Karl Stefanovic’s camp has denied reports he’s heading back to Today to prop up Nine’s flagging breakfast TV flagship.
The former host is in “secret negotiations” with Nine bosses to thrash out a return to Today, according to Woman’s Day.
But a spokesperson for Stefanovic, 44, slammed the claim as completely false.
“There’s no truth to this rumor whatsoever.
“Karl is not returning to Today, nor are there any talks taking place, secret or otherwise, to that effect,” the spokesperson told the Daily Mail.
The New Daily contacted Stefanovic’s manager Sharon Finnegan for comment.
Nine was also blunt about Stefanovic doing a Lazarus and parachuting back into Today’s host chair: “It’s not true.”
A TV insider told The New Daily Nine didn’t want to give the story oxygen by commenting further, but confirmed it is false.
Since then, he has kept a low profile, posting to his Instagram account just three times this year: to wish brother Tom a happy birthday, to share a photo of him with Yarbrough at a World War I cemetery in France on Anzac Day and to spruik for a Sydney Children’s Hospital charity night.
In that May 25 post, he promised to “smoke” former foreign minister Julie Bishop in the fund-raising stakes. Ms Bishop reportedly took down everyone on the dance floor at Stefanovic’s wedding.
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There’s nothing more precious in our lives than our kids. They have our hearts. When they get sick they deserve everything we’ve got. Very proud to be part of the #GoldDinner Committee 2019 for the Sydney Children’s Hospital. Please donate @Sydney_Kids. P.S. in a battle with @juliebishopmp on the night to raise more money. I’m going to smoke her. @itsmondotcom @dickwin legends xx
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After Stefanovic’s departure, the new-look Today show launched in mid-January.
Deborah Knight, 46, and Georgie Garner, 49, are co-hosts, Tom Steinfort, 35, is newsreader and Brooke Boney, 32, is entertainment reporter. Steve Jacobs, 52, is weatherman.
Since then, the show has been consistently pummelled in the ratings by Seven rival Sunrise. In March, low ratings saw Today’s 246,000 audience fall below that of the ABC’s News Breakfast.
Despite that, Nine’s program director Hamish Turner told The New Daily in May the network wasn’t concerned.
“No, no, Today’s travelling well,” Mr Turner said.
“At the beginning of the year I said, ‘We’re going to have to go through a bit of a rocky ride’. Whenever you have a change of lineup you always have to go through a bit of a teasing period.
“People like routine. They like to wake up with the same people, so it’s a matter of time, finding their place, finding their rhythm. It’s full steam ahead.”
Woman’s Day pre-empted Nine’s denials in its story, but quoted a source as insisting “it’s 100 per cent correct that they are actively chasing Karl to come back”.
“Everyone at the network knows Today needs the TV version of open-heart surgery to even survive.”
Stefanovic, a Gold Logie winner, is expected to return to screens as host of the second season of the network’s This Time Next Year. Filming wrapped in February.
It would be a most unlikely scenario for him to make a comeback to Today, media analyst Steve Allen told The New Daily in May.
“I don’t think so. There was always going to be a risk and a downside in sacking him but Karl, in my view, commenced the downhill run of Today,” Mr Allen said.
“Unfortunately he was mainstream news and for the wrong reasons. They’d already lost a big chunk of the audience and they couldn’t risk losing more.”