MICHAEL IDATO July 30, 2012
Take two ... Rob Carlton, left, and Lachy Hulme as Kerry Packer, right.
ROB CARLTON, who played the media titan Kerry Packer in the ABC's ratings hit Paper Giants, will return to the role which won him wide acclaim and back-to-back Logie and Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts awards.
Carlton will join Rachel Griffiths and the relatively unknown Mandy McElhinney in the project's sequel, Paper Giants: The Magazine Wars. Griffiths will play New Idea editor Dulcie Boling and McElhinney her rival, Woman's Day's Nene King, whose infamous circulation war in the 1980s and 1990s provides the backdrop for the story.
The project's co-producer Mimi Butler describes Boling and King, former friends who became rivals, as ''formidable'' women and the story of their clash as Shakespearean.
''[It is] set in the kingdoms of Packer and Murdoch, there's rivalry and rebellion, love and tragedy, and great victories along the way, all taking place amid the decadence and rock'n'roll of the '80s and '90s,'' Butler said.
Griffiths is best known for her work in the US, notably the critically acclaimed dramas Brothers & Sisters and Six Feet Under. McElhinney appeared in the ABC comedy At Home With Julia.
Carlton first won the role of Kerry Packer in early 2011, playing opposite Asher Keddie as Ita Buttrose in Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo.
After an arm wrestle between the ABC and Channel Nine, Nine commissioned a sequel, Howzat! Kerry Packer's War. It stars Lachy Hulme as Kerry Packer, and dramatises the events surrounding the creation of World Series Cricket. Nine will screen it after the Olympics.
The ABC then commissioned its own sequel tied directly to Paper Giants. Sources say the ABC was keen to use Carlton as Packer to create a ''point of difference'' between its two dramas and the Nine project.
Giving Carlton an opportunity to reprise the role of Packer creates an unusual situation, with two upcoming major media-themed dramas for different networks featuring different actors playing the same role.
Both projects come from the production company Southern Star, and are produced by John Edwards, whose credits include Offspring and Love My Way.
The ABC's head of fiction, Carole Sklan, said the Paper Giants sequel would bring to life ''two fascinating women and the rivalry that transformed publishing''. It will also provide a contextual backdrop to the ''current controversy over the role of the media in the private lives of celebrities,'' she said.
Filming begins next month. The ABC will screen it next year.