Why Lisa Wilkinson walked off the Today set

14 Oct, 2013 01:19 PM
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Strained: breakfast television co-hosts Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson.
Strained: breakfast television co-hosts Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson.

Karl Stefanovic didn't realise the devastating effect an otherwise harmless jibe would have on his Today co-host, Lisa Wilkinson.

Fairfax Media reported on Saturday that Wilkinson had walked off set recently for 45 minutes, in the wake of a strained relationship among colleagues at Today.

Private Sydney can now reveal what caused the walk off, which resulted in Stefanovic going into her dressing room to apologise.

Stefanovic went on air to promote an upcoming guest appearance on Channel Nine program The Footy Show last month. Wilkinson used the opportunity to plug her weekend news reading slots, to which Stefanovic called her out on air, saying "you didn't have to do that".

It was the last straw for Wilkinson, already reeling over a series of high-profile interviews which had been given to Stefanovic, including one with Tony Abbott.

She left the set, leaving a clearly uncomfortable Stefanovic without his popular co-host.

PS hears the pair have since ''made up and moved on'', however it is executive producer Neil Breen who is now in the spotlight, with Nine's news ''gun'' Mark Calvert starting to oversee the show on Monday and putting a question mark over Breen's future.

Calvert was quick to show the Today team who was controlling the levers, ordering a change in ad break times to compete against a similar move by rival Sunrise, which executive producer Breen had previously opined about in the press amid claims Sunrise was not playing "fair".

"Instead of complaining about the opposition he just got in there and matched them," an insider noted this morning.

Today, the gateway program for Channel Nine and a critical element in the network's overall programming strategy, has endured a ratings slide since July.

As Channel Ten prepares to sink millions into its new breakfast programming onslaught and Seven's Sunrise enjoys a rejuvenation among audiences from the arrival of co-host Samantha Armytage, the team at Today has been preoccupied by internal tensions which have been bubbling away for months.

The internal resentment has centred around the growing ''blokeyness'' of Today and the increasing presence of Stefanovic under Breen's direction, at the expense of Wilkinson's profile.

SMH

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