Phillip Andrew Hedley Adams AO, FAHA, FRSA (born 12 July 1939) is an Australian humanist, social commentator, broadcaster, public intellectual and farmer. He hosts Late Night Live, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) program on Radio National four nights a week. He also writes a weekly column for The Weekend Australian.
Adams played a key role in the revival of the Australian film industry during the 1970s. He was the author of a 1969 report which led to legislation by Prime Minister John Gorton in 1970 for an Australian Film and Television Development Corporation (later the Australian Film Commission) and the Experimental Film Fund.
Together with Barry Jones, Adams was a motivating force behind the Australian Film Television and Radio School which was established under the Whitlam government. Adams played a key role in the development of the South Australian Film Corporation, which was created in 1972 and became a model for similar bodies in other Australian states; and in the establishment of the Australia Council and the Australian Film Development Corporation, later known as the Australian Film Commission, the Film Finance Corporation Australia, and Screen Australia. As head of delegation to the Cannes Film Festival, Adams signed Australia's first co-production agreements with France and the UK. He was Chairman of the Australian Film Institute, the Film and Television Board of the Australia Council, the Australian Film Commission, and Film Australia. He helped establish the Australian Caption Service, which provides services for hearing-impaired television viewers.
In 1979 a portrait of Adams by artist Wes Walters won the Archibald Prize.
Adams began his advertising career with Briggs & James and, later, with Brian Monahan and Lyle Dayman, became a partner in the agency Monahan Dayman Adams. He developed successful campaigns such as Life. Be in it., Slip, Slop, Slap, Break down the Barriers' for the International Year of the Disabled Person and Care for Kids for the International Year of the Child, working with talent such as Fred Schepisi, Alex Stitt, Peter Best, Robyn Archer and Mimmo Cozzolino. Adams left the advertising industry in the 1980s. Monahan Dayman Adams purchased the successful Sydney agency MoJo in 1987 and carried on as MojoMDA.
Adams initially presented a late-night program on Sydney commercial radio station 2UE during the late 1980s and early 1990s before succeeding Virginia Bell in 1991 as presenter of ABC Radio National's Late Night Live, interviewing guests on a wide range of topics including politics, science, philosophy, history and culture. Late Night Live is broadcast across Australia on ABC Radio National, as well as on Radio Australia and the Internet. The program is broadcast live from 22:00 AEST/ADST and is repeated the following day at 16:00 AEST/ADST. A serious discussion of world issues, the program is tempered with Adams' gentle and ironic humour. Regular contributors include Bruce Shapiro and Beatrix Campbell.
In 1995 Adams argued against Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, saying that a better response to expressions of racial hatred was "public debate, not legal censure".
Adams has been appointed both a member and subsequently an officer of the Order of Australia; and he has received numerous awards including six honorary doctorates from Australian universities; Republican of the Year 2005; the Senior ANZAC Fellowship; the Australian Humanist of the Year, the Golden Lion at Cannes; the Longford Award; a Walkley Award; and the Henry Lawson Australian Arts Award. In 1997 the International Astronomical Union named a minor planet orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter after him. A National Trust poll elected him one of Australia's 100 national living treasures.
Adams was born in Maryborough, Victoria, the only child of Congregational Church minister, the Reverend Charles Adams. His childhood was anything but idyllic and his parents separated when he was young. Interviewed in 2006, Adams said that:
Robert Manne has described Adams as "the emblematic figurehead of the pro-Labor left intelligentsia". Adams had a close relationship with every Labor leader from Gough Whitlam to Kevin Rudd, advising on public relations, advertising and policy issues. In 2010, Adams resigned from the Labor Party after Rudd was defeated as the Leader of the Labor Party at the 2010 Labor leadership spill.
The current theme music is the first movement of Brescianello's Violin Concerto No. 4 in E minor, Op. 1. Until March 2016 the theme was a short extract from the "Eliza Aria" from the Wild Swans Concert Suite by Elena Kats-Chernin, performed by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra with soprano Jane Sheldon, chosen in 2010. From 2007 to 2010, the theme music was Kats-Chernin's "Russian Rag", which Adams humorously refers to as "The Waltz of the Wombat". The previous music was Bach's Concerto for oboe, violin and orchestra in C minor, BWV 1060: III. Allegro.