Australia has come up from down under with a rival to America's favorite ''Where's the beef?'' TV commercial: ''I'll throw another shrimp on the barbie for ya.''
Paul Hogan - a television star in his native land but until the recent commercial unknown here - is the man featured in that widely televised Australian Tourist Commission commercial, which extols the virtues of that country for American tourists. Since the commercial began running on the West Coast in the spring, there have been hundreds of thousands of inquiring telephone calls. And now that the commercial is airing in other parts of the country, Paul Hogan is becoming the most widely recognized Australian in America.
The Australian Tourist Commission is investing around $6 million in its ad campaign, which is designed to stress the friendliness of Australians as well as develop curiosity about the uniqueness of the Australian accent. Words and phrases like ''mite'' (mate), ''barbie'' (barbecue), ''emma chisit'' (how much is it?), and ''sorten TV'' (saw it on TV) are used in the ads to encourage Americans to talk about Australia - and, perhaps, to visit the country.
According to Australian tourism officials, in the first three months of 1984 there has already been a one-third increase in American tourist visa applications, mainly as a result of the commercial. Recently, Mr. Hogan flew here to meet the media and some of his new American fans.
When I chatted with him after lunch at the New York Yacht Club - the foundation of which is in the process of being renovated - he jokingly mused that although Australia appreciated receiving the base on which the America's Cup stands when it won the cup, he really didn't think it necessary for us to send it the yacht club as well.
Hogan, an offbeat social observer in his comedy specials out of Sydney, writes all of his own material. He told me he was brought up on American television. ''Actually about 70 percent of what we see on TV in Australia is American TV series. Right now the most popular shows are 'M*A*S*H,' 'Dynasty,' and 'Dallas.' Whatever works in America, works in Australia.''
He says that, unlike Australian films that have developed worldwide reputations, only a few TV series have been exported from Australia to the United States and those, like ''Against the Wind,'' have usually been shown on cable.
''However,'' he remarks dryly, ''there's a lot of innovation on Australian television because of lack of money. We just don't have enough money for expensive car crashes, etc.''
On the whole he finds watching New York television very much like watching Sydney television. ''Exactly the same, full of commercial interruptions, only with many more channels.''
Mr. Hogan is surprised to find how little Americans know about his native country. ''You don't know where we are on the map, that we're big, roughly the same size as the US, that we speak English. There are so many common bonds and yet we have a different kind of society, slower, more easygoing.''
He compares Australia's relationship to its aboriginal people with our relationship to American Indians. ''In the last ten years we are trying to come to grips with the situation. Our solution is more difficult than yours - it's not easy nor is it right to drag the aborigines into the 20th century. Within the last few years they have been given land rights and land grants just about as large as Germany. Their God is the land. They are the most ancient people on the face of the earth.''
In the famous commercial, Mr. Hogan, a handsome, lithe outdoorsman, is adding shrimp to an outdoor barbecue (barbie) and suggests that Americans should ''Come and say 'G'day' (pronounced G'dye) and I'll throw another shrimp on the barbie for ya.'' He also amusingly needles viewers in another commercial by suggesting that visiting Australia is the best way to see the America's Cup.
What would Hogan list as the top sights in Australia for American tourists?
''The Great Barrier Reef is one of the great wonders of the world. Travel across it in a glass-bottom boat and you'll think you're on another planet. And the wilderness in the Northern Territory, what we call the Never Never. There are still places way up North where you will be virtually the first to set foot there. And, of course, there's Sydney, a cosmopolitan city full of restaurants and night life and still only 20 minutes from fabulous beaches.''
Mr. Hogan likes the US and would like to work here in television. But not settle here. ''You get used to being able to walk seven miles of beach without seeing a soul,'' he says.
He's very happy to have become the symbol of Australian tourism on American television. ''After all, mate (pronounced mite), tourism might change the world, '' he says wryly. ''We'll never have another Pearl Harbor because if the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor now, they'd kill a million and a half Japanese tourists.''
Viewing Mistral's Daughter is like being served Fluff a la Mode at a good French restaurant.
But so was reading it.
''Mistral's Daughter,'' the best-selling potboiler by Judith Krantz, has been converted into what is bound to be a widely viewed miniseries (CBS, Monday, Sept. 24, 8-11 p.m.; Tuesday, Sept. 25, 9-11 p.m.; Wednesday, Sept. 26, 8-11 p.m.).
It is not a roman a clef, according to the author, although painterly insiders will tell you there are elements of Picasso, Dali, and Pollock in the story, which concerns an egocentric painter and his loves, plus the various loves of the women with whom he is involved.
The miniseries canvas is smeared with thick layers of paint in the form of stars - Stacy Keach as Mistral, Stefanie Powers as Maggycq, Lee Remick as Kate, plus Timothy Dalton, Stephan Audran, Ian Richardson, Robert Urich, and Alexandra Stewart. There are beautiful locations throughout France - mostly Paris and Provence - and accents galore.
Americans Stacy Keach and Stefanie Powers affect French accents, Britisher Timothy Dalton tries an American accent. All manage rather well. But then along comes poor Stephan Audran, an authentic Frenchwoman, and alongside the interlopers, she seems to be speaking her lines with a phony French accent.
''Mistral's Daughter'' is pure hard-milled French savon-opera. People speak in Frenglishcq: ''What do you do for a crust of bread?'' a character asks when he wants to know if Mistral has a job.
Mistral paints, of course. And makes love to many women. Everybody, as a matter of fact, falls in love with everybody else and plays games in and out of bed. It's done with flair, gallantry, and a kind of exquisite tastelessness.
After all, that's what Fluff a la Mode is all about. If it weren't done with so much eclat, it might be called Tripe a la Mode.