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Eurovision contest hits Moscow -

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Eurovision contest hits Moscow

Broadcast: 14/05/2009

Reporter: Scott Bevan

The 54th Eurovision Song Contest is underway in Moscow, with the final to be held this weekend and
it is expected to be watched by 100 million television viewers around the globe. Moscow
correspondent Scott Bevan followed the preparations in Moscow.


KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: It's the television event that brought the likes of Abba, Celine Dion,
and Bucks Fizz to the world's ears. While musical acts may come and go, the Eurovision song contest
has become an enduring albeit somewhat cultural institution.

The 54th Eurovision song contest is under way in Moscow with the final to be held this weekend and
is expected to be watched by 100 million television viewers around the globe. This report from ABC
Moscow correspondent Scott Bevan.

SCOTT BEVAN, REPORTER: In the past week or so the usually somewhat sombre face of Moscow has had a
makeover and it's all glammed up.

SIESTE BAKKER, EUROVISION COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER: It's the spectacle, it's the show, it's the
gossip, the patriotism, the pride of representing your country.

DAN FURLONG, FAN: It's just one big party basically for two weeks.

SCOTT BEVAN: Dan Furlong is a Eurovision veteran. This is the eleventh time he's attended the song
contest. He's the Irish fan club President and he's flown from his Emerald Isle home to spend his
days catching up with Eurovision friends and dashing to the auditorium to hear and see what this
event is actually all about.

Performers from 42 countries hollering and gyrating, all in the pursuit of national glory. In a
harmonious way, of course.

DAN FURLONG: Eurovision, there's never problem with any flag because everyone is one big happy

SCOTT BEVAN: TV viewers and music experts in each nation have chosen a representative they think
will hit all the right notes and make all the right moves.

Ireland's entry is a band called Sinead Molvey and Black Daisy. Watching the act rehearse is Keith
Mills, who was a member of the Irish selection panel.

KEITH MILLS, SELECTION PANELLIST: Last year we sent a novelty act last year; that didn't work. So
we wanted something that reflected Irish music, which is good, contemporary pop, and I think we
found that (inaudible).

SCOTT BEVAN: You didn't think of sending, say, U2.

KEITH MILLS: I don't think U2 would be interested in doing it.

SCOTT BEVAN: Still, some big names are interested in being connected with Eurovision. Andrew Lloyd
Weber co wrote this song for the UK's entry, Jade Ewan.

Some acts have incorporated traditional folk with modern pop, such as Croatia's entry, while others
have gone for stylish gowns, string sections and ballet dancers, such as Poland and Estonia.

Then there's the Netherlands.

This act is called the Toppers, perhaps it should be 'Over the Toppers', and it's not just on stage
that this group happily flicks the kitsch switch for its song 'Shine'. The Toppers bring the same
approach along with their bicycles to the media conference.

So much here is very serious songs, beautiful but serious songs. Yours is like a crazy night at the

CORNELLES HEUCKEROTH, DUTCH CONTESTANT: We think the song contest is... Yeah, it's ready for the
old fashioned song contest feeling.

SCOTT BEVAN: Eurovision is about not just colour and kitsch, but also controversy.

Georgia angrily pulled out of this year's contest after its entry, Stefan and 3G, was ordered by
Eurovision's organisers to change the title and lyrics of its song, "We Don't want a Putting." The
song struck the officials' ears as a less than subtle dig at Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

SIESTE BAKKER: It's not a political summit, it's an entertainment production. Every year it comes
with its controversies, its gossip, its rumours, and I think that is part of what the Eurovision
song contest is.

SCOTT BEVAN: But the event has attracted politicians, including a visit from the man who may have
inspired that Georgian song.

The crowds and the tight security have been turning up to this week's semi-finals, and even dress

FAN: We are from Estonia, and we come because we love Eurovision song contest.

SECOND FAN: I love Eurovision.

SCOTT BEVAN: Nearly 20,000 are expected to pack into the arena for the final on Saturday night, but
that's a tiny gathering compared with the expected global television audience of 100 million. Just
as the audience is big, so is the production.

OLA MELZIG, PRODUCTION MANAGER: It's most probably the biggest indoor production produced. We have
2,000 square metres of LLD in this (inaudible).

SCOTT BEVAN: This is all the stuff.

OLA MELZIG: It's all this stuff here, yeah. It's not only a musical competition, it's also who can
do it bigger and better and bolder, and, well, Moscow wins, because this is three or four times as
big as it ever has been.

SCOTT BEVAN: It's a huge budget as well. Eurovision 2009 is reportedly costing about $55-million.
As for who people think will win this year - well one country's name keeps popping up.

DAN FURLONG: Norway, I think.

SCOTT BEVAN: Alexander Ryback was born in the former Soviet Union and grew up in Norway. He's
hoping that life imitates his song title, 'Fairytale'.

ALEXANDER RYBACK, NORWEIGAN CONTESTANT: A song should be good no matter where it is played, you
know, but in Eurovision, it should also be visually interesting.

SCOTT BEVAN: And that's the ground attraction of Eurovision; it's wonderful for the eyes, if not
always for the ears.

FURLONG: A lot of people, even though they won't admit to watching us, they actually really do and
they secretly really enjoy it. There's a lot of closet Eurovision fans.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Nothing else quite like it. That report from Scott Bevan in Moscow.