Sarah Harris announced her joining Project. As everyone flees the ship, she comes aboard, and I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by her appointment.
It’s not personal. It’s just an uninspired choice, for example, when a nephew’s child becomes the face of a luxury brand – it works, but it’s not groundbreaking.
This is not a mockery of Harris. She’s a f*cking star. she’s holding on Studio 10 together for many years and even survived the reign of Kerry-Anne Kennerley. She is warm and down to earth at the same time. She is like a woman who always has a tampon in her purse to give you if you are caught off guard. Smart, helpful and cute. (Plus, I don’t think she would offer light tampons, there’s always something smug about a girl who dispenses light tampons.)
Project has long been chasing a youth audience, and Lisa Wilkinson and Carrie Bickmore headed for the exit, even managing to take Peter Helliar with them, which is sad.
Now the series is rumored that without its traditional stars, it won’t survive. But it’s also a chance for the show to bring in fresh new talent and usher in a cooler, edgier era. Like when Taylor Swift dyed her hair blonde and went from country star to pop star, tough girl.
I project the target audience. Young, with cash, and I’m genuinely interested in the news cycle. But it’s hard to see that in this casting choice. As much as I love Harris, I can’t relate to her. She is a mother of two from the lower north coast of Sydney. I am a chihuahua mother in the city center.
She drives me to school, and I roll out of bed with a nasty hangover and try not to drop my Opal card as I rush to the bus. She has a mortgage, and I have payments after payment. You get the gist.
It’s not that I don’t think she’s excellent at her job; she just doesn’t feel very much like the audience they’re chasing. In addition, she is paired with Walid Ali, who signed a contract for 2023 and is also a family man. So we have two parents trying to get the attention of young, childless people. When the show started, it was full of new faces: Bickmore, Eli and David Hughes were welcome replacements for the suit-clad men we used to break the news. It worked because it was different and he needs that freshness again.
If you want to see middle-aged white people breaking the news, every channel offers it in abundance. In my humble opinion, the band needs someone with the same energy as Tony Armstrong. Young, hungry and with a slightly different point of view. Someone who can challenge Steve Price so much that he needs a Gaviscon to calm down. You know, something else.
Also, the show needs someone who can go viral and offer a new vibe. There are also a lot of options: Becky Lucas, Joel Creasy or The keeper Matilda Bowsley, Gen Z News Delivery Queen.
Harris’ nomination could work if replacing Wilkinson was a sharper choice and Harris could effortlessly become the show’s host. I really want it to work because I love Project. He delivers the news in a uniquely Aussie style and we need more of that, but if they want a younger audience they need to take a fresh approach and unfortunately this probably doesn’t involve a bunch of wealthy moms – we need panellists who live in dormitories and may still have their parents’ Medicare card.
Harris is a smart choice, but I think Project must take a risk and support new talent in order to attract more attention.
Mary Madigan is a freelance writer.
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