It’s been a rocky few weeks for Lisa Wilkinson, as the high-profile host of The Project weathers a media firestorm over her tell-all memoir, It Wasn’t Meant to be Like This.
The 61-year-old’s long-awaited autobiography was intended to set the record straight about her shock departure from the Today show in 2017. Instead, it has reignited the debate about the gender pay gap between herself and former co-anchor Karl Stefanovic. More damagingly, the book launch has also sparked a run of negative headlines that have fuelled public perception that the award-winning presenter is motivated by making money.
Wilkinson was conspicuously absent from The Project on Sunday night (November 21), with The Australian sharing “reliable” reports that the embattled host wouldn’t return to the ailing Channel 10 programme until “around December 5”.
But a video released by the Ten network yesterday (Monday, November 22) heavily hints that Wilkinson’s career woes may be about to get worse.
The two-minute extended network promo spotlights viewer highlights for 2022. While The Project trailer heavily features regular hosts, Carrie Bickmore, Waleed Aly and Peter Hellier, Wilkinson does not appear.
The startling omission has sparked industry speculation that Ten’s highest-paid presenter may be facing the chop in the New Year.
“Despite its ‘soft” ratings in 2021, The Project is featured heavily in the 2021 network trailer,” wrote entertainment platform TV Blackbox. “But we can only assume someone forgot to include the network’s highest-paid presenter, Lisa Wilkinson.”
The video also prompted well-known entertainment reporter Peter Ford to ask?
“She is reportedly the highest-paid TV star in Australia yet there is not even a glimpse of Lisa Wilkinson in 10 Network promo for 2022. Her colleagues from The Project all feature. That’s not an oops that’s a calculated decision & usually ends in tears.”
Why is LISA WILKINSON missing from Channel 10’s big new 2022 promo? – TV Blackbox https://t.co/OXCRq2WY4q
— Peter Ford (@mrpford) November 22, 2021
According to The Australian, Ten sources explained that Wilkinson’s current on-screen absence was “simply a well-earned break, before she takes the reins as The Project’s main female weekday host over the Christmas/New Year period when Carrie Bickmore is off”.
“Still, the general feeling around Ten is that there’s no harm in a bit of a reset for its flagship panel show, after a bruising month of headlines about Wilkinson,” continued The Australian diary snippet.
“Wilkinson’s holiday could be just the circuit-breaker the show’s flagging ratings need, in the wake of the media circus that has accompanied the controversial book’s release.”