NZ radio host at centre of Kardashian drama

A New Zealand-fuelled drama has unfolded on reality TV show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, with a Kiwi radio host at the centre of it.


How does your Vine stardom grow?

A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song As Long as You Love Me and put the results on Vine. He wasn’t expecting much response. “I didn’t really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think,” says Mendes, 16. “I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool.”

Mendes’s Bieber cover went viral, and he soon became a popular presence on Vine, a service that allows users to share six-second video clips. He began posting Vines – mostly covers of popular songs – almost every day. “It just started to pick up in this snowball effect to where I am now, which is insane. Everything has come through Vine,” Mendes said. “I went to Toronto one afternoon for this Vine meet-up, and there was 2000 people there cheering my name. That was one of the biggest eye-openers of my life.”


A few weeks later, managers and record labels came calling. Mendes soon signed with Island Records, which issued his self-titled EP late last month. It reached No.1 on US iTunes 37 minutes after it was released.

Mendes is at the forefront of the first generation of Vine stars – singers, performers, dancers, comedians and whatevers who are attempting to use the online platform as a springboard to real-world success. Michael and Carissa Alvarado, the married folk-pop outfit who record as Us the Duo, signed to Republic Records this spring; they are widely thought to be the first Vine stars to land a major record deal.

Like Mendes, they started with cover songs. And like Mendes, they soon found that being “Vine famous” took work. “It wasn’t this thing that happened by accident,” Michael Alvarado says. “We thought about every single post, and changed our outfits for every video, and thought, ‘What’s the most strategic six seconds from this video that everyone can relate to’ ”

Except for Mendes, who seems to have wandered into tween stardom from a Frank Capra film, most Vine stars tend to be pragmatic about their path to fame. For every one who has worked since childhood to become the next Beyonc, there are easily a dozen others who see Vine as a greased path to an amorphous, Kardashian-like celebrity. They are conversant in the language of site algorithms and demographics. They know just which six seconds of just which hit song to cover for maximum impact. Many spend days editing their footage; others enlist video directors. They’re Vegas card counters, gaming the system. “To get on there specifically to be famous, I feel like that is probably the wrong motive,” warns Alvarado. “When you go into Vine with that mind-set, it’s not going to happen like that.”

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Except sometimes it does: Recent Casablanca Records signee Dawin got famous after a Vine he made – attaching footage of the much-memed Carlton dance popularised on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to his own track, Just Girly Things – went viral. “I found the right platform at the right time,” says Dawin, an artist and producer from Brooklyn who has spent a lot of time studying the curious science of Vine success, and how to get it. He concedes that the gulf between being famous on Vine and being famous in real life can seem insurmountable. “It feels huge, but I think it’s very possible. A lot of people were discovered from YouTube and then became amazing superstars. Justin Bieber had great success online, then became a global star. I feel like Vine is having the same effect. It’s actually happening faster than it did with YouTube.”

Bieber was discovered on YouTube, and the ensuing gold rush made it difficult for newcomers to that site to find any traction. “It’s really hard to be heard,” Alvarado says. “We had over 20 million views on YouTube, and half a million subscribers, but even that wasn’t enough to break through.”

Vine artists usually start with cover songs, then gradually introduce their own material (if they have any). They use Vine to drive traffic to their longer-form YouTube videos, or their Twitter or Instagram feeds. “All this feeds into building your brand,” says Keith Caulfield, associate director of charts and sales at Billboard. “If Shawn Mendes had tens of thousands of re-Vines and millions of views on YouTube, and Facebook impressions and Tumblr followers – when you add up all of those impressions, it becomes a tangible audience of people who are willing to engage with you and become part of your fan base.”

Being Vine famous can be lucrative; many of the platform’s stars are paid to endorse products, for example, but Caulfield says the real money is offline. “If you can move those fans from the virtual world to the real world, where they come to an actual event or buy your merchandise, that’s where you start making money.”

It’s early, but no Vine-spawned pop star has outsold Mendes, a musical novice who must now work backward – learning to write songs, learning to work a crowd – after releasing his first hit album. “Everything’s a learning experience,” says Mendes, who is on the road with fellow teen phenom Austin Mahone. “I think I might be picking up quickly like, how to perform and stuff.”

Mendes, who was raised in Pickering, Ontario, is an angelic teen who posts videos of himself singing soulful acoustic covers in his bedroom: He’s Bieber without the baggage. “He’s wholesome, and I think the reason he’s connecting with fans is the purity of this kid in his bedroom,” says his manager, Andrew Gertler. “I think the Vine thing was just the spark to the beginning of a very long career. I don’t think it puts him at any disadvantage.”

