Plagued by plummeting ratings and embarrassing scandals, Nine Network bosses finally made moves to save their failing breakfast show by showing its host of 15 years Karl Stefanovic the door.
News of Karl’s departure came just one day after his brother Peter announced he was leaving the network to pursue other “opportunities”.
So, as the network scrambles to replace its on-screen talent, it seems Karl, 44 and Peter, 37, have been left picking up the pieces of their relationship.
Having worked alongside one another for more than 15 years before the controversy surrounding their private lives came under scrutiny, friends are now worried it’s only a matter of time before the high-profile brothers turn on each other in a bid to lay blame for their catastrophic year.
“There is no denying it’s been a stressful time for them both and this kind of pressure is a lot for even the best of mates and brothers to withstand,” a friend tells New Idea.
“Neither of them is innocent in the events that have led to this and cracks have already started to appear.”
Karl’s popularity started to unravel when he left his wife of 20 years, Cassandra Thorburn, 47, in 2016 before starting a relationship with former model Jasmine Yarbrough, 34.
But according to industry insiders it was the late-night conversation with his drunken brother, which has now been dubbed ‘Ubergate’, that ultimately led to his demise. And new wife Jasmine is said to be fuming that it has led to this.
“It was Pete who made the call in the Uber, Pete who put Karl on speaker phone, and Pete who moaned about the job sucking the life out of him,” the insider explains.
“Karl was really offering his brother a bit of a shoulder to cry on but ended up getting drawn into the moaning too.”
With Pete having walked away from the network with no job, New Idea understands he now has his eye set on starting his own entertainment company.
In fact, Pete is believed to have begged his brother Karl to join him on the venture he had been planning as his backup for some time.
Hoping they could make a pact and leave the network together, knowing only too well it was just a matter of time before he was shown the door, Pete was devastated when Karl turned him down.
“Pete knows with Karl’s backing and all of his famous and high-profile contacts it would be better with him involved in the business,” the friend adds. “And he is disappointed Karl didn’t want to go with him.”
Turning his back on his brother and opting to stay with the network, Karl – despite being dropped as host of Today – will play host on reality show This Time Next Year.
“For the last 14 years I’ve co-hosted the best show on television. I can’t thank Nine enough for the opportunity,” Karl said in a statement.
“I look forward to seeing you in another capacity at this great Network soon.”
According to sources, Karl will also front 60 Minutes from time-to-time as part of his new deal.
Some say he may even try his luck on A Current Affair.
“It’s always been the role he wanted but previously bosses didn’t want to lose him from the breakfast slot,” says an insider.
“Now Karl sees it as his second chance.”
But Nine staffers say there is no way Tracy Grimshaw will let her position go without a fight.
“Tracey loves that job and there is no way she would want to give it up after more than 12 years.”