Night of nights?

LogieDo the Logies have merit or are they merely an exercise in ego stroking? In a feature that first appeared in Encore, Lee Zachariah finds out.

The Logie Awards are legit, and by God they want you to know it. This year’s official announcement of nominees, sent out in a lengthy press release, contained a ‘Logies voting myths busted’ section, in which the outrageous claims of a hypothetical critic are addressed, point by point.

“Only teenagers vote in the Logies,” claims the unnamed cynic.

“Um, no,” articulates the sentient awards ceremony. “In fact, almost the opposite is true. This year, 87 per cent of the people who voted in the TV Week Logie Awards were aged 18 or older.”

Leaving aside the fact that 18-year-olds still qualify as teenagers, the points are relatively compelling, and focus largely on the legitimacy of the voting system. “The days of networks rigging the votes are long gone. And back in those days it didn’t happen either.” It doesn’t quite use those words, but it should. After the glitzy industry-backed Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards (with the legitimacy of the word ‘Academy’ behind it), just what is the point of the Logies?

“It’s a celebration of Australian TV,” says Emma Nolan, the editor of TV Week magazine which runs the awards. “At the moment, Australian content is so strong with our dramas and reality programs, it’s our big event that celebrates the talent and the shows.”

But the Logies does something that few awards ceremonies dare. It simultaneously presents some awards voted on by the industry, and others voted on by the audience. The disparity between the ‘legit’ celebration of talent, and the audience-voted ‘popularity’ awards has led many to paint the entire thing as one big popularity fest.

“Why shouldn’t there be an awards night where ordinary Australians get to have their say?” asks the press release. Given that those deemed Most Popular by the audience are, by definition, celebrated the year round, the shiny trinket may seem like an unnecessary addition. But let’s leave the perceived worth of the Popularity section to one side for the moment.

To some, the controversies are remembered more clearly than the winners. Much was made of the fact that Chrissie Swan was once nominated for a Gold Logie at a time she had a relatively low profile. Even the Logies press release references this one, responding to their own self-query with an exasperated, “Honestly, it’s not rigged”.

“Someone like Chrissie is just popular across all age groups,” says Nolan.

“And you can have a popular star that may not be on the top-rating show, but is someone that people just love. Chrissie obviously had been on radio, she’d been on Big Brother, she had a following, and was just well liked by a big bunch of people.”

The move to online voting has made a big difference to the perception of the awards. Or, at least, that’s the idea.

Whereas the average TV Week reader is unlikely to be representative of the broader population – although Emma Nolan insists the magazine’s demographic is an even split of males and females around the age of 40 – viewers no longer need to have a physical copy of the magazine in order to vote. With voting taking place on the web, it is now open to a whole new demographic previously unwilling to express their love for a celebrity via Australia Post.

“We also have the Most Outstanding awards, which are judged by industry experts who are specialists in that particular field,” says Nolan. “We have different panels for different awards.”

According to the press release: “Their identities aren’t revealed during the judging process, to make sure people don’t try to influence their votes.”

It is this polar approach that defines the Logies in the eyes of its critics. Anonymous for ethical reasons. Free from influence, but not from observation. No Academy-level transparency, but it’s hardly the Golden Globes either.

“Both are equally as important,” stresses Nolan in regards to the two sections. “And you only have to talk to the talent afterwards, who I think are just as thrilled to win a popular award as they are to win an outstanding.”

In determining what worth the Logies has, there is one key question that must be asked: who does it benefit? “The talent,” says Nolan. “Especially up-and-coming people who might win ‘most popular new talent’, the shows would benefit from the publicity and kudos.”

Actress Alison Whyte took home Logies for her work on both Frontline and Satisfaction. She describes being recognised as “very gratifying”, but doesn’t believe the awards had an effect on the roles she was offered. “[My career] went along pretty much as it normally would have.”

So, how does one quantify the kudos that a Logie win brings? Does “Logie award winner” have any influence overseas?

“I think so,” says Nolan. “They’re our equivalent to the Emmys. With so many Australian actors going overseas now, I think it would definitely help their chances to be a TV Week Logie award winner.”


Encore Issue 9This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.