“I’VE MADE MIS­TAKES”

HIS MAR­RIAGE BREAK­DOWN HAS MADE HIM THE MOST SCRUTINISED MAN IN AUSTRALIA THIS PAST YEAR. NOW, FOR THE FIRST TIME, KARL STE­FANOVIC OPENS UP ABOUT FAM­ILY, INFAMY, AND FIND­ING NEW LOVE

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy STEVEN CHEE Styling GEMMA KEIL Art Di­rec­tion LINDY GOODWIN In­ter­view SAR­RAH LE MARQUAND

The To­day show’s Karl Ste­fanovic speaks ex­clu­sively to Stel­lar about his mar­riage break­down, find­ing love again, and why he is de­ter­mined to be a bet­ter man.

Here are a few of the events that have taken place around the world since news broke last Septem­ber that you and your wife Cas­san­dra Thor­burn were sep­a­rat­ing: Don­ald Trump was elected 45th pres­i­dent of the United States, there were three ter­ror at­tacks in Lon­don, and ap­prox­i­mately 132 bills were passed in the Aus­tralian Se­nate. So why do you think the break­down of your mar­riage at­tracted more on­go­ing at­ten­tion in this coun­try than just about any other story? When you put it like that, it lends great per­spec­tive to the cov­er­age of my per­sonal life. As my new part­ner Jas­mine [Yar­brough] said dur­ing the height of it, “What ex­actly is go­ing on here? You’re not Brad Pitt.” It was meant to be funny, but it was ac­tu­ally quite a se­ri­ous com­ment about where things were at. I don’t know where it comes from, I don’t know what drives it; I guess as a pub­lic fig­ure you’ve got to roll with it and I’m not as hard done by as many other peo­ple out there. From my per­spec­tive, I’m not in­ter­est­ing. I’m a bor­ing guy. I’ve gone through some per­sonal stuff that’s been dif­fi­cult on ev­ery­one in my fam­ily. That has been the hard­est as­pect: the in­creased pub­lic in­ter­est, or cov­er­age, makes it more in­tense to nav­i­gate through. But it isn’t a world event, it’s not a na­tional event, it’s not a com­mu­nity event. I don’t know where to place it. It con­fuses the hell out of me. A lot of peo­ple seem to have been very shocked by it, which is pre­sum­ably be­cause of the in­ti­macy of break­fast tele­vi­sion in that view­ers feel like they know the peo­ple who are beamed into their living rooms ev­ery morn­ing. But only the two peo­ple in­side a mar­riage ever re­ally know what is go­ing on, don’t they? And the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing any break-up are deeply per­sonal and should re­main so. I think that’s the right of peo­ple in­volved, who have

