James Valentine mixes Arts with pleasure
It's only taken him 30 years but James Valentine finally gets the show he's been wanting to make.
For too long Film has been in once corner, with Television, Theatre, Music and various other forms in their own corners and cliques.
But Valentine is ready for change and will embrace it all on his new ABC News 24 show, The Mix.
“My view is an audience today is likely to go to the theatre, watch a movie and Breaking Bad,” he says.
“People that are interested in Drama will be interested in it across Television, Opera, Film. But what has tended to happen in reporting is that you divide these things up. The audience going to the Sydney Film Festival are (supposedly) not interested in How I Met Your Mother’s final series.
“But I tend to think these things are all the same and people at various levels are interested in all of them. I’m not going to out and buy what happens to be the top 10 song of the week, but I’d like to know what it is.”
Last seen on his music talent search Exhumed, the ABC 702 host has previously hosted an entertainment news show, TV TV in the 1990s. But even then he wanted to expand the brief.
“At one point I remember saying ‘Why do we just do Television? Why don’t we do Movies, Art, Theatre and the whole thing at 6:30 every weeknight as an Arts show that covers the whole thing?’” he recalls.
“But they all went ‘Nup.’
“I had a movie show at Showtime and said ‘Why don’t we just do the whole thing?’ And they went ‘Nup.’
“So it’s only taken 30 years but think I’ve finally got it up.”
On News 24 the half hour show will have a news focus, but will draw upon ABC Arts reporters already filing content for the broadcaster around the country.
“The show came about because the ABC has quite a few Arts reporters, either reporting into 7:30 or the Arts online portal,” he explains.
“So the idea was to take all this material and put it together into a show that reflects what’s been happening in the Arts in the last 7 days.
“By watching it you will have a sense of what have been the main issues and stories in the Arts in Australia in the last week.”
Television will be part of the show’s DNA, and Valentine has no problem with reporting on content from commercial networks.
He is currently binging House of Cards, The Sopranos and classic episodes of The Twilight Zone with his teenage son.
“They’re still beautifully written and stand up very well,” he says.
“We’re doing a story in the first week on the Golden Age of Drama in Television, but it’s also a Golden Age of Kid’s TV. There’s a remarkable amount of fabulous Children’s Television and a lot of it being driven by US productions where they have to make Children’s TV that is not like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There’s been a ruling that says it can’t just be made for merchandise.
“The great thing about an ABC News 24 show is that it has the flexibility to grow. Sometimes the more formal shows can be a bit locked into format whereas this is a news channel.
“So the show will grow and develop as we figure out how to make it work in the best way possible.”
A Pub Chat segment will also draw upon two critics discussing arts of the week, but with its news-brief the show won’t try to replicate the now-defunct Sunday Arts.
“They had a slightly different brief and they were longer,” he suggests.
“Also the difference is it was about bringing Arts into Television, with a performance, whereas we’re reporting on what’s happening in Arts.”
But while the show may be screening ‘off Broadway’ Saturday nights on News 24, Valentine sees an upside without the pressure of ratings associated with the main game.
“I find this an enormous freedom and a fantastic opportunity as a show with virtually no budget. But we have a lot of access and a lot of resources so we can shape a great show over the next 6 months.”
The Mix airs 7:30pm Saturdays on ABC News 24.