Rupert Murdoch set to be next Aussie media mogul to get Howzat treatment

news of the worldThe story of Rupert Murdoch’s rise to become the world’s biggest media mogul looks set to become an Australian movie.

Screen Australia has provided funding development for the work which is being written by Bob Ellis and Stephen Ramsay.

The announcement comes days after Southern Star’s production of Howzat, the story of how Australian media mogul Kerry Packer took on the cricket establishment delivered the Nine Network with 2m+ ratings.

The film has the working title of The News of the World.

The British Sunday tabloid the movie is named after was closed by Murdoch last year in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.

Bob Ellis wrote the Australian journalism drama Newsfront, while Stephen Ramsey wrote and directed The Baby Boomers Picture Show and in the 1980s co-wrote mini-series True Believers with Ellis.

Ellis told Mumbrella: “What we have done starts at 1960 with his early career when he bought the Daily Telegraph off Packer and then to when he bought News of the World and how he burst on the world of America and became a friend of Nixon and got a license as a foreigner media owner.”

With legal cases still underway over the phone hacking, Ellis told Mumbrella the conclusion was still unwritten.

Ellis said, although nothing was locked in, his first preference for the lead would be New Zealand actor Marton Csokas, of South Solitary, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dead Europe and the forthcoming Noah, with Russell Crowe.

Ellis said the team was also working on a 14-part miniseries to follow.

Also to receive funding from Screen Australia, are two projects from Snowtown screenwriter Shaun Grant. The first called Berlin Syndrome, is a psychological thriller with producer Polly Staniford and EP Angie Fielder. The second is Jasper Jones, a coming of age story based on Craig Silvey’s novel.

Defiant, directed by Bill Bennett and produced by Anupam Sharma and Bennett with Toni Collette to star also received another round of funding.

Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, producing partners behind The King’s Speech and forthcoming Tracks are behind a new production Los Alamos with writer Luke Davies, who wrote Candy, also produced by Sherman and Canning and starring Heath Ledger.

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Executive Producer Angie Fielder
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Synopsis A passionate holiday romance leads to an obsessive relationship when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave.

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Synopsis A teenage assassin living in the slums of Columbia finds himself ordered to do a hit on his best friend. Choosing between loyalty to his friend, and the loyalty required of him by a merciless drug lord, Juan Pablo is a normal boy caught up in a ruthless world. Based on the best-selling novel by Nam Le.

Genre Thriller
Producers Bill Bennett, Anupam Sharma
Writer/Director Bill Bennett
Synopsis Two young lovers from different castes in India are marked for honour killings. Based on true events.

Genre Biopic
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Writer Joan Sauers
Synopsis The true story of mercurial classical violist, Richard Goldner, who escapes Nazi-occupied Austria to settle in Australia where he’s faced with a different kind of tyranny before discovering his true calling and forming Musica Viva. Based on the book by Suzanne Baker.

Genre Comedy Drama
Producers Leah Churchill-Brown, Amanda Higgs
Writer Alice Bell
Director Hattie Dalton
Synopsis A baby is abandoned on 14-year-old Ashlee’s doorstep, shining light on her broken family and her secret teenage life.

Genre Coming of Age
Producers Vincent Sheehan
Writer Shaun Grant
Synopsis Based on the award-winning Australian novel by Craig Silvey.

Genre Family/Fantasy
Writer/Producer Trish Graham
Executive Producer Matt Carroll
Synopsis Little Fur is the story of how even a small creature – an elf-troll, no larger than a 4-year-old child – is able to find the courage to overcome her fears, to understand that there is good and bad in all of us, and decides to become a hero.

Genre Thriller
Producers Iain Canning, Emile Sherman
Writer Luke Davies
Synopsis Spring, 1945. Michael Connolly, a disgraced intelligence operative, enters a labyrinth of secrets and espionage when he arrives at the high-security military base of Los Alamos. Sent to investigate a seemingly open-and-shut murder case, Connolly is thrown into the heart of the Manhattan Project and must navigate a path through military protocol, political intrigue and personal agendas in order to uncover the truth in the most secretive place in the world.

Genre True Crime
Director/Producer Marion Pilowsky
Writer Lee Sellars
Synopsis A rookie detective, a killer on the loose and a mother who never gave up hope. Based on a true story.

