Matt Preston won’t be seen on MasterChef next year. Picture: Penny Stephens
Matt Preston won’t be seen on MasterChef next year. Picture: Penny Stephens

Preston opens up about ‘shock’ dumping

MATT Preston has opened up about the brutal way he discovered he and his MasterChef co-hosts had been dumped.

Preston, who is filling in on the ABC Melbourne breakfast show with Jacinta Parsons this week, was in a car last Tuesday afternoon on his way to Triple M to do an interview spruiking the MasterChef finale when he read on social media he'd been given the flick.

"It would probably have felt worse if I was by myself, but the fact I was with one of the publicists with Ten who had no idea and who was just aghast by the situation, especially about to go and do a national radio show, it was a bit of a shock," he said on ABC radio this morning.

 

Dropped: Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston.
Dropped: Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston.

In the Network Ten press release announcing the decision, chief executive officer Paul Anderson said: "Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George."

Initial reports in the media claimed negotiations broke down because the three judges demanded a 40 per cent pay rise, guaranteeing them $1.5 million each for season 12 of the show.

But Preston this morning denied that was the case and said the trio of judges and Network Ten had agreed on money.

"We'd agree on the offer with Ten," he said on the ABC. "We'd sent a note back to their offer, we'd agreed to the financial terms. We'd agreed to make the next series of MasterChef, and it was the other terms that fell down."

Ten's decision not to renew the judges' contracts for season 12 of MasterChef came less than a week after it was revealed George Calombaris had been slapped with a $200,000 fine after admitting to underpaying staff at his Melbourne restaurants $7.83 million.

 

Calombaris was fined $200,000 for underpaying staff. Picture: AAP/Image Sarah Marshall
Calombaris was fined $200,000 for underpaying staff. Picture: AAP/Image Sarah Marshall

 

Public outrage followed and an ex-staffer from one of his restaurants created a petition urging Ten to sack Calombaris that gained more than 26,000 signatures.

But Preston said on radio this morning the underpayment controversy had no bearing on Ten's decision to look for new judges.

"Ten have been very clear on a couple of occasions that it played no part in their contract negotiations," he said.

"No one said it's George's fault. I'm sure it had nothing to do with it, there's a much bigger picture at play here."

 

Mehigan, Preston and Calombaris have been on MasterChef since 2009.
Mehigan, Preston and Calombaris have been on MasterChef since 2009.

 

There's been speculation Preston, Mehigan and Calombaris are now exploring TV opportunities with streaming services Netflix and Amazon. But Preston said it would be a "long time" before the trio were back on TV together.

"I think that the next step for us is to drop out of sight for a nice, long time," he said on ABC radio.

"I talked to Gary on the weekend and he was down walking the dog on the beach. That's the next step. I think TV is a something longer term in the future.

"I'll continue to serve out my contract and do what I can and just enjoy the fact I get to do stuff that absolutely terrifies me, like this."

 

 

Preston added he didn't hold a grudge against Ten for its decision to look for new judges, and he was eternally grateful for the 11 years he had on the reality show.

"It's weird when you come to the … end of a show like MasterChef," he said. "It's a ridiculous thing to say but you kind of go through denial and anger, but pretty quickly I've transitioned to the point where I look back on 11 years of being on a show, that is an incredible run for any show.

"The same day that the MasterChef news broke … it got pointed out that in the Clarence House review of the year for Charles and Camilla, being on MasterChef was number three on their things they enjoyed," he said.

"Just saying the idea that Prince Charles and Camilla were both on MasterChef, or that we had the Dalai Lama on MasterChef, or that we were the first TV show to film in the general assembly of the UN, which seems also equally surreal and ridiculous, all those things, they're the memories that you go, it's been a great ride."

Matt Preston can be heard co-hosting the ABC Melbourne breakfast show all week from 5.30-8am


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