Not many jobs come with a second spouse. Then again, hosting the Today show is no ordinary job – just ask Karl and Lisa,who are so close they consider each other family.
When producers convinced publishing legend Lisa Wilkinson to take a seat beside Today show host Karl Stefanovic two years ago, they were hoping the couple would click and, as a result, arrest declining ratings.
Not only did they get what they wanted, they got a whole lot more. The two hosts didn’t just gel – they quickly grew so close they now refer to each other as my “second wife” and my “second husband”.
Like most people in close relationships, Lisa and Karl finish each others’ sentences, can tell what the other is thinking and poke fun at perceived foibles.
Yet, both remain happily married to spouses of theirown, who not only approve but encourage their other half’s on-and-off-air relationship – something Karl, in particular, admits he’s very thankful for.
You see, Lisa’s husband of 17 years is author, journalist and burly former Wallabies star Peter FitzSimons – not the type of guy you want off-side.
No-one was more aware of this than Lisa, who promptly organised a couples’ dinner soon after accepting the job, inviting Karl and Cassie, his wife and the mother of his three children.
“Cassie and I clicked straight away,” Lisa, also a mother of three, explains of the fateful evening. Meanwhile, Karl had to undergo a full FitzSimons interrogation before the big man was happy to accept his wife’s new on-the-job partner.
“Man, did he grill me!” Karl recalls with a laugh. “It’s like 400 questions from Peter – one firing after the other without a pause.
I mean, I’ve got the utmost respect for the guy, but he managed to ask me a question the moment I put a cube of cheese in my mouth ... every time. Then he’d wait, while I chewed, for my answer.”
Lisa smiles knowingly. “Karl looked at me halfway through the evening like, ‘Is working with you really worth this?’”
“You know,” Karl adds, seriously, “The beauty is that we are all journos – Pete, Cass, Lisa, me. We aren’t just in the business – we absolutely live it and love it.”
Lisa wholeheartedly agrees: “Yes, we both really lucked out with our partners, because they totally understand that Karl’s and my relationship is so important for the show, and that people know us as a duo. In fact, I think Peter and Cass are pretty happy to kick us out of bed in the mornings and send us off to each other – ‘Out you go!’”
For the full story see this week's Woman's Day, on sale March 8, 2010.
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