What’s the world coming to when a grown man can’t celebrate Xmas by crawling drunk along the footpath?

Seven forgives O'Keefe

I was busy on the final home stretch of my book last week and so I missed the hoo-ha about Andrew O'Keefe. In case you did too, here is a heads-up from News Ltd's reports:

THE Seven Network
went to ground last night as network star Andrew O'Keefe found himself
embroiled in a scandal involving an amateur video featuring the star in
an allegedly drunken state.

Network bosses are believed to have paid $25,000 to keep the footage off the air and would not return calls when news of The Rich List's star's big night out leaked from Melbourne.

According to news sources at the Nine Network, O'Keefe was unwittingly filmed crawling down Chapel St, Prahran, looking
disoriented, smoking and being helped to his feet by a mystery blonde
companion.

Confidential
had been told that a Melbourne bouncer had been hawking the footage
around to the major networks since Monday and that when Nine made
inquiries yesterday  A Current Affair producer Grant Williams was told: "Channel 7 has snapped it up for $25,000."

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A cheap price, some would say, to preserve the public image of a major star.

O'Keefe was allegedly filmed in the wee hours outside Melbourne
nightclub Revolver. The footage is believed to be a couple of weeks old.

"The vision is absolutely clear and irrefutable," Nine spokesman David Hurley
said last night. "O'Keefe's splayed in the street, profoundly
inebriated. He has to be helped to his feet by a blonde woman who
disappears down the street. I don't think you'll be seeing it any time
soon on Today Tonight."

Andrew issued a statement at the end of last week apologising for his drunken behaviour but maintaining he was just letting off some steam after a long year. In today's reports……

"ANDREW
O'Keefe's drunken night out investigating the gutters and street life
of Melbourne's exclusive Chapel Rd strip will remain just that: he has
been given wallpaper backing by the Seven Network.

O'Keefe will continue hosting three shows a week and will return to Weekend Sunrise when it resumes in the new year.

A four-minute video of O'Keefe's big night was revealed on The Sunday Telegraph's website yesterday. It showed O'Keefe lying on the footpath, sprawled in a gutter and crawling while bantering with teenagers.

He smokes a cigarette while lying on his back, falls on top of an
unidentified blonde woman and later tells people he is “f … ed''.

But Seven Network bosses, headed by CEO David Leckie, have backed
O'Keefe - who left Sydney on Friday with his wife and two children for
a US holiday.

“Sure, it was embarrassing, but if you look at the footage no atrocity is committed,'' a source said.

“He's extremely drunk, but many other people have been that drunk on occasions.''

In the footage, O'Keefe eventually staggers on to the road and gets a lift in a stranger's car.

A Seven spokesman said there would be no further comment about the incident.

If you care, you can see the footage here.

I'm going to line myself up behind all Andrew O'Keefe's defenders here. From everything I have read about him and heard about him from people in the industry, he is a genuinely good guy. A friend of mine just interviewed him for a story about White Ribbon day – the campaign against domestic violence of which he is an ambassador. He does good things, is good to the people he works with and is a loyal family man. There was no impropriety towards any women in the video (except the part where he accidentally fell on someone) and it just seems like he was having a bender and was unfortunate enough to be filmed by an opportunistic by-stander.

As someone who is a complete control freak, I'm slightly in awe of people who can let go to the point of inebriation. I'm sure the hang-over he woke up with – and the storm of press attention – has been punishment enough for the poor guy.

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