Screen Australia has provided funding development for "The News of the World", a telemovie and potential 14-part miniseries follow-up which would explore the early career and rise of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
Political commentator, speech writer, journalist and filmmaker Bob Ellis is co-writing the script with Stephen Ramsay. The famously left-wing Ellis has worked a lot on film and television, penning such features as "Newsfront," "The Nostradamus Kid," "Goodbye Paradise" and "Fatty Finn". He also hit controversy last year for heavily criticising current Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard while simultaneously gushing praise over conservative Opposition leader Tony Abbott.
Ellis tells Mumbrella: "What we have done starts at 1960 with his early career when he bought the Daily Telegraph off Packer and then to when he bought News of the World and how he burst on the world of America and became a friend of Nixon and got a license as a foreigner media owner."
With the phone hacking scandal still underway, Ellis says the conclusion is still unwritten and his first choice actor to play a young Rupert would be Marton Csokas ("The Bourne Supremacy," "The Debt"). The announcement comes days after the stellar ratings for "Howzat", the two-part mini-series about that other mega-rich Australian media mogul - Kerry Packer - and his role in the establishment of World Series Cricket.
Other projects scoring funding in this round are the psychological thriller "Berlin Syndrome" and the coming of age story "Jasper Jones" which both have "Snowtown" screenwriter Shaun Grant attached. "The King's Speech" producers Emile Sherman and Iain Canning's new project "Los Alamos", and Bill Bennett's "Defiant" starring Toni Collette are getting more funding as well.