Karl’s res­ur­rec­tion to cost $1m bonus

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

REBIRTHED tele­vi­sion host Karl Ste­fanovic is tak­ing as much as a $1 mil­lion pay cut to re­turn to his old job at To­day.

Nine net­work in­sid­ers say the re­called break­fast an­chor will for­feit one third of his $3 mil­lion pack­age for one last ride in tele­vi­sion’s tough­est rodeo.

Ste­fanovic’s last con­tract, ne­go­ti­ated in De­cem­ber 2015 with Nine’s then new CEO Hugh Marks, in­cluded a $1 mil­lion dol­lar “im­age bonus” part of — or all of which — could be with­held by bosses should Ste­fanovic fail to achieve stan­dards ex­pected of him, well-placed sources claim.

Given the break­fast show an­chor was sacked last year from the pro­gram he was con­tracted to host for five years, it’s now be­lieved his bosses used this clause to slash his lu­cra­tive con­tract.

Sources yes­ter­day de­nied Ste­fanovic had been of­fered a new or ex­tended con­tract and main­tained he re­mained on con­tract only un­til the end of 2020.

As word broke yes­ter­day that the ground­work had been laid for Ste­fanovic’s in­cred­i­ble come­back — one that will see him re­turn for his 15th year as brekkie an­chor along­side 60 Min­utes’ re­porter Al­li­son Lang­don — Ge­orgie Gard­ner, hav­ing told bosses she wouldn’t be re­turn­ing to air fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment, was en­joy­ing her first day’s re­tire­ment from To­day at home on Syd­ney’s north shore.

A spot along­side David Campbell on the To­day Ex­tra pro­gram is un­der­stood to be open to Gard­ner should she want it with Campbell’s co-host, So­nia Kruger, in talks with Seven to jump ship when her cur­rent con­tract with Nine lapses in De­cem­ber.

Seven yes­ter­day de­nied Kruger has al­ready signed with the net­work but Nine is be­lieved to have made only a to­ken of­fer to keep the pre­sen­ter, who also hosts The Voice for it.

Gard­ner has in­di­cated she hopes to re­turn to news read­ing du­ties, although not in the fore­see­able fu­ture with her To­day show co-host Deb Knight, hold­ing on to the prime time week­end news bulletins for the time be­ing.

A com­pe­tent broad­caster, Knight could be ex­pected to move into a ra­dio role on Nine’s newly ac­quired Mac­quarie Ra­dio net­work next year, a move that would free up the week­end bulletins for Gard­ner’s re­turn.

Gard­ner has said she is “dis­ap­pointed” to be dumped from To­day af­ter just two years in the role as host, one along­side Ste­fanovic, the other with Knight, with whom there were on-screen ten­sions in­volv­ing who would con­duct in­ter­views and who took prece­dence in the hair-andr and wardrobe de­part­ment.

Nine is yet to de­cide de which To­day cast mem- bers will re­main with the show next year with the roles of Tom Ste­in­fort, Brooke Boney, Richard Wilkins, Steve Ja­cobs and d Tony Jones un­der re­view.

“There is time to re­cast ast the rest of the pro­gram but it be­came a pri­or­ity to an­nounce the main hosts for next year as the spec­u­la­tion be­came wear­ing on the cur­rent host­ing duo,” said a Nine in­sider yes­ter­day.

“We took a bold de­ci­sion to try some­thing new with two women host­ing the To­day show this year and re­gret­tably that has not worked for the au­di­ence,” Nine’s news boss Darren Wick said.

Ge­orgie Gard­ner at her home in Mos­man yes­ter­day and (in­set) with co-host Deb Knight. Main pic­ture: Adam Yip

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