Closing Ceremony slammed live on TV
IN GOBSMACKING footage, Channel Seven host Johanna Griggs almost burst a blood vessel as she launched a scathing take-down of the Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony live on air.
Cameras crossed back to Griggs and co-host Basil Zempilas seconds after Sunday night's tedious broadcast wrapped and the "furious" pair immediately tore strips off the two-and-a-half hour ceremony, slamming it as rubbish.
"Look, we understand many people have been disappointed by tonight's Closing Ceremony," Zempilas told viewers. "To be perfectly honest Jo, so have we. It hasn't really lived up to expectations. I've got to say it's about the only thing they got wrong. They did get it wrong tonight."
Was the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games' Closing Ceremony the worst in history?
As the ceremony wobbled on into Sunday night, viewers took to social media to criticise performances, formalities and the decision to not show the athletes - or flag bearer Kurt Fearnley - entering the stadium.
While Seven is the official broadcaster of the games, Griggs was quick to side with viewers and wash her hands of the disappointment. Dressed in a sensible blue shirt with her hair tied back, she scolded those responsible for the proceedings like a very disappointed mother.
The lashing was particularly stunning because it came from Johanna. For many viewers, they grew up watching the warm and friendly blonde mum walk into people's poorly renovated living rooms on Better Homes & Gardens and exclaim positively: "Wow, guys! What a transformation!" But on Sunday night, she was fed up. And she wasn't going to feign positivity about this crappy DIY job.
"I'm sorry, you're being way too polite," Griggs told her co-host. "People are thinking that Channel Seven has chosen not to show pictures of athletes or not to show the flag bearer, Kurt Fearnley ... We can only show the pictures that are provided by the actual host broadcasters. They made the decision not to have athletes enter the stadium. I'm furious. Actually wrecking a tradition that is so important ... You want to see the athletes come in. You want to see them jumping in front of camera. You want to see them celebrating 11 days of great sport. We missed out on all of that."
Producers of the Commonwealth Games' Closing Ceremony were facing a lot of stress in the lead up to Sunday night's broadcast. The Opening Ceremony was widely panned and labelled an embarrassment, so the pressure was huge - kind of like when you've got to reverse parallel park in front of a really busy cafe.
Did producers pull it off? Sticking with the above parallel parking analogy, they basically reversed into the Pulsar behind them, rammed into the Camry in front of them and sideswiped a cyclist as they tried to speed off in front of shocked brunch-goers.
It is always about the athletes. A closing ceremony is a thank you for their efforts and a celebration of the city and culture that hosted these efforts. I got none of that tonight and couldn't have summed it up better than Jo. Memorable television.— Warwick Long (@Warwick_Long) 15 April 2018
The spirit of sport, commraderie and how much the games mean to the stars of the show... the athletes...completely disregarded with a closing ceremony that missed the point! #flabbergasted #EpicFail #NoExcuse #GC2018 https://t.co/nZVzIZWe2r— Michael O'Dwyer (@modsteroz) 15 April 2018
Illustrating just how lacklustre the ceremony was, Griggs told viewers most people - including athletes - had left the stadium midway through proceedings.
"There's no athletes in here. I've never seen the stadium so empty," she said.
Zempilas agreed - and slammed the formalities of the evening, which included a long presentation promoting 2022 host city Birmingham, as "self-indulgent".
"We've never seen a stadium as empty as this. So soon after the conclusion of a Closing Ceremony," he said. "To be brutally honest, most of the athletes left during the ceremony. The speeches - look, we understand the dignitaries need to get their messages out there, including the Birmingham presentation. [But] They were way too long tonight. Way too long. Dare I say, a little self-indulgent."
So, what were we treated to on Sunday night? As the old saying goes, if a major televised Australian event doesn't feature a string of former Australian Idol runners-up and Kate Ceberano belting out a Deborah Conway cover, did it even happen?
While the Opening Ceremony was akin to a Rock Eisteddfod on sand, Sunday's closing was a very early rehearsal for Carols In The Domain.
It appears producers were playing a weird game to see how many former Australian Idol contestants they could fit into a seven-minute window - with a Ricki-Lee, an Anthony Callea and Guy Sebastian all whirling out into the arena within moments of each other. X-Factor alum Dami Im and Samantha Jade made continual appearances throughout the night, and there's a chance organisers mistakenly thought they were from Idol, too.
After the Opening Ceremony was slammed for being boring and not featuring bigger music names, producers listened to your feedback and attempted to give the people what they wanted.
You want John Farnham? You want razzmatazz? You got it! Here's local volunteers playing bongos.
You want world-class entertainment? Here it is! Anthony Callea in a party shirt accompanied by Usain Bolt on the decks, complete with a sexy backup dancer.
Organisers wanted the closing ceremony to reflect the sparkle and energy of the Gold Coast and showcase it to the world. So here's a lady from Birmingham dressed like a teacher from Harry Potter's school.
This was followed by a 15-minute recorded package of kids dancing around the streets of Birmingham in leg warmers. Exclusive footage from my office's CCTV captured my boredom.
As an '80s beat vibrated through the television speaker, I was suddenly startled. Synth followed. Katie Noonan - who somehow became the villain of the Commonwealth Games - skulked onto the stage crooning the Eurythmics hit Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves. Out of nowhere, Dami Im appeared for the ninth time, singing backup. Then a Veronica emerged. Then the other Veronica. Or maybe it was just the first one again.
Look, I'm a mad supporter of ladies and '80s synth, but I don't entirely understand the relevance of this song to the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.
"Nothing could be more confusing than this," I say out loud while eating room-temperature fries. Enter: Samantha Jade performing a cover of Tina Arena's I Need Your Body.
As with all major Australian events, Christine Anu and Kate Ceberano work on a rotating roster. Christine did the opening. So Kate gets the closing.
Weirdly, some chick earlier in the ceremony performed a Kate Ceberano song and then when Kate was wheeled out, she sang a Divinyls song. All these covers gave the evening a weird karaoke vibe. And just as I typed this, Kate launched into a cover of Deborah Conway's It's Only The Beginning with Samantha Jade relegated to backup vocals. Suddenly I was transported to my hometown's RSL club.
As dull fireworks fizzled over Carrara stadium, cameras panned over the thousands of empty seats and viewers were left wondering what they had just spent their Sunday night watching.
Hindsight's a cruel dame.
For more observations on '80s synth and crappy DIY renovations, follow me on Twitter: @hellojamesweir