Media mogul Kerry Packer will be profiled across two upcoming episodes of Australian Story. Photo: Trevor Dallen
Behind the fearsome reputation of broadcasting titan and former Nine Network tsar Kerry Packer was a sentimental man the public rarely saw, his former daughter-in-law Jodhi Meares has revealed.
"There's no question Kerry was a tough man, but I think oftentimes people with a hard exterior are the softest inside," she tells Australian Story in an upcoming profile on Packer.
Meares was married to Packer's son James between 1999 and 2002. It is the first time she has spoken about her former father-in-law and the Packer family publicly.
Jodhi Meares talks about Kerry Packer for the first time publicly. Photo: ABC/Australian Story
"Being born into a family like the Packers is absolutely a double-edged sword," Meares tells the program. "There's a huge responsibility. It's certainly a complicated life."
The two part Australian Story will tell the story of Packer's life, including his troubled childhood, plagued by loneliness and illness, and his often difficult relationship with his father, Sir Frank Packer.
Packer died in December, 2005, from kidney failure. After his death he was given a state memorial service, which was held in February, 2006.
The program will mix rarely seen archival footage and interviews with a range of figures close to Packer including Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, former prime minister John Howard, publisher Richard Walsh, and corporate executive Al Dunlap.
"There is a tendency to see Kerry as a mono-dimensional raging tyrant; you know the great Citizen Kane type of press baron, always pounding the desk and hurling abuse at minions," Turbull tells the program. "But he was a much more complex picture than that."
Magazine executive Richard Walsh describes Packer as a man at war with himself.
"He was such a mixture of a man," Walsh says. "Some of the apparent brutality was a man fighting against his own demons."
Packer family historian Bridget Griffen-Foley, broadcaster Phillip Adams, former politician Graham Richardson, cricketer Ian Chappell and former Nine executives Gerald Stone and Lynton Taylor also appear in the program.
It is believed Packer's widow Ros and his children James and Gretel were approach to participate in the program but declined.
A spokesman for the show told Fairfax Media the two-part documentary was "neither hatchet job nor hagiography".
"We have tried to navigate the many differing and strongly held opinions to deliver a nuanced and accurate picture of a profoundly complicated man," the spokesman said.
The two-part Australian Story will air on ABC1 on April 7 and 14.