There’s more than meets the eye to her sud­den exit from Today

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Celebrity News -

It was a photo on Lisa Wilkin­son’s In­sta­gram feed of her and her daugh­ter Billi Fitzsi­mons that summed up her ac­tions this week. Lisa wrote: “When your kids are proud of you, that’s ev­ery­thing.”

Close friends of Lisa con­firm that her beloved 19-year-old daugh­ter, and ev­ery other girl who looks up to her as a role model, were the rea­son she stuck to her guns and fought for the same pay as her co-host Karl Ste­fanovic on Today.

It was a move that saw her say good­bye to the break­fast TV pro­gram for which she has risen at 3am ev­ery morn­ing for 10 years – with­out even a chance to farewell her fans and the crew she adored work­ing with.

What man­age­ment at Nine didn’t re­alise when they said “like it or lump it” to her pay de­mands, was that the highly re­spected star had al­ready been of­fered a deal at ri­val net­work Ten, which she then ac­cepted.

Mir­ror­ing hun­dreds of young women who’ve con­tacted Lisa since the shock move was an­nounced, Billi took to so­cial me­dia to ap­plaud her mother’s brav­ery: “Thank you, Mum, for

paving the way for the next gen­er­a­tion and ev­ery gen­er­a­tion to come. You are a leader and an in­spi­ra­tion for so many tonight. I can’t wait to see you at the break­fast ta­ble to­mor­row morn­ing.”

Friends close to Lisa say the 57-year-old burst into tears when she saw her daugh­ter’s heart­felt words, and re­alised she’d done the right thing in stand­ing up for her rights and those of all women.

“Forget about want­ing more money, al­leged ar­gu­ments with co-host Karl Ste­fanovic, or be­ing tired of the early starts – there is only one rea­son Lisa Wilkin­son quit the Today show, and that is equal rights,” one of Lisa’s best friends told Woman’s Day.

“Lisa was think­ing of Billi and all the young women she knows looked up to her when she be­gan her ne­go­ti­a­tions at Chan­nel Nine to re­new her con­tract,” her friend con­firms. “Billi is study­ing to be­come a jour­nal­ist and Lisa doesn’t want her to have to face the same in­equal­ity she has. So she stood her ground.”

Lisa’s friends con­firm she was ready to stay in the Today show seat un­til the end of the year, but she was told she was not wel­come back on the set, even to say good­bye to the crew and view­ers she loves af­ter she re­jected their counter-of­fer.

“Lisa was dev­as­tated. She prides her­self on be­ing a con­sum­mate pro­fes­sional and would never just walk away from the show.

“To say she’s dis­ap­pointed with how she’s been treated is an un­der­state­ment. She is gut­ted.

“How­ever, af­ter read­ing Billi’s mes­sage, she knows she’s done the right thing, no mat­ter how painful the fall­out has been.”

Lisa has also been in­spired by the women in Aus­tralian TV who had been treated badly in the past – such as Jes­sica Rowe who was in­fa­mously “boned” from her role on Today – and Ker­riAnne Ken­ner­ley, who was in­formed by a news­pa­per re­porter that some­one else had her job af­ter nine years host­ing Morn­ings With Kerri-anne.

An­other close girl­friend of Lisa’s adds that the re­cent al­le­ga­tions about Hollywood mogul Har­vey We­in­stein’s al­leged sys­tem­atic sex­ual ha­rass­ment and abuse of women helped con­vince her to make a stand for women’s rights.

Now, though, a con­tro­versy is brew­ing, with some ques­tion­ing the fact Lisa’s new salary at Ten amounts to four times Car­rie Bick­more’s, and at least twice what co-host Waleed Aly re­ceives. In fact, word at Ten is that Lisa’s ar­rival and pay packet could mean the end of Car­rie’s role on the show.

“I think ev­ery­one on The Project feels in­se­cure about their jobs now,” a se­nior staffer told Woman’s Day. “The net­work is fac­ing enor­mous money prob­lems, and will need to make sure Lisa’s re­ported $2 mil­lion salary isn’t wasted. I can’t see how they can keep all the hosts on the show now and not ex­pect some to leave to ‘pur­sue new op­por­tu­ni­ties’ in the near fu­ture.”

Mean­while, back at Today, the re­main­ing on-air tal­ent are won­der­ing what’s next, and why Karl didn’t step up and of­fer to sup­ple­ment Lisa’s salary as ra­dio host Dave Hughes did for Kate Lang­broek dur­ing her con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions with KIIS.

A Today in­sider pre­dicts “a much-needed over­haul and makeover” – with some sur­prise new­com­ers ex­pected to breathe new life into the break­fast spot.

Re­gard­less of who gets Lisa’s cov­eted old seat, ev­ery­one Woman’s Day spoke to sug­gests it’s time for Karl to pull up his socks. “Ev­ery­one on Today agrees Karl’s taken his eye off the ball,” the source claims. “The whole coun­try will be watch­ing to see what hap­pens next.”

‘Lisa didn’t want Billi to face the same in­equal­ity she has’

With Hollywood’s We­in­stein scan­dal ring­ing in her ears and hav­ing failed to se­cure pay par­ity, Lisa took a stand for women.

Karl Ste­fanovic is in the hot seat at Today with Lisa’s swift de­par­ture. Karl’s reel­ing

Lisa’s taken a stand for women, in­clud­ing daugh­ter Billi.

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