.

Logies-bashing has become been a popular pastime at this time of year. The announcement of nominations for the 2017 awards sent some tabloids and the social media outrage brigade into near meltdown when Love Child star Jessica Marais was the only woman to be nominated for the Gold Logie.

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Jessica Marais won a Silver Logie for Best Actress last year and Erik Thomson took home Best Actor

That reaction is very interesting. These same ‘outraged’ people were noticeably silent – or didn’t even notice – years back when actor John Wood and variety host Rove McManus were the only male Gold nominees for a number of years when a powerhouse line-up of women dominated the categories.

Across the past two decades, women have clearly dominated the Gold nominations, and emerged victorious 11 times in 20 years. But facts about the changing cycles of TV don’t play out so clearly when there’s controversy to stir up.

The outrage brigade
Take last year’s reaction to the nominations of SBS favourite Lee Lin Chin and The Project’s Waleed Aly. One tabloid actually questioned that the system must be ‘broken’ when a woman of Asian heritage and a Muslim man can emerge as nominees for TV’s top honour.

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The Project team takes a winning selfie

When Aly took Gold, he earned a standing ovation in the room, possibly as much for his talent and the popularity of his win as for the onslaught of racism he had to contend with to get there. As I tweeted from the event, “Seems our industry grew up a bit more tonight”.

Aly and Chin were in the spotlight last year not because they dominate the ratings, but because they have full network support and strong viewer loyalty. In Chin’s case, she also mounted an often hysterically funny 12-month social media campaign for Gold.

And interestingly, hit shows in the TV ratings and what people actually vote for often have little in common.

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Writer John Burfitt on the red carpet at the Logie Awards


Power of the public

I watched in fascination one year when one male star – whose show was riding the top of the TV ratings and whose face was featured on the mag’s cover about a dozen times that year – failed to even scrape into the top five names for Most Popular Actor.

Or the variety host, whose show consistently came in fourth place in its timeslot, yet emerged every year as the number one choice in all his categories.

And then there was a time when the votes for the soapie actress in an extended guest role clearly out-did a permanent member of the same cast.

As a testament to her impact, she was nominated for Gold the next year.

It’s something you can’t predict, but it does say something about the ever-changing tastes of the Australian public.

Stars behaving badly
However, it is often said that what happens from the cameras on Logies night is far more entertaining than anything that ends up on the TV telecast.

Take for example, the star who had a hissy fit at one awards when he didn’t like the set. Or the feuding stars who had to be seated on opposite sides of the room. How about the pregnant leading lady who racked up a line of her chosen ‘party favours’ to one side of the red carpet?

Then there was a popular hunk so enraged when he didn’t win that he tried to smash up a glass lift, or the ageing diva who didn’t like her rival taking out Gold, and so spread a rumour the other woman had spray painted a minor award gold?

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Helping Lisa McCune hold her Gold and Silver Logie wins back in 2000

Or the variety queen, clutching a pair of Logies to her bosom, who was in a flood of tears as she felt she deserved more?

Then there was the naked TV anchor found wandering the hotel corridors, the award winner pinned to the ground by the zealous hotel security and the chat show host demanding to know why his recent acting performance had not emerged a winner.

A few years back, as I left the last party of the night, I was approached by a TV presenter who was so drunk she could barely stand, and confessed she could not remember how to get back to her hotel.

As I guided her back to her foyer, she revealed details of a bitter fight in the ladies’ room she had broken up between two rival TV reporters. “Only at the Logies!” I quipped, and we both laughed.

Change, and raw egos are the only Logies consistencies across the decades. And it’ll be the same again this year.

The TV Week Logie Awards screen on the Nine Network on Sunday, April 23 from 7pm.

Do you think the Logie Awards are still relevant? What is your favourite show?

Images courtesy of TV Week and John Burfitt

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