Thursday, May 8, 2014

KUDOS TO KATY: Katy Katopodis scores by successfully making media talk clique-ey on The Editors.

Perched atop her seat behind a mainsail shaped desk, Katy Katopidis loftily breezes through a daily, clique-ey coffee klatch with some of the who's who in South Africa's media maelstrom.

It's from this gleaming vantage point that Katy Katopodis, presenting The Editors on weekdays at 21:00 on The Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel (DStv 199) has turned this talk show over the past two months not just into appointment television, but herself into the country's newest must-watch TV talk show star.

Holding sway over The Editors with inside jokes and off-topic references (Gareth Cliff once scared her with a snake), and filling guest seats night after night with Gauteng's mediarati for the scintillating hourly kletchfest, Katy Katopodis is equal parts reign-in kindergarten teacher and ultimate insider disher.

Katy Katopodis was clearly either head girl long ago and simply managed to maintain her imprimatur as ultimate insider, always in the know - or decided that she will grow up and become one of the presiding media mavens not just managing the news but steering the conversation.

Having logged as many hours as the first season of a successful American prime time show already, Katy Katopodis has managed to successfully turn The Editors and herself into a veritable multimedia extravaganza: creating daily appointment television taking place on a white dais with excited talkers who can't wait to share - and who are often only outdone by Katy's kindred enthusiasm.

The biggest positive yield for South African television in terms of on-screen talent upscaling from the endeavour of MultiChoice and Combined Artistic Productions' Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel, is unquestionably the incredibly professional Devi Sankaree Govender - fully, and brilliantly holding her own; anchoring hours of studio-based coverage with alacrity and a meticulous sense of purpose.

The other big TV star made by the Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel is unquestionably Katy Katopodis

If M-Net is clever (and in a perfect world) the pay-TV broadcaster and Combined Artistic Productions would develop a TV talk show around our Katy once the Oscar Pistorius trial is over - or at least add her to Carte Blanche, fronting one story a month.

You don't buy informed presence without being haughty about it and TV charisma at the corner shop. And Katy Katopodis is one of those rare TV telegentsia. 

Doing a once a week or even a half hour weekday talker with Katy Katopodis a la The Talk and a troupe of guest talkers, would definitely work as a South African TV talk show.

The Editors - supposed to be about coverage of the Oscar Pistorius trial - has been lacking in actual real and different editors and journalists from outside of the enclaved Johannesburg-centric media hub, complete with some dubious media dilletantes in the mix (also no TV critics yet on The Editors; ironic since its about a televised court trial.

The talk show has also been short on estrogen (is there a lack of clever women in South African media or is tabloid weeklies People, heat and Destiny mostly what they do?).

The over representation of XY chromosomes has however been responsible for the pushing of the envelope in many instances into deliciously risque, almost locker room-esque talk as rambunctious male guests egg and fuel each other on while big sister Katy sighs and makes as if she cannot really control the boys. 

Yet Katy Katopodis is able to lull the viewer into a sense that those who come to talk are the available spectrum of the media, with several guests who've made numerous repeat appearances. 

The Editors feel as if it is the media coming in for show-and-tell; as if you are watching the South Africa's entirety of who and what the media in South Africa is.

She knows them, they know her, and Katy Katopodis deftly demonstrates in every edition another one of television's great, mostly unteachable skills: shepherding the madness.

When it comes to guests in the oh-so-tricky live TV environment, this mediating kingfisher superbly demonstrates that she know just when and for how long to let them go (on), when to reel them in, and when to drop the next enticing info nugget - whether superfluous self-revelation or a new topic - into the multimedia mix to spice things up again.

Another interesting aspect is that Katy Katopodis knows - and isn't scared to share. There's a somewhat paradoxical quality in journalists and reporters as they climb the ranks to managing editors, editors and editors-in-chief. 

They don't deliberately do it, but like a sponge there's somewhat of a change over time in most journalists as they mature and move from information gathering and news dissemination, to soaking up news, channeling and managing it - instead of "giving it back again" quickly and constantly to the reader, listener and viewer.

Barney says sharing is caring, and Katy Katopodis is one of those people who've remained a sharer. 

In that sense, too, she is highly successful in the art of  being a TV talk show host. 

She doesn't just ask, she contributes her own thoughts to mold conversations. She doesn't just poll, she also gives her opinion (and just enough of it). She doesn't expect others to just show up and play - she's willing to play along.

Some guests she's clearly know for years and years and Katy Katopodis isn't scared to leverage that professional and personal relational power to draw them out and get them to say more than what they would have said to a stranger.

That also makes The Editors funny. The show is funny and at times extremely witty because the guests feel safe.

To a degree, The Editors on DStv's channel 199 recreates and gives shape to the never-seen, never-heard, newspaper newsrooms at night.

The guests on The Editors often say things and make remarks which are really just heard in newspaper offices during the evenings and late nights where journalists, copy editors and layout artists slave away with somewhat macabre jokes about headlines, photos, stories and some things which will never be printed.

The Editors is unashamedly clique-ey, but that's probably part of its allure. 

Here is an insider group, that the viewers who are watching and who are not working in the media themselves, feel that they want to be a part of. 

Katy and her guests know what's going on - and if you sit still and keep tuning in, the pay-off premise of The Editors is that you will know too.