Reality hits dramality as Shire cast sacked
Channel Ten's controversial "dramality" show The Shire has been forced to cut two members of its cast after an "unsavoury" personal dispute spilled onto the set.
Ten and the production company Shine Australia were holding talks today to re-organise the show's filming schedule to accommodate the sudden departures.
A Ten spokeswoman said the removal of the two castmembers would not significantly impact the show's schedule, nor would it delay Ten's plans to launch the series in the middle of the year.
Ten refused to say why but the spokeswoman said: "We won't enter into specifics however, some unsavoury information has come to light which we are not interested in associating with The Shire.
"Contrary to reports, we are only interested in making a positive show with interesting stories and are taking great care to make that so."
Some material already filmed will be dumped, say sources. But delaying or abandoning the series is an unlikely scenario.
Ten is more likely to shoot around the departures and add new cast to the series as it progresses. The structure of the series and its cast is said to be flexible.
The on-set problems are compounded by the fact that residents are objecting to the show being filmed in their streets.
The Sutherland Shire's council has already strongly objected to the show, arguing that it would harm the reputation of people who live in the area.
The series - slated to appear mid year - is one of Ten's major programs for 2012, and a central part of the network's strategy to reclaim market share against Seven's dominance and a resurgent Nine.
But the series has had a rough gestation at Ten.
The network was forced to announce the series earlier than planned after footage was leaked online which suggested it would resemble the heavily criticised trashy US reality series Jersey Shore.
The resulting storm of controversy forced Ten executives, including newly-installed CEO James Warburton, to meet with the region's stakeholders, including Mayor Provan, federal MP for Cook Scott Morrison and state MP for Cronulla Mark Speakman.
Their concern was that the show would portray the Sutherland Shire in a negative light. Mr Warburton said at the time many of the misconceptions about the show were based on inaccurate, misleading and mischievous reporting.
"Let me be clear: the leaked footage was from a small part of a very early program development and casting reel," he said.
"We listened to their concerns and took the opportunity to outline the facts about The Shire."
In the aftermath of the meeting, Mr Warburton said the council had made clear it would not support the production.
But, he said, "the Council has no legal or moral right to censor The Shire. Production of The Shire will start next week, as planned."