gone through mar­riage and have beau­ti­ful chil­dren, to keep that pri­vate. But the gen­eral pub­lic have been in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive. They don’t ask what hap­pened, they don’t want to know ev­ery tiny de­tail. They just say, “Hey mate, are you OK? Chin up, ev­ery­one goes through it, hope the kids are all right.” When­ever a high-pro­file cou­ple breaks up, peo­ple tend to carry on about it be­ing the end of a “fairy­tale”, but you were mar­ried for 21 years and have three chil­dren, so it’s not all bad news… A hun­dred per cent. A huge num­ber of cou­ples go through this. Fam­i­lies break up all the time. When you’re the fo­cus of in­tense scru­tiny, it adds to it, but you’re not alone. And [when it comes to dis­cussing it pub­licly] I shouldn’t be given any favours. I have to try to be – no, I have to be – who I am on tele­vi­sion is who I am in per­son. The au­di­ence can see ev­ery­thing with me. They can see when I’m un­der pres­sure, they can see when I’m happy, they can see when I’m deliri­ous, they can see when I’m tired, they can see when I’m up­set. I am who I am. And I’m flawed and I’ve made mis­takes. I want to be a bet­ter per­son. And I’m re­ally, re­ally try­ing to be a bet­ter per­son, to cor­rect the mis­takes that I’ve made and to try to move for­ward in a re­ally pos­i­tive way, but also a bet­ter way. That’s what life is, isn’t it? I hope so. To try to im­prove across the board; to be a bet­ter dad, to be a bet­ter part­ner, to be a bet­ter son, to be a bet­ter brother. I think it is what it’s all about – to try to con­tinue to im­prove your­self. What can you tell me about your re­la­tion­ship with Jas­mine? We are tak­ing things re­ally, re­ally slowly. I cer­tainly did not ex­pect to meet some­one five months af­ter I broke up with my wife. That was not planned, I did not know her be­fore. I met her on a boat in Syd­ney. We have a re­ally lovely re­la­tion­ship, but it’s got to be slow for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. I’m not go­ing to share too much on that pub­licly be­cause I don’t think that’s fair on any­one in­volved. It was un­ex­pected and lovely, but we’re go­ing to try to keep a level of pri­vacy to how we’re go­ing and what we’re plan­ning, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing I have three beau­ti­ful chil­dren who need to be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion. The me­dia scru­tiny you have been un­der these past 10 months has been pretty un­be­liev­able. Can you talk us through an av­er­age day? When it first hap­pened, it was so in­tense I was fright­ened to go out­side. I don’t mean that in an un­manly way, but I can’t stand that kind of at­ten­tion. Peo­ple might find that weird be­cause I’m on tele­vi­sion, but it’s very dif­fer­ent. TV’S very con­trolled. When your per­sonal life is com­pletely over­run by things out of your con­trol and your life is un­der a mi­cro­scope it’s like, “God, I can’t even walk with­out think­ing I’m go­ing to trip over.” You know, I can’t even go to the shop­ping cen­tre with­out think­ing, “How am I look­ing here? How’s this go­ing to look when I’m buy­ing some meat, when I’m get­ting some cheese?” You be­come so self-ob­sessed that you get fur­ther and fur­ther away from who you are. The one thing that should never hap­pen in this coun­try is iden­ti­fy­ing kids in shots. It is not their fault. I’d like to see a tighter re­stric­tion on what peo­ple are able to pub­lish. The only thing you can’t con­trol is what New Idea or Woman’s Day have writ­ten. You’ve just got to get on with it. It’s only when peo­ple point it out to you that you go, “Where did that come from?” Or, “Who’s done that?” I’ve had my own fa­ther talk to a mag­a­zine. I’ve had friends and fam­ily say things to mag­a­zines and stuff and it’s like, “How many more be­tray­als do you want?” You re­cently took aim at the Daily Mail for the way they treat women. It was a pas­sion­ate speech that struck quite a chord. And that was a sur­prise to me. I don’t do things for the big re­ac­tion. I just did it be­cause it was too much. The in­fer­ence was that I was away with a To­day show pro­ducer and there was some­thing go­ing on. The line was, “Where’s Jas­mine?” It’s like, my girl­friend lives and works in LA. She’s a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­woman [and] model. She doesn’t need to be think­ing about some­thing that’s go­ing on in Australia. This young pro­ducer on the To­day show was ab­so­lutely dev­as­tated there was an in­fer­ence she and I were do­ing some­thing. It’s dis­gust­ing. I can’t go away with a fe­male of any kind and have them pro­duce a story for me? Come on. What the hell has the world come to? So that was it for me… New Idea, Woman’s Day, the Daily Mail… what they print doesn’t af­fect me. What they print has con­se­quences for other peo­ple who may not be as solid, who may not be as se­cure. The Daily Mail steals con­tent. It is not jour­nal­ism. It’s just click­bait crap. I think it’s a de­plorable web­site. The way they con­duct them­selves and the way that they treat women, in par­tic­u­lar, has been ab­so­lutely shock­ing. The only way you can stop them is by not click­ing on them. I don’t give them the time of day. Some peo­ple would say that as a jour­nal­ist your­self, it’s hyp­o­crit­i­cal to com­plain about me­dia cov­er­age of your own life. What’s your re­sponse to that? They’re 100 per cent right. There is a dou­ble stan­dard there. What I will say is that through this ex­pe­ri­ence, I’m much more care­ful about what I talk about and I’m much more con­sid­er­ate about what I say. I’ve learnt from it. [That] doesn’t mean I’m not go­ing to cover some Hol­ly­wood per­son get­ting di­vorced or what­ever, but the sala­cious de­tail and throw­away gags can re­ally af­fect peo­ple. I’ve tried to limit that. It’s not funny for these peo­ple. You talk about want­ing to be a bet­ter man. Of­ten it’s af­ter go­ing through hard times that we be­come stronger; that we be­come em­pa­thetic. It sounds as though all of this might have changed you, not just as a jour­nal­ist, but also as a hu­man. I think I have stripped a lot of lay­ers back. I don’t know whether I’m stronger, but I’m get­ting bet­ter. There were a lot of things that I put up, a lot of walls that I put up, a lot of emo­tions that I thought I should be and I’ve tried to be hon­est with my­self about how I’ve failed in cer­tain ar­eas and how I can be bet­ter in other ar­eas. To be able to

