Glenn Dyer writes:

An ad in The Australian’s
Media section yesterday from Film Australia has set the tongues wagging
at the ABC and in the documentary industry, and reawakened some of the
pain and angst at the demise of the History Detectives/Rewind series at the ABC last year. Film Australia wants an executive producer for a new history series.

The
$7.5 million was mentioned in an article in Crikey last October as ABC
insiders wondered about the fate of the controversial ABC series that
wasted the best part of $8 million for so little result (here).
What makes the Film Australia History series so piquant a story is the
identity of the person running Film Australia: Daryl Karp. She was the
head of ABC factual programming until midway through last year when she
left to take up the Film Australia job. (Here’s the Film Australia board and management.)

Her last significant task was overseeing History Detectives,
which was to be the ABC’s biggest budget series of 2004. It failed
because Karp and the person she appointed as executive producer, Stefan
Moore, couldn’t develop the concept to the satisfaction of ABC TV head,
Sandra Levy.

The chosen host, Jennifer Byrne, quit when ABC
management started quibbling about minor points such as the type of
clothing she was to wear while hosting the program. Sandra Levy
replaced Stefan Moore with Peter George in his first EP gig. Other
producers came and went, and eventually it hit the screens as Rewind
on Sunday nights at 9:30pm, where it built up an audience of around
500,000 nationally — not bad figures for that time on a Sunday night.

But the plug was pulled on Rewind by
Denise Eriksen, a former ABC producer who returned as Daryl Karp’s
replacement. Now Karp is off spending the $7.5 million promised by the
Liberal Party to fund the new series of Australian history. The ad says
the series will be shot in 2007 and 2008 after the EP is selected and
in the job in July of this year.

This series from Film Australia
will see the Australian History Wars fought all over again. Leading
historian, John Hirst, of Melbourne is on the Film Australia board.

Peter Fray

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