Allan’s pals have been regaling each other with tales of their mate’s lunch date, which has amused them greatly given he can apparently recite the gastronomic delights on the menu and wine list at his former haunt Lucio’s in Paddington off by heart. He is not known for being a burger and Coke kind of guy.
They also report that during the lunch Trump presented the retiring newspaperman from Down Under with the keys to the White House.
PS is not sure if that was a reference to an actual key to the building, or the long established “keys” to predicting presidential election outcomes, which have clearly not gone Trump’s way.
And if it is the former, will they still open the locks after Trump vacates the presidential palace in a few weeks’ time? We can only wonder, especially given his very loud rejection of the election results and discredited claims of voter fraud.
As for the lunch menu, apparently Trump has long held an all-consuming passion for hamburgers, requesting the White House chefs to recreate his favoured version: McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with cheese, though apparently with mixed success according to his former bodyguard Keith Schiller, who was often dispatched to the Maccas nearest the White House to pick up Hamburger One.
We can only hope Trump did not serve Allan the same version of the burger on sale at his own Trump Tower Grille restaurant in New York City.
In 2016 Vanity Fair writer Tina Nguyen described it as “a sad little meat thing, sitting in the centre of a massive, rapidly staling brioche bun, hiding its shame under a slice of melted orange cheese”, though given all the whining coming out of the Oval Office in the dying days of his presidency, she could have been writing about Trump himself, metaphorically speaking of course.
In November The New York Times revealed Allan, “the Australian tabloid wizard who was once seen in the Post newsroom wearing a Make America Great Again cap”, was calling an end to his career of more than 40 years at Murdoch papers in New York and Sydney.
Allan, who was the Post’s editor in chief from 2001-2016, rejoined the paper as an adviser in January 2019, just as the presidential campaign was under way, though its blatantly pro-Trump tone has abruptly changed direction since the Biden victory.
“The Post is not perfect,” Allan told the NYT. “But it articulates a view that is not obedient to liberal orthodoxy. Therefore it is dangerous. I know where I would rather be.”
Allan also worked closely with former Sydney columnist Miranda Devine, who joined the Post in time for the 2020 campaign.
Devine has been a zealous supporter of Trump, likening him to “an invincible hero”. Her secondment to the Big Apple has been extended until May, after which she is likely to return to Sydney – unless she lands a gig flipping burgers at Trump Grille.
SAM’S SECRET FARM WEDDING
There was no tizzy pumpkin carriages or fancy limos for Sunrise co-host Samantha Armytage on her wedding day last Thursday. After getting hitched at her millionaire Southern Highlands’ husband Richard Lavender‘s farm, “the Lavs” arrived at their wedding reception at nearby Centennial Vineyards in a taxi.
PS hears the low-key wedding was kept secret right up to the 11th hour, with none of Armytage’s on-air “Sunrise family” attending, or her former bestie, the show’s executive producer Michael Pell.
However, Armytage did manage to extend an invitation to socialite Skye Leckie, the woman who inadvertently played cupid at her 60th birthday in 2019 after a teary Armytage, who had just broken up from her previous boyfriend, fell head over heels for “Berrima Bushie” Lavender.
KAK SHOWS OFF HER BATTLE SCARS
It will take a long time for those in the audience at Pippin to forget the shocking thud Kerri-Anne Kennerley made when she slipped out of the arms of her strong man and crashed into the stage, breaking her collarbone midway through her show-stopping performance.
KAK’s manager Sean Anderson shared the shocking X-Ray revealing the fracture on Instagram on New Year’s Eve, while KAK has returned home from hospital on Thursday and is yet to learn the full extent of what lay ahead of her and if it will require surgery.
“What happened is just a random misstep in the trapeze and circus world. I’ve always felt safe in their hands but accidents just happen. I was trained well and loved getting stronger and the routine smoother,” Kennerley said.
Her role will be taken over by an understudy for the remainder of Pippin’s Sydney run.
PACKER’S MYSTERY BOAT BUDDY
The thing about those ginormous superyachts favoured by the likes of billionaires such as James Packer is they are pretty hard not to notice.
Packer’s huge $200 million-plus boat IJE was parked right alongside another gleaming floating gin palace called Queen Miri in the lead up to New Year in the French Caribbean.
