Larry Emdur hit a career low withCelebrity Dog School, but the master of re-invention is now one of TV's most loved hosts.
It was not so long ago that Larry Emdur was the butt of jokes in Australian television circles.
Finding himself jobless — yet again — after the axing ofWheel of Fortune, the TV presenter had to sit back and cop it as a placard-wielding Rove McManus, from the rival Ten Network, launched a tongue-in-cheek crusade to "Save Larry Emdur".
Then cameCelebrity Dog School, a dog of a show, which Larry hosted for just three episodes in 2007 before it, too, was canned.
"You know times are tough when you end up doingCelebrity Dog School," says legendary TV producer Adam Boland, chuckling.
Even Larry's sister, the acclaimed artist Martine Emdur, admits that the close-knit family has had some "serious giggles at his expense" over the years.
Yet, these days, it is Larry who is having the last laugh — all the way to the bank.
When we meet, Larry has just wrapped up another episode of the infomercial-packedThe Morning Show, which over the years has seen him rap with Vanilla Ice, strut the catwalk with Australian supermodel Alyssa Sutherland and get naked under the covers while discussing the sexual droughts of married couples.
"When I'm driving to work each day, I know it's going to be fun, it's going to be different," he says. "That's the beauty of it."
Larry says nobody — least of all him — predictedThe Morning Show'ssuccess when it launched in 2007, immediately knocking Australia's daytime TV queen Kerri-Anne Kennerley off her ratings throne.
He had planned to give the show six months "to see how it worked out", but a month into the new gig, he went home to his wife, Sylvie, and told her he could see himself doing it for the next decade.
He had found a place, outside the "boxing ring" of prime-time TV, where he could have fun, use his creative talents — and still be home for the school run.
Friends and family speak of Larry's devotion to his family — to Sylvie, their children Jye, 17, and Tia, 12, and his wider family.
He lives within five minutes of his mother, his sister, Martine, and her young son, Asher, and of his psychologist sister, Nicole, and her four children.
"We spend a lot of time together and Laz and Sylvie are still holding hands and kissing at the dinner table," says Martine. "They still look at each other with googly eyes!"
Last year, Larry whipped his wife off to Bora Bora to renew their wedding vows after 15 years of marriage.
"The business is so crazy and all-consuming," he says, "and she's been so supportive. I just wanted to tell her that I love her and to make it special."
Adam Boland, who is now a consultant and director of social media and strategy with Seven, predicts the network will use Larry for special broadcasts, such as New Year's Eve. "He's back from the wilderness in a big way."
Read more of this story in the October issue of The Australian Women's Weekly.