Sunday, April 24, 2011

So, the ABC has lost the rights to Paper Giants 2...

Here's a super-quick, super-good fix.

The ABC has already made a riveting drama series about the Packer dynasty.

Broadcast in 1970 and 1971 in black and white (naturally) Dynasty was way out of the ordinary in the quality of the scripts (by Tony Morphett). It used a "fictional" Sydney newspaper, magazine and television empire to deal with issues that were alive at the time such as the Vietnam War, Asian dictators, Australia's anti-apartheid demonstrations, abortion, defecting soviets, unsafe cars and so on. Two of the finest scripts were written by Bob Ellis.

I remember lines from Dynasty even now. And let me tell you, the acting was several notches above Homicide.

So here's my idea. Please message @abcmarkscott. While the Paper Giants buzz is still hot, spool up the tapes and rerun Dynasty on ABC2, as a reminder of what life was like then and how bold real-time political/corporate drama once was.

Except there are problems.

1. One-inch tape deteriorates. If the episodes haven't been transferred to film some may be lost, or literally lost. Tony Morphett's next blockbuster Certain Women was to have been sold to the BBC, but (as I heard it) the deal fell through because the ABC lost the tape of one of the episodes.

2. "Clearing rights" seems to take forever and often can't be done. The early acting contracts never envisioned replays decades later. Some of the actors or their estates will be hard to find. In the early 1990s I worked next to the team who were setting up the ABC cable television channels (yes, there were to be such things). The idea was simple... run old programs. But getting permission, from so many hard-to-trace people... let's just say it couldn't be done quickly.

So I recognise that, even if @abcmarkscott gets on the case as soon as work resumes Wednesday, nothing will go to air for a while. This needn't matter. The Paper Giants buzz will be around for a while. And I recognise that most probably not every episode will be able to be aired. This needn't matter. There are 24 episodes, all self contained, all extremely good.


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