By Stephen Mayne
When James Packer married Jodhi Meares in October 1999, the entire
cover and subsequent 17 pages of the November 1999 edition of The Australian Women’s Weekly were
devoted to exclusive pictures and coverage of the $10 million
extravaganza at the family’s $25 million Cairnton compound. The
over-the-top coverage began as follows:
Glamorous, exotic and breathtaking in its beauty…that’s
how guests described the marriage on Saturday, October 23, of James
Packer and Jodhi Meares. From the twinkling of 250,000 fairy lights and
dancing lanterns over the entrance to the heady scent of tiger lilies
(the bride’s favourite flower) and urns brimming with lilies, roses and
orchids of every hue, romance ruled the night.
Not even a Sydney downpour could dampen the mood of the bridal couple
and 650 guests, including the Prime Minister, John Howard, and
wall-to-wall celebrities who gathered at the Packer family’s
magnificent Bellevue Hill estate for the party to end all parties.
Fast forward more than six years and The Weekly devoted 20 pages
to its Kerry Packer tribute but he did not displace Oprah from the
cover, nor the 11 pages of beauty ads which traditionally follow. The Weekly used former 60 Minutes reporter Tracey Curro
to produce the obituary to accompany the photos provided by Ros and
Gretel Packer for the February edition that went on sale this morning.
Curro, who has been guest presenting on 774 ABC Melbourne in recent
months, produced a fairly straight account of Packer’s life, which was
far less gushing than the three-page tribute that editor Deborah Thomas
Indeed, Curro produced something that I hadn’t seen before in all the
forests of coverage: “A robust young man, he gave up drinking in 1956
after he was involved in a car accident on the Hume Highway near
Goulburn, 1956, in which another person died.”
Despite all the pre-publicity, there were no words from Packer’s widow
Ros who presumably is most upset about recent revelations of Kerry’s
generosity in gifting more than $10 million in assets to his long-time
mistress, Julie Trethowan.
Daughter Gretel essentially provided extended captions to
accompany the range of interesting photos from the family albums but
she was not interviewed
on-the-record by Curro.
This means we still haven’t heard from either Ros or James Packer and
both are debating whether to co-operate with the Channel Nine
documentary. James Packer is expected to speak at the memorial service on February 17,
but this is not the same as being subjected to an interview by Graham
Davis, a normally aggressive reporter for Sunday, who is doing the interviews for the Nine documentary.
There really is something strangely paradoxical about the Packer empire
going so over the top in their tributes to Kerry Packer, while
immediate family members decline to co-operate or speak publicly in
anything but the most controlled or limited way.