PS has learnt Queen Miri belongs to Las Vegas casino king Sheldon Adelson, the CEO and chairman of Las Vegas Sands, who also owns casinos in Macau and Singapore.
In September Adelson was listed by Forbes as having a fortune of $US33.5 billion – about 10 times Packer’s estimated worth. Packer is under considerable pressure over his new $2 billion casino in Sydney which has not been allowed to open by authorities investigating its licence.
There is mounting speculation Packer could sell his stake, having already courted an ill-fated deal with Lawrence Ho, son of the late billionaire Stanley Ho. Ho senior was suspected of having links to organised crime in Macau by other casino authorities and banned from holding a licence here.
Packer and Adelson share a close friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, with Adelson one of Israel’s biggest benefactors.
Was it a coincidence their boats happened to be parked next to each other, with tenders between both vessels going back and forth, or is something else afoot?
YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING
Tom Waterhouse says he just wanted to “do something different” that would stand out from all the “vanilla” posts on social media to promote his betting app. However even his most loyal supporters are questioning the merits of his latest campaign featuring bikini-clad women in seemingly inexplicable situations alongside the suited racing scion.
In one scene Waterhouse is wishing his followers a “Merry Christmas from my family to yours”, surrounded by the young women in their tiny swimwear, though clearly none of his more famous relatives – mother Gai Waterhouse or fashionista sister Kate – appear to be among the bevvy of beauties.
“We’re just trying to mix things up a bit, it’s a pun on a joke … taking the piss,” he told PS this week, though judging by the reaction on social media since the promos first appeared, not everyone is in agreement.
SHEILA’S TIME TO SHINE ON BIG SCREEN
If all goes to plan, in about two years’ time the life of Australian socialite Sheila Chisholm and her romance with Prince Albert, who would later become King George VI, will finally be immortalised on film.
A draft screenplay for the planned film, adapted from former Herald journalist Robert Wainwright’s 2014 biography Sheila, by Samantha Strauss (who recently worked on Nicole Kidman’s Nine Perfect Strangers series) and Tilda Cobham-Herve (who played Helen Reddy in I Am Woman), has now been completed.
Early in the new year, producer Martha Coleman, who has been developing the project with Transmission Films’ Rosemary Blight and Screen Australia, is hoping to have financing, a director and casting all locked in for production in 2022.
Coleman told PS there had been “a lot of market interest” in the film, which would focus on Chisholm’s relationship with Prince Albert, who was then known as “Bertie”.
“Sheila Chisholm’s story is perfect for film … she was a beautiful, intelligent and sharp-witted 18-year-old elegant tomboy, who left her rural homestead in NSW and sailed to London looking for a bigger life,” Coleman enthused.
Chisholm was eventually trapped in Europe by the outbreak of the great war and enlisted as a nurse in Egypt, where she impetuously married a devastatingly handsome but hopelessly drunk, gambling-addicted aristocrat named Francis St Clair-Erskine, or Lord Loughborough.
As a distraction from her unhappy marriage Sheila took London society by storm and embarked on an intense affair with “gentle” Prince Albert – “Bertie” – the stuttering younger brother of handsome socialite Prince Edward.
Knowing it could not last, Sheila and Bertie nonetheless fell deeply in love. Sheila influenced Bertie to emerge from the shadow of his charismatic brother and dominant father, helping him to embrace his own nobility and unwittingly giving him the confidence to become the king he did not know he would be.
However, when Sheila and Bertie’s clandestine affair reached the attention of King George V, he ordered his son to end it at once. Bertie obliged and was rewarded the Dukedom of York and a plump fiancée in the shape of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
Sheila went on to remarry two more times: Sir John Charles Peniston Milbanke and Prince Dmitri Alexandrovich of Russia.
“She was a woman who, by chance really, ended up in the heart of British society and in doing so helped create an aura about Australian women,” Wainwright told PS from London.
“She was beautiful, feisty, loyal and above all independent. I’ve read Martha’s script and I’m excited about how film can bring Sheila to life in an authentic but different way to a book.”
Andrew Hornery is a senior journalist and Private Sydney columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.