Private Sydney: Rebel Wilson in 'construction war', Jodhi Meares ...
It seems highly unlikely Hollywood star Rebel Wilson will be inviting her new Birchgrove neighbours in for a cuppa when she finally gets to spend a night in her multimillion-dollar home that is currently undergoing a major rebuild.
What some locals have billed as a "construction war" has broken out between Wilson and her eco-warrior neighbours in the swanky Louisa Road harbourside enclave, with both neighbours completing substantial renovations and additions to their prized homes.
While Wilson hasn't spent much time back in Sydney of late, the Hollywood star’s $3.76-million waterfront property is being transformed into a modern three-storey home with a new pool and the sort of luxuries one would expect from an internationally acclaimed star.
However, she recently opted to alter her original plans and not to excavate a huge basement under the property, telling authorities she would rather the build be completed faster than undergo the enormous task of removing rock and soil from below.
Meanwhile, Wilson's next-door neighbours, James Schultz and Kristina Stefanova, have completely demolished their property to build a new three-storey property, with basement, of their own.
The couple, who are considered among two of Australia’s most prominent environmentalists, are constructing their dream eco-home, which has annoyed the hell out of Wilson, who claims it’s ruining her own planned slice of paradise.
When the couple first submitted their plans for the nearly $3-million build, Wilson fired off a litany of objections to Inner West Council. She feared her neighbours' plans would worsen her existing "mould and damp issues" as well as blocking her "iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge views", adding that "the views ... were the main reason why I purchased this property".
The 39-year-old actress, who has made a career out of posing in front of cameras, says that she could be spied on unless frosted windows were built and demanded her neighbours soundproof their new swimming pool.
She wrote: '"Aside from the obvious noise concerns from such a massive change involving a large amount of jackhammering and rock hammering over a long period of time, I am concerned that this will cause structural damage to my land and property. The overall extent of these works, extended by this new basement level, very much concerns us in terms of noise and disruption to our regular comings and goings at the property.
"I would submit that for privacy reasons, the window for the additions that is on the western side wall be frosted or otherwise altered so that there is not a direct view into my property from this proposed new window.
"We ask that the owners, at their expense, put some kind of noise protection mechanisms into their design of their backyard to limit noise from the use of this new pool area ... I would submit that a thicker fence on their side of the property line might help with this issue."
Plans reveal Schultz and Stefanova’s property will be split over four floors with a new basement featuring a sauna, bathroom, food cellar and floor space for boxing and pilates. The ground floor will include living space and a library, while the first and second floors will feature bedrooms and a "landscape deck".
By comparison, Wilson's re-build is somewhat modest, costing the star just $900,000 and involving redeveloping the living areas to include a loft master bedroom with its own ensuite and roof terrace, for Wilson to capture the stunning water views.
Despite Wilson's complaints to her neighbours, the development application was eventually approved. Wilson has since submitted new plans to alter her proposal, which include the elevation of her new swimming pool and decking.
Jodhi puts heart on the line... again
Following the implosion of her 14-month second marriage, it appears bikini babe-turned-activewear designer Jodhi Meares has finally found love.
In recent weeks, Meares' Sydney pals have been discussing the blossoming romance between the 48-year-old and property developer Michael Reid, who hails from the lower north shore.
Reid uploaded a "debut selfie" of his new lover on Instagram recently, with a bikini-clad Meares' showing her approval with a simple love-heart emoji.
In the shot, the couple are pictured aboard Reid's quaint sailing boat, The Thumb, which is a far cry from the luxury superyachts Meares' ex-husband James Packer is known for. Another shot on Reid's Instagram feed shows Meares on a makeshift bed in what appears to be the vessel's rather cramped hull.
Last year, it emerged Meares had parted ways with Nick Tsindos, whom she married in what was described as a "fairytale wedding" in Hawaii. The fairytale came to an end after just 14 months.
Meares has endured mixed fortunes in the romance stakes since she was foisted into the public eye after her extravagant wedding to Packer in 1999; by 2002, the couple had separated, though they remain close friends.
In more recent years, she was in a long-term relationship with musician Jon Stevens, but the tumultuous relationship fell apart four years ago and not before an assault charge was brought against him, but later dropped by police due to insufficient evidence.
Meares, who these days is the founder of The Upside range of yoga wear, has been living in Hawaii recently but in 2017 bought herself a fisherman’s cottage in exclusive waterside Watson’s Bay for $2.75 million.
Her friends are hopeful her new relationship with Reid will mean the brunette will spend more time in her hometown.
