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. @Stan re Nine’s Q&A rumor: Could be worse – I’m surprised they haven’t thrown Eddie Maguire’s name around as host. I could just imagine him conducting questions to the Prime Minister: “For 15,000 dollars, Ms Gillard, what is your middle name?”

    Michael, readers with working brains know this is a part blog part news website and I don’t recall David ever saying his articles were always going to be completely unbiased. The funny thing is, opinions or not, it’s more reliable than those so called folks at other “news” websites with their Jackie O “Top News” stories…

  2. @Stan, the idea of a 9 Network Q&A rip-off just brought a little bit of sick up into my mouth. If they think they can produce a Tony Jones clone out of their cavalcade of talent, they clearly have no idea. Tony Jones is the essence of Q&A!

  3. @Liz – read what I said……I said Gyngell And his programmers. Anyway, everyone knows Gyngell is involved of every aspect of Nine and after this long in the chair and nothing but declines, changes should be made.

    All the scrutiny is on TEN at the moment (and for good reason) but Nine is a basket case and showing no signs of improvement – especially if the new airport comedy from the Little Britain guys is getting all the promo airtime and therefore their big hope – it looks horrendous. The home of comedy???? More like the home of extremely average television

  4. This makes me think… I wonder if commercial networks in other comparable countries suck on the teat of public broadcasting as much as Nine & Seven seem to do here. Not forgetting Nine & Seven love to feed on each other too (sorry about the unpleasant images there).

    There was a rumor published in last week’s Green Guide saying Nine was planning their own Q&A rip-off, possibly hosted by Karl Stefanovic with Leila McKinnon moderating questions from the studio audience.

    PS: Wouldn’t Nine also need ABC archived footage for this, as they broadcast all the cricket until Kerry took over?

  5. Perhaps they are worried about meeting their local content quota. With Sea Patrol ending and Rescue Special Op most likely sinking to even less viewers this year with a risk of being canceled. Remains to see if Underbelly can keep it’s viewers after the less than stellar mini files.

    Maybe Nine figured out they may need to do everything they can in 2012 to stay afloat

  6. “It’s seems to me that, yet again, you are leading the anti-Nine sentiment with this article.
    The producers didn’t have to sign with Nine.

    So much for an un-biased site.”

    If what David said was biased, and I’m not going to comment on that, well it is for a good reason. Once again Nine has failed to develop any idea of its own and simply attempted to purchase ratings. Another example of this was its acquisition of Top Gear, after this attracted popularity on SBS.

  7. Really despise channel 9 can’t do anything to keep viewers happy. ABC was perfect for paper giants, no ads and a great story, channel 9 loves their ads so a 90min show would turn into a 2/1/2 hour show

  8. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Paper Tigers was to be the first part of a trilogy of mini-series. Southern Star tried to secure the ABC’s interest last October, but the ABC would only commit to the first min-series.


  9. Hilarious.

    Do you think anyone at Nine even realises the conspicious irony of this move? Poaching a planned production from the ABC about Kerry Packer.

    Aside from Underbelly, they’ve failed miserably for the last 5 years in local content… and they’re only just now waking up to the fact that a great story was waiting to be told… lying dormant, right under their noses this whole time.

    There’s nothing more to say.

  10. @Michael – off topic but – where should I look for Million Dollar Drop next week? Let’s see, it was on Monday night, then was on Thursday night, wasn’t on Monday night this week despite WIN running promos for it, then, wow, it was on Wednesday night!
    And you wonder why Nine is the laughing stock of all and sundry?

  11. Excellent article, David. I think it’s gotten under your skin and rightly so! And there’s a good reason that the productions of John Edwards that have received the most critical acclaim have aired on either Pay TV or non-commercial FTA. I’d love to see a mini-series of Who Killed Channel 9 but they’d better have a fairly hefty budget allocation for legal fees 🙂

  12. @Michael – well, you’ll have to “agree to disagree” with the vast majority of the other commenters also. It never ceases to amaze me that some of the most biased commenters on here are so quick to call David or others out on their supposed bias. You rarely seem to miss an opportunity to have a sly dig at Seven.

    I’m curious as to which parts of David’s article you think demonstrate this bias. Is it when he says that Cops LAC is dreadful, that Panic at Rock Island was panned in NZ, or that Top Gear is rating lower than when it was on SBS?

    Perhaps it’s where David asks how independent the production will be (citing a well-known example to support this contention) or maybe it’s where David suggests that there are probably better Packer-related stories than World Series Cricket?

    Nine have a track record of taking a silk purse and making a sow’s ear out of it. I very much doubt that this will be any different unless they can keep their grubby paws off the production.

  13. Since Kerry Packer died, the 9 Network have been in a free fall. Bad acquisitions, bad time slots, bad shows full stop. At least when kerry was alive he knew how to run a company and better yet a Tv Network. Partly because he had a passion for it. Now its all about money and how to make more instead of it being how can we improve the shows and improve our acquiring of shows from the US. This is not unexpected the public broadcaster nurtures a show or a miniseries and the FTA commercial Networks steal it or bribe their way to acquiring the rights to it and then destroy it with poor scheduling and constant interference. Just goes to show that their is very little to be positive about the FTA Networks these days.

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