He could once balance serious investigations and skewering politicians. Now, Karl Stefanovic has been cast as the silly buffoon, writes Mike Colman.
He could once balance serious investigations and skewering politicians. Now, Karl Stefanovic has been cast as the silly buffoon, writes Mike Colman.

Hey Today, bring back the old Karl. Spare us this giggler

OPINION

Is someone trying to kill Karl Stefanovic?

I don't mean kill-kill, I mean career kill. It's the only conclusion I can come to from watching him on the Today show recently.

I mean surely no-one would carry on the way he is if they weren't following instructions.

Either way something's going on.

I've never met Karl but people I know who have tell me he's a very nice chap, and over the years I've always considered him a very sensible, competent journalist.

Actually, more than just competent. He's damn good.

His serious investigations for Sixty Minutes were first class and he's an outstanding political interviewer. Some of his interrogations of candidates during various election campaigns were amongst the best I've seen.

The way he starts off all friendly and charming and then goes in for the kill, eyes cold and refusing to let them side step a question is like watching a cat play with a mouse before delivering the coup de grace.

That dual personality act - every mother's favourite naughty little boy one minute and every politician's worst nightmare the next (plus of course his chemistry with Lisa Wilkinson) was what made Today a winner back in the day.

Now for some reason they've decided to dial back serious Karl and go with full-on buffoon Karl.

Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon hosting the Today show. Picture: David Geraghty / The Australian
Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon hosting the Today show. Picture: David Geraghty / The Australian

It's like at their planning meetings someone says to him and his co-host Allison Langdon: "Okay guys, here's how we're going to play it this month - Karl you carry on like a grinning idiot and Ally, you humiliate him at every possible opportunity. We'll start with Ally revealing that Karl sends fan mail to Nick Kyrgios and then Karl, you go all red and dissolve into uncontrollable giggling.

"Then we're going to do a serious piece about the coronavirus. Ally, you report that some poor Englishman has been revealed as the super spreader of the potential pandemic threatening to kill hundreds of thousands around the world and Karl, you find this hilarious, go all red and dissolve into uncontrollable giggling.

"We're also doing a live show from Kangaroo Island in the wake of the bushfires. Now Karl, we're going all serious on this one, so instead of the uncontrollable giggling we've decided to dress you in a shirt that's a couple of sizes too small, perch you uncomfortably on a stool, undo one of the bottom buttons and have your tummy poke out - but don't worry, wardrobe and make-up have been instructed that under no circumstances are they to fix it up during the ad breaks.

"And let's see, what else is there? Oh yeah, we've got Jason Alexander who played George in Seinfeld. Not much for you to do in this one Ally, it's pretty much all Karl. You know the routine mate, every time he mentions an episode, character or famous line from the show you repeat it, go all red and dissolve into uncontrollable giggling.

"Any questions?"

Karl Stefanovic questions Foreign Minister Julie Bishop after she refuses to confirm if Australia will take 10,000 more Syrian refugees. Picture: Supplied
Karl Stefanovic questions Foreign Minister Julie Bishop after she refuses to confirm if Australia will take 10,000 more Syrian refugees. Picture: Supplied

Now obviously I'm not seriously suggesting that someone at Channel 9 is purposely sabotaging the career of one of the network's highest paid personalities - although it has happened in the industry before. I actually wrote about just such a situation involving one of Australian TV's biggest female stars back in the 1990s, and just this week I finished reading a book about a US TV writer-producer whose successful career was effectively ended by an executive who had taken a dislike to him.

Of course nothing like that is happening to Karl. He's just gone overly silly, that's all - and Nine head of news Darren Wick says "hand on heart" that he isn't bothered by Today's abysmal ratings.

Although maybe he should be, because unless they make some changes pretty soon they'll have to do more than just give away a house to make people watch.



ROUGH LANDING: Future uncertain for Ballina airport

premium_icon ROUGH LANDING: Future uncertain for Ballina airport

Passenger numbers, income expected to drop dramatically

‘It's like saying pubs are open but... we can fine you’

premium_icon ‘It's like saying pubs are open but... we can fine you’

Byron Shire’s mayor explains why he wants the NSW border closed

Adorable note from local boy to Premier about Easter Bunny

Adorable note from local boy to Premier about Easter Bunny

"I can leave hand wash out for him if you say he is allowed to come"