Ah, television. When the life and times of its brightest stars off-screen is better than anything a bit of lights, camera and action can concoct.
In case you missed it, this week Karl Stefanovic unwittingly found himself the centre of an unfortunate bitch-and-moan controversy, after an Uber driver claimed to have recorded the TV star whinging to his brother Peter about high-profile colleagues at Channel 9.
It is known as – I think by its technical name at least – what you’d call a royal fluster-cuck.
Fairfax reports the conversation between the brothers touched on the lack of “on air” chemistry between Karl and his new co-host Georgie Gardner, with the TODAY host revealing he has struggled to emulate the working relationship he once had with Lisa Wilkinson.
Meanwhile, News Corp report the brothers also mentioned Nine News and Current Affairs boss Darren Wick, executive producer of TODAY Mark Calvert and executive producer of 60 Minutes Kirsty Thomson in the conversations. Oh, and Richard Wilkins, too, which just about covers everyone. (Eh, at least they’re consistent.)
So while Stefanovic is no doubt thankful after reportedly being flown to the Middle East on assignment on Sunday, all eyes will be on the TODAY panel come Monday.
Because on Monday, Stefanovic will be back on desk, right next to Gardner and only a few feet from Wilkins. Welcome back!
Of course, the narrative muddies a little when you also take into account reports New Idea paid up to $50,000 for an interview with the Uber driver and are set to publish on Monday. The magazine claim there is no audio (it’s illegal to record someone without their permission in NSW) and they are instead relying on the memory of the driver in question.
So, as Stefanovic readies himself to return to work, New Idea ready themselves to throw a grenade into what you can only assume is a boiling pit of tension.
Mia Freedman interviews Georgie Gardner. Post continues after audio.
But while this story is no doubt full of the kind of juice tabloids thrive on, there’s merit in considering New Idea is a publication owned by Seven West Media, who also run Channel 7 and therefore Sunrise. And for every minute we spend dissecting the working relationship of Channel 9’s biggest stars, we ignore more pressing concerns at Sunrise and their treatment of Indigenous issues on television this week.
Yesterday, Channel Seven producers reportedly concealed their set from hundreds of angry people that gathered in Martin Place to protest a segment they considered racist on Tuesday.
The segment came after Minister for Children David Gillespie announced he was pushing for “open adoptions” of Indigenous children who were at risk of rape, assault and neglect. The controversial and sensitive suggestion that governments should enable more white Australians to adopt aboriginal children was put to an all-white panel by host Samantha Armytage.
The segment implied forcibly removing aboriginal children from their homes in the past was “for their wellbeing” and failed to feature a single aboriginal voice.
So, while Monday morning’s TODAY will no doubt be an awkward one – particularly considering the New Idea article that’s expected to drop sometime that very day – it’s worth noting why our eyes will be drawn to Channel 9, and exactly who might be doing the drawing.