Lawrence Mooney concedes he had some reservations when he was asked to host Dirty Laundry Live.
After successful comedy, radio and television performances, it was time to step into a key hosting role. But a show about the gossip mags?
“I didn’t think I was a natural fit for this, but then I surprised myself with my knowledge – how much I’d been absorbing by osmosis about this entire world.
“I had to do a little bit of studying Cara Delevingne, Rita Ora, Selina Gomez to an extent, a lot of that new generation.”
Mooney says there is no end to the potential subjects -or targets- for the show. He rattles them off like a seasoned pro.
“There’s Hollywood, the Logies, the award season, the northern hemisphere summer with beach bods,” he continues.
“The Kardashians are a conglomeration that keep on giving. There are train-wrecks like Charlie Sheen who keep putting their heads up.
“Shame or dishonour –he owns what he does, and I love that about him.
“Bieber will always be there for us and there are all the ex-Disney girls who are waiting to crash and burn: Lindsay, Britney and a new generation of them. There’s supermodels, royals and mega-maniacal people with flaws in the glass. Deep addictions that they can only repress for so long –and I’m talking about the panel.
“In the world of trash and showbiz, there’s people sprouting all the time. Fresh new buds and old oak trees.”
There’s also no shortage of source material.
“We’re got New Idea, Woman’s Day, Who Magazine, Famous, OK! and NW,” he explains.
“Then there is online with a whole world of TMZ, Buzzfeed, Vanity Fair has a new sector with their Cocktail Hour.”
“People will always be fascinated with this stuff”
Does that mean he straddles a love / hate relationship with this glitzy, tabloid world? Not necessarily.
“It’s probably ‘love / love.’ We love them for their trashiness and for their stories, both true and false. When I’ve spoken to editors of magazines they have stories available to them that they can’t possibly print. So they have to mitigate all possible legal action against them by watering a story down,” he says.
“Not all the stories are classic bullshit. We were pooh-poohing the Bruce Jenner story this time last year. Writing that he’s going to become a woman! What a load of outlandish bullshit!
“But now Bruce is Caitlin Jenner, that transition is complete. So from the little seeds of bullshit that are out there, there is often a story behind them.
“We also love to stand in judgement. We’re a bit more holier-than-thou than those ‘terrible magazines.’
“People will always be fascinated with this stuff, because of 2 things that are intrinsically human: a sense of voyeurism where we like to peek over the neighbour’s fence and see them f*** up, and we love to live vicariously.”
“We killed The Footy Show!”
Aided by sidekick Brooke Satchwell, Dirty Laundry Live is now in its third season, graduating from ABC2 to ABC. Mooney maintains the show has improved considerably since 2013.
“It’s so much tighter in the body of it. We don’t have editing available to us, so it’s much tighter and Brooke and I are much more in sync. We’ve expanded from half an hour to 45 minutes which I think we fill quite well,” he insists.
“We’re probably more confident, including our regular panellists Marty Sheargold, Matt Okine, Angela Bishop –and they’ve got relationships too.
“We were probably doing 100,000 on a good night on ABC2 and now we are mid to high 300,000s and we hit a 400,000 recently. So we’re above the expectations for the timeslot.
“We’ve come in and taken that 9:30 slot and made it our own!” he laughs. “We’ve been stamping our authority on it. They’ve even moved the Channel Nine Footy Show! It’s gone. We killed The Footy Show!
“It was here for the first 2 weeks of our show, but after we got over 400,000… pftt! After 21 years! So we’ve got a clear run now. I’m talking fourth season!”
Mooney is aiming high, finishing each show with a ‘fireside chat’ with guests this year including James Reyne, Danielle Cormack and Pettifleur Berenger.
“We changed the After-Party Drink Assistant to a fireside chat. It’s a more mature, more demure feel for the main channel that is ABC. The main premise of it is that I want to be a massive celebrity. So whoever is in that segment I want to tie my wagon to their star! So it’s about how much I can get out of it for myself.
“I’m going to be a star, and I’m going to crush some people in this town.”
Dirty Laundry Live airs 9:30pm Thursdays on ABC.