The 57-year-old stunned the media industry last night with news she had quit Nine after 10 years co-hosting its high-profile breakfast show and would be joining Ten’s The Project in 2018.
“My phone has gone into complete meltdown, but I’m going off to see my mum,” Wilkinson told The Daily Telegraph today as she left her home in Sydney’s north.
“She’s very worried and I’m just going to go and let her know I’m OK; in fact, I’m more than OK, I’m great.”
Wilkinson reportedly walked away from Nine following a breakdown in pay negotiations after the station declined to match her salary to Today co-host Karl Stefanovic’s.
She declined to comment on speculation her decision was driven by the discrepancy between her $1.1 million annual pay packet compared to the estimated $2 million Stefanovic takes home each year for his combined roles on Today, 60 Minutes and Nine news.
Nine reportedly had offered Wilkinson $1.8 million to stay.
Wilkinson said she was proud of her work.
“I feel very privileged with all the opportunities I’ve been afforded over the years,” she said.
Earlier today, Stefanovic paid tribute to Wilkinson, telling viewers she’d handled a decade’s worth of brutal 3.30am starts with grace, intelligence and “a wicked sense of humour”.
“It is safe to say we are all a little shocked and it will take time to sink in. So for now, this: Thank you,” he said.
“Mostly you go with my love, lots of love, all my love. We will see you soon, maybe after midday. Enjoy the sleep.”
Today news presenter Sylvia Jeffreys, long-time music guru Richard Wilkins, sports presenter Tim Gilbert and Wilkinson’s last-minute fill-in Deb Knight joined in.
“It is a start of a brilliant and exciting new chapter and I will be cheering her on as I always do as she takes on this next challenge,” an emotional Jeffreys said.
“Seeing is believing for young girls and for young women and what they see in Lisa is a strong, influential, fun and compassionate woman at the very, very top of her game and that is a very powerful thing.”
Nine was disappointed Wilkinson didn’t sign another contract and said it would now take the Today show “in another direction”.
Meanwhile, Wilkinson’s husband Peter FitzSimons told reporters his wife had enjoyed “the best sleep-in she’s had in 10 years”.
Her decision also attracted praise from several of high-profile media colleagues, including 730 host Leigh Sales, author Nikki Gemmell, and former ABC boss Mark Scott.
In a cheeky tweet, veteran SBS presenter Lee Lin Chin joked about her chances of being poached by Nine.
Don't worry, I won't be joining @TheTodayShow. If they can't afford Lisa, then they sure as hell can't afford me.
— Lee Lin Chin (@LeeLinChinSBS) October 16, 2017
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