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19 August 2011

Underbelly Razor Gets A Makeover; More Advertiser Friendly, by Greg Tingle

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Underbelly Television Network Nine Gambling Casinos Australia Media Man


Network Nine top brass has confirmed they worked the casting to put a prettier face on the femme fatale series.

Mug shots of Sydney's most notorious criminals from the roaring '20s were used to hire actors resembling the hard men, the female leads went to Kiwi fems Chelsie Preston Crayford and Danielle Cormack.

Nine boss David Gyngell sold the sexed up and prettier version to advertisers as part of the network's push to get Underbelly the right sort of attention.

Photographs from the time show real-life vice queens Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh were hardly the stuff of cinematic close-ups. They were rough looking girls.

Much of themale casting reflects an uncanny likeness to the real crims who would become underworld legends.

It certainly follows the Underbelly tradition of art imitating life, with Gyton Grantley making his name as Carl Williams in the first series, while Firass Dirani passed as John Ibrahim in last year's 'The Golden Mile'. Dirani later picked up a role opposite Robert Di Niro in 'The Killer Elite'. John "Vulcan" Seru, closely associated with the Media Man agency, is understood to be working on a couple of films under wraps. Long time James Bond fans will know Seru from playing Gabor in 'The World Is Not Enough'.

Make no mistake, bad girls and bad guys are still in vogue.

Underbelly Razor premieres this Sunday night at 8.30pm on Channel Nine.

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