Media circles were abuzz yesterday – including here at B&T – that Ten’s poster boy and host of The Project, Waleed Aly, had plans to jump ship to a more prestigious hosting gig at the ABC, rumoured to be its flagship current affairs program 7.30.
The rumours began circulating after News’ The Daily Telegraph published alleged comments on the weekend from an unnamed associate of Aly’s who claimed the 39-year-old felt The Project was “beneath him” and he was “over” his hosting commitments.
B&T even received a testy email exchange from a Ten spokesperson who claimed our article (we were only reporting on what was already out in the media) was way wide of the mark. However, Ten declined B&T’s offer to publish any sort of official statement or correction on behalf of the broadcaster.
Now it’s the ABC that’s pouring cold water on Aly’s mooted shift to the public broadcaster. Fairfax Media has reported that “Aly has not been in talks with any rival network, the ABC or otherwise” and he is “happy where he is” at Ten. Although that’s arguably not an ironclad guarantee.
The other confusing factor about Aly’s possible jump to 7.30 would be what would happen to incumbent host Leigh Sales? Could she, in turn, chase a million dollar salary at the commercial networks?
There had been media rumblings that some members of The Project hosting team, primarily Carrie Bickmore, were none too happy when network chiefs signed Nine’s Lisa Wilkinson to the show for a reported $2 million annual salary.
Bickmore and Aly are reportedly on about $500,000 a year at Ten and media reports suggested Bickmore was “pissed off” at the news of Wilkinson’s arrival in 2018. With its pending new owner, CBS, apparently keen to open the chequebook, Ten has also been linked with a host of stars possibly transitioning to the network. Names have included Seven’s Chris Bath and Nine’s Tracy Grimshaw and Silvia Jeffreys.