The major project shake-up continued today with the announcement that Sarah Harris is replacing Carrie Bickmore.
But industry figures are predicting more changes are coming — Tommy Little and Steve Price are rumored to be the next to leave.
The dramatic upheaval has already sparked a lot of speculation that Project cleans up decks to make room for a complete rebrand, including possibly dropping SundayProject generally.
The network has yet to confirm who will fill the void left by Peter Helliar after he unexpectedly left on Monday, but Georgie Tunney will replace Lisa Wilkinson on Fridays and Sundays.
In a statement released today about the new role of Sarah Harris, Channel 10 confirmed that Waleed Ali, Hamish McDonald and Georgie Tunney would continue on the show, but the names of Steve Price and Tommy Little were nowhere to be seen.
Adding fuel to the theory fire, Little will be the next to announce his retirement. Hit Network confirmed last week that the comedian had signed a four-year deal with Carrie Beakmore, the host of the national drive show.
However, News.com.au understands that the two may continue to appear and disappear on the panel and that the rumors they are leaving are false.
TV insiders have hinted that there will be shocking new changes to the series this week, sparking speculation about what’s to come next.
The keepermedia correspondent Amanda Meade tweeted today; “Pull yourself together. There’s more today,” in response to a tweet asking why the panel changes could not be announced “all at once” to avoid speculation.
Elsewhere, Channel 7 entertainment reporter Peter Ford, who accurately predicted that Peter Helliar would leave the show after Wilkinson, has been open about his claims that the network is considering downsizing. Sunday project overall, stating that the show is “failing” due to declining ratings this year.
“This is the last desperate attempt to save it, but whether the brand is already too tarnished, only time will tell,” he said.
Ford also tweeted today that there will be “much more” in regards to mass exits from the program. However, speaking on 6PR Breakfast today after Sarah Harris’ announcement, he said the lineup changes are “starting to settle down.”
The sudden departure of Lisa Wilkinson
The sudden, “immediately effective” departure of Wilkinson from Project this week has been a big surprise for viewers – and it seems like at least one of her co-hosts was caught off guard too.
Helliar, who announced he was leaving the show on Tuesday night, told Nova’s Fitzy and Whippe on Wednesday morning that he had learned of Wilkinson’s resignation shortly before the rest of Australia did.
“I have to say, Lisa took me by surprise on Sunday,” he told radio hosts, admitting he “didn’t know” this was going to happen.
“Actually, I didn’t know about it until Sunday. She wrote to me on Sunday to let me know.”
On Sunday evening, Wilkinson announced she was leaving. Project five years later, citing a difficult past six months marked by “relentless targeted toxicity”.
“It’s time to reprioritize some things in my life,” Wilkinson told viewers.
She said it was “an absolute privilege” for her to work with the “incredible team” at Ten, whom she described as one of the “most talented and decent people I know”.
“I had the ball. But for me, it’s time for a change right now,” she said.
“The last six months have not been easy, and the relentless targeted toxicity of certain sections of the media has taken its toll not only on me, but on the people I love.
“Do not misunderstand me. I’m not above criticism, far from it. I’m human and I don’t always get it right. None of us do this.
But damn it, I tried. I have given this job everything I have. And I hope you know this at home. I hope I have told you important stories and introduced you to people whose lives and experiences would otherwise never have been told, and helped bring attention to issues that deserve our collective attention.”
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