If you’ve wondered why Channel Nine’s The Golden Mile painted such an endearing portrait of its leading “Underbelly” character, King’s Cross figure John Ibrahim, it might well be because he’s had a hand in how he was portrayed in the script. 

John Ibrahim and some other little rascals on Victoria Street last year. Probably driving Mr Wilson crazy with their pranks. Picture/Cameron Richardson

Ibrahim – who paints himself as a publicity shy businessman annoyed by the fame generated by the show – was so concerned about his portrayal in Golden Mile, The Punch can reveal he even confronted an actor who turned down the chance to play the lead in the Channel 9 hit series.

Young Australian actor Les Chantery - star of 2009 Australian film Cedar Boys about Lebanese-Australian drug dealers in Sydney’s Western suburbs - rejected the opportunity to audition for the starring role of John Ibrahim in The Golden Mile out concern of having himself and other Lebanese-Australians typecast as thugs.

As Ibrahim’s preferred choice to play him, Chantery was approached by a large Ibrahim minder while visiting a bar understood to be partly owned by the King’s Cross property mogul earlier this year.

Chantery was reportedly told that Mr Ibrahim wanted to see him and was asked to accompany the bouncer to a private room within the exclusive Piano Room bar (the same bar where the second series wrap party was held).

In a room adorned with pictures of Ibrahim posing with some of Australia’s most beautiful woman, Ibrahim introduced himself and began to question his decision not to play him in the Golden Mile series - a role that producers of the show thought would have been perfect for the young Aussie actor having stared in Cedar Boys and appeared in an episode of SBS’s East West 101.

Ibrahim reportedly went as far as to ask Chantery whether he objected to play a Lebanese-Australian of Muslim background.

Chantery is understood to have nervously explained to Ibrahim that he held no such objection, but refused to audition for the part for fear of perpetuating the typecast of Australian actors of Middle Eastern backgrounds in crime related roles. The actor initially turned down the lead in Cedar Boys for the same reason.

Chatery, who is now based in Los Angeles, has told The Punch he did not wish to comment on the incident.

In 2004 Ibrahim was named by police in a court file as having been: “the subject of 546 police intelligence reports in relation to involvement with drugs, organised crime and associations with Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.”

“He has previously been investigated for intimidation, extortion and organised crime. He was also the subject of a similar investigation by the Wood Police Royal Commission,” the court papers stated.

John Ibrahim has never been convicted of a crime.

While the actor who ended up playing Ibrahim, Firass Dirani, struck up a friendship with the nightclub owner, the producers of the show are refusing to say the extent of Ibrahim’s role in the script.

Executive producer and chief script writer of Golden Mile, Screentime’s Greg Haddrick, told The Punch was not aware of the meeting Ibrahim and Chantery, and denies John Ibrahim consulted on casting for the hit show.

However when directly asked by The Punch Mr Haddrick would not deny that John Ibrahim was an uncredited script consultant for the show, only saying he couldn’t comment on the script:

“I’m not going to comment over the script at all. It’s a policy for a whole host of legal reasons that we are just not commenting on consultants for the Underbelly series.

“Otherwise it opens up a complete . . .  it’s too big a conversation. So it’s just not something we comment on,” the award-winning script writer said.

Mr Haddrick ruled out the possibility of John Ibrahim receiving any money as a script consultant: “He wasn’t paid by us full stop.”

When asked for a comment on the conversation with the actor or whether he had been a consultant on Golden Mile Mr Ibrahim gave a “no comment” reply through his lawyer Stephen Alexander.


Actor Firass Dirani who played Ibrahim along with other members of the Golden Mile cast.

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14 comments

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    • T.Chong says:

      08:36am | 04/08/10

      Reminds me about the time when Mafiabot, with Clamps and Joey Mousepad admiring the size of Benders bearings.
      At least Futurama is intentionally funny, where as these clowns with their self important strutting and posturing are pathetically funny.

    • Tony of Poorakistan says:

      09:26am | 04/08/10

      I think Elliot Ness had the right idea - if you can’t prove their involvement in organised crime because of intimidation, blackmail and murder, get them on tax evasion and ship them back to their own countries.

    • dan says:

      10:23pm | 04/08/10

      That’s all very well (although Capone wasn’t deported), but this is Ibrahim and co’s country.

    • Drew says:

      09:36am | 04/08/10

      Your a funny one JDiamon

    • stephen says:

      09:40am | 04/08/10

      Ah, Liverpool one day, Kings Cross the next.
      How does he do it ?

    • The Scarlet Pimpernel says:

      11:48am | 04/08/10

      That’s pretty standard, given the shite state of the roads, even in a limo.

    • MHS Girl says:

      10:19pm | 04/08/10

      Shows how much you know you idiot, the Ibrahims are not from Liverpool !

    • Michael says:

      10:03am | 04/08/10

      I hadn’t even heard of Ibrahim until the Sunday Telegraph ran a sympathetic puff piece about him and his family a couple of years back. He is a non-event.

      Ibrahim is to 2010 what the ‘Bra Boys’ were to 2007. They’re a fad and the general public will eventually forget them.

    • Graham says:

      12:52pm | 04/08/10

      They would have forgotten about him already if it weren’t for the media holding a candle to their posterboy.

    • Arios says:

      03:00pm | 04/08/10

      Time to stop glorifying these thugs with even more articles.

    • Now that you mention it says:

      06:51pm | 04/08/10

      It is important to remember that if the police could convict someone of a crime they would - so the “intell” claims are really just that, claims.
      It’s highly unethical for those figures to have been released or alleged - was it done by police?
      Intell is just one person’s vague idea about what any other person said or did, or who they brushed up against in the local deli, or who they guy is that mows their mum’s lawn etc etc ad naus.  Under such parameters anyone is a suspect in Sydney, which is burdened with a big brother mindset in the police service and CCTV just as ridiculous to match. Remember at APEC the Reuters photographer getting assaulted by police - that doesn’t happen just anywhere, but it’s broadcast live on international TV from Sydney’s streets.

      The police are easily identified as systemically racist because the recruitment is simply not diverse enough to counter the white Australia mindset.

      Anyone who is from a minority or who looks Middle Eastern comes up as a potential person of interest to intell guys- even the officers’ social lives tend to be isolated to “other white middle class Australian police officers” - no diversity begets no diversity…and that leads even more back to that fear of people different to themselves. Minorities fear cops too(so do photographers).

      It would be a very stressful job for intell officers trying to understand people who, culturally & spiritually, are so amazingly different (to the guys intercepting intell) so while it is completely wrong, it really comes as no surprise that those officers prefer to be overly cautious.

      There really needs to be more effective cultural training for police and more diversity in recruitment practices, to break down some of these terrible stereotypes and racial discrimination.

      I think that it is only fair that anyone gets a say in how they are portrayed in a ‘docu’ drama - if people are going to think that it is non-fiction then there needs to be the equivalent to a ‘right of reply,’ for balance and accuracy.

    • Bill Diak says:

      07:36pm | 04/08/10

      Leave the Guy alone , whats all the fuss about him and were he drinks Coffee or visits at Nights Etc?
      Dont bother him and he will Never bother You!

    • Peter says:

      11:37am | 05/08/10

      It seems he’s bothered someone..

 

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