Private Sydney: Jen's negotiations
Could model Jennifer Hawkins be making moves away from Myer? Columnist Andrew Hornery asks all the questions in this week's Private Sydney.PT2M5S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2gx8t 620 349 March 28, 2013
Watch out Jen! Rival executives at Myer were among the keenest observers of last week's shock decision by David Jones to end its contract with star model Miranda Kerr.
Myer is locked in negotiations with its star mascot, former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins, with her four-year contract due to expire in November.
And trailing not far behind Hawkins on Myer's catwalk is haute couture model Alexandra Agoston, whom the department store snatched from DJs and for a much lower fee than it pays Hawkins.
DJs ditched Kerr for one of its second-tier models in Jessica Gomes, who has now assumed the mantle as queen bee, fuelling speculation that Myer could be about to do the same with Agoston.
Hawkins' manager, Sean Anderson, is tight-lipped on negotiations, declining to discuss it with PS this week, but he is quietly confident his star charge will be re-signed on her multimillion-dollar contract by the end of July.
However, PS hears from within Myer that things might not be going quite so smoothly.
One of the key factors in the DJs decision to end its association with Kerr - who had been the face of the department store for the past five years, earning about $1 million a year - was negative feedback from extensive market research.
''In the end it is all about the customer,'' a senior source at David Jones told PS, somewhat prosaically. In recent months the retailer had commissioned extensive research into the model and her appeal among its core market: fashion conscious young women.
The results were not good for Kerr. Her increasing fame and high-profile jet-set lifestyle with Hollywood heart-throb husband Orlando Bloom meant many customers no longer ''related'' to the model.
''She went from being the local girl done good to this supermodel who travelled the world aboard private jets and partied with superstars at glamorous locations. While all that was good for the gossip magazines, for our customers it meant her image was no longer 'relatable'. We can not afford to alienate our customers with an image which they can not connect with,'' the source said.
Interestingly, Hawkins and her relationship with Myer have been the subject of very similar research. However, a Myer spokesman denied rumours that some of the findings have not been favourable.
One of the key areas where the Myer-Hawkins relationship has been rumoured to have come under increased strain has been speculation over Hawkins' appearance, which has been the subject of considerable media scrutiny, including from PS, over the years.
Hawkins has repeatedly denied having undergone any kind of procedure to alter her appearance, and she would appear just as popular as ever judging by the turnout to the opening of the new Townsville Myer store, when 12,000 fans showed up to see her.
Brooks back in Murdoch fold?
Are we to believe that Rupert Murdoch's former right-hand woman Rebekah Brooks, the central character in the phone-hacking scandal which rocked his empire to its very core, is really in Sydney having a quiet family holiday over Easter?
According to one well-placed source PS spoke with on Thursday, that's all there is to it.
''Don't draw any conclusions about the timing of the trip,'' the deep throat informed PS, though our mole agrees it is highly likely that with Murdoch in the country at the same time a meeting was on the cards, but probably behind closed doors.
Before Murdoch finally cut her loose, it was widely speculated that Brooks would be dispatched to Australia to weather the phone-hacking storm.
On Thursday, The Australian Financial Review speculated Brooks and her husband Charlie, who were both charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice, would visit the Murdoch country estate Cavan, near Yass, along with their 14-month-old surrogate daughter Scarlett.
Cavan has previously proved impervious to prying lenses.
The official word from Murdoch's News Limited offices in Sydney was a firm no comment, though admittedly Brooks no longer works for the company and her movements would not necessarily be known.
There were whispers around town that Brooks would most likely catch up with Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch while she was in Sydney, though PS is informed it would be in ''total privacy'', so don't expect to seem them at Shady Pines or Baxter Inn. However, with the Autumn Racing Carnival in full swing, PS would not rule out a sighting of former trainer Charlie Brooks at the races.
