It was always going to be a highly political exercise to condense 12
hours of interviews with 25 rich and powerful people into the
one hour tribute documentary to Kerry Packer but despite all the trauma
of the attempted sacking of John Lyons, the Channel Nine production
team of Mark Llewellyn, Ben Hawke, Peter Hiscock, Graham Davis and Tom Krause pulled it together quite well last night.

While there was plenty of laudatory stuff about Packer’s
generosity, they didn’t shy away from the Costigan royal commission or
the brutality of Kerry’s father, Sir Frank.


John Singleton’s claim that Kerry Packer had told him
on six occasions that his father’s death was the happiest day of his
life certainly got you wondering about how James is feeling given that Kerry was also a very hard man.

Ita Buttrose was the only female voice over the hour but there was
certainly plenty of air-time for colourful old blokes. Convicted crook
Alan Bond looked back on those famous Channel Nine negotiations at the
Wentworth Hotel, we had John Singleton gloating about the way Kerry
forced Seven and Ten to
pay a fortune for the AFL rights and there was even Trevor Kennedy
retailing the story of Kerry being banned from Crockfords casino in
London.

Trevor is still up to his eye-balls in controversy over those
Swiss bank accounts, but at least the producers drew the line at Graham
Richardson. Clearly the baggage carried by the Parrot over cash for
comment has long subsided but did we really have to see him choking
back the tears?

The only bloke missing from an interview was Lloyd Williams,
co-executor of Kerry’s estate with David Gonski, who was pictured sitting at gaming tables
with Kerry but was not well enough to be interviewed because a lung
condition now has him in constant need of an additional oxygen supply
through his nose.

The audience of 1.5 million wasn’t quite big enough to knock-off Lost
on Seven which had 1.8 million, presumably with a strong skew towards
female viewers. Still, even getting within 300,000 shows the pulling
power of Kerry Packer, but it was a shame there weren’t more women to
share their memories.

Ros and Gretel Packer are even more publicity shy than Kerry and
decided to leave all the talking to James, whose full 30 minute
interview will be run on Sunday this week. It really does seem that Packer women are to be seen but not heard.

The reaction inside Nine this morning has been very positive and
there’s now even talk of producing a DVD so that some of the extended
interviews can be viewed in full. Hmmm, that might be testing the
limits of the Packer family given that they did sign-off on some
elements of last night’s documentary.

Peter Fray

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