Slats Set To Be A New-age Father

Sun Herald

Sunday April 30, 2006

JULIETTA JAMESON; Annette Sharp is on leave.

MICHAEL Slater is to become a dad for the first time. The once troubled international cricket star has confirmed that he and his new wife, Joanna, are looking forward to an August birth.

"It's a honeymoon baby, well around that time," joked Slater, who married PR exec Joanna Lobban, 34, on January 21 this year.

"It's amazing how things are just falling into place. It's nice to get married and have such a great relationship, and now this.

"We're very ready."

Mates are over the moon to see Slats - "a good bloke who's had a rough trot", as one put it - in such a good place right now after he bravely went public about his struggle with depression and a bipolar disorder. He's enjoying growing popularity as a radio identity on Triple M's Dead Set Legends and guesting at breakfast on The Cage, and life on the home front is evidently bliss.

"It's been very hard to keep secret because we're just so excited," he said.

Mr Excitement on the cricket ground with a bat in his hand, life for the handsome 36-year-old got out of control after he was dropped from the Australian side before the fourth Ashes Test in England in 2001. Slater was in the midst of breaking up with his first wife and childhood sweetheart, Stephanie, and was enduring panic attacks. Insidious rumours about his personal life pushed him into a dark reclusiveness.

He credits Jo, whom he met at an Inside Sport party in 2003, with getting him to seek professional help, through which he discovered he was Bipolar2, not the more severe Bipolar1. He was relieved to discover his depression was as a result of the hammering his life had taken, rather than being the manic depression that comes with the more intense disorder.

Since then, he's been a brave, candid and often hilarious speaker and wrote a rivetingly frank biography, Slats, The Michael Slater Story.

Despite the enduring hurt of how his playing career ended, Slater's child stands no chance of not being active. "There will definitely be sport in the genes," he said. "Jo is a talented sportswoman herself. [She is a surf boat champion.] There'll definitely be a sporty upbringing."When not plotting the little champion-in-the-making's playing career, he's been scouring the baby name books.

"I am going to be a dad who contributes to everything, one of those New-Age fathers who changes nappies," he said.

Super busy couple call it quits

AFTER a year of being a fabulous couple, celebrity chef Luke Mangan and the stylish Sydney publicist Elisabeth Drysdale have called it quits - and Drysdale is being very grown up about it.

Drysdale, who handles the publicity for Mangan's Lexus Young Chef of the Year Award, had known the uber-cook for several years before they began a more romantic relationship 12 months ago.

Mates say while they were great together, it was rare that they actually were together. Mangan was busy in his new restaurant, Glass Brasserie at the Hilton, and Drysdale was tending to her clients.

The chatter is, however, the split may have been more acrimonious than they are letting on - that tears have flown (not Mangan's) and that caddish behaviour may have occurred.

They are being very modern about the whole break-up thing. An email to Mangan asking about the bust-up was met with a reply from Drysdale on Wednesday: "Luke has flicked this to me. He is literally about to board a plane to LA today for work," she wrote. "We are both super busy and have decided that friendship is best for the moment!" She's a class act, especially in light of the rabid gossip suggesting she's nursing a broken heart.

Meanwhile, the Simpson sisters fallout continues after their MTV awards jaunt earlier this month.

Sources inside Mangan's camp at the Hilton confirmed the rumours that Jess and Ashlee Simpson did indeed dial an order from Pizza Hut (pepperoni pizza) rather than dine on the top chef's glam fare - but said it was 11am, not for dinner as reported on the celeb website on Friday.

Hurricane Bruce blows over

WHILE we're on the break-up round, TV talk is that after three months, XYZ TV chief executive Bruce Mann (or Hurricane Bruce as some chicks at the Weather Channel have dubbed him) and Yoga TV/Pilates TV pretzel Kylie Jaye are no longer an item. Not that they ever acknowledged they were, but pay TV insiders have happily done so for them.

A jet setting Jaye took a moment to email The Diary from the gate lounge at JFK to shed absolutely no more light on the subject but to be very magnanimous indeed: "Bruce Mann is a rare and extraordinarily great individual. We have been close friends for years and will continue to be so for many more. I wish Bruce - as I do all my dear friends - happiness and success always."

Jaye was a little less evasive in telling us what she's been up to of late. The mini-mogul has been "been very busy nailing down a publishing and DVD deal in the US".

We hear there may be another lady in Mann's life already. But the debonair American TV honcho has never been short of female company.

No nanny for maman Tina

I ALWAYS get annoyed when columnists make a big deal of celebrities doing things like normal people, for instance, bringing up children without the help of a nanny. (No one thought it was remarkable when your mum did it.)

But the fact that Paris-based expat and new first-time maman Tina Arena is currently engaged in her very own French revolution and is "sans nou-nou" is worth a tip of the beret.

"Gabriel is five months old and is blooming every single day," Arena told me this week. "His father and I consciously avoided the nanny situation as we really thought it would be best for him to adapt to our lifestyle as artists and as a result he is very sociable, a great traveller and always smiling. You can't ask for more than that, really!"

The hardest-working woman (and baby) in showbiz is currently part way through the promotion for her first French Language album Un Autre Univers. The first single Aimer Jusque L'Impossible was released the week after her son was born in November last year and stayed in the French Top Five for 15 weeks.

Since then, it's been madness, with huge road trips across Belgium and France for concert dates, a frantic promo schedule of radio and TV appearances and many photo and video shoots.

Arena's London-based Australian manager Bruce Pawsey says he feels a bit like a slave driver, but says his charge has never been one to shirk work. "To say Tina is working hard is an understatement, even by normal promotional standards," says Pawsey, "but as a first-time mother living continents away from her own family and insisting on tackling motherhood without a nanny, she has been phenomenal."

