Lisa Wilkinson, 57-year-old Australian TV personality and journalist of more than 36 years, announced on Twitter on Monday night that she was resigning from the Today show, effective immediately.
Rumours have been circulating for some time that Wilkinson was seeking pay parity with male co-host Karl Stefanovic, who was reportedly being paid almost twice Wilkinson’s salary.
With reports that Nine CEO Hugh Marks was “eager to re-sign the star”, The Daily Telegraph reported that “this could be her best and last chance to achieve pay parity”. But it seems that eagerness wasn’t enough, and neither was the pay packet.
Wilkinson broke the news on her Twitter account, including an image of a statement from Channel Nine in her post.
“I have some news,” Wilkinson wrote. “I’m sad to say that today was my last day on [the Today show]. The following statement is from Channel Nine…”
“Nine today confirmed we have been unable to meet the expectations of Lisa Wilkinson and her manager on a contract renewal for a further period,” the Channel Nine statement begins.
While it went on to praise Wilkinson for helping take “the show to the success it is today” and wish her well for the future, fans immediately guessed that Wilkinson’s expectations had come down to the pay difference.
It wasn’t long before they had something to celebrate: the TV icon announced just one hour later that she would be making the move to Channel 10 as a new co-host of The Project, and heading up its newest expansion, The Sunday Project.
“Thanks so much to everyone for all your lovely messages. I have some more news. This statement is from [Channel Ten]. I’m absolutely thrilled.”
Channel Ten’s glowing statement praised Wilkinson as “one of the most respected journalists and television presenters in Australia”, with “a reputation that is second to none”.
Wilkinson served as co-host on the Today show for a decade, celebrating her 10-year anniversary on-air earlier this year with a trip back to her hometown.
Wilkinson also recently renewed her vows with husband of 25 years Peter FitzSimons. They had spent some time honeymooning in Byron Bay, and Wilkinson returned to the Today show for just one morning before announcing that she was calling it quits.
In the aftermath of Wilkinson’s resignation, Stefanovic is hosting the Today show with Deborah Knight as a stand-in.
“It came as a bit of a shock to us,” Stefanovic said on the show.
In a later segment, he delivered an emotional tribute to his co-star, who “dragged herself out of bed at 3.30 in the morning” for 10 years.
“She handled the brutal hours with grace, beauty and intelligence and a wicked sense of humour. For whatever reason she won’t be doing that anymore. It is safe to say we are all a little shocked and it will take time to sink in,” Stefanovic said.
He went on to thank Wilkinson for “the laughs, the sage advice, the calmness” among many other things.
“The rest I will leave for you when I see you, but whatever you do and wherever you go, you do so having made your mark on this show and on this man.
“Mostly you go with my love, lots of love, all my love. We will see you soon, maybe after midday. Enjoy the sleep-ins.”