Almost a year after quitting The Project, Lisa Wilkinson has all but disappeared from the public eye, and as she awaits the highly publicised defamation trial over the Brittany Higgins case to begin in November.
Lisa, 63, was set to be the keynote speaker at a women in business event in Albury Wodonga next month, but she cancelled last week and comedian Em Rusciano was announced as her replacement.
Lisa has been laying low since Bruce Lehrmann sued her and Ten over the interview aired on The Project in early 2021, in which Brittany first made the claims to Lisa that she was raped by a “male colleague” in Parliament House in 2019.
Ongoing court battle
The unwanted attention only escalated in June, when Lisa won a Logie for her coverage of the Higgins case, and her speech caused the criminal trial to be delayed.
There’s no doubt that 2023 has been a vastly different year professionally for Lisa.
While the bubbly journalist has been a fixture on our screens for years, first as Karl Stefanovic’s breakfast show co-host and more recently as a regular on The Project, Lisa’s media gigs lately have been scarce.
Once filled with fun social snaps and photos from her exciting work events, Lisa’s Instagram has also been notably quiet of late.
Her last post was in August, and was a tribute to late presenter Michael Parkinson.
An insider tells Woman’s Day that Lisa has lost touch with media allies such as Karl.
While the former Today co-hosts are on friendly terms – and Karl even had a weekly tennis date with Lisa’s husband Peter FitzSimons – the pair now don’t see each other often except for at industry events, and much of their communication would be reduced to text messages.
Adding to her stress, Lisa has also had the issue of her safety to think about after recordings of her conversation with Brittany were leaked.
Soon after the scandal, which Lisa apologised for, her Sydney mansion was being patrolled by security.
She admitted to her fans, “I’m human, and I don’t always get it right, none of us do… I’ve given this job everything I have.”
Hideaway in France
Throughout the tough times, Lisa has had a safe haven to escape to – France, which she and Peter visit every few years.
Peter has had a long connection with the country since he lived there for four years in his rugby days, and Woman’s Day can reveal that mid-year, the couple had plans to spend August there.
While it remains to be seen if Lisa will return to our screens, TV expert Rob McKnight says a comeback is possible – with time.
“Lisa could eventually make a return to TV, but there needs to be a lot of water under the bridge for that to happen,” Rob says, adding that while he doesn’t think there’s a place for her on breakfast TV any more, she proved her popularity on Today.
”Lisa really became a household name after teaming up with Karl – she was the perfect foil for him, lifting him up when needed and keeping him in check.”Rob adds, ”The ABC would be the most likely fit – if they wanted to do a stunt.”