"All the while, baby Gabriel is rarely away from his parents' side. Tina and Vince are the perfect tag team. Whether it's getting him fed, dressed, to sleep, or in and out of countless planes, trains and automobiles, they deal with the normal factors of parenthood with a calm and efficiency that defies their sometimes chaotic surroundings."

Pub boy tries to make good

Meanwhile, rumours of a reconciliation between Pubboy hotelier Mark Alexander-Erber and his estranged wife Jade appear to be exaggerated - but perhaps not greatly.

They have been spotted together being friendly, verging on cosy, causing some very assured proclamations of them being back on.

Not so, according to her nearest and dearest. But yes, things are certainly cordial.

"They're putting the children first," says Jade's mum, publicist Karlene Jaeger, in an attempt to explain the recent sightings of the Alexander-Erbers out and about as a family with their offspring. "They're spending time together because they've worked out arrangements for raising their kids."

Concurrent to news of the couple splitting in the first weeks of this year, Mark Alexander-Erber's relationship with Crown Princess Mary's best friend and bridesmaid, Amber Petty, emerged.

The Alexander-Erbers' daughter, Honey, was just three months old at the time. (She has an older brother, Jagger, two.) Petty and Alexander-Erber lasted only three months and, now, the man who made a fortune from beer and schnitzel is said to be very keen indeed to get back together with his wife and is pulling out all stops.

Dinnigan scores exclusive invite

Fashion Week? What Fashion Week? That might have been how the thought bubble read above Collette Dinnigan's head this week as she jetted off to New York for the fashion party of the year, tomorrow night's Costume Institute Gala.

The annual do, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has been described by New York magazine as "the most excessive, obsessive, competitive, stage-managed, micro-managed, luxurious, fabulous party of the social season". Kinda hard to beat.

Like last year, the shindig that all in Fabuland await will be hosted by the doyenne of the fashion world, American Vogue editor-in-chief, and, legend has it, The (alleged) Devil (who) Wears Prada, Anna Wintour. "Anglomania" is the theme this year, and guests will apparently include Sienna Miller.

The feared, formidable and fabulously coiffured Wintour has personally invited Dinnigan to join the fashionable throng at her very own table. Considering Wintour is renowned for swanning in to an event for 10 minutes tops before swanning out again, leaving minions quaking in her wake, the very fact that she has a table and may actually sit at it is a coup for those pulling up pews in her orbit.

And in NYC fashion circles, where Wintour reigns supreme, Dinnigan's inclusion in the inner sanctum surely sends the message that she has not only arrived, but unpacked the boxes, put up the curtains and accepted the welcome-to-the-neighbourhood casserole.

Perhaps Wintour was impressed by last year's flock of fashionable Australians: Nicole Kidman, Elle Macpherson, Naomi Watts and Gemma Ward.

Or maybe it's just as Dinnigan's Australian spokesperson says. The designer has a new US agent, Paul Wilmott, "who has all the right contacts"; that, and Dinnigan's sights being firmly set on the Big Apple, since pulling out of the Paris shows which she worked for 10 years, as reported on this page earlier this year. Her rep said Dinnigan would be taking all the meetings Wilmott could set up for her while she's in the city that doesn't sleep.

Dinnigan can also take the opportunity to ask mother-of-two Wintour for advice on how to juggle a fashion career and multiple kids. The designer, who has one child, Estella, who will be two in August, to former partner Richard Wilkins, has been voicing her desire to have another child. No word on who the father might be.

Hensley set to be a mum

I apologise to all my single friends for all the baby talk but you can't pick what news comes your way, now, can you? Actress Lisa Hensley is expecting her first child, due in October. Hensley married ad exec Simon Edwards in January.


Fear not, Bondicians, the demise of Hugo's on Campbell Parade does not herald the arrival of another convenience store. The new owners, restaurant designer Steve Wales and business partner Paul Wilson, are planning a culinary hotspot in the space and are conducting a global search for a suitably spectacular chef.


We are slightly alarmed to hear the scuttlebutt about the pregnancy resulting from a tryst between a media executive about town and an ad sales girl. Has no one heard of condoms? Or discretion? The woman in question has apparently not been backwards in boasting of her bun in the oven.


There aren't many cities where one minute you see a show winning a best drama award and the next you spy one of its stars spruiking her psychic powers from a street stall. Critics' darling Love My Way may have picked up an Astra Award last week, but Lynette Curran also reads tarots at Bondi Junction market.

Same house, different lives for Warnes

SHANE Warne snuck back to Australia last week, spending a few days in his family's home in Melbourne's Brighton.

Was reconciliation on his mind? If it was, it was reconciliation with his former employer, Channel Nine, not his wife Simone.

Though Warne spent several nights under the same roof as his estranged partner, they seemed very much to be going about their separate ways.

"They're obviously good mates still," a source said. "But they definitely had different agendas while he was here."

Indeed, while Simone took daughter Summer to ballet lessons, Shane was nowhere to be seen. Though the ballet studio was five minutes from home, Simone waited in the car during the lesson, not exactly rushing home to be with her man. Warne went solo to drop the kids at school. The only attention he got was from a parking officer, who ticketed his black BMW four-wheel drive.

Simone was in and out, tending to her ongoing Dancing With The Stars duties (she is set to appear in the finale in two weeks) while, if the talk is true, Warne had meetings with Channel Nine executives to rekindle his commentating career, which stalled after news of his mobile phone philandering grabbed the headlines.

© 2006 Sun Herald

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