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Nine hijacks ‘Packer sequel’ from ABC

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.

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.

68 Responses

  1. Good Article David and so true.

    What a disappointment ch 9 have got the sequels. I for one will not be watching.

    Would love to see a mini series on the book “who killed ch 9” . Come on ABC! That would be great.

    Maybe they could air it the same night Ch 9 airs their Packer sequel. I would love to see that, i know what i would be watching.

  2. Michael: Yes there is certainly opinion in this article, but no apology for that. I am running a blog so I call them as I see them. The problem with again suggesting I am biased against Nine fails to acknowledge the articles that are far more complimentary towards Nine, or indeed acknowledging other articles that slam Seven, TEN, ABC, SBS or Foxtel. If you only want to point out negative Nine stuff then maybe it’s not me that’s the one with the bias?

  3. “Who Killed Channel 9?” was Gerald Stone’s sequel to his earlier book on the rise of the Nine Network “Compulsive Viewing” — perhaps these books combined would make a pretty good mini-series done by an independent studio — the only problem would be access to the right archive footage: anyone who could figure a way around that could be on a winner.

    Not too many movies or series made about tv networks, magazines, media in general, that aren’t usually black comedies like “Network” or “Broadcast News”– one of the few factual movies made include “Good Night and Good Luck” about Edward R. Murrow and CBS during the McCarthy era — other than “All The President’s Men”, movies set in newsrooms during important events or time periods is a genre that hasn’t been discovered yet. Since movies have been made out of all the most popular tv shows, cartoons and toys, could this be the next big thing?

  4. Hope it’s not too late to ask the ‘panel’ if anyone else can verify-or even heard of -one of Nine’s great ‘passes’ back in ’91.
    They’d not shown any interest in the offer of the mini-series “Brides of Christ” which subsequently had the 1st ep. rate thru the roof on a Sunday nite on the ABC.
    At the Nine board meeting the Monday after, Kerry Packer apparently entered with the immortal line:
    “OK, who’s the c**t who passed on the nuns??!!!”
    Is it too good to be true?

  5. One would think Nine have grabbed it so they can control the details of the story and turn it into a new Underbelly-style franchise.
    Odds on you won’t see the Gyngell family or the Costigan Royal Commission on screen and Sam Chisholm will be slated.

  6. yes i agree. what is 9’s obsession with sport? so many other great packer stories to be told. it would make sense that 9 would make a mini series about channel 9 and kerry packers role in it

  7. How to fix Ch9, um, make a show about its history, yay? The reason why everyone watched was because we knew we were going to get an independant and honest look at people. Maybe they could commission a mini series – ‘Eddie in Charge’.

  8. I agree with the other comments here that the success of ‘Paper Giants’ was more about Ita, Asher Keddie, Running a magazine, and The 70’s. Packer was the least intersesting part of a not very interesting story well-made. Centrefolds and sealed sections are much more interesting than Richie Benaud and whether a key can be pressed in the ground or not. Nine: “Monorail!!”

  9. Yep, Channel Nine is slowly becoming Australia’s most hated tv channel!!! 🙂

    Though to be honest, I don’t mind anything if they produce good quality shows. I just don’t like labelling this Kerry Packer miniseries as a sequel to Paper Giants.

  10. Who Killed Channel 9?… Hasn’t that been on since, like, 2005, after Kerry died? I thought its Willoughby run has never ended since. Its Richmond run moved bases to Docklands just last month, meanwhile.

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