tele­vi­sion: Ru­pert, Kerry and Pa­per Gi­ants, the se­quel ......

An In­quiry helped ac­tor Wil­liam Zappa with Mur­doch role, writes Dar­ren Cartwright

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY -

THE UK phone hack­ing scan­dal was ac­tor Wil­liam Zappa’s start­ing point to pre­pare for his role as Ru­pert Mur­doch in Pa­per Gi­ants: Mag­a­zine

Wars. Zappa also stud­ied an in-depth BBC doc­u­men­tary about the News Cor­po­ra­tion chair­man in readi­ness for the ABC minis­eries.

Pa­per Gi­ants: Mag­a­zine Wars is in­spired by the furious cir­cu­la­tion bat­tle be­tween glossy mag­a­zine edi­tors Nene King (played by Mandy McEl­hin­ney) and Dul­cie Bol­ing (Rachel Grif­fiths). Bol­ing ran Mur­doch-owned New Idea.

King, who had worked as Bol­ing’s deputy edi­tor, was in charge of lift­ing the slug­gish sales of Kerry Packer’s then new­est ac­qui­si­tion, Woman’s Day.

The war for cir­cu­la­tion supremacy was cheque-book jour­nal­ism at its finest, or pos­si­bly its grub­bi­est, de­pend­ing on your view of paid-for in­ter­views and pan­der­ing to the pa­parazzi.

Rob Carl­ton, who won a Sil­ver Lo­gie for Most Out­stand­ing Ac­tor for his por­trayal of Kerry Packer in Pa­per

Gi­ants: The Birth of Cleo, re­turns as the

late me­dia mogul.

In play­ing Mur­doch, Zappa says be­ing cast in the role of some­one who is still alive and so well known has its chal­lenges.

The lines were blurred be­tween act­ing and im­per­son­at­ing as he tried to bring Mur­doch to the screen in a way that would do his own act­ing jus­tice with­out be­ing called a mimic.

‘‘It’s a strange sort of mix be­cause you have to im­per­son­ate him be­cause you want it to be real,’’ Zappa says.

‘‘It is dif­fi­cult be­cause ev­ery­one knows who you are sup­posed to be . . . so I had to do some re­search.’’

Zappa first watched record­ings of Mur­doch be­ing heav­ily ques­tioned dur­ing the UK phone hack­ing scan­dal in­quiry, which pro­vided an in­sight into his man­ner­isms.

His main point of ref­er­ence was a doc­u­men­tary that traced Mur­doch’s life from a child to a me­dia gi­ant.

‘‘Part of the whole thing about be­ing an ac­tor is do­ing enough re­search to stim­u­late the imag­i­na­tion,’’ Zappa says.

‘‘There was also a fan­tas­tic BBC doc­u­men­tary which had quite a bit of

him in that pe­riod (dur­ing the ’80s) and that was the pri­mary source.’’ Zappa can now add Pa­per Gi­ants:

Mag­a­zine Wars to his list of cred­its, but he re­mains one of those faces view­ers recog­nise but can­not place.

He ap­peared in Mad Max 2 as Zetta and a num­ber of episodes of Pris­oner.

There were guest roles in A Coun­try Prac­tice, The Fly­ing Doc­tors, Wa­ter Rats, Blue Heel­ers, All Saints, City Homi­cide,

Crown­ies and Rake to men­tion a few. In be­tween TV jobs, Zappa hits the stage and he’s about to start a new play in Syd­ney al­though he re­ally would pre­fer a steady role – any role – in a TV se­ries.

‘‘I would love to play a re­ally good cop or an on-go­ing bad guy, I don’t mind,’’ Zappa says.

‘‘Ev­ery ac­tor wants that se­cu­rity for a cou­ple of years be­cause in this busi­ness un­less you have that ma­jor star­dom or a reg­u­lar gig on a TV show you fly by the seat of your pants.’’

Wil­liam Zappa Rob Carl­ton, Rachel Grif­fiths and Mandy McEl­hin­ney

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