John first hit TV screens in 1997, shooting and presenting ten hilarious mini-documentaries (Race Around the World, ABC). He put a voodoo hex on an ex-girlfriend in Africa, and showed audiences how to break into Disneyland. Competing with seven other filmmakers, he was voted audience favourite.
The ABC then commissioned two Safran specials. His exposé on the food industry (John Safran: Master Chef) included a cooking segment filmed in an abattoir. His attack on the media (John Safran: Media Tycoon) provided one of Australian TV’s most infamous moments, satirising the foot-in-door journalism of television’s then most powerful man, Ray Martin. John turned up to Ray’s house and turned the tables. A hands-on fight followed.
John’s foray into commercial TV (The Late Report, Network 7) ended in a court case. Cricketer Shane Warne signed a million dollar Nicorette contract, promising to give up smoking. John sent a remote control fag-puffing seagull onto the Melbourne Cricket Ground to tempt the player. Another story – where John invaded a McDonald’s dressed as Ronald McDonald – was pulled, later to appear on UK television (Disinformation, Channel 4).
His first ten part series (John Safran’s Music Jamboree, SBS) ripped the lid off the music world. He formed a Jewish boyband, Jew’town, and tried to get signed with an American Christian label; he performed Ozzy Osborne songs backwards to test if they incite suicide; he danced Footloose at his old religious school as vengeance for their no-school-dance policy; he showed kids how to scam their way into Australia’s snobbiest nightclubs.
John Safran’s Music Jamboree won two Australian Film Industry awards: Best Comedy Series and Most Original Concept. It was also nominated for a Logie.
His next series (John Safran vs. God, SBS) saw