Australian News 5/11

‘Phantom’ Hits $10 Million

Ticket sales for the Sydney season of "The Phantom Of The Opera" reached $10 million in the first week of May.

"We had known from its phenomenal success in Melbourne and Brisbane that this would be a hot ticket, and it is great that Sydney audiences are so receptive," said co-producer John Frost.

The show commences its Sydney season at The Lyric Theatre in Star City May 11. It is presented by the Really Useful Company Asia Pacific and The Gordon/Frost Organisation.


Kylie Gets French Award

Kylie Minogue was presented with France’s Chevalier dans L’ordre des Arts et Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) May 5, acknowledging her "contribution to the enrichment of French culture."

The same week, the Aussie singer began her "Kylie X2008" tour of Europe at the Paris Bercy.

The tour costs a reported £10 million to stage, and sees Minogue making her live debut in Greece, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Luxembourg, Russia, Latvia and Spain. The tour finishes in London August 4.


Hall Of Fame Open To Public

Limited general public seating will be available at this year’s ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Hall of Fame, scheduled for July 1 at the Melbourne Town Hall.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Johnny O’Keefe’s "The Wild One," which ARIA chairman Ed St. John described as "the ground zero of Australian rock and roll."

The first act to be inducted will be announced May 18.

The rumour is that Iggy Pop and Jet will team up to perform "The Wild One" at the event, which will be broadcast by VH1.


Smoking Ban Hits Gaming Machines

The indoor smoking ban has made a major impact on poker machine turnover, according to figures from the New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing.

Turnover fell 19 percent in hotels, and 11 percent in clubs, to $230 million in March compared with the same month last year.

Heavy rain and rising petrol prices are also blamed. Gambling machine maker Aristocrat said sales of machines fell 12 percent following the smoking bans in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.


Aussies Get On The World

Crowded House, Midnight Juggernauts and The Presets are just three Aussie acts playing England’s Glastonbury Festival in late June.

In other global news, The Veronicas will tour the United States with Natasha Bedingfield, starting May 21 at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach. The Veronicas’ U.S. label Sire Records is releasing the band’s Hook Me Up album in "late summer."

Ska band The Resignators is set to tour Europe and the U.K. starting in July. The group will take in festivals including Australia’s Exeter Festival, Mighty Sounds in the Czech Republic and Rebellion in Blackpool, U.K.

Sydney roots/rock/reggae band Dubbly is getting radio airplay in Brazil while on tour there. The band is about to announce an international endorsement with a surf brand.


Groovin’ The Moo Has A Cow

The 3-year-old dance festival Groovin’ The Moo’s first appearance in Townsville, Queensland, took event producer Cattleyard Promotions by surprise.

About 10,000 gathered May 3 at Lou Litster Park to see acts including Sneaky Sound System, Spiderbait and The Presets during the eight-hour course of the festival.

But Cattleyard had expected only 5,000. As a result, the beer ran out and only one outlet provided water despite high temperatures. Next year they’ll have a dance tent to provide shade.

Cattleyard faces another problem following Groovin’ The Moo at Maitland Showgrounds (NSW) April 26. Nearby residents complained about noise and anti-social behaviour by some crowd members. The local council will decide May 16 whether to pull the plug on the show.


Big Names Enlisted For Anti-Piracy Message

Various music associations brought in the big guns, including Silverchair, Powderfinger, The Veronicas, Jimmy Barnes, Human Nature, Grinspoon and Operator Please, to deliver an anti-piracy message to schools.

The messages emphasized that acts signed to major labels are not millionaires, and that file-sharing is stealing.

The 10-minute documentary is distributed to all high schools. ARIA figures show that legal downloads last year went up 43 percent to $40 million. However, this was not enough to cover the 12 percent drop in physical sales to $420 million.

There was some drama when Lindsay McDougall, guitarist with punk band Frenzal Rhomb, said his comments were "completely taken out of context."

He said he would never damn downloading, illegal or legal, "because punk bands use every avenue to get their music out there."


Short Notes

A 23-year old Foo Fighters fan was cleared of serious spinal injuries after a crowd surfer fell on him during the band’s show at Brisbane Entertainment Centre April 29. The venue strongly discourages moshing and crowd surfing.

Country music performer Keri McInerney got a shock during a show with her River Band. She tried to pull a plug from its power source when a lighting rig caught fire, leaving her with burns on her left hand and bruises on her left shoulder.

The lawyer who allegedly helped talent manager Glenn Wheatley avoid almost $320,000 in taxes appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on four counts. The man, whose name was not disclosed, returns to court in July.

An Australian invention called The Bum Box is not only a portable event seat (it carries folks weighing up to 120 kilograms / 264 pounds) but also serves as an advertising space. Brainchild of Sydney businessman John Smith, it has been used by the Commonwealth Bank as well as Newcastle Permanent’s Cinema Under The Stars and Sydney Olympic Park’s Movies In The Overflow.