L to R: Nick Murray & Michael Cordell of CJZ
In Part 2 of an interview with CJZ producer Michael Cordell, he talks about upcoming projects, Foxtel, ABC.
Amongst CJZ’s slate of factual, comedy, light entertainment and drama, true crime has been a recent success.
Undercurrent recently finished on Seven, except into Tasmania where it was withheld for legal reasons. Since the screening the case of Sue Neill-Fraser is headed back the courts for an appeal.
The Good Cop profiling cases solved by Victorian detective Ron Iddles screened on Foxtel’s C+I.
“It’s rated really well for Foxtel.” says Cordell. “They released the first episode on Facebook Live with 350,000 views. So there is life in the genre and we have a big, noisy true crime series we’re finishing financing and hopefully it will go to air next year.”
Upcoming drama My Life is Murder starring Lucy Lawless (pictured below) is currently filming in Melbourne for 10. Following on from House of Hancock and House of Bond, Drama is an area CJZ wants to see boosted.
“Drama is something I’ve been doing a lot of work on,” Cordell explains. “We optioned a book by US senator Doug Jones who was involved in a high profile case bringing 3 Ku Klux Klansmen to justice. It was a famous civil rights story of a bombing of an Alabama church in 1963.
“The book was ghost written by an Australian, which is how I came across it. We’re developing it with a US partner.”
He also hints at another format that centres around a group of people who don’t speak a common language.
“We’ve just shot a pilot of it. I can’t say too much more.”
“We were rocked a little bit when Foxtel changed their strategy”
But the are always challenges for production companies regardless of size. Cordell points to the demands on the local sector that don’t extend to Streaming “disruptors” and a shift within Foxtel’s outlook.
“We were rocked a little bit when Foxtel changed their strategy and decided to invest most of their money in Live Sport,” he continues.
“We had 4 shows that were likely to return, and suddenly they disappeared: Demolition Man, The Great Australian Cook Book, Court Justice and The Good Cop. One or two might happen, but we are living through an age of digital disruption and trying to figure out how to say afloat.
“I’d love to see some mechanism where the Streaming services are required to commission Australian content.
“They are here making a lot of money, using Australian infrastructure, and contributing absolutely nothing to the Australian culture and industry.
“As good corporate citizens it’s important the Streaming services, like the networks, are required to give something back, not just to the industry, but the Australian public in terms of programming.
“That’s top of the agenda in terms of things that need to change.”
CJZ is also a key producer of ABC titles. Describing their budgets as being “butchered” Cordell wants to see funding levels restored.
“She’s feisty and she will fight for the ABC”
We conclude as I ask if Ita Buttrose will make a good Chair for the public broadcaster?
“Politically she is a great choice. In terms of the process it probably wasn’t ideal,” he suggests.
“But I think she will be great for the ABC. She brings lots of good will, has good experience in corporate governance and media. She’s feisty and she will fight for the ABC when she needs to. She’s as well placed as anyone to eyeball the government and say ‘We need more money!’
“I think she will be really strong.”
Part One: Local the key to CJZ success.