And then there was Molly

And then there was Molly, by Michael Idato - 10th April 2003
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

John Paul Young has left Popstars [Live], the second judge to walk away from the embattled reality TV series in less than two days.

Whether he quit or was pushed is not yet clear, and may not even matter, as the behind-the-scenes drama at the series continues to unfold.

A statement released jointly from Young's management, the Seven Network and production company Screentime said his role with the show had "concluded" and that he had "fulfilled all of his commitments".

His departure comes only a day after Christine Anu quit after pressure from the producers to take a harder line in her judging, saying it would "compromise her personal integrity" if she stayed.

The departures mean Molly Meldrum is the last judge standing, joined now by voice coach Shauna Jensen, who took Young's seat a fortnight ago, and record producer Trevor Steele, who replaced Anu.

Since surrendering his seat to Jensen, Young had been reporting from backstage with another sidelined judge, Tania Doko.

The series continues to struggle in the ratings, hovering just under the million-viewer mark. Not helping is the fact that the off-the-set tension is far more interesting than anything happening on stage.

Anu was not getting along with Meldrum, say insiders, and relations between Doko and Meldrum, and Meldrum and Steele are frosty at best. Relations between Seven and Screentime are said to be "strained".

The tension escalated after the show attracted a storm of criticism for its soft-touch judgements during the first live concert show, two weeks ago.

The laughably glowing praise, which most observers agree erred on the side of being too kind, precipitated a tense meeting between Seven's chief executive, David Leckie, and the show's producers, in which Leckie is said to have "spoken his mind".

Since then, say the producers, there has been mounting pressure on the judges to take a "harder and more critical line on the performers".


The Sydney Morning Herald

Channel 7

Popstars Live

Mediaman: Entertainment