“Nothing’s out of bounds,” Sam Dastyari assures me, “including Pilot Week itself.”
Yes, when it comes to national outrage, even TEN’s own week of 8 new projects was the target of social media fury and column inches accused of featuring too many men.
So it makes sense it will cop a passing mention in Disgrace the new pilot hosted by the former ALP politician-turned-media mouthpiece.
“I had to leave. It wasn’t like I chose to go.”
Dastyari, 35, resigned from politics after a Chinese-related donations scandal, but has since begun making media appearances including for KISS FM’s Kyle & Jackie O.
“I had a full, public national disgrace. As big a scandal as you can have in a small country,” he concedes.
“It was in December when I left politics and let’s be very clear about this, I had to leave. It wasn’t like I chose to go.
“(Kyle & Jackie O) offered me a regular spot and I write a segment called Gutter Politics, trying to mix the world of politics and celebrity gossip in a way they hadn’t done on radio before, and they were really happy with it.
“Off the back of that Charles Firth from The Chaser and I pitched an idea to Channel TEN about doing a television show.”
On Sunday he fronts a panel format joined by comedian Becky Lucas, communications specialist Greg Baxter and Olympic swimmer Stephanie Rice, whose own career copped a hiding after offensive tweets. Rice is also tipped to co-host should the show proceed to series.
“There’s nothing like it on Australian television,” Dastyari explains.
“It’s obviously got elements of Gruen because it’s made by CJZ and elements of The Chaser, but while it’s funny and kind of outrageous, there’s a bit of a darkness to show as well, because of the topics we’re dealing with.
“What happens after you turn the cameras off?”
“What happens after you turn the cameras off? We have these national scandals, disgrace and the outrage happens. And we’re really asking is what happens to these people the day after the cameras stopped being parked in front of the house? How do you pick your life up after that? How do you put your life back together? How do you stop being Schapelle Corby, Sam Dastyari or Monica Lewinsky?
“The other part is looking at the outrage industry itself: the paparazzi, the tabloid newspapers and how news gets packaged. There’s a whole industry making profit off disgrace.”
“It’s a lot more fun being behind the camera than being in front of it”
The show was recorded last weekend, but can be re-edited until the day of broadcast. If it proceeds past Pilot, Dastyari may just make the leap from politics to media with future prospects.
“It’s a lot more fun being behind the camera than being in front of it, because you get to control when it’s being turned off. There’s a famous saying that politics is just show business for ugly people. And I’m trying to flip that on it’s head,” he continues.
“I’ve been through a huge national disgrace and I’m incredibly fascinated. Maybe it’s my own therapy, trying to make sense of it and understand it.
“I have a lot of sympathy for people going through these processes but I also know that you’ve got to take responsibility for yourself.
“But this is the dumbest thing I could be doing financially, to be honest. If you asked me if I was going into lobbying or government relations I’d earn way more.
“As my wife keeps telling me, ‘I assume this is what a mid-life crisis looks like?'”
Disgrace airs 8:30pm Sunday on TEN.