The Channel Nine network will proceed with the screening of a roast of TV legend Molly Meldrum, despite concerns that some of the roasters were blatantly homophobic in their speeches.
The roast will screen next Wednesday night, but Nine executives have apologised to function attendees who were offended.
Reports indicate that a number of presenters, most notably Victorian Footy ShowÂ host Sam Newman, made remarks that disparaged Meldrum on the basis of his sexuality. Newman claimed network executives saw his speech before the function started.
Meldrum, when asked to describe the evening by The AgeÂ said: two words – gay bashing.
Like a lot of people, I am proud to be gay, Meldrum said. I’m not upset. If Channel Nine want to do gay bashing, so be it.
The managing director of Channel Nine Melbourne, Paul Waldren, issued a media statement after the roast, declaring the station’s enormous respect for Meldrum -“ but he failed to make direct statements about the homo phobic nature of the comments made.
It is fair to say that some of our roasters missed the mark in delivering what was meant to be a series of tributes to a man who has made an enormous contribution to the Australian and worldwide entertainment industry, Waldren said. It was certainly never our intention to embarrass a man who has many friends in this company who hold him in the highest regard.
Meldrum himself was shocked by Newman’s outburst, but said he wouldn’t be holding grudges.
I have been in this business long enough to know, particularly with television, that not everything goes as planned and on this occasion, not all of it did, Meldrum said. However, you can’t hold grudges in this industry, you move on. All of the -˜roasters’ are definitely still my friends.
Newman was unapologetic when approached by The AgeÂ this week.
I’m not sure why Ian Meldrum should be above being sent up, he said. I knew exactly what I was doing -¦ I couldn’t give a stuff. I’m completely over it.
Writer Phil Scott, who wrote some material for comedian Gerry Connolly to deliver at the roast, told Sydney Star ObserverÂ that the brief from the producers of the roast was to go so far and no further.
We were told to make it funny and friendly, not to go in boots and all, Scott said. Although writers were not directed to steer clear of referencing Meldrum’s homosexuality, Scott said, the main directive was to produce gentle chiding.
I didn’t write anything for Sam Newman, because I write in English, Scott quipped.