Mendes will resume work on his full-length debut when he gets off the road in the fall. He still uploads Vines frequently, although few hold out hope for the platform’s long-term prospects. “We can’t rely on Vine. It’s already changed in just the six months we’ve been on it,” Alvarado says. “The fan base has changed, the algorithms for how the ‘likes’ are calculated has all changed. Even some of the leaders have already left. They’ve moved on to Snapchat.”


Vape, adorbs added to Oxford Dictionaries

Don’t know what “vaping” is How about “listicle”

Perhaps it’s time to get to know them. Britain’s Oxford University Press is adding the words – along with other new entries, from “time-poor” to “Paleo diet” and “adorbs” to its online Oxford Dictionaries to reflect new language trends.


Downton Abbey makes gaffe in publicity photo

It rather takes away from the aura, doesn’t it


The return of some heroes


Yee-ha – It’s country music trophy time

A new generation of country music enthusiasts will be ramblin’ their way to Hamilton tomorrow night for the ninth National Country Music Awards.

Twenty-two-year-old Kaylee Bell and 25-year-old Jody Direen are among the seven individuals and three groups up for gongs at the event.

“It’s all about giving young emerging artists a platform to get their work seen,” organiser Grace Martin said.

The awards showcase has been held in Hamilton since 2006, bringing country artists from around the country together to celebrate the successes of the genre.

Martin said the annual event drew a large crowd and this year around 800 were expected in attendance at the Founders Theatre.

The winner of each category will be awarded a trophy and the glory of being recognised as one of New Zealand’s best country musicians.

She said the awards had grown in popularity largely because of the prizes offered to the overall winner.

The winner of this year’s Horizon Award, of which there are three nominees including Dan Cosgrove from Hamilton, will receive a Maton guitar and trips to a singer songwriters’ retreat in Australia and the Global Artist Showcase in Nashville.

“This is a very sought-after award, which gives them the opportunity to meet and work with overseas artists in the country music scene.”

She said young people were breaking the stereotypes in country music and it was important to give them an opportunity to showcase their talent.

This year the main guest at the awards will be Australian singer songwriter Morgan Evans, who comes to Hamilton hot on the heels of a performance at the world’s biggest country music festival and with two number one Australian singles under his belt.

Touted as “the new Keith Urban”, Evans has performed with superstar Taylor Swift, is signed with talent agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, and recently released his debut album in NZ.

Also performing on the night are Cameron Scott, Kaylee Bell, Brendan and Pat Dugan, Lesley Nia Nia and the Howie Morrison Trio.

Country music singer Kylie Austin, a former Trans-Tasman Entertainer of the Year Award winner, will be MC.

Chelsea Armitage is a communications student at AUT.

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– Waikato Times


Same price, same venue – Topp that

Topp Twins fans disappointed by the sudden cancellation of the duo’s Hamilton show last year can use their tickets to see them at the same venue just over a year later.

Jools and Lynda Topp will present their show The Grand Ole Topp’ry at Hamilton’s Founders Theatre on Thursday, October 23. A similar show had been scheduled for October 17 last year, but had to be postponed after Lynda Topp underwent urgent knee surgery.

A spokeswoman for the duo said ticketholders might have to get their tickets for last year’s concert revalidated by Ticketek beforehand, but they would be honoured.

The concert is based on Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry shows, combining comedy and country music. The Topps’ characters will host the show and channel stars from the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Also on the billing are multi-award-winning country artist Tami Neilson, supported by Dave Khan and Ben Woolley; the all-girl Johnny Cash covers band The Johnnys; X-Factor contestant Cam Luxton and top guitarist Phil Doublet.

Lynda Topp said just as the Grand Ole Opry had changed over the years, like the Topp Twins it had remained a cultural institution. “Our take on the Grand Ole Opry will celebrate country music’s diversity and will be a night of rollicking good fun, foot-stomping music to laugh and live by, as well as paying respect to something larger than ourselves.”

The pair often perform as characters, the most notable being the roles Ken & Ken, and Camp Mother and Camp Leader.

Tickets are available from Ticketek on 0800 842 538 or For details go to

[email protected]

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– Waikato Times


LiLo: My book will be like Harry Potter

Lindsay Lohan’s upcoming book will be like “Harry Potter” because there will be so many instalments. Not that the actress actually know how many instalment there are.

