Sam Chisholm’s ruthless cost cutting at the Nine Network appears to have given birth to a new book on that well known Packer family mate, Shane Warne. Chisholm decided that both Warne and Paul Barry should be flicked from Channel Nine to save PBL somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million a year.

Warne went on to have his best-ever series in England and would have been great talent to have on the Channel Nine slate during his Ashes heroics, while Barry decided to cast around for a book deal. Lo and behold, Random House, which has published Barry’s four previous books on Alan Bond, Kerry Packer and the One-Tel collapse, decided after the Ashes that the time was right for the first ever decent book on Warnie.

Barry has signed up and the unauthorised Shane Warne biography, warts and all, should be on book shelves by the middle of next year. Barry told Crikey he is searching for a red-hot researcher to help him on the trail of Warnie and would obviously love to get as many insights from Victorians as he can. If you’d like to help, drop us a line at [email protected] and we’ll pass it on to him.

Barry has had quite an amazing career since he came to Australia from the BBC and joined Four Corners in January 1986. He stayed with the program until 1994 and his hard-hitting television stories on Alan Bond and Kerry Packer were extended into best selling books during this period.

The Rise and Fall of Alan Bond came out in 1990 and sold 45,000 in hard back and about 50,000 in paperback. The Rise and Rise of KerryPacker did even better in 1993, selling 95,000 in hardback and another 50,000. It still sells quite well today.

Barry then briefly worked on Channel Seven’s The Times in 1995 and then Witness from 1996 until 1998 when Kerry Stokes finally pulled the plug. After collecting his payout from Seven, Barry produced his second Bondy book, Going For Broke, in 2000 which sold 37,000 in hardback and almost 30,000 in paperback.

He then joined Media Watch in 2000 and was also with The Sydney Morning Herald from 2000 until 2002, his biggest hit there being exposing all those tax dodging barristers.

After that, it was time for the One-Tel book, Rich Kids, which came out in 2002 and sold 25,000 in hardback and 15,000 paperback. This obviously impressed the Packers who hired Barry in January 2003 to first join A Current Affair and then 60Minutes, before Sam Chisholm came along with yet another payout in July this year.

60 Minutes veteran Richard Carleton must have been furious with the Packers because he pursued Barry and Media Watch through the plaintiff-friendly ACT Supreme Court over a defamation matter in 2002, eventually getting nowhere whilst racking up a $500,000 legal bill for Australia’s richest family.

Shane Warne claims he is still friends with both Kerry and James Packer despite Sam Chisholm ending his $300,000 a year PBL retainer, so it will be interesting to see if the Packers attempt to exert any influence over Barry’s book.

After all, Jodee Rich claims that the Packers co-operated extensively with the One-Tel book. Will they co-operate again when a mate is in the firing line? Barry will no doubt be asking and he knows a lot about their affairs already.

Peter Fray

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