Two years ago writers-producers Sophie Braham and Melina Wicks had the idea of a show which tackled ‘outrage culture,’ the ugly phenomenon of public figures being pilloried in Tweets and media headlines for real or imagined mistakes.
Together with CJZ’s Nick Murray, they pitched the idea to the ABC, which agreed to fund the development of Reputation Rehab.
Presented by Kirsten Drysdale and Zoe Norton Lodge, who are co-writing and co-producing with Braham and Wicks, the eight-part show premieres at 9.05 pm on October 28 and could not be more topical, according to Nick Hayden.
“It’s a show about shaming, the outrage in the media cycle and the audience’s involvement in how that cycle perpetuates itself,” says Hayden, who was promoted earlier this month to ABC head of entertainment from entertainment manager.
The first episode centres on tennis ‘bad boy’ Nick Kyrgios, who agreed to a rare in-depth interview with Zoe and Kirsten. Those who watch the show are likely to change their views of Kyrgios, Hayden predicts.
Other episodes will delve into the stories of The Bachelor “villain” Abbie Chatfield, controversial footballer Todd Carney, Osher Günsberg as the target of the tabloid press and paparazzi, as well as COVID-19 shaming, the so-called generational warfare between Baby Boomers and Gen Y, and how anyone named Karen has been mocked.
In June, ABC managing director David Anderson announced an annual $5 million cut to commissioning local content, primarily on factual and entertainment programming, from July 1 due to the three-year, $84 million indexation pause.
Hayden says: “That is a negative, but it forces the ABC to do what it always has done, which is to stretch the money as far as it can go. That means being clever and more collaborative about how things are made and the ideas we commission.”
The ABC’s $5 million Fresh Start fund is supporting more than 200 projects and ideas. In the entertainment realm the initiative is funding the production of about a dozen online productions, mostly from emerging creators and performers – details under wraps – and the development of multiple other projects.
Separately, in the past few weeks he approved development in several projects which, if commissioned, would go to air late next year or in 2022.
The executive looks forward to the 2021 premiere of Why Are You Like This, a six-part series spin-off of the Fresh Blood-funded short created and written by Naomi Higgins, Humyara Mahbub and Aunty Donna’s Mark Samual Bonanno.
Higgins and Olivia Junkeer play best friends Penny and Mia as they navigate their 20s in Melbourne, along with Penny’s dramatic and aloof housemate Austin. Guided by their own modern day moral code, they confront complex social issues in an outrage- driven world, leaving a path of destruction in their wake.
Jessie Oldfield and Adam Murfet directed the series with Sarah Freeman producing for CKOL. Niki Aken is the script producer.
Hayden worked with the creative team, many of whom are emerging talent, since they made the pilot in 2017, through to scripting, pre-production and filming the series. Production in Melbourne was forced to halt during the pandemic and has since been completed.
“It’s an examination of woke, PC culture and how young people are so thoroughly plugged into the online world in ways which can be used appropriately or backfire,” he says. “It’s very funny and dark in places.”
He developed and produced the Spicks and Specks reunion specials, the last of which, marking the decade from 2010, will go to air later this year.
The 2021 entertainment slate includes Gruen, Hard Quiz, Mad as Hell, The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, Tomorrow Tonight and a new show featuring Annabel Crabb.