Underbelly: articles

Underbelly spawns a TV "crime wave"

THE success of the Underbelly franchise for Nine has spawned a wave of Australian true crime dramas for next year.

Partly funded by Screen Australia, and produced by Screentime, the independent company responsible for Underbelly, the films will tell three new factual stories of notorious Australian crimes.

Screentime's executive director Des Monaghan said the three telemovies are complete two-hour stories, based on extensive research.

"They have the same DNA as Underbelly, in that they are true crime and we name names, to the maximum degree the law allows us," Mr Monahan told The Australian ahead of an expected announcement Monday.

"As to the style and the packaging we're still working through that. But they will be recognisable as part of the Underbelly family."

One of the telemovies is an original work based on the Silk & Miller murders and the Lorimer Taskforce, which found the killers against all odds. Gary Silk and Rod Miller were Victorian police who were shot dead in cold blood and the killers were almost impossible to track down.

The second is based on a book written by Victorian policeman Colin McLaren about his infiltration of the Calabrian Mafia. The third movie is facing a legal hurdle and Monaghan was unable to discuss it, but according to Screen Australia it is about Russell "Mad Dog" Cox.

"The audience responds to the fact that we are presenting real events and we put a lot of resources into finding the essence of what happened in all of these stories, the audience responds to the unpredictability of the stories," Mognahan in the lead up to the Logies where his work was nominated several times over.

"I still hear complaints about why we killed off Alphonse Gangitano (played by Vince Colosimo) in episode two of series one, but it actually happened."

Nine will also produce a fourth telemovie, produced by Goal Post Productions, based on a fictional scenario about viral terrorism set on Sydney Harbour.

Nine CEO David Gyngell described the four high quality telemovies, made possible by Screen Australia, as "a great boost for Australian drama".

"Nine has earned a deserved reputation for its support of local drama, most recently through the runaway success of the record-breaking Underbelly series, but also from the quality and consistency of programs like Sea Patrol and before it the long-term favourite, McLeod's Daughters, Mr Gyngell said.

"We have real momentum at Nine and we intend to build on it. So a fourth series of Underbelly in 2011 together with these four big movies is a good way to do just that. Australians love quality local drama, and we have plenty on the plate "

By Amanda Meade
May 02, 2010
The Australian