Maggie Beer, Kylie Kwong, Poh Ling Yeow and (Coles ambassador) Curtis Stone are the favourites to replace MasterChef trio Matt, George and Gary who spectacularly announced they would not be continuing with 10’s stalwart cooking show next year.
Despite rumours that George Calombaris’ very public woes around his underpayment of staff at his Melbourne restaurants was the catalyst for yesterday’s split, media reports have suggested 10 management had been eyeing a line-up change for some time and had refused the three’s demands for extravagant pay increases.
Not that Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and Calombaris will be off our screens for long, amid speculation the three are now eyeing a multimillion-dollar deal with either Netflix or Amazon Prime.
Shine, the producers of MasterChef Australia, syndicate the series to a number of overseas countries and it’s apparently huge in places like India and South Africa, giving the three immediate clout with a global audience.
Calombaris also realises his brand is rather damaged here in Australia.
According to today’s Daily Telegraph, the trio recently formed their own production company, GGM Pty Ltd, to sell themselves to networks as a package deal. This would have made things difficult if 10 had wanted to sack Calombaris over his ongoing bad press.
All three were on $1 million a year contracts, but had reportedly asked 10 management for a $500,000 a season increase each and a guarantee of two more years. They also wanted more time off from the show to work on other projects.
Yesterday, 10 CEO Paul Anderson said in a statement: “Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George.”
Speaking to Ben Fordham’s show, 2GB entertainment editor Peter Ford said that after 11 years of the same judges, 10 already had plans to inject new blood into next year’s series.
Last night’s grand final attracted the smallest TV audience since the inception of the show.
“The network obviously is already looking forward. They’ve said there they have a raft of talent and indeed there’s a raft of talent that’s come through MasterChef itself that may now become one of the new judges themselves, like Justine Scofield, Poh, (and) Kylie Kwong,” Ford said.
On the stalled salary negotiations, Ford added: “My information is that they wanted $1.5 million each on a guaranteed two-year contract.
“They were willing to come down to $1.2 million but Channel 10 who were getting instructions from New York – this is the kind of money that even Paul Anderson can’t sign off on – CBS had to sign off on it and they were told ‘nope, we’re not going to do it, not in the current commercial environment’.”
Last night Mehigan said the contract dispute “was never about the money and never will be about the money” but rather having “more free time to explore our own creativity.” His comments reported on The Daily Telegraph.
“The opportunity to work with Matt and George has been a blessing and something I cherish,” he said.
“Working together will continue to be the most important thing for us … the three musketeers.”
Calombaris said “the dates just didn’t align” for a new deal. Preston said he was leaving “with a heavy heart” because “we were really keen to continue but we were unable to agree to all terms for the new contract”.