Ita Buttrose: I warned producers Paper Giants script was wrong

Former magazine editor Ita Buttrose claims the producers of Paper Giants knew there were inaccuracies in the script before the show screened.

The Southern Star-produced show about the launch of women’s magazine Cleo aired on ABC1 last year to critical acclaim. However, it portrayed Buttrose’s first husband Alisdair Macdonald as selfishly abandoning Buttrose while she was pregnant.

Macdonald sued the ABC for defamation after the show aired. The ABC was forced to withdraw all DVD copies of Paper Giants after settling with him out of court.

Buttrose, who is currently promoting a new edition of her autobiography told Mumbrella in a video interview: “I told them it was incorrect – and that was before the show ever went to air. I couldn’t persuade them to change it.”

Buttrose wrote about Paper Giants in A Passionate Life.

“Overall I was pleased and thought it captured well the spirit of the seventies, but I was always concerned that the drama was a mixture of real people being portrayed as themselves with experiences that actually happened plus ones that didn’t, being portrayed as fact rather than fiction.

This turned out to be particularly true in the way my first husband was depicted. I was upset about this and sent Southern Star producer John Edwards an email on 6 March 2011 – before the show went to air – about my concerns. I also relayed them to scriptwriter Christopher Lee, who was sympathetic but told me ‘you win some you lose some, Ita”.

At time of writing the ABC and Southern Star had not responded to Mumbrella’s invitation to comment.

  • The rest of Mumbrella’s video interview with Buttrose will be published tomorrow


  1. Nicky Bryson
    4 Jul 12
    10:51 am

  2. This is completelt unrelated to the story but does anyone else wish that Ita was our prime minister?

  3. Nikki @ Styling You
    4 Jul 12
    11:21 am

  4. Yes, Nicky!

  5. Richard Moss
    4 Jul 12
    11:45 am

  6. I have no idea what kind of Prime Minister she would make, but I have long considered her extraordinary by virtue of her intelligence, her style and her pulchritude.

    The point she makes about everyone having a shot at the script is 100% accurate, and is why may Australian television and film dramas slip up short of the excellence line.

    Having said this, it is not at all uncommon for a production company to fail to see the dramatic possibilities in real life. They (the producers/directors/writers) assume that they can improve upon the drama of real life events, and immediately begin a downward path. The better way is to look at the reality and make the most of it.

    The Great Caruso is a fine example of this. The film was made to utilise Mario Lanza, who looked nothing like Caruso and didn’t sound much like him either.
    However, the biggest mistake was to reinvent the true life story of a man who was extraordinary in many ways and whose real life story was at least twice as dramatic as the script and who lived and died in ways totally ignored by the movie.

  7. Vicki
    4 Jul 12
    11:51 am

  8. Er, No, Nicky – magazine Editor as PM…we’d be a bigger laughing stock than we are now. (Edited for legal reasons).

  9. Sam Andrew
    4 Jul 12
    12:36 pm

  10. Absolutely!!! The reality is though she’s too straight forward to be a politician – ridiculous isn’t it.

  11. Lindsay.
    4 Jul 12
    1:20 pm

  12. People can make up their own minds about Ita, but everyone should look at her history not her PR before they do.

  13. Ian
    4 Jul 12
    4:01 pm

  14. It was on the ABC…..the usual TV bashers will turn a blind eye to the loose handling of the facts.