George Calombaris on 7.30 Report - Is it time to forgive him?
The former MasterChef judge has gone into damage control with a mea culpa over his business affairs that saw staff underpaid by $7.8million. Now, should Australian’s forgive and forget… or throw him to the wolves?
Fame is a funny thing. One moment you can be one of the most trusted and recognised faces in the country, the next you are a liability with headlines exposing every flaw.
George Calombaris has been through a lot over the past few weeks. Not only has he had to deal with headlines proclaiming he ripped off his workers but he’s also had to come to terms with the news his time on MasterChef has come to an end. There are also allegations, raised by this website, of his treatment of staff at Studio 10 where he abused a young production assistant for 10 minutes after coming off set after appearing in a segment he was unhappy with.
But tonight Calombaris has gone on the PR offensive in an effort to rebuild trust with an appearance on ABC’s 7.30 report, taking full responsibility for his mistakes;
“I want to apologise to all my team both past and present, for the effect that I’ve had on them, we’ve had on them, I apologise to them.
An emotional Calombaris told Leigh Sales this story has come to light because he self reported the issues after discovering them during an audit;
“You know, the thing that I need to say is, 2017, we found the problem, we self- reported. We're the ones that went, hang on, we've made a mistake here. Like a terrible mistake. We went to Fair Work, we owned up. And two years ago we paid back everyone.
This is a very good point that seems to have been missed by a lot of critics. Calombaris wasn’t raided by police, he took these issues to authorities. That does deserve some credit.
Calombaris is still contracted to Channel 10 and was careful when asked about why contract negotiations failed by Leigh Sales;
“Can I ask what happened with Master Chef, and with you and Channel 10 parting ways? Channel 10 suggested that it was because it couldn't meet your demands, and the other hosts’ demands, for salary. Is it accurate that you and the other hosts were demanding pay rises of up to 40%” - Leigh Sales
“What, what I can say is, our, the sticking point that we got to with MasterChef and with channel 10 was simply time. The dollars were all signed off. That was all done and dusted. It was time, and time for Gary to do more of his own stuff, for Matt to do more of his stuff, and for me to be in my restaurants more. It takes up a long time, it takes you know, sort of six, seven months of our year. And we just needed more time. And that's all it came down to” - George Calombaris:
This response seems disingenuous at best considering 10’s CEO Paul Anderson told The Australian money played a big part of the failed negotiations;
“There comes a point where 40 per cent is a lot in anyone’s language, which forces us into a corner and gives us no alternative (but to move on).”
But I’m sure money wasn’t the only issue.
To be fair, I haven’t been a fan of Calombaris after the way he treated my staff when I was running Studio 10. It’s one thing to not like the way something has gone down but the way he came off set and yelled at a 22 year old girl is unforgivable. His yelling was so loud the hosts could hear it inside the studio while they were on air with the next segment. I was away on holidays at the time but soon started receiving calls from production members and management about the incident.
His distaste for the show led to a boycott of all three judges for 2 years. Even with the return of Matt and Gary after that time George never came on again during my time there.
BUT my wife pointed out today we all lose our cool. Thinking about it now I’m sure he has regrets about the way he treated that young lady. We all make mistakes.
So maybe it is time to forgive and forget?
Good luck George on your next adventure.
You can hear more about the MasterChef bombshell in the latest edition of the TV Blackbox podcast, which you can download here.