The Project has been plunged into an all-new crisis, with an ‘insecure and upset’ Carrie Bickmore threatening to quit over new host Lisa Wilkinson.
Well-placed Ten sources tell New Idea exclusively that network bosses are in ‘damage control’ to try and stop Carrie from walking out on the show, ‘panicking’ that their Logie-winning golden girl will quit.
It’s believed the mum-of-two has become increasingly unhappy about Lisa’s role on the show, angry that she’s being sidelined while new host Lisa – whose role on The Project’s Sunday night show has led to improved ratings – is getting her pick of celebrity interviews and junkets.
‘They are having to handle Carrie with kid gloves as they don’t want the worst outcome – i.e. that she spits the dummy and walks,’ a source inside Ten management tells New Idea.
‘They are trying to avoid the magic two words “I quit” – bottom line, they are in Carrie damage control.
‘As Lisa’s ratings and popularity go up on Sundays and with the high-profile interviews, the more insecure and upset Carrie is becoming behind the scenes.
‘She feels let down and hijacked. She is not happy and the high Sunday night ratings featuring Lisa as stand-alone host has escalated her insecurity.
‘Lisa’s junket to Vegas to interview Celine Dion hasn’t gone down well with Carrie.
These high-profile interviews – like Lambie – are p***ing Carrie off.’
While Lisa, 58, and Carrie, 37, have made a point of seeming like a united front on social media and in the public eye, the source tells New Idea that it’s a very different story around the studio.
It’s now claimed Carrie’s animosity over Lisa’s growing role on The Project has relations between the pair reaching an all-time low.
‘While it is all lovey-dovey on social media, it is a different story behind closed doors at Ten,’ the source says. ‘Aside from a few times sitting on the panel together they pass like ships in the night.
‘The Project feud is real, 100 per cent – it’s Lisa vs Carrie. The show is in crisis.’
Also giving Ten bosses headaches is the lack of chemistry between Lisa and fellow host Peter Helliar, who is no longer appearing on the Sunday night edition of The Project.
‘The Sunday ratings [after Lisa joined the show] doubled after one show,’ says the source. ‘Lisa and Peter Hellier’s chemistry just did not work, which is why we have problems on all fronts.’
Now bosses are busy working on a solution to keep Carrie – who’s reportedly locked into a five-year contract with the network – happy.
With Lisa proving to be a ratings winner for the show, they have no choice but to continue to keep her at the forefront of The Project – which is sure to cause problems with Carrie.
‘The ratings speak for themselves, so they have a problem,’ the source says.
‘(After Sunday’s success) we are very worried about managing Carrie. It will not be easy.
‘How will they manage Carrie moving forward? ‘How will they keep their golden girl happy?’
Lisa caused headlines when she walked out on The Today Show over a pay dispute with co-host Karl Stefanovic last year, joining The Project within hours of quitting Nine.
But while all signs pointed to Lisa and Carrie sharing a happy relationship on the show, it seems Ten bosses are now scrambling.
‘The network is panicking,’ says the source.