“Mel’s been in their sights before she even left Channel 7. Nine just needed the right project to ease her into the mix,” tells the source.
Interestingly, the insider says phones were running hot between Nine’s stable of talent after last week’s announcement.
“There’s been plenty of nervous faces for all sorts of reasons – mostly because so many of them have contract renewals coming up,” explains the insider, who claims Deb and Karl are the most nervous.
“They’re feeling it the most, especially Deb because the TV component of her contract is up and she’ll be relying wholly on her radio gig at 2GB/4BC.
“Karl isn’t exactly resonating with audiences either,” adds the insider, who says Today is still struggling against rival Sunrise in the ever-raging breakfast TV ratings war.
Meanwhile, Tracy, the longstanding host of A Current Affair, is also said to be a little bit cautious of Mel’s hiring.
Tracy reportedly passed on the offer to do Mel’s prison series and, like her peers, is worried about what her appointment “will turn into”.
The insider notes Tracy’s plum gig hosting ACA has long been eyed off by Karl and even Deb. They now wonder if Mel may be planning to take over if Tracy ever decides to leave after 15 years.
“Mel is so versatile. She does it all and could easily find a new home at Today or ACA. She’s TV royalty, so it’s no wonder they’re all nervous.”
What’s more, Nine News Sydney presenter Georgie Gardner is said to be miffed at being overlooked for Mel’s new gig and is concerned she might get a look-in at her own role.
“She’s worried Mel will be hanging around – claws will be out if anyone tries to roll Georgie,” laughs the source.
While Mel is a prized TV talent, the insider maintains it’s little to do with who Mel is and more about “how good she is”.
The Nine Network is “elated to be able to rub Channel 7’s nose in the fact they scooped her up”, adds the insider.
Mel’s prison project sees her teaming up with former police detective, Duncan McNab, who she has worked with on Sunday Night since 2018. And Duncan is thrilled Mel’s fronting the show.
“It’s her time to shine again,” confirms the source.