Baz, Plagiarist

Of the half billion Baz wasted on his film ‘Australia’ he gave not a cent to Judy Nunn from whom he stole the plotline.

Judy wrote a novel, Territory, about an Englishwoman arriving in 1941 to take over a cattle station in the Northern Territory and surviving the bombing of Darwin.

Like much of her work, it was a bestseller. Nicole read it, proposed to Russell Crowe they film it with Baz directing and both agreed. Baz then called in other writers to work on the story and the story changed a bit. Judy said that was okay, she just wanted an ‘inspired by’ credit and, oh, twenty thousand dollars.

Through agents, Baz refused to give her a penny. Crowe left the project, Hugh joined it, rewrites continued throughout the filming and the editing, and the most ludicrous waste of money since Heaven’s Gate produced a seven-hour film, which, cut back by four hours, made no sense at all.

I heard this in a studio on Saturday when Judy, her husband the King of the Primates, Viv Skinner, Jack Hoysted, Chip Rowley, Mark Colvin, Chris Dawson, Isobel Kirk and I were all reading poetry for Paul Ham’s new website.

The money lost on ‘Australia’ (‘Territory’ wasn’t good enough for Baz, he wanted a bigger word) would keep thirty-one small theatres going for a thousand years on the interest alone and he didn’t give Judy a cent; or Shakespeare either after ‘Baz Lurman’s Romeo and Juliet’. He is like that, I am told, and he treated his many co-authors of Strictly Ballroom (it was worked up over seven months as an acting-student exercise) equally meanly, egocentrically and shabbily.

He seems a maniac who gives feral hubris a bad name and he should be extradited, put in the stocks and pelted with rotten fruit for eighteen days by the writers and actors he has ill-used who are numbered in their hundreds now, as a lesson to him and a warning to other shallow flashy overpaid wankers, live on Youtube.

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  1. There should be legislation stopping him from making films. I shudder to think of his 3D version of Gatsby and there are rumours that he has secured the film rights to Catcher in the Rye. God help us.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more, Bob.

    What were our tourism dept doing subsidising Murdoch’s Fox Corporation to the tune of $40 million?

    Should that be construed as some kind of bribe?

    Also, see:

    Not least for the opening shots of the station…

  3. Patric Juillet

    Agree wholeheartedly. As for his securing the Catcher in the Rye rights, forget it. We have all tried, it’s not for sale and in any case should not be turned into a mediocre and banal film should Baz be given the equivalent of a year’s salary from Rinehart.

    • I read recently that Baz’s Australia film raked in over $133 Million in profits worldwide. So its hardly a commercial failure. You would think though that he should morally be obliged to pay something to the original author if he heavily borrowed from her.

      Bob might be interested in this tidbit:

      Julia Gillard’s salary increased by $14,430 recently to $495,430, meaning she is earning $95,000 more than Barack Obama!

      How many theater companies could that fund?

      Perhaps Gillard could donate $95,000 to a theatre company to put on a play called “Pygmalion” which she could also star in and be taught to speak English (Eliza Doolittle). Just a thought. That would benefit us all. :mrgreen:

      • No theatre company I know of could survive on a subsidy of 95,000. Obama also gets Air Force One and Camp David and their chefs which should count as wages and a big staff for his wife and guards for his daughters.

        He probably gets, all up, a million more than her, in ‘goods and services’ and salaries and pensions.

        So what are you talking about?

        I do not think you’re a serious person.

        The Pygmalion suggestion is a joke, is it?


  4. No, what you read is it raked in 133 million in takings world wide after costing about 489 million to make and publicise. This net loss of about 356 million may be the biggest in movie history, currency adjusted, bigger even than Heaven’s Gate.

    Get it right.

    • From Wikipedia:

      Budget: $130 million
      Box office Takings: $211,342,221

      Whack on perhaps, $$100 million more for the promotional budget, and the result is an unquestionable loss.

      Though not, I don’t think to the scale you suggest Bob.

      • No, what was spent on it, and on additional shooting, went up to a quarter of a billion and what was spent on publicising it, and the deals with the Australian Tourist Commission totalled, probably, 480 or 500 million.

        Or so it is known around the industry.

        • Jesus, I just read that Tourism Western Australia put five hundred thousand into its publicising.

          That would barely pay for two weeks of Baz.

          • Thank Christ Reinhardt wasn’t directing then.

            That would be a single days catering, with the cast and crew told to bring their own.

  5. It’s well known that Luhrmann’s Australia was a failure, it lost lot of money, it failed artistically…
    Kidman/and Hugh Jackmann love story was not very believable.
    My ten dollars badly spent.

