Network Ten has dumped MasterChef judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris after 11 seasons apparently over a pay dispute.
Ironically, the dumping comes at the height of a scandal in which Calombaris underpaid staff at his restaurants $7.8 million in wages and super.
As the workplace scandal circled around Calombaris, a key sponsor of the celebrity chef, Tourism WA, pulled its support and pulled him from their tourism campaign. A day after, Network Ten announced the judges would be out after Tuesday night’s finale.
According to Network Ten, despite the intense public and media pressure to drop Calombaris, the judges are leaving due to a dispute about their salaries.
And it is no small amount they were demanding from the network. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Preston, Mehigan and Calombaris all walked after Network Ten refused to increase their $1 million-plus salaries by more than 40%.
Entertainment journalist Peter Ford also tweeted and told radio station 2GB he had leaked documents that showed the celebrity judges were demanding $1.5 million each, guaranteed for two years.
Documents relating to Masterchef negotiations leaking like you wouldn’t believe!!! 1.5 each for guaranteed 2 years. Details coming up @SydneyLive2GB
— Peter Ford (@mrpford) July 23, 2019
“My information is that they wanted $1.5 million each on a guaranteed 2-year contract,” Ford said on 2GB. “They were willing to come down to $1.2 million but Channel Ten who were getting instructions from New York — this is the kind of money that even Paul Anderson can’t sign off on — CBS had to sign off on it and they were told ‘nope, we’re not going to do it, not in the current commercial environment’.”
In June, Calombaris told the Herald Sun the interest in the show and their celebrity status was massive in India and South Africa, where fans were chasing them down. He also added that they could potentially head overseas for an opportunity.
“I’m not going to lie, there are potentials for us overseas where they are talking to our agents about a show,” he told the newspaper.
With the current scandal, he might find more love abroad.
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