After making his screen debut in Foxtel’s Deadline Gallipoli, NIDA graduate Joel Jackson will play the title role in the Seven Network’s Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door.
Sara West has been cast as Liza Minnelli, to whom Allen was married, with Sigrid Thornton as Judy Garland, Rebecca Gibney as Peter’s mother Marion Woolnough and Henri Szeps as New York-based talent agent Dee Anthony.
The two-part drama scripted by Justin Monjo and Michael Miller and directed by Shawn Seet starts production next week. The producers are Rory Callaghan and Kerrie Mainwaring.
As IF reported last week, Foxtel executives were so impressed with Jackson’s portrayal of war correspondent Charles Bean in Deadline Gallipoli they made a financial arrangement with the actor’s agent Mark Morrissey of Morrissey Management to ensure that if he took jobs in other shows, none would go to air before the miniseries premieres on showcase in April.
Jackson said: “To be given the unique responsibility of playing two legendary Australians in Charles Bean and Peter Allen, back to back all before I'm 24 years old is incredible.
“The on-set experience I garnered whilst shooting Deadline Gallipoli has given me the confidence to dive straight into the huge task of inhabiting the charisma and flair of Peter Allen.”
The drama will chronicle Allen’s rise from Tenterfield in country NSW to international fame in Hollywood. He was managed by Judy Garland at 20 and married to Minnelli at 23. He was the first Australian to win an Oscar (for Arthur's Theme) and a Grammy (I Honestly Love You, sung by Olivia Newton-John).
The cast includes Nick Farnell as Peter’s father Dick Woolnough, musical theatre star Rob Mills as Chris Bell, his partner in The Allen Brothers, and Andrew Lees as Gregory Connell, the Texan fashion model who became Peter's long-term partner after his divorce from Minnelli.
Allen died from an AIDS-related illness in 1992, aged 48. Endemol Worldwide Distribution, whose parent company is merging with Shine, will handle international sales.