Mining magnate Gina Rinehart has launched a blistering attack against a new TV series based on her life, calling it “tacky” and “grossly distorted”.
The billionaire was unhappy with the way Channel Nine depicted her in House of Hancock and sent out an unusual statement to defend herself.
House of Hancock tells the story of Ms Rinehart’s time spent working alongside her father Lang Hancock at his Pilbara mines.
On Friday, Ms Rinehart launched legal action, making an urgent application seeking to stop Channel Nine from airing the final episode in the series.
Supporters slammed House of Hancock‘s portrayal of her personal life, including scenes where Ms Rinehart honeymooned while her mother was dying, and where Mr Hancock criticised her weight.
In the series, Mr Hancock, played by Sam Neill, sneers at Ms Rinehart: “You’re a slothful, vindictive, devious baby elephant.”
The scenes elicited an unconventional response from Ms Rinehart, who released private photos of herself to prove how slim she was in the 1990s.
Ms Rinehart and Hancock Prospecting executive director Tad Watroba blasted the show after the Sunday night premiere, saying in a statement much of it was “fictitious”.
“Despite repeatedly bringing it to Nine CEO David Gyngell’s attention, many scenes broadcast last night were fictitious, unfounded or grossly distorted, and some simply never occurred,” Mr Watroba said.
“Channel 9 has seemingly gone out of its way to cause undue damage and upset to those currently living and the memory of those no longer with us.”
Mr Watroba said the storyline was “made up” and accused Channel Nine of failing to fact-check.
“Despite the portrayal, Mr Hancock and Mrs Rinehart had a loving father/daughter relationship, and were together throughout the funeral of Hope Hancock, and to portray otherwise is wrong.”
Ms Rinehart, whose net worth is $20 billion, worked with her father, iron ore magnate Mr Hancock, as a teenager, before becoming the chair of Hancock Prospecting upon his death in 1992.
The 61-year-old sold her entire 14.9 per cent stake in Fairfax on Friday night. She still has a significant share in Ten Networking Holdings, as well as a strong political influence, opposing the Labor government’s mining tax.
Following Mr Hancock’s death, Ms Rinehart and her father’s second wife, Rose Porteous, entered a 10-year legal battle over the distribution of his large estate, with Ms Rinehart calling her a “gold digger”.
Her relationship with her own children has also made headlines, with three of her four children accusing her of “deceptive conduct” in relation to a family trust in 2011.
The show received praise on social media following the premiere with Twitter users calling actress Mandy McElhinney’s portrayal of Ms Rinehart as “outstanding” and “amazing”.
— Alexandra Rando (@_alexrando) February 8, 2015
I actually found #HouseOfHancock to be a good watch. First Australian miniseries that I’ve enjoyed. The actress that played Gina is amazing.
— James Largo (@NoNotJames) February 8, 2015