Karl Stefanovic was smiling through gritted teeth at TV's night of nights, and finally the reason can be revealed, after it was confirmed a tense behind-the-scenes war was being played out in the weeks leading up to the TV Week Logies.
"Nine told him they didn't want Jasmine there," confirms one source, explaining that the network's breakfast show had been in ratings freefall since divorced Karl hooked up with the younger shoe designer.
"They told him in no uncertain terms that it wasn't a good look to bring Jasmine to the event, and banned her from the red carpet. They ensured no footage of Jasmine went to air during the telecast, and that wasn't easy when she was sitting next to him."
Network insiders say the tension between Karl and Nine reached crisis levels in the lead-up to the TV Week Logies, particularly when he refused to heed their advice to leave Jasmine at home for fear of offending viewers.
"He pulled the only card he has," explains the source. "As a former Gold Logie recipient he's entitled to two tickets to the big night for the rest of his life – and the only plus-one he wanted was Jasmine. He just defied the network and organised five-star treatment for Jasmine's first TV Week Logies night.
"I know Georgie [Gardner, Karl's Today co-host] was also extremely uncomfortable at the thought of having to walk the red carpet with Karl – and Jasmine.
"As it was, she looked incredibly awkward when she was interviewed with Karl. I think she wanted to be anywhere but by his side."
Want more celeb goss? Listen to the latest episode of the Woman's Day Uncensored podcast, where the team share all the behind-the-scenes goss from the TV WEEK Logie Awards, they reveal latest on Sophie Monk's ex Stu Laundy stealing another man's wife and take you inside the clash between Meghan Markle and royal sisters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
Normally affable and confident, Karl looked like a fish out of water during his solo red carpet appearance, and many commentators noted the tension between him and Georgie, who even rolled her eyes at him at one point.
Behind the scenes it was every bit as tense as Jasmine prepared for her debut, after Karl splashed out thousands of dollars for a team of designers, hair and makeup artists and stylists to be flown to the Gold Coast to help her dress.
Yet she never made it onto the red carpet, instead being snuck through a back door straight to Karl's table and having to rely on social media to showcase her gown, which garnered accolades from those people able to see it on Instagram.
"Karl tried to hose down any suggestion Jasmine was stopped walking the red carpet by Nine, saying on the night merely that it was too intense for her," reveals one TV star.
"I actually felt sorry for her. She went to more trouble than just about anyone else, even though she's not on TV or even a celebrity, and then she had the rug ripped out from beneath her. She must have been gutted."
And it's not the first time Jasmine has been humiliatingly banned from an important event in Karl's life – she was also uninvited to his brother Peter's wedding to Today newsreader Sylvia Jeffreys in April last year amid fears she would take attention away from the bride.
But both Jasmine, 34, and Karl, 43, put all the behind-the-scenes turmoil behind them, and shared happy snaps with each other on social media. In one shot, former model Jasmine boasted, "My first Logies with my poser."
Warm and friendly 2GB radio host Ben Fordham is without a doubt the frontrunner to replace Karl on Today, despite his recent denial that he considers himself a candidate. An insider says the story was "masterminded" by Nine to see how much the public like him. "And the feedback has been overwhelmingly in Ben's favour," he says.
The fact Karl wasn't included in the lengthy 60 Minutes Hall of Fame package during the Logies did nothing to inspire confidence in his standing at Nine. The network is also understood to have indefinitely shelved This Time Next Year, hosted by Karl, despite filming half the episodes for a second season. "I think everyone is watching carefully to see how the second series of Australian Ninja Warrior – with Ben again hosting – performs."
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Australian Women's WeeklyFeb 14, 2019