It was recently reported that the 28-year-old actress is planning a tome about her life, with claims she wanted Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James to work with her on it. There was also speculation


Dancers convey power and passion

Okareka Dance Company is a taonga. Its works are treasures to be savoured, thought about and remembered long after the production is over.

Mana Wahine resembles a collage made from the fabric of women’s lives. It celebrates their strength, their stamina, their playfulness, their maternal instinct and their physical and spiritual beauty.

But what begins as a collage ends as a fiery, gorgeous tapestry, one that could adorn any theatre anywhere in the world.

The spirit of the production is immensely positive and celebratory.

New Zealand needs these messages right now. Mana Wahine should be shown in every secondary school and every prison in this country, such is its status. If only wishes were dollars.

The creative team is exemplary. Choreographers and co-authors Taiaroa Royal, Taane Mete and Malia Johnston have seamlessly combined their efforts to produce contemporary choreography that is strong, vivid and innovative.

From a gentle and mesmeric beginning, the work builds to a superb climax that moves with its power and emotional intensity.

They have been strongly aided by their cultural adviser, Tui Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield. Her voice features throughout the performance and her face is screened at the beginning and end of the work.

She also composed Waerea, Karanga, Paatere, Whakatauaakii and Karakia for the work.

Composer Victoria Kelly’s varied soundtrack, with its insistent beats, bird calls, ocean waves and serene taonga puoro, is compelling and surprising.

The stunning talents of Elizabeth Whiting (costume), Tracey Collins (set) and Vanda Karolczak (lighting) fully complement each other and add to the overall design sophistication and high quality of the production. Rowan Pierce’s A/V design is particularly outstanding. The projection of screen images on to the dancers is especially successful, as is his use of shadows and silhouettes.

The five extraordinary dancers – Maria Munkowits, Nancy Wijohn, Jana Castillo, Chrissy Kokiri and Bianca Hyslop – received a justly deserved standing ovation.

They are a superb ensemble who hurl themselves into the work with total commitment and identification.

It was an honour to be present at this performance.

– Mana Wahine – Okareka Dance Company Te Whaea Theatre, Wellington, until August 16


Stylish Knick is not for squeamish

In the corner of an opium den in New York, Dr John W Thackery (Clive Owen) slumbers in dishevelled post- narcotic disarray. As ordered, he is woken by one of the den’s inhabitants and catches a horse- drawn carriage to the fictional Knickerbocker Hospital in Lower Manhattan.

Before he disembarks he injects cocaine in between his toes to put him in the mood so he can accompany the chief surgeon in his 12th attempt to perform a C section on a woman who is eight months pregnant.

With an audience present, the operation, one of many intensely gory procedures we are treated to in this 10-part medical drama, shows us in graphic detail how primitive surgery was back in the 1900s as a medical assistant strenuously pumps blood out like grinder on a yacht and is ordered, “More vacuum, Pickering, put your back into it!” A nurse reports that the patient’s pulse is eccentric and the mother and baby both die on a blood-soaked operating table.

Just as well the dialogue in The Knick (SoHo, 8.30pm, Thursday) is top shelf and the overall look of this period drama is so authentic you feel like you’re right there, with director Steven Soderbergh’s conjuring of the era making Martin’s Scorsese’s Gangs of New York look lurid and over the top.

The chief surgeon is so despondent after the botched operation he tops himself, leaving Dr Thackery in charge and under pressure from the hospital’s patron, the lovely Cornelia Robertson, to accept a black doctor (Dr Algernon Edwards) as his 2IC.

Dr Thackery is all ego, brilliance and is deep in addiction. He rips strips off pretty Nurse Elkins at a patient’s bedside, blaming her for an infection and telling her: “There’s no room for weakness and self-pity here. You should take a donkey cart back to Kentucky where you can concentrate on moonshine and poultices.”

Later, when he won’t answer his door because he’s going through withdrawal, she arrives on the scene to tell him his surgeon’s skills are required at the hospital, and he makes her hit him up. Watch that space – will he have a dalliance with her or his patron Probably both.

Doctors and nurses play aside, there’s a heap of related medical characters here, a low-life ambulance attendant, name of Cleary, whose verbal spars with a tough, cigarette-smoking nun are priceless – eg. she informs him that God loves all of his children, “but in your case I’m sure he’d make an exception”.

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The Knick is a welcome addition to the SoHo stable and has brought Soderbergh out of retirement to give us informative historical drama and command great performances.

– There’s a new chat show on TV3 tonight, 8.30. On The Michael McIntyre Chat Show, the UK comedian’s guests are Terry Wogan, Lily Allen and Lord Sugar.

– The Dominion Post