the deal went down: inside Nine's Wilkinson star chamber
- 17th October 2017
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Wilkinson will join Channel Ten's The Project in the
new year. Photo: James Brickwood
Channel Nine chief executive officer Hugh Marks, it
was an obvious choice: meet one of his biggest paid
star's demands and cut 10 jobs or risk losing the
star to another network.
she got what she wanted we would have had to cut 10
producers' jobs ... that is the reality," a senior
network insider told Fairfax Media on Tuesday morning
as reverberations continued about the sudden departure
of Lisa Wilkinson from the co-host's chair on Today.
official statement said Wilkinson, 57, and Nine, had
been unable to come to an agreement on the terms of
after Wilkinson took to social media to announce she
was joining Channel Ten's youth-focussed news show
The Project in the new year, an odd move according
to some industry observers given the show's demographics.
how much is the financially embattled Ten actually
paying her? It remains a mystery, though there is
growing doubt it is $2 million given The Project's
existing stars, including Gold Logie winning Carrie
Bickmore, are on far less than that.
big stars from Nine decamp to the most obvious rival:
Channel Seven. However senior executives within Seven
say there was no negotiation or even discussion happening
decision which resulted in Wilkinson's shock departure
also "ripped the bandaid" off months of
fraught negotiations between the television host,
her agent Nick Fordham, Marks and Nine's news director
was still meeting with Marks and Wick at 5pm on Monday
afternoon at Nine's Willoughby headquarters when negotiations
collapsed, though sources within the network insist
the package being offered to Wilkinson was almost
at the $2 million mark, the amount she was demanding
in order to renew her contract.
not all of the offer was in cash, with a special "package"
crafted for Wilkinson which incorporated potentially
new lucrative endorsement deals via Nine's sales department.
were also other incentives to contribute to Nine's
own digital offering, rather than her current deal
to write for the US-based website Huffington Post.
none of it was enough for Wilkinson, who was demanding
"parity" with her co-host Karl Stefanovic,
who was widely reported to have signed a $2 million
per annum, three-year deal, with Nine - a deal negotiated
when he was about to jump ship to rival Channel Seven
and anchor the 6pm Sydney news.
Stefanovic's deal with Nine also covers his gig hosting
a prime-time television program which brings in over
a million viewers, three times the number of Today,
as well as his role as a sometime reporter on 60 Minutes
and the go-to reporter for major breaking news events.
that was part of the issue for Wilkinson, who had
expressed her frustration at the lack of prime time
opportunities on Nine, and that she was often overlooked
to handle the "big" stories.
Monday night those who have worked closest, including
Stefanovic, discovered Wilkinson was gone, not long
before the rest of the country.
Stefanovic did not return PS's calls, an insider on
Today told PS: "To be honest, there is a sense
of renewed energy today ... we have something to prove
now ... most of us work as a team."
management is also known to have grown weary of Wilkinson's
pursuit of personal publicity in recent months, from
her recent renewal of her vows to a questionable report
about "Team Lisa" being launched to get
her a Gold Logie next year.
management had also expressed serious reservations
about her rumoured $250,000 deal to spruik garlic
supplements, as PS was told: "it posed a threat
to her credibility as a legitimate news journalist
it did, with Media Watch devoting a particularly stinging
segment on the deal and questioning the ethics of
Wilkinson spruiking a product of dubious scientific
evidence to back up its claims.
the final proverbial straw came on Sunday when sensitive
details about her contract negotiations with Nine
were leaked in the Murdoch press, seen by many as
a strategy to increase pressure on Marks to meet Wilkinson's
we didn't leak that story ... but to be honest, I
think it backfired ... negotiations should never been
done in the Sunday papers ... Hugh is very much against
that sort of thing," the Nine insider revealed.
Sydney Morning Herald)