If the Kookas were betting men – which indeed, they are – they would be betting that Channel Nine’s new 13-part blockbuster miniseries Underbelly on the Melbourne gangland war doesn’t get off the ground until Fat Tony Mokbel is safely tucked-up in an Australian gaol and somebody is finally charged with whacking Mario “the Bagman” Condello.

It is nearly two years since Condello tasted lead as he drove into his garage on North Road, East Brighton, on February 6, 2006. Four men have been charged with an earlier attempt on his life in June 2004 but no-one is carrying the can for the successful hit which effectively ended 10 years of bloodshed between the Sunshine Scum gang and the Carlton Crew over control of the massive amphetamine manufacture and distribution business in Australia.

The Whodunits on Condello, the other unsolved gangland murder of Carlton Crew elder statesman Graham “The Munster” Kinniburgh, and Mr Mokbel being available to assist Victoria Police with their inquiries, are the only things holding up script development on the much-anticipated miniseries.

The last thing Nine Network CEO David Gyngell and the Victoria Police want is for Mokbel to use his portrayal in Underbelly as the boss of the Sunshine Scum gang as a “get out of gaol free” card on the unsolved murders on the Carlton side.

Drug fugitive Mokbel, who is in an Athens jail, is fighting his extradition to Australia to face charges relating to the murders of underworld heavyweight Lewis Moran and drug dealer Michael Marshall. He claims he will not get a fair trial in this country and that he wants to go home to Lebanon to live happily ever after.

The Kookas believe the Nine Network will solve this theatrical and legal dilemma by introducing a mind-body dualism concept called the ghost in the machine. At the moment, actor Robert Mammone will play the real life Mokbel according to Hoyle while another actor plays his mythical evil twin in a parallel universe.

As the Kookas spend most of their lives in a parallel universe we deduce that Alex Dimitriadis will play the evil alter ego because he recently told the Herald Sun the real name of the character he played in Underbelly “is suppressed for legal reasons.”

Underbelly is due to start “shortly” on Nine and is being heavily promoted on air and during the Test Cricket. It is based on the book of the same name by veteran Age journalists John Silvester and Andrew Rule.

According to Nine: “Underbelly is the compelling dramatisation of Melbourne’s infamous gangland killings that started in 1998 with the murder of Alphonse Gangitano. Underbelly will also follow the rise and fall of notorious career criminal Carl Williams, who sought to be king of Melbourne’s underworld and now languishes in prison.

“This has to be one of the most exciting and challenging drama projects ever shot in this country,” Des Monaghan, executive producer for production company Screentime, said.

“In keeping with the scope of this fascinating chapter of crime history, Underbelly boasts one of the most exciting ensemble casts ever assembled for Australian television. Rodger Corser (Last Man Standing) and Caroline Craig (Blue Heelers) star as Detective Senior Sergeant Steve Owen and Detective Constable Jacqui James, who embody the police officers who strove to stem the bloodshed of Melbourne’s internal crime wars.

“Portraying real-life characters who have become part of Melbourne folklore are Vince Colosimo (Alphonse Gangitano), Gyton Grantley (Carl Williams), Kat Stewart (Roberta Williams), Simon Westaway (Mick Gatto), Martin Sacks (Mario Condello), Gerard Kennedy (Graham Kinninburgh), Kevin Harrington (Lewis Moran), Callan Mulvey (Mark Moran), Les Hill (Jason Moran), Robert Mammone (Tony Mokbel), George Kapiniaris (George Defteros) and Caroline Gillmer as matriarch Judy Moran.”

DISCLOSURE: The Kooka Brothers © are still working on their opus Ganglands:The Musical.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey