The Nine Network has swooped on the success of ABC’s Cleo miniseries and done a deal with the producers to stump up a ‘sequel’ for its own network.
Nine has commissioned a mini-series from Southern Star about former Nine magnate Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket revolution as a two-part mini-series to commence production in 2012.
The mini-series will tell how a young Kerry Packer took on the cricket establishment to set up a rebel competition with the world’s best players and recount Packer’s court battles to get World Series Cricket up and running, the secret player signings, and the way he got around the ban on using Australia’s hallowed Test arenas.
The announcement all but undermines any opportunity for the ABC to retain the production it nurtured to great acclaim.
The Australian reports that the ABC wanted to have a sequel about Packer’s cricket achievements, but Nine wanted it and refused to give access to archival footage.
The success of Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo cannot be underestimated. It isn’t merely the 1.2m viewers it achieved on Sunday, nor even the remarkable boost it got for the second episode on Monday (1.34m). No, it was the universal praise the show received from the audience -in casting, scripting, direction, design- and that it represents a return to form for ABC Drama.
It is hard to remember the last time when an audience was as vocal in its praise for a local drama.
Channel Nine, which delivered the dreadful Cops L.A.C. last year and is sitting on Panic at Rock Island which was panned in New Zealand, now sees fit to pounce upon the ABC’s achievements. Will this fare as well as Top Gear did when it pinched that from SBS? It’s now rating lower than it did on SBS.
How independent will the miniseries be on Nine? The network is known for wanting its way in the final product. Just ask the producers of The Strip. They are the same team who made the excellent East West 101 for SBS which gave them enormous creative freedom.
Packer’s achievements in cricket may well be the stuff of drama -but there are much better Packer stories to be told, especially his hands-on approach to running his beloved Nine. There was the selling of the channel to Alan Bond, then buying it back at a fraction of the price. There are glorious stories of his management of Nine stars, seen fleetingly in TV1’s Graham Kennedy telemovie, The King.
Southern Star is reportedly still speaking to a presumably-miffed ABC about another idea for a sequel on the world of magazines.
I have a better idea the ABC can have for free. Go and buy the rights to Who Killed Channel Nine?
That would rate through the roof.