If only the walls could talk at Beppi’s in Darlinghurst.
A Sydney institution, the family-run Italian has for decades been favoured as the perfect location for covert meetings (Kerry Packer, Gina Rinehart and John Howard included) but on Friday it was the turn of former Seven newsreader Chris Bath, her husband Seven sports reporter Jim Wilson, and Peter Meakin, executive consultant for news and current affairs at Ten.
Neither party returned Fairfax Media’s request for comment on what the meeting might have entailed, but with Ten, under new cashed-up US owners CBS, already pulling off a major power play in poaching Nine’s Today show host Lisa Wilkinson, are they about to make another fan favourite a permanent fixture?
Bath was a hugely popular presenter during her tenure at Seven, both as a newsreader and host of their flagship current affairs program Sunday Night.
She left the network in 2015 after two decades of hard labour before picking up a gig hosting the evening show on ABC Radio Sydney. She will also present the network’s upcoming documentary Keeping Australia Safe and has guested on Ten’s The Project and Studio 10.
Bath has been named as one of the most likely candidates to replace Wilkinson if Nine were to look outside of their ranks. Before Wilkinson took up the breakfast gig in 2007, Bath had been the favourite to take the hot seat alongside Karl Stefanovic.
Luring her across to Ten and out of reach of Nine would be a move envious of a Game of Thronesstoryline with an insider saying the political maven is in “high demand and on the radar of multiple networks”.
Ever since Wilkinson’s dramatic defection last month when Nine refused her pay parity with their $2 million golden boy Stefanovic, it has opening up the floodgates with discussions between networks and stars going on all over town.
In a story not too unlike the leaking of Wilkinson’scontract negotiations with Nine, it was claimed in The Telegraph this week that Ten might be eyeing Sunrise star Samantha Armytage to helm its “big budget breakfast show”.
With Armytage said to earn just half of her co-host David “Kochie” Koch’s $1 million pay packet, the leak will give her some bargaining power when the time comes to renegotiate her contract next year.
It also might give Nine a subtle nudge to let them know there’s another player in the game for Wilkinson’s hotly contested seat.