King of talkback staying put
Don't expect Rupert Murdoch's troops to swoop on Alan Jones any time too soon, with word that Sydney's king of talkback is staying at 2GB.
Part of the supposed deal to join Murdoch's ranks hinged on a greater role for Jones on Sky News, which is broadcast on Foxtel and also forms part of the vast Murdoch media empire that is News Corp.
Instead, PS hears Jones and his bosses at 2GB's parent company Macquarie Media, which is majority-owned by Nine, the owner of this masthead, have finally hatched a deal that is yet to be announced.
The timing of such a deal comes as news emerged this week Foxtel had made a $417million financial loss in 2018, with cuts being flagged to "non-marquee sporting content" and another price rise for customers.
Insiders inform PS that matching Jones his reported $4.5 million 2GB salary was simply a bridge too far for News Corp.
Jones had also expressed a strong desire to take his team with him, which at last count was at least six well-paid staff, adding further pressure on his budget.
PS now hears Jones has made significant headway in terms of retaining his team if, as is now likely, he stays at 2GB, though Macquarie CEO Adam Laing refused to comment when PS called.
It is also understood any new contracts 2GB has with its announcers are now subject to new defamation liability clauses, with one insider suggesting that in the future the station would only stump up the first $50,000 in any loses they incur, with the respective announcers having to stump up the rest, which can run into the millions.
Given Jones cost the station $3.7 million in its loss to the Wagner family last year, and Ray Hadley is facing a new defamation action as revealed by PS last week, such measures have become major sticking points for the stars.
Meanwhile, word of Hadley extending an olive branch to Jones just this week after a six-month"cold war" is certainly intriguing, and on Thursday morning, Jones, who had not spoken to Hadley for six months, wished Hadley's troubled son Daniel congratulations, live on air, for his becoming a father.
As one colleague noted, somewhat drolly: "It's peace and kumbaya in our time!"
At the same time, several long-standing members of Sky News' team, some with many years experience, found themselves out of a job when the Your Money joint venture between News and Nine was axed a week ago, taking around 70 jobs with it.
One staffer noted to PS that among those to have survived is former ABC talking head Ticky Fullerton, who will soon emerge as the host of a new weekend business show on Sky, despite being a comparatively recent arrival at the niche channel.
Perfect pairing of pearls and polo by the sea
A fleet of private jets have winged their way to Broome for today's start of the annual Airnorth Cable Beach Polo tournament, which marks its 10th anniversary this year.
PS will be embedded in the luxury marquee specially built on the famous sands just above the high-tide mark at Cable Beach, where workers will construct an entire polo field between tides for games to take place.
Event organiser Marilynne Paspaley, of the Paspaley pearl dynasty and owner of the luxury Broome resort Pinctada (named after the pearl mollusc), said she was expecting a large turn-out for this year's events, which attracts some of the country's biggest movers and shakers.
"It is pretty relaxed here, so a lot of them come to step back a notch or two, to let the beautiful location, the sea and the environment just wash over them while they enjoy a couple of days watching polo. It really is a lot of fun," she told PS.
"It is very stylish and uniquely Broome ... I don't think there is anything really like it anywhere else in the world. It is very special."
While names heading to Broome this year are being kept under tight wraps, Julie Bishop was a late scratching due to her gig on Channel Nine's election coverage. Organisers would not be surprised if a few of WA's more notable billionaires drop in over the weekend. Hi Gina!
Opera Australia's soiree in limbo
London's swish Dorchester Hotel remains off limits for Opera Australia's London fans.
PS has confirmed that a planned fundraiser in July at the swanky establishment was canned when the hotel's owner, the Sultan of Brunei, announced the death penalty – by stoning – for anyone having gay sex in Brunei.
Opera Australia has regular fundraisers in London, and in previous years have included dinner at Buckingham Palace hosted by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
However, the soiree at the Dorchester was quickly scrapped when controversy erupted over the Sultan's stoning laws, though a fortnight ago Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah reneged, following a high-profile campaign and boycotts of his various hotels around the world.
Apparently, gays will no longer be stoned to death, but those caught having sex in Brunei will be regarded as criminals. Charming.
Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John and George Clooney have all been highly vocal about their intentions to continue to boycott the Sultan's hotels, which along with the Dorchester include the Beverly Hills Hotel, London's 45 Park Lane, Coworth Park in Ascot, Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, Paris' Le Meurice and Hotel Plaza Athénée, Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, and, a little closer to home, Brisbane’s Royal on the Park Hotel.
No word on where Opera Australia's planned July event will now take place, though PS hears it is still going ahead at an as yet undisclosed location.