Georgie ‘disappointed’ as Karl returns
KARL Stefanovic is set to return as the face of Today in 2020 alongside 60 Minutes reporter Allison Langdon as his co-host.
Stefanovic will be parachuted in to resurrect the ailing breakfast show less than one year after he was dumped while on honeymoon after his wedding to Jasmine Yarbrough in Mexico.
Stefanovic will be joined by Weekend Today host and 60 Minutes reporter Allison Langdon, who will co-host the show.
Stefanovic confirmed the news in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald published today, saying: "I am as shocked about this as everyone else."
Stefanovic told the outlet he didn't think he'd be given the opportunity to host Today again.
"I thought my time was up, but then, when I was sounded out about it, it got me thinking," he said, calling it a "big job with enormous pressures"... "but also without question the best live TV job in Australia."
Stefanovic also said this year's Today team had gone through "an extremely difficult time dealing with outside forces".
GEORGIE 'DISAPPOINTED' BY AXING
The current team including Georgie Gardner, Deb Knight and Tom Steinfort will be replaced, with Gardner reportedly returning to Nine News and Steinfort to 60 Minutes.
In a seperate statement to the Sydney Morning Herald, Gardner said she was consulted two weeks ago about Today's direction next year - "and naturally I'm disappointed with the outcome." She also took a swipe at the "disproportionate" and "cruel" public scrutiny she faced as host this year.
Nine's big Karl backflip comes after the network had been under pressure to revamp Today due to record low ratings and on air tension among hosts. This month, the show registered its lowest weekly average of 174,000.
Stefanovic's new pay packet in the role is unclear, however it is reportedly a $2 million plus salary.
"It is crunch time," a well-placed TV executive told The Daily Telegraph. "It just had to be done. Today is bleeding ratings and, worst still, the show is bleeding revenue."
Stefanovic was sensationally dropped from the show in December last year while on honeymoon in the US.
"Nine and Karl Stefanovic have agreed it is time for him to step off the Today show," a statement from news director Darren Wick read at the time.
"Karl remains on contract with the network and will continue to host (his other show) This Time Next Year."
It came after a high-profile dispute over pay parity that led co-host Lisa Wilkinson to defect to The Project on Ten.
Stefanovic also underwent a high-profile marriage breakdown and new relationship with shoe-designer, Jasmine Yarbrough.
At the time, the Today host said the past year had been "tough".
"Thanks to our viewers mostly, you are what matters most," Stefanovic said.
"It's been a tough time. Thanks for hanging in there. I look forward to seeing you in another capacity at this great network soon."
Meanwhile Today Extra host Sonia Kruger is expected to move to Channel 7 next year.
KARL'S CHEEKY QUIP
Last month, Stefanovic addressed the growing speculation that he was set to make a return to breakfast television, and confessed he was eager to return to Today.
Karl was one of the celebrities who took part in Fitzy and Wippa's backyard cricket game at Kirribilli House on October 31.
"When I messaged Karl to say thanks for being part of the team, he wrote back: 'Haven't lost one mate'," Wippa said on Nova.
"So mate, you're the lucky charm?"
Stefanovic joked: "Well, that's what I keep trying to tell Channel 9, that I'm the lucky charm. If they want to pad me up and send me in I'm ready to go in and we'll have a win."
A ROUGH YEAR
Karl's quip came at the tail end of a tough year for Nine's flagship morning show, which started in 2019 with a new line-up but quickly slumped to "record low" ratings.
By this month, ratings had plumetted even lower: Just 155,000 people tuned in on Friday November 1.
The ratings slump came after a tumultuous period that began when Lisa Wilkinson jumped ship to Channel 10's The Project and ended when long-time host Karl Stefanovic walked out the doors late last year.
His brother Peter left the network and in a major overhaul of Today, presenters Sylvia Jeffreys and Richard Wilkins were shuffled into new roles.
Knight replaced Stefanovic as co-host in January, with Brooke Boney joining the team as entertainment reporter and Tom Steinfort as newsreader.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald in October, Sunrise executive producer Michael Pell said he'd been "puzzled" by his rival program's decision to so dramatically change their line-up.
"I think they made some very strange decisions at the start of the year," he told the outlet.
"I felt really bad for a lot of the people who were cast aside, some for absolutely no reason. A really good newsreader in Sylvia (Jeffreys), a really good sports reader in Tim [Gilbert]. They were cast aside and viewers punished them for that."
After a bumpy start to the year, new co-hosts Gardner and Knight even read out mean tweets about the show live on air, including one particularly unnecessary one that said the pair looked like "a pair of scruffy, unkempt blondes (that have) just climbed out of bed and hadn't even brushed their hair".