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THE Seven Network is developing a drama series based on the life of Molly Meldrum and the seminal ABC series Countdown.
The series, being developed by Mushroom Pictures, is yet to receive final approval and has not been cast but is expected to air in 2015.
The series, Molly, is currently being written and the source material is believed to be the autobiography of Meldrum ghostwritten by Jeff Jenkins. Meldrum has not allowed the book, completed many years ago by the respected Melbourne music journalist, to be released.
Seven would not comment about the production.
The project was in development and being written before the strong ratings this month for the miniseries Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS on Seven.
That broadcast pulled the biggest audience for an Australian drama since Nine’s dramatisation of the beginning of World Series Cricket, Howzat! Kerry Packer’s Wargrabbed 2.3 million viewers for Nine in 2012.
But the live audience for the first episode of the INXS drama had more than 2.6 million metro viewers when taking into account the 276,000 viewers watching the program in the following seven days and a further 389,000 viewers who watched an “encore” screening of the first episode.
The INXS miniseries now has producers salivating about what other real-life dramas could be adapted for the screen, although Seven appears to have the jump on its competitors with Molly, which is likely to open the TV ratings year next February.
It is another blow for the ABC, which aired the weekly music program that influenced a generation from 1974 to 1987. The ABC previously lost the right to screen further iterations of its historical miniseries, Paper Giants after The Birth of Cleo was a rating smash in 2011. Nine snapped up the subsequent Paper Giants: Magazine Wars, which aired last year. Meldrum remains contracted to the Seven Network.
A precis of the project describes Ian ‘‘Molly’’ Meldrum as “the most influential and well known name in Australian music”. Indeed, the incident in which he derided INXS’s album Live Baby Live was recreated for Never Tear Us Apart
Mushroom’s synopsis says the Meldrum project will tell the story of “the music, the bands, the parties, the celebrities, the politics, the girlfriends and boyfriends, the hat and, most of all, the story of Molly himself.”
His resonance with the Australian audience was emphasised after an outpouring of affection when he was seriously injured in a fall in 2011.
Mushroom Pictures produced the feature films Chopper, Gettin’ Square and Macbeth. After a period of inactivity, it entered a joint venture with Morrissey Molloy Entertainment in 2011 and most recently it produced the ABC2 series Head First (currently in its second series) and recent AACTA Award winner for best live action short film, The Last Time I Saw Richard.