Genre Biopic
Executive Producer Matthew Dabner
Writer Emma Jensen
Synopsis A young woman with a family legacy and a passion for writing goes on a quest to find a story which results in the groundbreaking novel Frankenstein. However, Mary learns that creativity and love can come at a high price when she embarks on a passionate and tumultuous love affair with the poet Percy Shelley.

Genre Biopic
Producers Sue Murray, Richard Lowenstein
Executive Producer Domenico Procacci
Writer/Director Richard Lowenstein
Synopsis At the height of his internationally renowned career, a sudden blow to the head robs the famously sensual rock star of two of his most cherished senses. A series of personal battles follows ending tragically with his death at the age of 37, the night before embarking on a world tour.

Genre Biopic
Writers Stephen Ramsey, Bob Ellis

Genre Drama
Producers Steve Kearney, Richard Keddie
Writer Peter Ivan

Genre Drama
Producers Heather Ogilvie, Mark Gooder
Writer Jan Sardi
Synopsis Together, one woman’s gift and another’s determination result in one of the most important scientific discoveries of the 19th century. A revealing portrait of the intricate and resilient nature of female friendship, based on the acclaimed novel by Tracey Chevalier.

Genre Crime Drama
Producers Tait Brady, Craig Monahan
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Director Craig Monahan
Synopsis A blackly comic exposé of unequal social relationships and abuse of authority – now and then. A reimagining of the iconic Australian play by David Williamson.

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Producer Timothy White
Writer Susie Brooks-Smith
Director Robert Connolly
Synopsis Scully takes his young daughter, Billie, across Europe on a search for his missing wife. Based on the acclaimed novel by Tim Winton.

Genre Coming of Age
Producer Tom M Jeffrey
Writer Lachlan Philpott
Synopsis Teens Tamara and Squid are in love, but their fragile relationship is broken by a betrayal of trust that puts their futures at risk.

Genre Crime
Producer Timothy White
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Script Editor John Collee
Synopsis A young man is sent to prison where he becomes the perfect apprentice to ‘public enemy number one’, beating him at his own game.

Genre Romantic Comedy
Producer Phillip Bowman
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Synopsis Dylan Gilbert, a back room guy dreaming of becoming a glamorous stock picker realises that one of his firm’s small-time clients has an amazing success rate and by copying their picks he can achieve his dream, but when Client 68745, Holly York, falls in love her picks begin to tank! Dylan decides he must break up the love match if he is to achieve his goal.

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Producer Ma’ara Bobby Romia
Synopsis Ma’ara will work with Screentime Group in New Zealand for six months across all facets of television concept development, writing and producing, production, post-production and marketing/distribution strategies.

Director Ariel Martin-Merrells
Synopsis Ariel will work under the mentorship of director James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross, Fear, Perfect Stranger) in Los Angeles for five months during post-production on House of Cards and collaborate in the development of two upcoming feature films projects Winter Hill Gang and Recoil.


Writer/Directors Patrick Sarell, Alister Lockhart


  1. Scoop
    28 Aug 12
    3:27 pm

  2. Warnie first though.

  3. zumabeach
    28 Aug 12
    5:07 pm

  4. Hmmm … Bob Ellis writing about Rupert Murdoch’s life and times. That should be about as balanced as an editorial in The Australian. Labor luvvie Bob had better not let his politics get in the way of the story or his film could end up being pulped, just like his Abbott and Costello publishing disaster all those years ago. But it did come out eventually – minus the bits Bob got wrong, of course.

  5. jean cave
    28 Aug 12
    6:32 pm

  6. The Murdoch Thing might be quite good if the screenplay was rewritten by Armando Ianucci . .

  7. Eyelove Jokes
    29 Aug 12
    7:15 am

  8. @ Jean

    Armando would smash it – love that idea!!!!!!

  9. Sam
    29 Aug 12
    7:52 am

  10. Yeah, right. With lefty Bob Ellis writing and (possibly) Channel Nine involved, I can’t see how this will be anything more than completely unbalanced. And unhinged. I foresee a polemic.

  11. Anonymous
    29 Aug 12
    4:43 pm

  12. Bob Ellis is actually pretty good when he shuts his mouth. Over bearing, self absorbed (but who isn’t), out of date political stances and over opinionated – but he can pen a good story. I would think he would need to leave his politics at the door to do this story any justice.

  13. Ann
    29 Aug 12
    4:49 pm

  14. Wont be as nearly as interesting