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Lisa Wilkinson The Project: Channel 10 reportedly scrambling to a new role after The Project exit

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Lisa Wilkinson’s sudden departure from The Project panel may have thrown a spanner in the works at Channel 10.

According to The Australian’sMedia Diary, Ten bosses have been left scrambling to find the veteran journalist a position within the network to uphold her lucrative, airtight contract and showcase her current affairs talent.

Wilkinson is one of the country’s highest paid TV stars, with a seven-figure contract with Ten reportedly spanning years thanks to her clever negotiation tactics. But with a position at The Project now off the cards, it’s up to executives to find her a suitable new role to get their money’s worth.

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With it highly unlikely Wilkinson will go on to host one of the network’s reality TV shows, options are looking scarce, according to The Australian.

However, the publication notes that insiders have suggested Wilkinson will be taking a long break from any TV hosting duties, and may not return to screens until “well into 2023”.

Wilkinson announced her immediate departure last Sunday evening, saying it was “time to reprioritise a few things in my life” after a difficult six months marked by “relentless, targeted toxicity”.

Days later, Project co-host Peter Helliar, who is also leaving the program, revealed Wilkinson’s decision came as a shock to her colleagues.

“I must say, Lisa caught me by surprise on Sunday,” he told Nova’s Fitzy and Wippa, admitting he’d had “no idea” it was coming.

“I didn’t actually know until Sunday. She messaged me on Sunday to let me know.”

Wilkinson’s sudden exit raised questions about the nature of her departure from the show, however, that rumour was shut down by a Network 10 spokesman, who told “To be perfectly clear, this was Lisa’s decision. Any inference to the contrary is completely false.”

Chief content officer for Ten’s owner Paramount, Beverley McGarvey, also confirmed Wilkinson would be staying with the network, saying the company looked forward “to continuing our strong relationship with Lisa into 2023 and beyond”.

Ten also noted in a statement that it was “no surprise audiences have continued to welcome her into their lounge rooms and on to their screens.”

Ten’s nightly panel program is experiencing something of a mass exodus, with original host Carrie Bickmore revealing last month that she would not be returning in 2023, and Wilkinson and Helliar following suit.

On Wednesday, Ten announced Studio 10 star Sarah Harris will be the new host of The Project, appearing on the show five nights a week alongside Waleed Aly.

Bickmore will farewell viewers this Wednesday.

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