``i´m flawed and i´ve made mis­takes and I´m try­ing to cor­rect those mis­takes´´

be hon­est with my­self has been the hard­est thing and I have had some very dark morn­ings and nights where I’ve felt ashamed and I felt that I’d failed. So you strip your­self back and you look at your­self and go, “Man, that wasn’t nice. What sort of per­son are you?” I think when you get to that point you can slowly start to re­build a lit­tle bit of the per­son you want to be­come and try to im­prove in those ar­eas. But I’m much more open now and I’m much more hon­est in the way that I ap­proach ev­ery­thing and that’s harder. So I don’t know whether I’m stronger, but I’m cer­tainly more open and I’ve got to try. I don’t want to live in some world where I’m pre­tend­ing to be some­thing I’m not. I’m try­ing my best to be as open and hon­est as I can be. I’m not suc­ceed­ing 100 per cent, but I’m on the way there. I think it's a harder path, but it’s a more – for want of a bet­ter word – right­eous path for me. I imag­ine you learn a lot about who you can trust, and who your real friends are, when you find your­self in the mid­dle of a me­dia storm like this. It’s fair to say my cir­cle has got­ten smaller and that’s by ne­ces­sity. Be­cause you’re go­ing through some­thing that you have to share with some­one and it’s gen­er­ally the peo­ple who are close to you and it’s all you talk about. It’s tax­ing on the peo­ple around you. I’ve now got a very tight cir­cle of friends and a cou­ple of fam­ily mem­bers who have gone way above and be­yond. My new part­ner’s fam­ily have also been very sup­port­ive. Like any­one go­ing through it, there’s a lot of self-anal­y­sis in­volved – prob­a­bly too much – but if you don’t have fam­ily and re­ally great friends around you, you can def­i­nitely go off the rails. Is it fair to say that self-anal­y­sis is some­thing new for you that was ab­sent when you were younger? Yeah. I was like a bull at a gate. From 17- to 40–odd, I was go­ing for it. There was no time to look back, there was only time to keep go­ing, go­ing, go­ing. Had to be on the To­day show, had to be a cor­re­spon­dent, had to work for 60 Min­utes… You just get re­ally up your­self and you’re not tak­ing any ad­vice from any­one. You think your sh*t doesn’t stink. And at some point, some­thing hap­pens and you go, maybe it does? Like ev­ery­one else [laughs]. Sorry, that’s a ter­ri­ble anal­ogy! But you have to go back and you go, “Hang on a sec­ond, you’re a sh*t per­son. Are you go­ing to do some­thing about it? Or are you go­ing to con­tinue to be a sh*t per­son?” I’m try­ing to work on the things that needed im­prov­ing. Part of that is be­ing re­ally bru­tally hon­est with my­self. I’m not there yet by any stretch, but it’s got to start there. What sort of re­sponse do you get from mem­bers of the pub­lic when you are out and about? The gen­eral pub­lic are, es­sen­tially, my em­ploy­ers: the peo­ple I an­swer to, that tell me if

`There were a lot of walls that i put up´

I got it right, that tell me when I’ve got it wrong. They are the peo­ple that tell me when they laugh and tell me when they cry. If I’m not do­ing my job, they will tell me they’re up­set with me, but worst of all, they’ll flick off. So I have no greater re­spect for any­one than the pub­lic. Ev­ery­thing rises and falls with the per­son at home with the re­mote. There has been spec­u­la­tion that events in your per­sonal life have alien­ated fe­male view­ers. Ra­dio host Jackie O, for ex­am­ple, said on air about you: “This is what a lot of women would think: this is a lovely lady who stood by him for years, they have a fam­ily and they see him leave her… They also be­lieve that could hap­pen to me.” What’s your re­sponse to com­ments

