Underbelly: articles

Underbelly book may cop a hit

UNDERBELLY the book could be banned like the controversial TV series it spawned. Director of Public Prosecutions Jeremy Rapke, QC, yesterday refused to rule out an injunction against the book.

It came as Channel 9 threatened legal action against an internet site that released eight episodes of the banned TV series..

But Nine executives privately conceded the web leak would be almost impossible to fight, and almost certain to damage the drama's ratings.

Episode four of the much hyped program on Melbourne's gangland wars aired last night except in Victoria.

Three weeks after Nine was barred from airing the show in Victoria, the book on which the TV series was based remains freely available.

The DPP's communications adviser Ann Strunks said Mr Rapke would not comment on the books' future ahead of tomorrow's appeal against the TV ban.

Earlier this month, Supreme Court judge Justice Betty King banned the show in Victoria, saying its mix of fiction and fact would undermine an upcoming underworld murder trial.

Her decision is estimated to have cost Nine $2 million in lost advertising revenue.

But for the book's authors and publishers, John Silvester and Andrew Rule, the controversy has been a financial bonanza. The book has shot to the top of the non-fiction bestseller list.

To cash in on publicity surrounding the TV drama, the book, originally published in 2004 under the title Leadbelly -- Inside Australia's Underworld Wars, has been renamed Underbelly -- The Gangland War.

Another book on Melbourne's underworld killings -- Big Shots: The Chilling Inside Story of Carl Williams and the Gangland Wars by Adam Shand -- is also on sale.

Peter Mickelburough and Holly Byrnes
February 28, 2008
Herald Sun