  6. It sounds like a similar plot to We of the Never Never to me. But if it made a huge loss, they’d hardly be inclined to pay out Judy Nunn or anyone else.

    • Contractual conditions and payments, almost always are negotiated well before production begins.

      If the plot remained largely similar to the book in the final cut, then on the face of it, Judy Nunn would have legal recourse. I suspect there is a bit more to this story.

      I never saw the film - Moulin Rouge was ample Luhrmann for me in any one lifetime- but I feel a bit sorry for Nunn, a victim it seems of a lack of goodwill.

  7. The film was considered a joke/insult by many Aboriginal Australians for obvious reasons.

    It looked like and turned out to be hyperbolic deracinated ahistorical tosh to me and I rightly refused to view it.

    Nicole Kidman is a narcissitic international embarrasment and most importantly Cannot Act.

    Everyone except David and Margaret of Oz Movie Show infamy know this to be true.

    Baz has shown he is incapable of making a good film ever short of a brain transplant.

  8. See Germaine Greer’s review of it.

  9. There’s some things missing here Bob.
    Was Judy Nunn poorly advised; did the story turn out to be totally different to any which could be said to be derived from hers; did she really get refused for money or is she waiting for ‘net profits’ which, with Hollywood-backed films, never ever come about?

    • While not knowing the story M Ryutin, I didn’t think there was anything missing from Bob’s version. They spent some time discussing it, he took the ideas he wanted and ran with them. The Darwin bombing scenes especially would have appealed straight away to his sense of schlock epic. Throw in some Herbert for good measure…I mean, he’s dead, you can safely credit him as inspiration. The rest is history. Can anyone tell me just what Flanagan’s contribution was? In what capacity was he able to try to sort out that hideous floundering mess of other people’s stories and ideas?

      “That’s fine, Judy. You know how these things go. $20,000 sounds reasonable. I’ll be in touch”

      His agents later inform her she’ll be getting nothing. There’s obviously no legal recourse, or further expectation of anything. It’s just a standard act of directorial cutting everybody else out of the equation while you still can. Happens all the time. Some people are bigger pricks about it than others. A few people are enormous pricks…Mallick “use nature, it’s free” went and blew up the Daintree.

      Then again, Judy doesn’t strike me as the kind of woman who’d really want to be hanging out with Rupe and Baz and Hugh at Nicole and Keith’s wedding…it was probably all for the best. None of those people will have any power in the new world. They’re as culturally dead now as that walking zombie reincarnation of an Australian imaginary Lurhmann tried to jump start out of life support in his usual repulsive faked-up manner. What a perfect testament to their collective uselessness.

      So frickin’ dishonest. Had to shoot the kangaroo to be cool, because at heart he couldn’t handle the fact he knew he was producing an overblown Qantas ad.

      • Thanks for that interesting information.
        I am merely wondering whether there is more to this than Bob had space for in this longish piece. Having a publisher behind her did Judy Nunn get good advice seems a good question. “obviously no legal recourse”? If so, then apart from what may be ‘the done thing’ maybe her legal options were limited. Taking over stations and disruption caused by the Darwin attacks cannot be copyrighted I suppose. Non-fiction shows what a huge disruption to normal life that had. I was interested I why Russell Crowe pulled out. Was it because of the story becoming the unrealistic mess that it was that made him think that apart from the targeted US market, the version would go down as self-indulgent, overdrawn, needlessly computer-enhanced, cliché-ridden rubbish (as I saw it, for example)?

        Wooden acting (the Kidman accent was as bad as Marlon Brando in ‘Mutiny’) assisted by the actual wooden face of one female actor not only didn’t impress me at all, but induced cringing (in embarrassment).
        Someone posted here that it had hints of “We of the Never Never”. That may be so if you take the film version which was an abomination of the Mrs Gunn stories. I am tempted to put in that category but not for its radical destruction of the original story but the person rating of ‘poor effort’/’what ever happened to the 70’s great Australian films’ comments.
        I am interested to finally see comments on what others think of Lurhmann and his abilitgies, but for we mere mortals, when you see people try and lightly attach to ‘Australians directors’ comparisons to great directors from the history of film I find it a breakthrough to see Lurhmann discussed honestly.

        Why I was interested in the legal side of things was the apparent fact that the Hollywood-style rorting of actors and others behind their dodgy accounting is sometimes achieved by law suits for the apparent reason that they do not dare to have such accounting fakery exposed in a court. See the Buchwald example over ‘Coming to America’ in

  10. Wasn’t the film more inspired by “The Overlanders” (1946)? Throw in “A Town Like Alice” (rough Aussie romances polished English lass), “The Squatter’s Daughter”, “Red River”, John Ford westerns.. all of which I’m sure inspired Judy Nunn.

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