Xavier Samuel Set For Australian Drama ‘Healing’
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’s Xavier Samuel will co-star with Hugo Weaving and Don Hany in Healing, writer-director Craig Monahan’s drama which starts shooting in Victoria on February 18. Samuel, who’ll next be seen in Catherine Hardwicke’s thriller Plush, plays a young, vulnerable prisoner who gets involved in a rehabilitation program involving treating injured birds at a low-security prison farm run by Weaving’s Senior Officer Perry. Hany plays a long-term crim who has almost given up on life. The cast includes Jane Menelaus, Anthony Hayes, Mark Leonard Winter, Robert Taylor and Justine Clark. The producers are Tait Brady and Monahan’s PointBlank Pictures. Monahan co-wrote the script with Alison Nisselle. Andrew Lesnie is the DOP. Lightning Entertainment consultant Richard Guardian is pitching the project to buyers at Berlin’s European Film Market. – Don Groves

Dueling Miniseries On Australian Billionaire Gina Rinehart
Mining tycoon Gina Rinehart is Australia’s richest woman and the subject of frequent media reports due to her free-market, anti-Labor Government statements and court battles over a family trust fund with three of her adult children. So it’s no surprise that two miniseries are in the works. The Nine Network has commissioned a four-hour mini from a newly-minted JV between Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder and actress Claudia Karvan’s production company. The provocative working title is Mother Monster Magnate. There’s no word yet on whether Karvan, who’s 40, plans to play Rinehart, who just turned 59. Banijay’s Screentime has bought the rights to Gina Rinehart: The untold story of the world’s richest woman, an unauthorized bio by journalist Adele Ferguson, who will be a consultant on the production written by Michael Lucas. Among the commercial free-to-air networks, Seven might be the only destination for Screentime’s mini. Network Ten is unlikely to make a bid as Rinehart is its largest shareholder and a member of the board alongside non-exec chairman Lachlan Murdoch. Screentime’s Des Monaghan says he’s had interest from two Australian networks and isn’t ruling out a deal with Ten, telling Deadline, “It’s an extraordinary story; we’re not looking to do a hatchet job.” – Don Groves.