Underbelly: articles

Underbelly stars shut out

CHANNEL Nine has threatened legal action after more episodes of his drama Underbelly were leaked on to the internet.

All the episodes up to and including number eight of the $13m hit have now been leaked and Channel Nine is investigating how some are in the hands of Victorian underworld chiefs.

It is feared they are being put online by someone within the production.

This morning a Nine Network spokesperson said: "Any uploading of a Nine television program, including Underbelly, on the internet is an infringement of our copyright and the Network opposes it.

"We take very seriously any order of the court, and we are fully complying with that order. We do not condone any other parties interfering with our rights and if necessary we will take legal action."

The most recently posted are screener copies of episodes four to eight.

Screener copies are usually shown to VIPs in advance of a show being televised.

Episode three airs tonight - except in Victoria, where it has been banned for legal reasons.

But despite the Victorian court ban - imposed to prevent the prejudice of a gangland trial - there is a growing underground fan base in the state.

Some illegal viewers have even seen more episodes than many of its stars.

Damian Walshe-Howling, who plays Andrew "Benji" Veniamin, has watched just one of the 13 episodes, while Kat Stewart, who plays Roberta Williams, has viewed four episodes, but only in parts.

Although the actors have to wait until a court order is lifted to see any more of the big-budget show, they say they are enjoying the intrigue the show is creating.

Walshe-Howling said: "I was really disappointed initially, but now I am loving it - there is so much underground hype.

"I was in a pub on the weekend and someone came up to me and said, `Hey, Benji', and said he loved the show. He must have seen more episodes than me."

Stewart said money could not buy the type of publicity the program was receiving.

"Apparently they are selling it at markets in Victoria," she said.

"I had a taxi driver tell me he loved the show the other day - I didn't ask him how he saw it."

February 27, 2008
The Daily Telegraph