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John Barnett in deal with Australia’s CJZ

Former CEO and Chair of South Pacific Pictures John Barnett has entered into a joint venture with Australia production house Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder.

Barnett stepped down from South Pacific Pictures late last year and has been working on independent projects. Yesterday’s announcement out of CJZ’s Sydney office confirmed a joint venture between Barnett and CJZ “to develop and produce drama out of Australia”.

Like Greenstone Pictures, which CJZ bought from founder John Harris in 2013, CJZ is better-known for its factual programming than its drama, although its 2015 mini-series House of Hancock was well received. The company one of Australia’s biggest independent production companies and (since Matchbox sold to NBCUniversal) the largest that’s still Australian-owned.

“John is without question one of the most experienced producers in the business,” CJZ MD Nick Murray said, “He’s a brilliant storyteller and to top that off, he’s a quality human being and we are excited and honoured to be working across a range of projects with him.”

Barnett began his screen career in independent production, although most in the industry know him from his 24 years at SPP and the string of multi-season TV dramas such as Shortland Street and Outrageous Fortune he produced, plus features including Whale Rider and Sione’s Wedding.

Barnett said, “I’m really looking forward to working with the team at CJZ. I have enormous respect for their personal integrity, for the business they have built, and the programmes they make.”

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