“Brand Karl” has undergone a transformation in the past year.
“Brand Karl” has undergone a transformation in the past year.

Nine’s desperate ploy to save Today

IT WAS once one of Nine's most successful shows. But after a huge ratings slump and the axing of Karl Stefanovic, Nine is reportedly making a last-ditch attempt to save Today.

The network is said to be eyeing a possible all-female line-up to revive the breakfast TV show, which is in crisis after Stefanovic's sacking, The Australian reports.

Nine is said to be looking at possibly replacing Karl with Deborah Knight or Allison Langdon, teaming them alongside current Today co-host Georgie Gardner.

The show's brand is in tatters after Nine lost Karl and Peter Stefanovic in 24 hours in one of the most dramatic exits in Australian TV history.

Their exits come after months of speculation about their jobs being under threat after the pair were caught bitching about their bosses while talking inside an Uber car.

Georgie Gardner’s job is safe at Today but Karl Stefanovic is out. Picture: Christian Gilles
Georgie Gardner’s job is safe at Today but Karl Stefanovic is out. Picture: Christian Gilles

 

Sources told The Australian Nine planned to "blow the whole thing up" in a desperate effort to revive Today in the wake of Stefanovic's embattled public image.

The Australian reports that Adelaide newsreader Brenton Ragless is also a contender to fill Stefanovic's job, after he was dramatically sacked from the show yesterday.

Allison Langdon is being touted as a possible replacement for Karl Stefanovic.
Allison Langdon is being touted as a possible replacement for Karl Stefanovic.

 

Deb Knight could be part of an all-female line-up on Today. Picture: Christian Gilles
Deb Knight could be part of an all-female line-up on Today. Picture: Christian Gilles

The show has a long way to climb back up to being a serious ratings contender in the breakfast TV war after Karl's marriage breakdown and new relationship with Jasmine Yarbrough turned viewers away.

Today, Karl's colleague Richard "Dickie" Wilkins told viewers he was "an intoxicating mix of world's best broadcaster and naughty schoolboy."

The rest of the Today Show's hosts including Tim Gilbert, and Wilkins are all reported to be under review as Nine tries to save the program.

HOW KARL'S IMAGE IMPLODED

Karl Stefanovic was once Nine's golden boy - a typical knockabout Aussie bloke, relatable family man and respected TV news reporter.

That image changed dramatically in 2016 when Stefanovic ended his 21-year marriage to Cassandra Thorburn - the mother of his three children.

Stefanovic's over-the-top, showy wedding to shoe designer Jasmine Yarbrough, 34, in Cabo San Lucas this month did nothing to repair his reputation, and he has now lost his plum role as co-host of Today.

"Nine and Karl Stefanovic have agreed it is time for him to step off the Today Show. Karl remains on contract with the network," Nine's director of news and current affairs, Darren Wick, said in a statement today.

 

There are two sides to Karl Stefanovic’s embattled public image. Picture: Liam Kidston
There are two sides to Karl Stefanovic’s embattled public image. Picture: Liam Kidston

As Nine announced his dramatic departure, Stefanovic, who is believed to still be on his honeymoon with Yarbrough, said he had been through a "tough time".

"For the last 14 years I've co-hosted the best show on television," Stefanovic said in a statement.

"I can't thank Nine enough for the opportunity. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be good enough to host this grand show for so long.

"Thanks to our viewers mostly, you are what matters most. It's been a tough time. Thanks for hanging in there."

KARL'S IMAGE IN CRISIS

So where did it all go wrong for Stefanovic? After meeting Yarbrough, there were noticeable changes to Stefanovic's dress sense, social circle and, most disastrously for Today's ratings, his public image.

Viewers turned off in droves, as Stefanovic's brand became tainted by the appearance of a midlife crisis.

His style went from daggy jeans, knits and TV wardrobe shirts and trousers, to sleek Tom Ford suits (as worn to the Logies this year).

His social circle changed to include a much younger crowd - Australian model Jordan Barrett and British socialite Louise Roe.

Suddenly, Stefanovic was sitting front row with Yarbrough, who is the owner of high-end shoe brand Mara & Mine, at David Jones' fashion shows, flaunting PDA, and uploading couple-selfies to Instagram.

 

Karl Stefanovic, top right, looked out of shape on the cover of New Idea.
Karl Stefanovic, top right, looked out of shape on the cover of New Idea.

 

 

A post-workout Karl Stefanovic in Sydney last month. Picture: Matrix Media Group
A post-workout Karl Stefanovic in Sydney last month. Picture: Matrix Media Group


His weight fluctuated from a "dad bod" to trim and buff, and he was often photographed on his way to the gym, including as recently as late November in the lead-up to their resort wedding at One & Only Palmilla.

