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Speculation mounts about Karl Stefanovic's possible Today Show replacements

Could the Today Show line-up for 2019 go all-female? That's one of the rumours...

While a less-employed Karl Stefanovic goes back to hitting the slopes on his US honeymoon, everyone is speculating about who will replace him on the Today Show in 2019. And some of the suggestions are certainly out of the box.
Woman's Day predicted months ago that Karl's days on Channel Nine's breakfast TV were numbered. At the time, the network publicly claimed that the host was safe.
Karl himself even laughed on air recently about the barrage of reports that was claiming - correctly now, it seems - he was about to be axed, but privately the Today host was struggling to understand how he' became one of the most unpopular stars on the small screen.
"He's incredibly cocky, but the negative press has been relentless, and even he has to wonder how it all went so wrong so quickly," one TV executive told Woman's Day in October.
"And with Today's ratings at an all-time low, it doesn't take a genius to work out he needs to go."
And today Karl, honeymooning with second wife Jasmine in Aspen, found out in no uncertain terms that all those rumours were true. The announcement of his axing followed news earlier today that his brother Peter Stefanovic was departing the network to "explore new opportunities".

Meet the contenders

Most of the speculation has centred on these two: radio talkback star Ben Fordham, who has a warm relationship with both viewers and Georgie, and Adelaide-based Nine newsreader Brenton Ragless, who filled in for Karl at Christmas last year has the support of senior management.
Ben has long been considered the front-runner but in recent weeks Brenton has taken the lead as the hot favourite. Sources say that Nine will probably test him over the summer rather than jump straight in with a formal appointment.
But it's this other radical theory that has insiders buzzing: that Channel 9 might even trial an all-woman line-up on Today next year. Speculation is that Nine is considering pairing Georgie Gardner, the current co-host, with another woman with the favourites being Sarah Harris, who would be lured from Ten, and 9 News presenter Deb Knight - "Although Sam Armytage could also be a contender," a source says.
Meet the front-runners! Brenton Ragless (R) is a hot favourite.

Karl's downhill slide

Karl's popularity plummeted after he walked out of his 21-year marriage to Cassandra Thorburn, who is the mum of his three children, and hooked up with shoe designer Jasmine Yarbrough, who he's planning to marry in Mexico in December.
His relationship with Jasmine, who is 10 years his junior and who he married in Mexico earlier this month, along with the way their relationship played out so publicly, hurt Karl's standing with female viewers.
WATCH: Karl's rumoured replacement Brenton Ragless in action. Post continues...
There is also speculation that his extravagant wedding at One&Only Palmilla resort in San Jose del Cabo also helped cement Karl's axing from Today.
His stocks plummeted even further when he was caught out sledging popular co-star Georgie Gardner in the now infamous Ubergate conversation with his brother Peter, co-host of Weekend Today.
Karl and Georgie's relationship suffered after the Ubergate scandal.

Humiliated

The damning report in the newspaper quoted senior sources at Nine saying Karl was to be told last week that he won't be returning to Today next year, despite his $2 million salary.
Other Nine sources say Georgie Gardner was also reassured that she wouldn't be working with Karl next year – after he humiliated her with offensive comments in the Ubergate scandal.
The two main contenders for his role are radio talkback star Ben Fordham, who has a warm relationship with both viewers and Georgie, and is considered the front-runner.
While Ninja Warrior host Ben Fordham is another potential contender.

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