‘No chance’: Brutal update on Lisa Wilkinson’s future at Channel 10

The relationship between Channel 10 and its once-marquee star Lisa Wilkinson has collapsed so spectacularly that she was refused an appearance this week on the show she once led.

And after 18 turbulent and damaging months, there’s “no chance” the veteran broadcaster will return to screens on the network, despite a major legal vindication.

On Monday, in the immediate aftermath of the landmark ruling against Bruce Lehrmann in his multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit against Ten and Ms Wilkinson, she asked to be interviewed on The Project that night.

Outside court, the jubilant veteran broadcaster told a media scrum: “Today, the Federal Court has found that I published a true story about a rape in a federal minister’s office in March of 2019.”

Simultaneously, in a statement, a Ten spokesperson declared the result a “triumph for truth”.

But despite the network’s celebratory tone, news.com.au can reveal there was zero interest in allowing a key player in its court battle a chance to revel in the glow.

“Lisa thinking she could just go back on air … after she burnt everyone on that show. It’s just so far from reality that it’s not funny,” a well-placed Ten insider told news.com.au.

Colleagues and executives were said to be hurt by Ms Wilkinson’s testimony during the trial that seemed to put much of the responsibility for producing the Brittany Higgins story onto others.

But outside court, the source said it was once again “me, me, me” from Ms Wilkinson, with no mention of those who produced the bombshell story – nor a mention of Ms Higgins herself.

“Lisa’s colleagues are embarrassed yet unsurprised that Lisa has made this week’s judgment all about herself,” the source said.

“Lisa claimed all of the credit for the Brittany Higgins story during her speech at the Logies [in 2022], backflipped in court and threw her colleagues under the bus claiming she was nothing more than autocue reader, before another stunning backflip on the steps of the courthouse again claiming credit for the story.

“Lisa has made it all about Lisa – again. It’s quite astounding.”

Lisa Wilkinson addresses media outside Federal Court

News.com.au has been told that those in power at Ten want “nothing” to do with Ms Wilkinson and she will formally exit the network when her contract ends in December.

Had she appeared on air this week, it would’ve been for the first time since she left her co-host role at The Project in November 2022.

Despite having produced no work for Ten since, Ms Wilkinson continues to be paid a rumoured $1.7 million per year salary, although it’s understood that eye-watering figure was negotiated down from a much higher package originally negotiated when she joined Ten in early 2018.

Well-placed insiders tell news.com.au that the fallout over Mr Lehrmann’s lawsuit and how arrangements were made to defend it have broken relations beyond repair.

At the beginning of Mr Lehrmann’s defamation proceedings, Ms Wilkinson engaged her own high-profile legal team after feeling Ten didn’t have her best interests at heart.

A separate stoush erupted when Ms Wilkinson filed a claim in court against Ten, seeking that it pay the cost of her representation, which included high-profile barrister Sue Chrysanthou.

Documents filed in the federal court related to that dispute detailed a telephone call between Ms Wilkinson and Ten’s chief executive Beverley McGarvey.

“She was almost immediately upset and started talking about her legal fees and how she would have to sell her house,” Ms McGarvey wrote in a note to colleagues in June 2023.

“She is being paid by us on full salary and lives in a lavish multimillion-dollar home with a pool and a tennis court and harbour views, so I hope this is not a real risk.”

Ms McGarvey claimed the star was hysterical and “made irrational claims about our choice of lawyers, because they work for News Corp”.

News Corp Australia is the publisher of this website. Ten’s lawyer Justin Quill also advises mastheads like The Australian.

Ms Wilkinson ultimately won her bid for Ten to foot the bill for her lawyers, which is rumoured to have cost up to $2 million in the end.

It’s understood Ten will now seek to recoup costs from Mr Lehrmann following his defeat.

But news.com.au has been told the months of fighting over who would pay Ms Wilkinson’s legal bills saw her once-close relationship with Ms McGarvey break down.

It’s understood the pair are no longer on speaking terms.

Sources say Ms Wilkinson has been pushing “behind the scenes” to resume some kind of on-air presence at Ten now that legal proceedings are over.

When she left The Project, her celebrity agent Nick Fordham wrote to Ms McGarvey, in correspondence tendered in court, about her desire to front an interview series.

Mr Fordham said his client would chase interviewees like “Michelle Obama, world leaders and A+ list celebrities”.

“Lisa’s contract is for work on The Project, and to soften the very real blow this change will have on Lisa’s standing and reputation in the industry, we insist that Lisa’s future celebrity interviews, stories and coverage of international events appear on The Project,” he wrote.

“We would also require Lisa to be guaranteed major world-event postings for The Project covering things as next year’s coronation of King Charles. As you have mentioned, Lisa shines on the road.”

The interview series never eventuated.

News.com.au has been told there is “absolutely no chance” Ms Wilkinson will appear on screen for Ten ever again.

“She has burnt everyone,” the source said. “She’s never coming back.”

Ms Wilkinson was approached for comment for this story via her agent, Mr Fordham.

A spokesperson for Ten said: “Lisa Wilkinson is still an employee of Network Ten.”

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