Indeed, Murdoch, who was last seen in public dining with his wife and old chums Dame Joan Collins and her husband Percy Gibson in Hollywood last month, clearly wants to hang around for some time yet, given he and Hall have recently taken the keys of a real “doer upper” in England.
The couple have reportedly spent more than $60 million on Great Tew Manor House in Banburyshire, with ambitious plans to restore the derelict property to its former glory, complete with a domed ceiling and intricate, ancient details throughout.
It looks like something straight out of Downton Abbey, but not quite as pristine given it has been in a state of disrepair for the past 40 years.
The renovation is expected to take several years given the poor state of the centuries-old manor house.
While they wait the couple have their mansion home in nearby Henley, which they bought last year.
Great Tew Manor is not far from son James Murdoch‘s property, the rectory at Broughton, while his daughter Elizabeth lives on the other side of Chipping Norton.
Just down the road is former Sun and News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks, while Victoria and David Beckham – who have their own splendid country house nearby – will be among their new neighbours when they eventually do move in.
Engaging offer for Fairfax
Cooped up in isolation, Sydney’s party scene ground to a halt a fortnight ago.
One frantic model told PS this had spelled “disaster” for the current crop of “social media influencers”, the pretty young things who depend on such frivolous fluff for their very existence.
Well, given the thousands of people who have been left jobless and the harrowing toll COVID-19 is taking around the world, perhaps the plight of the selfie generation is not such a big “disaster”.
Certainly our reigning “Queen” of the red carpet, fashion blogger Nadia Fairfax, was not licking her wounds.
Fairfax quietly got engaged just as the coronavirus crisis was cranking up. She managed to keep the news a secret from her closest friends, and even her parents.
Fairfax came clean on Wednesday, revealing she and financier Michael Wayne were planning to get hitched, having said yes after he got down on bended knee in a field near Bowral earlier this month.
It was a welcome piece of happy news in a bleak week.
Ladies who lunch backlash
Rich or poor, the coronavirus has impacted Sydney’s entire social spectrum.
Indeed the wealthy ladies who lunched at Rose Bay’s Catalina last Sunday probably thought it would be a good idea to post their happy snaps just hours before such swanky venues were banned from hosting cashed up patrons.
Little did they realise how it would backfire.
Polished to perfection with fresh blow-waves, sparkling jewels, designer handbags and sky-high heels, fashion designer Elaine Kwan, Maude Tzaneros, Barbara Coombes, Laura Cathery-Ibrahim, Elle Touma and Hannah Toohey held centre stage overlooking Sydney Harbour.
Normally such a post would be the envy of those scrolling through Instagram, but when the ladies hashtagged the shot #lastsupper and #beforelockdown, the reaction from several of their self-isolating peers was less than flattering.
“Seriously, what were they thinking? Thousands of people have lost jobs, businesses are going bust, people are going to lose their homes and they’re at lunch showing off … I wouldn’t have been seen dead at that table on Sunday. It’s just so gauche,” one of their – ahem – “friends” informed PS as the images were circulated.
How quickly times and moods have changed. The week before Elle Touma hosted her own Coachella-themed house party, called Ellechella. According to the photos that PS has seen, few were heeding the advice about “social distancing”.
Similarly tongues have been wagging among parents of children at two of Sydney’s most prestigious private schools – Kincoppal and The Scots College – amid claims a group of parents and their children had returned from Aspen and tested positive for COVID-19.
“They didn’t tell anyone and sent their kids to school. Some had other families’ kids in their car taking them to school. People really lost their block,” one parent informed PS.
A flurry of heated emails have been exchanged in recent days, some containing pretty pointed accusations. No doubt the lawyers will be called in soon.
Tight-lipped over wedding
A few eyebrows have been raised by political adviser Andrew Kirk‘s marriage to Melissa Ponchard this week. Kirk is chief-of-staff for Don Harwin, NSW Minister for the Public Service and Employee Relations, Aboriginal Affairs and the Arts.
He is also a former adviser to Joe Hockey and Amanda Vanstone and is well known around the corridors of power in Macquarie Street and in Canberra, though most of those PS asked about the wedding were adamant Kirk was “not the marrying kind.
The wedding was brought forward due to the pandemic but Kirk himself declined to provide any details of his wedding day, saying he has a policy of “not speaking to the media”.
Now this is interesting, especially given the interview he gave to gay magazine Campaign back in the 1990s about his sideline: directing gay porn movies.
Kirk was the director of hardcore gay adult feature film Going Down Under.
In 1991, the IPA Review pieced together an item from Kirk’s interview with Campaign: “Apparently not all the actors in Going Down Under practise safe sex and this, says Andrew, will make the film ‘controversial’. Some people ‘will no doubt see a problem with it, but the overriding philosophy is freedom of choice … I am not going to become a crypto-fascist and tell them what they can do … If people want to engage in unsafe sex that is their prerogative’.”
Kirk also revealed in that interview that for his next film “there will be no plot. The emphasis will be on youth, big dicks and pretty faces”. PS has been unable to confirm if it was a flop.
Judge cans party
The Cuban band had been booked, the booze stocked and a mountain of beans and other exotic delicacies were ready for the guests heading to the housewarming party of former politician Virginia Judge and Dr Patrick Tooth on Saturday night.
“We just decided it wasn’t right to go ahead, with the social distancing advice and all that was going on we had to cancel it. It didn’t feel right to go ahead and have a party, I just don’t think people were in the right frame of mind, though many of our guests said they were still happy to come, we decided against it,” Judge told PS.
Meanwhile Judge, who bought the terrace house in Newtown last year, says she and Tooth have enough beans to last them to the end of the millennium.
Not so golden touch
The sequins around the Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast were a little dimmer this week as news emerged 250 staff were out of a job due to travel cutbacks from coronavirus.
On Tuesday management sent an email to residents saying: “Yes, it is with a very heavy heart that I convey that two hundred and fifty (250) valued team members from our Palazzo Versace Gold Coast family were stood down from their employment today.”
And yet, just 48 hours later, the same hotel was promoting itself as a place to “isolate in luxury”
“Unwind and indulge with complimentary continental breakfast, tailored set menu two-course lunch and dinner served to your door daily. Soak your stress away in your couple-sized spa bath, enhanced by the exclusive Palazzo Versace custom bath amenities range and watch the world go by on your private Juliet balcony,” the ad said.
Perhaps millionaire businessman Mark Bouris could move in? He may well be looking for an escape, especially given the poor reception to a press release crowing about his new gig as an ambassador for luxury car brand Lexus that was sent out on Thursday.
While Bouris probably had no idea about the timing of the breathless press release, featuring a styled image of him and his shiny new car and filled with florid and self-congratulatory prose from luxury communications firm EVH, it went down like a lead balloon in newsrooms around the country, which for the past month have been preoccupied with delivering real news around-the-clock on the global pandemic which has turned all our lives upside down.
Talk about tone deaf.
Andrew Hornery is a senior journalist and Private Sydney columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.