Entertainment TV MasterChef’s Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston could go to Seven without George Calombaris
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MasterChef’s Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston could go to Seven without George Calombaris

Gary Mehigan Matt Preston George Calombaris
Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston and George Calombaris are "like family", said Justine May from ChefsInk. Photo: Instagram
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Former MasterChef judges Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan have not signed a deal with the Seven network that would see them ditch George Calombaris, according to industry sources.

But Seven has refused to comment on reports its new CEO James Warburton wants to ink a deal with just Preston and Mehigan for a new cooking show next year.

The high-profile trio was axed from MasterChef by Ten in July, with their replacements expected to be announced next month.

Seven did not respond to The New Daily’s repeated requests to discuss the Mehigan and Preston claim, made by the The Sydney Morning Herald.

Justine May from talent management agency ChefsInk, which represents Mehigan, said her client and Preston have no plans to throw Calombaris to the wolves.

“Absolutely not. The boys remain as tight as ever,” Ms May told The New Daily.

“They do have different priorities and at times that means they won’t always do stuff together, but their priority is to have one tentpole series that they do which will continue this amazing brand they’ve built up.

“Their next big project, the thing they will aim for in the long term, is one they will do together.”

She said “nothing at all” in the way of a deal has been signed despite “unprecedented” interest in the trio.

“We’re looking at all our options, talking to lots of people,” Ms May said.

“I suppose the boys just want to make sure the next step is the right one for everyone, that they’re there for a while, and it’s something that allows them to be involved creatively as well.”

Mehigan, 52, Preston, 57, and Calombaris, 40, are “like family”, Ms May said.

“That’s not hype. They have their catch ups where the kids know each other, the wives know each other. It’s a pretty special relationship.”

Mr Warburton wants Preston and Mehigan on board as part of his plan to breathe new life into Seven, a source told Fairfax.

Seven has been overtaken by Nine in the 2019 ratings battle after disappointments with shows including The Proposal and The Super Switch.

The network’s “highly-sensitive” programming strategy is still being thrashed out before Seven’s October 23 upfronts event, where next year’s line-up of shows will be presented to advertisers and media.

Ten showed the MasterChef trio the door after negotiations over a new contract failed.

Mehigan, Preston and Calombaris wanted a 40 per cent increase on their $1 million paycheques, it was claimed.

At the same time, Calombaris was mired in controversy after his restaurant empire Made Establishment underpaid staff nearly $8 million.

Ten denied the public outcry and adverse publicity did not affect its decision to part ways with its long-time stars.

Preston has been holidaying in Portugal. His manager Henrie Stride said he is contracted to Ten until 2019 and is not in discussions with Seven.

“International opportunities are our priority,” Ms Stride told the SMH.

Mehigan, meanwhile, is enjoying the “really good opportunity to sit and breathe for the first time in 11 years,” Ms May said.

“He’s constantly reminding me he’s the busiest working person in the industry and that he wants to potter in the garden and walk the dogs and spend time with the family.

“He’s gone home to spend time with his parents in the UK and had some commitments he’s had to finish off with his latest cookbook and podcast but he’s just enjoying not having a really busy schedule.”

Mehigan admitted he and Preston feared for Calombaris after the underpaying scandal and the MasterChef shock.

“We were worried about his mental health – I just thought no human can go through all this and come out in one piece at the end of it,” Mehigan told the Daily Telegraph.

“But he’s in a much better place now. He’s focused entirely on the business and leaving MasterChef is good for him at the moment.”

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