TV

Today show bombshell: Karl Stefanovic's coming back!

With Today's ratings in freefall, could Nine throw a lifeline to Karl Stefanovic to rescue the breakfast TV show?

Just three months ago it was unthinkable that Karl could ever make a comeback to Today after he was given the boot and very publically blamed for its demise after months of lurid headlines about his love life.
Yet just last week rumours swept the TV industry that Karl's on the verge of a comeback to breakfast TV as Channel Nine executives search for a way to save Today, which has lost a thousands of viewers since Georgie Gardner and Deb Knight were made co-hosts.
"Karl's comeback could be the story of the year," predicts Rob McKnight, who is the former executive producer of Studio 10 and host of the controversial TV Blackbox podcast.
"Nine have to face up to the fact it was a mistake to get rid of him."
Channel Nine insiders last week confirmed that Deb has long been close to Karl, supporting him behind the scenes when his career was in crisis late last year – and remains "fond" of him, and has always enjoyed working with him.
"There's virtually no chemistry between Georgie and Deb, but Karl and Deb work well together and have a sense of humour which resonates with viewers, where-as Georgie is still seen as a bit too prim and proper," one insider says.
Deb and Karl have great on-screen chemistry. (Image: @thetodayshow Instagram)
"No-one thought it could get any worse than the combination of Karl and Georgie but the combination of Deb and Georgie is a train wreck. It's at crisis point here at Nine and no-one on Today is happy."
Rob says the problem with Today can't be blamed on one person, it's just that Georgie and Deb don't work well together.
"Georgie is a solid performer but she needs a co-host who can be outlandish, create headlines and moments that go viral – and no-one in the current line-up is that person, despite their other qualities."
Radio silence: Deb and Georgie don't speak to each other off air. (Image: Today Show)
"Georgie is the school mam who needs a naughty school boy to be strict with. That kind of dynamic could actually work. The problem is she and Karl just don't like each other. Deb is also a good, solid performer but she and Georgie are very similar so there's a sense of blandness."
Other sources last week confirmed that Deb and Georgie rarely interact once the cameras aren't rolling.
"It's not that they don't like each other, but I do find it telling that they rarely spend time together off air."
Rob says Karl was "devastated" when he was dropped from Today, but is more than ready for a comeback.
"He was a broken man so Nine made their point and I know he would be hungry to again prove he can do a good job," he says.
Karl would love to revive his TV career. (Image: Media Mode)
"Now that he's been through the worst year of his life, he could come back, reconnect with viewers and really help get the show back on track. Nine promised a brand new show when they launched Today (with Georgie and Deb) in January and all we got was more of the same, just with different presenters.
"Breakfast TV is more than just news, it's personality driven and should also be fun. Today has lost its sense of fun."
He does, however, reject the calls from disgruntled viewers to axe the show altogether.
"To fix the show I would look at a new format and move it to Melbourne," he says.
"The Melbourne audience are very loyal to shows made in their hometown and I think that move would immediately improve the ratings."
"I do believe the show can be saved but Nine will have to bite the bullet and make more big changes. I know people will disagree with that and say they have already made too many changes but the problem is the changes they made were the wrong changes."
Rob says Karl should never have been sacked and that if he was making the decisions at Nine he would have poached Sarah Harris from Studio Ten and paired the two of them together.
"They are my dream team," he says.
One Nine insider dismissed the persistent rumour that the network had looked at poaching Sarah Harris but agreed bringing back Karl could help salvage Today, which now has 100,000 less viewers than its arch rival, Channel Seven's Sunrise.
"The current line-up is all wrong," he says.
"I can see Deb and Karl working well together as co-hosts with Georgie doing what she does best and returning to reading the news on Today. Tom [Steinfort] should be out on the road doing special reports and Dickie should be brought back to do entertainment."

read more from