STONE, GERALD (1933– )
Gerald Stone is the man who was chosen by Kerry Packer to produce the Australian version of 60 Minutes, one of the most successful current affairs programs ever seen on Australian television.
Stone was born in the United States, and started his career in journalism there after service in the US Army, working initially for the New York Times, then for United Press International (1957–62). He immigrated to Australia in 1962, working as a reporter on the Daily Mirror until 1967 when he moved to ABC Television with This Day Tonight. In 1974, he moved to the Nine Network, which had pioneered current affairs on commercial television.
Stone became the first producer of 60 Minutes—a magazine-style current affairs program based on the CBS original—in 1978. Expensively mounted, the show featured reporters Ray Martin, George Negus, Ian Leslie and later Jana Wendt, who travelled the world to bring back both political and human-interest stories. The reporters, as much as their stories, became the stars of the show. The 1979 debut of 60 Minutes was inauspicious, but it soon built a large audience, becoming the anchor of the network’s Sunday-night schedule and impossible to beat in the ratings during the 1980s. Stone left the show in 1989.
He worked for a time for the Fox Network in New York before returning to Australia to take up the position of head of current affairs at the Seven Network. Between 1995 and 1998, Stone was editor-in-chief of the Bulletin. He was made a director of SBS in 2000, serving as deputy chairman from 2005 until his retirement in 2010.
Stone is the author of a number of books about the media, including Compulsive Viewing (2000), Singo: The John Singleton Story (2002) and Who Killed Channel 9? (2007).
REF: G. Stone, Say It with Feeling (2011).