Surprise star tapped for Today show
As rumours swirl that the Today show is considering a new line-up in 2020 in a bid to boost the show's poor ratings, news.com.au can reveal which Aussie star was recently tapped to "fill in" on the show.
Funny man Andy Lee, whose latest show Hamish and Andy's Perfect Holiday launches in a couple of weeks on Channel 9, was recently approached by the network to have a crack at co-hosting the breakfast TV show, a source told news.com.au.
Lee has a long-standing relationship with Channel 9 and regularly appears on the Today show to promote his various TV and radio shows and kids books.
The invite for Lee to "fill in" is significant because it comes at a time when Channel 9 is "looking at their options", according to TV Blackbox editor Rob McKnight who has worked at Channel 7, 9 and 10 and is best known for creating and producing Studio 10.
"I think we're at a 50/50 split as to whether the line-up will change next year," McKnight told news.com.au.
"Nine right now are looking at their options. It's no surprise to anyone that Nine would be sitting back and going, 'Do we continue with what we've got and try and evolve it or do we start again?'
"It's quite possible they haven't made that final decision, but there's no doubt conversations are taking place about scenario A, B, C and D."
It's not known if Hamish Blake has also been approached to fill in. But could one of those scenarios be for Hamish and Andy, one of the most successful duos in Australian media history, to co-anchor the show amid a team of journalists? According to McKnight, that could actually work.
"Hamish and Andy on the Today show would be something refreshing to watch," he told news.com.au. "On the proviso that when you are doing a serious topic it's the news team (running the coverage) and then when you start getting lighter you introduce the comedy element.
"Today show is at the point where they would have nothing to lose if they started again," McKnight said. "That's not to criticise the people that are working on it at the moment, but the fact is they blew it up and it's failed."
A revamped Today show launched at the start of the year with Deb Knight and Georgie Gardner as the main co-hosts. Tom Steinfort replaced Sylvia Jeffreys as newsreader and Brooke Boney took over some of Richard Wilkins' entertainment reporting responsibilities.
But the show has struggled in the ratings all year and is consistently and comprehensively beaten by Channel 7's Sunrise.
The dire ratings have fuelled speculation that the show would once again be shaken up at the end of 2019.
THE MAIN CONTENDERS
Karl Stefanovic, who was axed from Today in December last year, could return to the breakfast show next year in a move that would all but guarantee a ratings spike for Channel 9.
"Karl coming back to the show will absolutely have a positive effect and will draw initial interest," McKnight told news.com.au. "But if Karl goes back into the same show that it is now, it will be destined to fail.
"This is an opportunity for Nine to look at the format of Today and go, 'What can we do that will differentiate ourselves to Sunrise?'
"Karl is the ace up their sleeve that they still have. The question is whether or not they will do it," McKnight said.
Earlier this week radio star Kyle Sandilands urged Channel 9 to give Stefanovic another crack on Today, telling news.com.au: "If they put Karl back in there as the main host with those two female co-anchors, that thing would kick a**e, everyone knows it.
"It's as if they (Channel 9 executives) won't do it because they'll look stupid," Sandilands said. "But you don't need to be a great programmer to realise that if you put Karl back, everything is fixed."
If Stefanovic is reinstated on the program, 60 Minutes star Allison Langdon is firming as a favourite to be his co-host.
Langdon was the main host at Channel 9's Upfronts presentation in Sydney last week in front of clients and media.
According to The Daily Telegraph's Annette Sharp, the showcase was meant to be hosted by Deb Knight but executives changed their minds just a day before and gave the gig to Langdon in what could prove to be a telling move.
"Langdon has long been favoured as a future Today show host and with Nine expected to replace either Knight or her co-host Georgie Gardner - or both - at year's end, rumours have surfaced that Langdon could once again be in executives' sights," Sharp wrote last weekend.
We've compiled a list of potential co-hosts for the Today show in 2020. Vote for your favourite or tell us in the comments below if we've missed a killer combo.