The breakfast TV wars have taken another dramatic turn, with former Sunrise wunderkind Adam Boland summoned to court over the contents of his new, allegedly tell-all book Brekky Central.

After the axing of failed Channel Ten breakfast show Wake Up — which Boland had been lured from Seven to create — Melbourne University Press CEO Louise Adler signed Boland up for a memoir of his experiences in April. The book’s release date is November 3, but Seven isn’t waiting till then to see what’s in it.

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Boland had been served with summons to appear in court over the book, with Seven alleging he’s breached his confidentiality agreements. But Crikey understands it’s something of a fishing expedition. The legal action is for preliminary discovery, in order to get a copy of the book. The network wants to make sure Boland doesn’t breach the extensive confidentiality agreements he signed when he left the network, and to make sure none of its people are defamed.

Insiders at Seven say Boland has privately assured the network that the book isn’t full of explosive claims. They say they’ve been told it’s a largely personal book about Boland’s struggles with mental illness and his rise through the ranks of television. But that doesn’t gel with the colourful claims made about the book in its advertising.

Last month, MUP released a slick trailer for the book, which promised to bring readers behind the scenes of Sunrise. Boland speaks in the trailer of those who wanted to “bring us down … Some because of our role in Kevin Rudd’s rising fame. Others because of simple network politics.” Seven is worried that despite the Boland’s private assurances, the book will live up to its advertising.

Sources at Seven tell Crikey that Boland has said he’s happy to hand over the manuscript. But, they say, Melbourne University Publishing won’t let him.

Boland, just 38, has spent most of his career at Seven — first as a reporter and then as a producer. He was the executive producer who, through Sunrise, shook up Australian morning television from the sombre, news-driven focus of programs that preceded it, to a livelier, chattier talk-show reliant on its affable hosts. But in recent years his relationship with the network that gave him his start became strained. He’s not well liked by many of Seven’s top honchos these days, or, it seems, by the stars he made. Earlier this year The Australian revealed a series of emails in 2011 in which Boland argued for a change of the Sunrise hosts. The Sunrise team commented on the revelations with derision. David Koch told viewers that he’d been getting emails from people asking him if he’d been moved on from the show. “Well no, it was 2011 from a bloke who’d moved on, and saner heads prevailed.” (italics ours) Natalie Barr than piped in to say: “Yes, much more sane heads. And brilliant minds stepped in.” The comments were roundly decried — Boland has publicly spoken of his struggles with depression. Kochie apologised for the implication, saying the turn of phrase was “innocently used”.

In a statement addressing the legal action, MUP chief executive Louise Adler said the publisher stood by “this very personal book and the author”. The statement continued:

Brekky Central is the story of the most competitive time-slot on television; the stakes are high and so are the pressures on those who show up each morning to win the ratings. This is a world of hellishly long hours, of silliness and seriousness, a riveting mix of egos, scandals and drama but also a celebration of the  magic that is television.

“Brekky Central will be read by many fans of breakfast television, an army of sensitive media executives and overworked life coaches around the nation.”

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Crikey is an independent Australian-owned and run outfit. It doesn’t enjoy the vast resources of the country’s main media organisations. We take seriously our responsibility to bear witness.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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