An emotional Grant Denyer has shared a glimpse of his private battles while accepting the Gold Logie award, in what many saw as a shock win.
“Family Feud came along at a time when I wasn’t sure if I’d ever work again, or if I even wanted to,” said the father-of-two, who in later 2013 sought treatment at a wellness centre in Thailand.
At the time his manager said it was “for chronic fatigue brought on by exhaustion and an ongoing unknown stomach illness” while his wife Cheryl “was dealing with PTSD and anxiety issues resulting from Grant’s condition”.
“I was in a bit of a hole. I was pretty sad, I was a bit lost. In fact, I was very unwell at that particular time,” Denyer continued through tears.
“Family Feud gave me a ladder out of that hole and I’m very lucky to have had it. So Family Feud, thank you so much. You saved me. I know it’s just television and I know it’s just entertainment but it means the world to me.”
— Channel 9 (@Channel9) July 1, 2018
Denyer’s win was something of an upset as his show, Ten’s Family Feud, had been cancelled and because he was up against fierce competition, including Tracy Grimshaw, host of Nine’s A Current Affair, and Amanda Keller, host of Ten’s The Living Room.
And there was more controversy.
Presenting the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Popular New Talent to Dilruk Jayasinha, Bert Newton scored a standing ovation (“I think I might be the warm-up for the In Memoriam” he cracked) but soon got edgier.
“There are many faces that I know from the screen but don’t know them personally,” he said, looking around the room. “And you might feel the same way. You know, ‘Where’s this old poof come from?’”
He followed up with a controversial comment about Graham Kennedy. “He mentored a lot of young people. You knew that if you went to his dressing room and it was locked, he’d be inside doing some mentoring,” he said.
“Don Lane was a mentor too. He did a helluva lot of mentoring.”
For many viewers, the ribald jokes clashed with the ‘Me Too’ movement.
As always, comedian Dave Hughes could be relied on to add even more heat to the evening.
Kicking off the 60th annual Logie Awards, transplanted from their traditional home in Melbourne to the Gold Coast’s Star casino, Hughes threw shade at the celebrity crowd.
He began by taking jabs at no-shows from Channel 7 — “Kochie!” he bellowed. “Borrow some money off the cash cow!”— and Karl Stefanovic’s Uber habits. “Leave a tip,” he advised the Today Show host. “Then they don’t have to sell the story to New Idea.”
He got into trickier territory while sending up Tracy Grimshaw’s A Current Affair interview with Don Burke in November. “There was the revelation that Don has Asperger’s. No one knew that. Including his doctor,” he joked.
“I love Don,” he added— and repeated— before catching himself. “I don’t love everything about him.”
Presenters Hamish Blake and Andy Lee went into further damage control. “We did just have a chat to Hughsey and he would like us to clear up one mini-detail. He does not love Don Burke,” Blake said.
“It’s the Gold Coast, things are a bit looser this year … this year is basically TV’s Schoolies.”
Jessica Marais, who pulled out of the ceremony citing undisclosed health reasons, won the Logie for Most Popular Actress and her Love Child co-star Miranda Tapsell accepted the trophy on her behalf.
Most Popular Actor Ray Meagher dedicated his win to his Home and Away co-star, the late Cornelia Frances. “We know you’re up there looking down with a champagne,” he said. “This is for you.”
Winning for Most Popular Lifestyle Program, the cast of The Living Room celebrated having co-host Barry Du Bois with them on the heels of his cancer battle. “The Living Room really is a family, there’s no doubt about it, and just like millions of families in this country, we’ve faced a hurdle,” Du Bois said. “But I had incredible support from these guys.”
Jana Wendt inducted the 60 Minutes TV-family into the Logies Hall of Fame as stars from the show’s 40-year history gathered on stage. “Good reporters don’t cry,” said the show’s tearful inaugural executive producer Gerald Stone. “I guess I lost my chance to be a good reporter.”
But it was Grant Denyer, yet again, who really leant into the night’s looser feel.
While accepting his second award, Most Popular Presenter, Denyer couldn’t resist a potshot at the powers that be who canned his show.
“Family Feud is not even on television anymore. How awkward!” he said.
“You should see the faces at the Ten executive’s table right now. Close your mouths or your chicken will fall out.”