With a bitter feud between its panellists, ratings in free fall, savage budget cuts and a pending breach of contract court case, Network Ten’s breakfast TV flagship Studio 10 could soon be toast.
‘I would be very worried if I was working on Studio 10,’ one media commentator tells New Idea. ‘This should all be a massive wake-up call. At one stage, the show had a cult following, but does it have a future now?
‘The budget is being slashed, ratings are down to 2016 levels after four years of continuous gain, and viewer favourites like Jono Coleman and Susie Elelman have been quietly sidelined. It’s outrageous.’
The snap, crackle and pop crisis follows the infamous ‘brussels sprout incident’ in which Denise ‘Ding Dong’ Drysdale hurled buttered vegetables at Ita Buttrose – and allegedly also tried to stick an asparagus spear up her co-host’s nose, leaving the former Cleo editor in tears.
Ita has confirmed that there were ‘shenanigans on the set’ filming a Christmas special late last year, but denies any ongoing tension.
‘We all get on well. I mean, we’ve been getting on well ever since we all started,’ she told Kyle and Jackie O on radio last week. ‘I don’t know where all this nonsense is coming from. It’s just someone beefing up something that happened last year.’
None of the other regular panellists – Jessica Rowe, Joe Hildebrand and Sarah Harris, who is now on maternity leave – were available for comment.
But Studio 10 insiders reveal, off-camera, the warring cast has divided into two camps, with Ding Dong and her ally Jessica facing off against the other three stars.
‘Denise was jealous of Ita from the moment she joined the show, because she wants to be the big star,’ according to one production source.
‘From the get-go, she tried to get the format changed so it better suited her talents.
When that failed to her satisfaction, and when she wasn’t given her own dressing room, she just became bitter.
‘She openly tells people she’s only doing Studio 10 for the money, to pay off her house, and she’s joined forces with Jessica, who unfortunately follows her lead. It’s devastating for the other three regular panellists, who love the show and still have a great commitment to making it work.’
Everything went crackers filming the festive special in November last year. ‘There was eggnog on set and Denise was getting into the spirit of the occasion,’ show business reporter Peter
Ford coyly told Kyle and Jackie O. ‘Denise and Ita hate each other’s guts. It’s like Alexis and Krystle back in Dynasty days. They refuse to talk to each other off-air, and refuse to talk to each other on-air, although they fake it when they have to.’
Executive producer Rob McKnight was sacked following the brussels sprout affair, but his breach of contract court case against the network could see the program’s dirty secrets aired in court. A Ten spokesman slammed reports of any feud.
‘Ita and Denise have the highest respect for one another and thoroughly enjoy working as part of the Studio 10 family together. To suggest otherwise is nonsense and deliberately mischievous.’
Meanwhile, the antics continue, with Denise reportedly refusing to sit next to Ita on the Studio 10 panel this year.
‘How often do your hosts get moved around on set?’ one insider asked. ‘It never happens. The fact that they moved Ita away from Ding Dong speaks volumes about what’s going on.
‘They’re trying to make out the sprouts thing was all in fun. It wasn’t. Ita is a classy lady with a great sense of humour and she would always get a joke. This was something else. Everyone involved could see the dislike in Denise’s eyes.’
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