Entertainment

Claims Karl Stefanovic ‘lobbied for Lisa Wilkinson to get her co-hosting gig on Today’

A new twist has emerged in the ongoing feud between Lisa Wilkinson and Karl Stefanovic, less than two weeks before her explosive tell-all memoir is set to be released.

On Wednesday, entertainment journalist Peter Ford claimed on 6PR Breakfast it was Stefanovic who initially ‘lobbied for’ Wilkinson, 61, to get her job on the Today show in 2006, while knowing ‘full well that she’d be earning more money than him’.

Wilkinson’s new autobiography It Wasn’t Meant To Be Like This lifts the lid on the pair’s apparently strained relationship, even claiming Stefanovic, 47, gave her the cold shoulder in the week prior to her exit from the show.

On Wednesday, entertainment journalist Peter Ford claimed it was Karl Stefanovic (left) who initially ‘lobbied for’ Lisa Wilkinson (right) to get her job on the Today show in 2006, while knowing ‘full well that she’d be earning more money than him’

‘It was actually Karl that got Lisa the job,’ Ford told host Gareth Parker.

‘They met socially by way of Larry Emdur, and at the time they were looking for a new co-host and Karl went and lobbied Eddie McGuire – who was running the joint – and I suspect Lisa was probably shortlisted anyway, because she’s perfectly qualified for the gig.

‘But certainly Karl went and lobbied for her to get it, knowing full well that she’d be sitting alongside him and she’d be earning more money than him.’

'...But certainly Karl went and lobbied for her to get it, knowing full well that she'd be sitting alongside him and she'd be earning more money than him,' Ford said

‘…But certainly Karl went and lobbied for her to get it, knowing full well that she’d be sitting alongside him and she’d be earning more money than him,’ Ford said

Wilkinson alleged she and husband Pete FitzSimons had invited Stefanovic and his partner, Jasmine Yarbrough, to attend their 25th anniversary vow renewal ceremony in October 2017. Two days before the event, however, Stefanovic supposedly contacted FitzSimons to say they wouldn't be attending because they'd extended their overseas holiday

Wilkinson alleged she and husband Pete FitzSimons had invited Stefanovic and his partner, Jasmine Yarbrough, to attend their 25th anniversary vow renewal ceremony in October 2017. Two days before the event, however, Stefanovic supposedly contacted FitzSimons to say they wouldn’t be attending because they’d extended their overseas holiday

He added that he doesn’t believe Karl will ‘say anything’ about the rumoured feud, adding that it’s probably ‘the wisest move’ to keep quiet.

Daily Mail Australia have contacted a representative for Lisa Wilkinson for comment. Channel Nine declined to comment when approached.  

It comes after Wilkinson lifted the lid on her final days working at the Today show in an excerpt from her new book, published in The Sunday Telegraph.

She claimed Stefanovic had given her the cold shoulder in the weeks prior to her sacking, which was prompted when she asked for a significant pay rise.

She alleged she and husband Pete FitzSimons had invited Stefanovic and his partner, Jasmine Yarbrough, to attend their 25th anniversary vow renewal ceremony in October 2017.

Two days before the event, however, Stefanovic supposedly contacted FitzSimons to say they wouldn’t be attending because they’d extended their overseas holiday.

'In the ten days since [the ceremony] Karl hadn't contacted me, his co-host of almost eleven years, at all. No phone message, no text, no apology, not even a simple congrats. Just complete silence,' Wilkinson alleged. Pictured on June 28, 2007, in Sydney

‘In the ten days since [the ceremony] Karl hadn’t contacted me, his co-host of almost eleven years, at all. No phone message, no text, no apology, not even a simple congrats. Just complete silence,’ Wilkinson alleged. Pictured on June 28, 2007, in Sydney

‘In the ten days since [the ceremony] Karl hadn’t contacted me, his co-host of almost eleven years, at all. No phone message, no text, no apology, not even a simple congrats. Just complete silence,’ Wilkinson alleged.

After returning to work, she claimed Stefanovic did not ask her about her holidays, nor did he apologise for being a ‘no-show at the wedding’. 

‘For the next two hours, I exchanged not a single word with Karl outside of what was scripted – because for the first time, I just didn’t trust myself to “play nice”,’ she said. 

However, her recollection of her last show has been disputed, with resurfaced footage showing Stefanovic had in fact said to her: ‘It’s a big welcome back to Lisa. Nice to see you again. How was your honeymoon?’

Wilkinson went on to claim in her book she was ‘quietly fuming’ because ‘nearly every interview that day was being done by Karl alone’. 