News Ltd's spokesman also refused to shed any light on Murdoch's visit to Australia, however PS can reveal Murdoch will be in Sydney going over print operations at Holt Street with recently appointed News Corporation chief executive Robert Thomson, another expat Australian who is referred to as the media mogul's ''closest confidante''.
A gaggle of News Corp executives from New York will also be joining them.
PS hears on top of the agenda is that dreaded word ''budgets'', a term which will no doubt send a cold chill through the company's newsrooms.
Corby quiet after bashing
You could almost hear the media chequebooks flapping about around Mercedes Corby on Tuesday night as news emerged she had been bashed in Bali.
However, what has surprised many keen Corby observers is that the sister of jailed drug-runner Schapelle has opted not to sell her story … well, not yet.
''There has been no deal done,'' said one of Corby's Sydney team, but added ''it is all about the timing and this wasn't the week for it. I think you will find it will end up in a magazine in the not too distant future.''
Indeed the Australian media's appetite for Corby stories shows no signs of abating - New Idea recently paid about $25,000 for a shot of Schapelle inside Kerobokan prison looking stronger than she has in years.
PS can reveal there are several willing homes for Mercedes' story, too, with a fee of about $20,000 on the offer from the likes of New Idea and Woman's Day.
Corby checked herself into hospital on Saturday having reportedly sustained a broken nose, bruising and internal bleeding to a cornea.
The circumstances surrounding the bashing remain unclear as different versions of what transpired have emanated from those closest to Corby.
There is also continued speculation that Mercedes has separated from her Balinese husband Wayan Widyartha, the father of her three children. However, it was Widyartha who collected her from hospital on Wednesday and took her back to his family compound in the heart of Kuta, not far from the Poppies Lane club Corby had been at on Thursday night before being bashed.
PS understands Corby was keen to avoid any media scrutiny about the bashing, which happened two days before she went to hospital.
It is understood Schapelle only learnt about the assault after being informed by fellow Kerobokan prison inmate Renae Lawrence.
Ian Roberts reappears
Flicking through the pages of Vanity Fair a familiar face appeared in the background of a shot featuring American actor and producer Scoot McNairy, best known for starring in Argo, Killing Them Softly, and Monsters. Dressed in what appears to be a Roman tunic and sandals, to the right of McNairy is one Ian Roberts, the former Sydney NRL star who became the first high-profile footballer to come out as gay in the 1990s. Roberts is now living in Los Angeles and carving out a career as an actor and model. He has caught the attention of acclaimed photographer Bruce Weber, who was commissioned by Vanity Fair to shoot McNairy for its Adventures in Hollywood series.
Bulgari black tie
A black-tie dinner is being planned at the Art Gallery of NSW on April 13 to reveal the recipient of the $80,000 Bulgari Art Award. Chef Tony Bilson will make his own art in the kitchen, preparing the dinner for the VIPs, including recently installed gallery director Dr Michael Brand. The dinner will also double as a farewell for Bulgari's Australian managing director Julie Ann Morrison, who is leaving the post to head up the jeweller's British operations in London. Morrison is being replaced by former Paspaley Pearls executive Brad Harvey.
Too much Ellen
Ellen DeGeneres generated plenty of publicity on her Australian tour, perhaps a little too much. By Tuesday PS was hearing that some of the country's top paparazzi were being called off ''Ellen Watch'' because coverage of her visit had reached saturation point and demand for her photo was flatlining.
The situation was compounded by the total lack of spontaneity surrounding the tour, with every move the talk-show queen and her Australian-born wife Portia de Rossi made orchestrated to the finest detail.
''This whole thing is so rehearsed that it has become boring. We wouldn't know who the real Ellen was because she has been stage-managed to such a point that she is constantly role-playing. That's not what a good paparazzo is interested in, we want to see the real Ellen because that's what the people want to see,'' one snapper told PS.
Throw in the omnipresent corporate sponsorship signage that seemed to materialise everywhere Ellen went, and most of the shots became unsaleable.