Karl’s strange swipe at former co-stars
FORMER Today host Karl Stefanovic appeared to have a thinly-veiled dig at his former Nine colleagues in a text message revealed on air this morning.
Today hosts Georgie Gardner and Deborah Knight appeared on Kyle and Jackie O's KIIS radio show for a lengthy interview, opening up about the "hurtful" scrutiny they've received during the show's "tricky" transition period.
Kyle Sandilands ended the interview by calling Stefanovic live on air - a call that went to voicemail.
"That was a total screen," Knight said.
Sandilands told listeners that he had earlier sent a text to Stefanovic suggesting he call in during Knight and Gardner's interview.
"I wrote to him, 'We've got the two ladies who do the Today show on, the replacement and your ex-co-host'," he said.
Stefanovic's response, according to Sandilands? He sent back a photo of Freddy Krueger, the famously disfigured villain from the Nightmare on Elm Street film series.
A cryptic response - but one that would be difficult to interpret as flattering.
The new-look Today launched to much fanfare - but poor ratings - last Monday, and the two women told Kyle and Jackie O they were still "finding their banter" together.
"(Two female hosts) is a new format for the Australian market, so it's been getting a lot of attention. But it's the best people for the job, regardless of your gender. We play to our strengths - we're both very different people and we're finding our banter as a duo," said Knight.
Gardner said that on their first day on air she could feel "the heaviness of that scrutiny".
"You just can't hide in TV. Every look, every expression, every side glance is analysed and scrutinised. Often the analysis of it is quite wrong, by the way," she said.
"Also, we were written off in the first half-hour of the show. This commentary was coming through … Usually when you review a show, you wait for it to finish," Knight said.
Talk turned to former Today host Karl Stefanovic's dramatic ousting from the show at the end of last year, following persistent rumours of bad blood between he and Gardner.
She denied knowledge of any "secret meetings" to remove her former co-host.
"No secret meetings. I'd actually left town and was quite removed. Obviously I was involved and consulted out of respect in terms of who'd be Karl's replacement. As you'd expect, given the importance and stature of the gig, there was a lot of discussion and consultation. When they said it was Deb, I was as thrilled as anyone," she said.
December's dramatic Today reshuffle saw Karl leave Today, his brother Peter leave Nine completely after 15 years, Peter's wife Sylvia Jeffreys leave her role as newsreader on Today, and veteran Richard Wilkins refocus on Today Extra to make way for new Today entertainment reporter Brooke Boney.
The departures were announced in quick succession - and Gardner appeared momentarily emotional when asked about saying goodbye to so many of her co-stars.
"Jokes aside, it was a very tough week. They were my colleagues and they were my team last year. That's been a tricky transition," she said.
Some viewers weren't thrilled about the churn, and let Today know - which Gardner and Knight then used as fodder to see out their first week as co-hosts. Last Friday, the pair had a chuckle at their own expense as they read out some of the more pointed viewer feedback they'd received.
"The feedback we welcome, but there was a fair bit of negative feedback along the way. You've got to laugh. Some of it was pretty funny … a lot of it was pretty hurtful," said Knight.
"Wrinkly old witch needs Botox; that's one I got,'" Gardner recalled.
"There was also a suggestion that Deb and I should talk about tampons - because when two women get together, that's all we talk about, isn't it?"
Kylie and Jackie O even brought up the Karl-sized elephant in the room, asking Knight if she'd heard from the man whose job she'd taken.
"Yeah I have; he's a great mate of mine. He wished me all the best, and I did to him as well," she said.
"I agree, he's in a good place. He sent me a lovely message on day one last week, and I think the next chapter for him is going to be super exciting," Gardner said.
Stefanovic remains with Channel 9, where he will this year focus on his prime time show This Time Next Year.
The pair also spoke to KIIS 101.1's Jase & PJ this morning - and Gardner confirmed that she had been invited to Karl Stefanovic's glitzy December wedding to designer Jasmine Yarbrough in Los Cabos, Mexico.
"Yeah. Of course. (But) I already had arrangements to take my kids on holiday. Can't be in two places at once. I bought him a wedding present, actually.
"I bought him a very nice cheese knife."