In 2009, James Mathison quit hosting Australian Idol. Now he wants to legalise psychedelics.

There was a time in Australian free-to-air TV history where Australian Idol was the biggest show on the box.

The reality singing competition is responsible for the careers of Guy Sebastian, Paulini, Matt Corby and Jessica Mauboy, and it also birthed the careers of the two hosts – Andrew G and James Mathison – who kept the judges in check, comforted contestants and read out the names on the all-important elimination cards.

While Andrew G – who now goes by Osher Günsberg – is still a present force on our screens, hosting The Bachelor and The Masked Singer, his former co-host has chosen a different career path.

See the original sneak peek for The Project, which featured James Mathison and was originally called The 7PM Project. Post continues below.

Video by Channel 10

After hosting Australian Idol from 2003 to 2009, Mathison, 41, quit the television show.

From a brief stint in politics to his mission to legalise plant-based psychedelic medicine, this is exactly what the presenter and media personality has been doing since.

What did James Mathison do after Australian Idol?

Despite his job hosting one of the most successful reality shows of the 2000s, Mathison was ready to give it up in 2009. At the time, he explained to News Ltd that he wanted to take a break from being in the public eye.

“There is a part of me who has a little bit struggled with being ‘that guy from that thing’ and taking a step back totally allows you to do what you want to do without that scrutiny,” he said.

“For six years (Australian) Idol has been my life.”

Never the less, he still remained in the entertainment industry and continued hosting Nova FM’s music program, Launchpad Up Late.

In 2009, he joined The 7PM Project (now known as just The Project) as one of their original panellists, before becoming a film critic for Weekend Sunrise in 2012, and co-hosting Channel 10’s now-defunct morning TV show, Wake Up! with Natarsha Belling and Natasha Exelby.

He was quite critical of Australian Idol after leaving the show.

Looking back at his time on the show, Mathison has been critical of its ethics. Speaking to Rachel Corbett on the podcast You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere, he said that not all winners were equally supported.

“The two things that always stuck in my claw and I was never able to sit comfortably with was what happened to the kids afterwards,” he said.

“They’d get record deals but the ones that weren’t clearly going to make money were quickly like, ‘See ya, bye.’”

James Mathison 2020
Mathison and Günsberg with former Australian idol judges, Marcia Hines and Mark Holden. Image: Getty.

Then there was the issue of certain cringe-worthy auditionees, which Mathison said were "set up" and "made to look the fool”.

“I was never really comfortable with those early audition rounds on Australian Idol where kids would come in who didn’t know how terrible they were,” he said.

“Producers knew how terrible they were, put them in front of the judges knowing that they were going to get mocked and ridiculed by the judges and then by people at home.”

“[They] weren’t in on it,” he added. “We would have producers who would be like, ‘This kid is going to be television gold!’ But you also knew that the next day after that show aired (that kid) would be humiliated and ridiculed and their life would be difficult for a little while after that.”

What we know about James Mathison's political career.

Choosing a completely different career route, in 2016, Mathison decided to campaign against former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the federal seat of Warringah. Unfortunately, Abbott kept his seat, with Mathison only receiving 11.4 per cent of the primary vote.

James Mathison 2020
Günsberg even helped Mathison campaign in the electorate of Warringah during the 2016 Australian Federal Election. Image: Getty.

His political ambitions didn't stop there. In 2018 he joined the Australian Democrats as their communications director and supported MP Zali Steggall in her bid to win the federal seat of Warringah in the 2019 Federal Election, which she ultimately did.

"We’ve been taken for granted for too long here. In Zali we have someone who will genuinely listen to the community rather than just governing according to their own beliefs. That is what Tony has been doing,” he told the Daily Telegraph at the time.

What is he up to now?

When it comes to Mathison's personal life, we know the Sydney-based media personality shares two young daughters, Luca and Celeste, with his long-time partner and beauty journalist, Carlie Fowler.

Although he's not very active on social media and has no Instagram, Mathison does have an active Twitter account and a public Facebook page. However, his last Facebook post was from 2018.

His Twitter posts mainly centre on re-tweeting messages of environmental activism and climate change awareness.


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A long weekend away with my man ???? #happyweddingB&P

A post shared by Carlie Fowler (@carliefowler) on

When it comes to his work life, he's got his hands full with a few projects.

Speaking to Nova in October 2019, Mathison said he's currently working on the national legalisation of psychedelics.

"I'm involved in this group I've started up called Legalise Nature Australia, trying to get a bit of advocacy and research around plant-based psychedelic medicine," he told Fitzy and Wippa.


"At the moment we have never known more about the brain, the body, we have never had more psychotherapists, counsellors, health professionals, yet we've never had higher rates of suicide, depression, anxiety, addiction, alcoholism in this country. So something is going wrong.

"Plant medicine, we're talking about magic mushrooms, psilocybin... the heart of the issue is that you want to crack some of these issues affecting society."

Mathison also has another TV programme in the works, which he described as "the poo jogger but for celebrities".

And apparently it's already been greenlit (approved) by a network.

"It's like The Masked Singer but for poo jogging," he said. Think celebrities in disguises who leave 'hidden surprises (their faeces)' for others to find.

"Look I can't tell you what network has come on board, but the bidding war was ferocious," he added.

And look, we have so many questions but if this is true, then 2020 is looking to be a huge year for Mathison.

All we ask is that he and Günsberg co-host.

Feature image: Australian Idol.

Do you remember watching James Mathison and Andrew G on Australian Idol? Tell us in a comment below.

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