Ray Hadley, the 2GB screamer, was offered a gig at the stumbling Thursday night NRL Footy Show, but he declined yesterday. After all, he’s been flicked twice from Nine and the show in recent years.
But today sees a meeting at Willoughby of NRL Footy Show on-air people and Nine’s current management. It could see further blood spilled with main hosts, Paul Vautin and Peter Sterling, threatening to quit if Hadley (now a no) and News Ltd columnist and TV wannabe, Rebecca Wilson, were brought onboard. “Rebecca the Wrecker”, as some in League call her, is very likely to join the show.
All this came on Friday in a purge at the show. Less than two weeks after a Silver Logie and five days after Nine Network CEO, David Gyngell walked out, the new interim, caretaker management moved to shake up one of his pet shows. Glenn Pallister, the executive in charge and former Executive Producer, has gone. This all came after the Footy Show had its worst night this year in Sydney with only 221,000 viewers, and 153,000 people watching in Brisbane – less than the AFL Footy Show combined.
Gyngell was a rugby league tragic and a protector of the show. A strong supporter of the powerful East club in Sydney, the Footy Show was something he felt comfortable with. But now that he’s gone, and Steve Crawley (the EP of rugby league and probably Nine’s new sport boss after the Commonwealth Games next year) is in charge, big changes are planned.
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But Crawley knows the stakes are high. If Vautin and Sterling walk, they could easily walk from the Friday night and Sunday broadcasts where they are far more popular than their NRL Footy Show on Thursday night. That could in turn see Nine look foolish in the eyes of the NRL (and News Ltd) which is weighing up deals with either Nine or Seven for part or all of the rugby league broadcast rights.
Nine is determined to make changes. Vautin and Sterling have expensive long term contracts. Something has to give. And the Network may shoot itself in the foot by undermining its efforts to retain the NRL rights.
Meanwhile, Crikey’s rugby league writer, Jeff Wall, writes:
While the hosts of the rugby league Footy Show were in Papua New Guinea on a promotional visit, and being mobbed by thousands of adoring fans, back in Sydney their masters at Channel Nine were plotting the demise of the program in its current form. Nine’s plan to “inset” both 2GB’s Ray Hadley and the Daily Telegraph’s Rebecca Wilson into the Footy Show was akin to putting Janette Howard in charge of the “Costello for The Lodge Campaign.”
The full story is on the site here.