Most of the people involved in the
preparation of a one hour Channel Nine documentary celebrating the life
of Kerry Packer have this week found themselves completely shafted by
PBL CEO John Alexander, presumably supported by James Packer. In fact,
Crikey understands commissioning of the documentary has been a source
of some of the tension on the program.

The idea originally came
from Nine’s new head of news and current affairs, Mark Llewellyn, who
was backed by Sam Chisholm, presumably after clearance from James and
Ros Packer. However, Chisholm then went behind the back of Sunday
executive producer John Lyons in assigning some of his staff to work on
the documentary. It was typical undermining stuff from Chisholm,
suggesting the writing was on the wall for Lyons who would be out on
the street today but for the fact that PBL CEO John Alexander overruled
Wednesday’s sacking.

The team Chisholm and Llewellyn put
together for the Packer documentary included Peter Hiscock, the man who
was meant to replace Lyons, reporter Graham Davis and producer Ben
Hawke.

Chisholm, early in his stint back at Nine and under
pressure from negative publicity, was the beneficiary of one of the
most sycophantic pieces in television history. In fact it was
television history – Nine’s ode to fifty years of it – reported by
Graham Davis.

Channel Nine old hands were nauseated at Davis’
self-serving questions to Chisholm – and glowing script lines
describing the little man as the greatest television executive in
history, as the transcript shows. Sunday’s credibility was severely damaged – and Lyons and other senior people were unimpressed.

Not
surprisingly, Chisholm then selected Davis to be the reporter on the
Kerry Packer documentary. Having done such a brown-nosing for him,
Davis was considered more than capable of shining a rose-coloured lens
on Kerry’s life and times.

However, Davis was officially warned by Lyons after a Sunday
story on the Tasmanian forests caused Premier Paul Lennon to call Kerry
Packer directly and threaten to walk away from the Betfair
negotiations. Davis has been a major critic previously of Tasmania’s
forest practices as you can see here and here and the warning from Lyons poisoned their relationship.

How
Davis, producers Peter Hiscock and Ben Hawke, Davis admirer Jana Wendt,
Mark Llewellyn and Sam Chisholm feel about the Kerry Packer documentary
this morning is open to speculation as all have been shafted by his son
James.