The Daily Telegraph
November 8, 1998

Martin v Safran revealed

by Michael Idato

This is the controversial picture the world was not supposed to see.

Television host Ray Martin allegedly threatens Race Around The World film-maker John Safran after Safran was found rummaging throught the Nine star's garbage.

It is taken from footage for a pilot by Safran for the ABC - tagged at the time as "one of the hottest pieces of television in Australia".

The footage, shot by an ABC cameraman in May this year, shows Safran and Shane Paxton - who gained game when he was targeted as a dole recipient by Martin's show, A Current Affair - facing off with the host in front of his home.

Since the incident, the ABC has shelved the pilot, self-indulgently titled John Safran: Media Tycoon, prompting Safran to tell his side of the story.

"Luckily, my creative motivation is nearly always revenge," he writes in the latest issue of Australian Style, which finally unveils the images which created national headlines.

The film maker was using the time-honoured current-affairs technique of "doorstopping" the home of the king of current affairs in a segment for the pilot.

With Shane Paxton in tow, Safran gained access to Ray Martin's property as a courier - but failed to engage the host himself.

Returning the following day, they rifled through Martin's garbage, which enraged the media star to the point where he confronted the unwelcome visitors at his gate.

After the incident, martin's producer David Hurley denied Channel Nine was being "precious" about the issue, acknoledging that ACA does not "chase wrongdoers".

"But we do so only when we've got good grounds and we do so only when there's a good public interest reason, " Mr Hurley said at the time. "Where was the public interest in this?"

Martin refrained from weighing into the debate, but did point out that Mr Safran had broken the most basic of journalistic ethics - by lying to gain entry to his property.

Martin was also angry that his son had been filmed at school.

"I think I'm fair game, " Martin said. "But my children aren't."

John Safran doesn't defend any of the charges in Australian Style magazine, devoting the piece to expressing frustration at the ABC's lack of support. "Whenever we annoyed someone, they always had a friend on the board of the ABC," he says, citing Martin's call to the ABC's general manager of corporate affairs, Roger Grant.

Mr Grant sent a memo to Safran, describing Martin as a "good friends of 20 years" and suggesting that the errant young man apologise.

McDermott has now slotted some time aside for the middle of next year to do the music thing properly and hopefully come out of it on the other side with a debut solo album.

"Everyone knew everyone in this town," Safran writes. "I was only beginning to realise that even though Paul McDermott and Dylan Lewis were the anarchic, funky faces of the ABC, up in the boardroom it was more like the goddamn freemason."

- Michael Idato

-Typed up by VellaB