Yep, another day, another “Karl to return to Today” story.
Following-on from the revelations last Friday that producers had promoted newsreader Tom Steinfort to the Today anchor desk to try and break-up the all-female hosts of Deb Knight and Georgie Gardner, comes news that Stefanovic is set to be de-mothballed but only if he promises to behave himself.
Media reports have speculated that Nine’s breakfast show is so plagued with problems it could be dumped altogether, with a returning Stefanovic now its only hope.
According to reports in yesterday’s Woman’s Day and on Bauer’s website Now To Love, a contrite Karl would be welcomed back to the Today fold on the condition he “admitted defeat” and he “publicly acknowledge he had to leave because of personal issues”.
Once again, the Bauer titles have relied on the infamous unnamed “industry executive” for its latest speculation.
“Of course Nine are denying it, but it’s 100 per cent correct that they are actively chasing Karl to come back – everyone at the network knows Today needs the TV version of open-heart surgery to even survive,” the insider said.
“The biggest problem is that it’s a massive clash of egos. They want Karl to come back and admit defeat, and publicly acknowledge he had to leave because of personal issues. But he’s refusing to do it, insisting his private problems remain private,” they added.
Stefanovic, who was dumped from his hosting role in December, is still on his reported $3 million a year salary with his only gig for 2019 reported to be a season of This Time Next Year.
Since his departure, Today has been regularly thumped by arch-rival Sunrise, often by as many as 100,000 viewers a day.
Nine has worked hard to dump its blokey image and hosts in recent times. It tried and failed with both its AFL and NRL Footy Shows (both have since been axed) and its all-female leads on Today that, it has to be said, has failed to win over audiences. While Karl’s brother, Peter, was shown the door following last year’s boozy Uber rant.
The Bauer reports also quote a “close mate” of Stefanovic that claims he’s hit “rock bottom” since his axing. Apparently, the 44-year-old has “very little to do each day” other than “catch up with mates for lunch”.
It adds, that he’s “terrified” his contract won’t be renewed beyond next year, leaving him with a lavish lifestyle he can ill afford.
That said, it’s doubtful he’d be unemployed for long, with talkback radio looking his best and most lucrative option.
A report in The Australian last week also predicted that a male presenter would soon be added as the face of Today.
“Today’s hosting duo Deb Knight and Georgie Gardner will effectively become a trio.
“Expect to see more of Steinfort in all facets of Today from now on, breaking up what viewers perceive to be a competitive dynamic between Gardner and Knight,” The Oz reported.