This isn't the first time key facts in Wilkinson's autobiography have been disputed. The book, which is released on November 3, includes a chapter alleging the gender pay gap between them 'was so off the charts that no-one would have believed it'

This isn’t the first time key facts in Wilkinson’s autobiography have been disputed. The book, which is released on November 3, includes a chapter alleging the gender pay gap between them ‘was so off the charts that no-one would have believed it’

‘For two hours, I sat there feeling completely useless. The Today Show was now The Karl Show. What was the point of me even being there?’ she said.

Upon learning she had been sacked later that day, Wilkinson wondered: ‘Was this why [Karl] didn’t attend the wedding and hadn’t spoken to me since? Was this why he never said a word about the show’s strange rundown that morning?’ 

Meanwhile, this isn’t the first time key facts in Wilkinson’s upcoming autobiography, It Wasn’t Meant to Be Like This, have been disputed.

The book includes a chapter dedicated to her sacking from Channel Nine and falling out with Stefanovic over a pay dispute.

She alleges Stefanovic proposed in August 2015 they join forces to renegotiate their Nine contracts – not unlike how the cast of American sitcom Friends famously worked together to broker better deals with NBC.

But she claims he ended up ditching this idea and instead played rival networks Nine and Seven off against each other in order to secure a better deal for himself.

‘Weeks later… the media became awash with stories that Stefanovic was restless at Today and looking for greener pastures – and more civilised working hours – at Channel Seven,’ she wrote.

However, this allegedly doesn't tell the full story, with News.com.au reporting this week Wilkinson had in fact earned more than Stefanovic for years when they first joined forces on Today, and it was only at the end of their partnership that the roles reversed. The article, by journalist Samantha Maiden (pictured), reportedly sent the book's publisher into a major spin

However, this allegedly doesn’t tell the full story, with News.com.au reporting this week Wilkinson had in fact earned more than Stefanovic for years when they first joined forces on Today, and it was only at the end of their partnership that the roles reversed. The article, by journalist Samantha Maiden (pictured), reportedly sent the book’s publisher into a major spin

Stefanovic was soon at the centre of a bidding war between Nine and Seven that resulted in him re-signing a five-year deal with Nine worth at least $2million per year.

Wilkinson’s deal was worth significantly less, about $780,000 a year, and was only for two years.

‘There was no doubt about it: Karl certainly knew the art of the deal,’ she wrote, adding that the resulting pay disparity between them ‘was so off the charts that no-one would have believed it’.

However, this allegedly doesn’t tell the full story, with News.com.au reporting this week Wilkinson had in fact earned more than Stefanovic for years when they first joined forces on Today, and it was only at the end of their partnership that the roles reversed.

This damning article – which challenges Wilkinson’s most significant claim about her exit from the Today show – reportedly sent the book’s publisher into a major spin.

Harper Collins Australia demanded a preview copy of the memoir be returned by the news website following publication of the story, sources told Daily Mail Australia.

In the piece, written by respected political journalist Samantha Maiden, sources at Nine disputed Wilkinson’s claims that Stefanovic was ‘paid double’ what she earned. 

Harper Collins Australia demanded a preview copy of the memoir be returned by the news website following publication of the story, well-placed sources told Daily Mail Australia

Harper Collins Australia demanded a preview copy of the memoir be returned by the news website following publication of the story, well-placed sources told Daily Mail Australia 

In fact, they claim it was Wilkinson who was paid much more than Stefanovic for ‘many years’ after the pair first teamed up on Nine’s breakfast flagship in 2006. 

‘News.com.au understands that when she first signed with Nine in 2006 she was earning more than $700,000. The fresh-faced Stefanovic, who had just returned from a reporting stint in Los Angeles, earned less than half that amount for years as the TV couple co-hosted Nine’s breakfast TV program,’ the article states.

It was only several years later that Stefanovic would negotiate his way into a now-infamous pay rise that saw his salary explode to $2million a year.

But it seems the contrary claims about Wilkinson’s original Nine contract did not go down well with her book publisher, with one insider claiming news.com.au was ordered to return the company’s only preview copy.

‘They blew up and asked for their copy back,’ said an insider at the website.

News.com.au editor Lisa Muxworthy declined to comment when contacted by Daily Mail Australia. A spokesperson for Harper Collins declined to confirm the allegation.

The news.com.au article challenged Wilkinson's most significant claim about her exit from the Today show. (Wilkinson is pictured on Channel 10's The Project)

The news.com.au article challenged Wilkinson’s most significant claim about her exit from the Today show. (Wilkinson is pictured on Channel 10’s The Project)


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