Stefanovic and Yarbrough's romance - and 10-year age gap - raised eyebrows after Stefanovic's messy breakup from Thorburn after 21 years of marriage.

The Nine star was said to have "blindsided" his ex by ending their marriage in 2016, and then five months later hooked up with Yarbrough in a very public manner.

They went public with their romance when they were photographed taking selfies on board a luxury boat on Sydney Harbour in February 2017.

 

Jasmine and Karl have shared loved-up selfies on Instagram.
Jasmine and Karl have shared loved-up selfies on Instagram.

 

The soon-to-be newlyweds at a Witchery fashion launch in April.
The soon-to-be newlyweds at a Witchery fashion launch in April.

 

The problems facing brand Karl Stefanovic in 2018 have been well-documented.

Even Nine chief executive Hugh Marks acknowledged Stefanovic's "tough" year.

"Karl has had a tough year, but I have every confidence that he can get back to what he is really good at and re-establish that connection with the audience," Marks told News Corp Australia last month.

"If the audience sees him really working hard and treating them very seriously and delivering on what he can do, well then he can re-establish that connection. He is a fantastic broadcaster."

Karl Stefanovic with his Gold Logie in 2011.
Karl Stefanovic with his Gold Logie in 2011.

 

 

With his former Today co-star Lisa Wilkinson in 2009.
With his former Today co-star Lisa Wilkinson in 2009.

 

Stefanovic is one of the highest-paid stars on Australian TV and his net worth is rumoured to be $10 million.

His annual salary at Nine's Today is reportedly $2 million and he is paid substantial bonuses, which are been estimated to put his annual earnings at close to $3 million.

Reports have suggested Stefanovic has engaged an image consultant - brand marketer Mitch Catlin, who was instrumental in "making" the early career of Jennifer Hawkins - to overhaul his standing in the public eye.

This has so-far involved secret meetings to repair his personal brand.

Karl and Jasmine in the front row at David Jones’s spring/summer launch in 2017. Picture: Toby Zerna
Karl and Jasmine in the front row at David Jones’s spring/summer launch in 2017. Picture: Toby Zerna

 

They also attended the department store’s showing in February this year (Mara & Mine is stocked at DJs). Picture: AAP
They also attended the department store’s showing in February this year (Mara & Mine is stocked at DJs). Picture: AAP

 

 

Famous friends! Models Jordan Barrett and Montana Cox seated next to Karl and Jasmine. Picture: Toby Zerna
Famous friends! Models Jordan Barrett and Montana Cox seated next to Karl and Jasmine. Picture: Toby Zerna

 

Stefanovic has three children with ex-wife Thorburn: sons Jackson, 18, and River, 11, and daughter Ava, 12.

It had been previously reported that Jackson was estranged from Stefanovic and even ditched his surname to take on his mother's (on social media, he is known as "Jackson Thorburn").

Despite suggestions he may not attend the wedding, Stefanovic's eldest son was seen arriving with the Stefanovic entourage in Cabo this week.

Karl Stefanovic, pictured with bride to be Jasmine Yarbrough, at Sydney airport before jetting to LA this week. Picture: Matrix Media Group
Karl Stefanovic, pictured with bride to be Jasmine Yarbrough, at Sydney airport before jetting to LA this week. Picture: Matrix Media Group

 

 

Smartly dressed! Karl Stefanovic’s wardrobe changed to a younger and fresher style. Picture: Matrix Media Group
Smartly dressed! Karl Stefanovic’s wardrobe changed to a younger and fresher style. Picture: Matrix Media Group

 

Karl Stefanovic wearing Tom Ford at the Logies. Picture: Jerad Williams
Karl Stefanovic wearing Tom Ford at the Logies. Picture: Jerad Williams

 

A baby-faced Karl Stefanovic in 2005.
A baby-faced Karl Stefanovic in 2005.


The new Karl's style is a far cry from the man who famously wore the same navy suit for a year on Today in 2014 (only changing the tie and shirt), as part of an experiment to highlight sexism on TV.

"I've worn the same suit on air for a year - except for a couple of times because of circumstance - to make a point," Stefanovic said at the time.

"I'm judged on my interviews, my appalling sense of humour - on how I do my job, basically. Whereas women are quite often judged on what they're wearing or how their hair is … that's [what I wanted to test]."

Stefanovic's Today co-star Richard Wilkins, former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, PR queen Roxy Jacenko and British socialite Louise Rose attended the star couple's wedding on December 8.



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