like that? Some of those com­ments about me alien­at­ing our fe­male view­ers did def­i­nitely hurt be­cause I was try­ing to be as good a per­son as I can be. I know that’s hard and maybe there are some women out there who are an­gry with me, but I’ve never tried to be any­thing other than my­self and I have to hope that the au­di­ence, and par­tic­u­larly fe­males if that is true, that one day they’re OK and they come back and say, “I’m giv­ing him an­other go.” I just hope that I’m pro­duc­ing con­tent that they want to watch and even­tu­ally they’ll come back. As far as Jackie O is con­cerned, she has a right to her own opin­ion and she reg­u­larly does. It’s nei­ther here nor there. If peo­ple come out and bag me, it’s my right to do it as well. But I would rather live a life where I don’t worry about that sort of thing and just try to make my cir­cle as peace­ful as pos­si­ble. Ben Ford­ham re­cently reignited spec­u­la­tion you might leave the To­day show soon. There have been so many peo­ple who have been tak­ing my job over the years; I don’t give it a sec­ond thought. If at the end of the year, or the end of next week, Chan­nel Nine goes,“karl, we have had enough of you and Ben Ford­ham is go­ing to do the job,” I would say con­grat­u­la­tions to Ben. Ben’s one of my best friends, so I will find a job, I will do an­other job and I’ll be good at it be­cause I am good at what I do. I don’t rally against [the ru­mour mill]; I em­brace it. I want to be able to take a lit­tle more time to smell the roses. This job can have re­ally dire con­se­quences on you men­tally and phys­i­cally un­less you are rested. One of the lessons I learnt from last year is that I have to take reg­u­lar breaks. And the bet­ter Ben Ford­ham is at my job, the more breaks I can have! Has your co-host Lisa Wilkin­son been a sup­port to you this past year? I don’t need peo­ple to feel sorry for me, be­cause it’s not out of the or­di­nary to go through stuff like this. But there have been morn­ings when I’ve been re­ally emo­tional and she’s just leaned across and touched my hand. Again, I don’t want peo­ple to feel sorry for me be­cause I don’t need them to, but she was there and she’s been a won­der­ful sup­port and I’ll never for­get it. In your new show This Time Next Year, which was shot over the course of 12 months, you meet peo­ple want­ing to trans­form their lives and then re­visit them one year later. That’s a pretty big com­mit­ment at a time when most things seem to have a short at­ten­tion span. Ev­ery­thing in the world is so quick – un­less you can say it in 140 char­ac­ters, you shouldn’t be say­ing it at all. That’s what I loved about this. I mean, look what’s hap­pened to me in a year. What could you do to af­fect pos­i­tive change in your life? Peo­ple have New Year’s res­o­lu­tions, but they don’t have This Time Next Year res­o­lu­tions. Bloody hell, that’s a good line [laughs]! I love ev­ery­thing about this job. Be­cause it’s talk­ing to real peo­ple who are try­ing to get on with their lives and are putting them­selves out there to fol­low some­thing through for a year. Gutsy peo­ple. Do you know the out­come be­fore those doors open on­stage 12 months later? No, I was never told. We have peo­ple with ter­mi­nal ill­nesses and I don't know whether they are go­ing to walk out or not. My re­ac­tions are com­pletely the way that it hap­pened on the day. With­out all those years of live tele­vi­sion un­der your belt, could you have pulled that off a decade ago? No. Well, I could have, but I just wouldn’t have been ready for it. There would be few peo­ple on Earth who have done as much TV as Lisa and I. I’ve done 13 years, but if you add up the hours there’s a huge amount of on-air miles. The name of the show is pos­si­bly more ap­pro­pri­ate than you could ever have pre­dicted when you started film­ing it. Look­ing back over the past 12 months, is there any­thing you would do dif­fer­ently? There is a lot that’s re­lated to per­sonal is­sues. But I’ve never been one to shy away from the mis­takes I’ve made and try to im­prove on them mov­ing for­ward. I wouldn’t pre­dict any­thing. The com­mit­ments I’m mak­ing are per­sonal. They’re not big pub­lic ones like these peo­ple be­cause I think that there’s only so much the pub­lic needs to know. [Laughs] I’m sick of read­ing about my­self! It’s about go­ing: just con­tinue to self-im­prove. This time next year, I hope I’m a bet­ter per­son than I am now.

This Time Next Year pre­mieres 8.40pm, Mon­day July 31, on the Nine Net­work.

KARL WEARS AG jacket, (02) 8987 3400; Ven­roy top, ven­roy.com.au; G-star jeans, g-star.com

HAIR & GROOMING Alan White us­ing R+CO and Kiehl’s

MAK­ING NEWS (from top) Karl Ste­fanovic and Lisa Wilkin­son; with ex-wife Cas­san­dra Thor­burn in 2011; with Jas­mine Yar­brough ear­lier this year.

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