The feud between two of Australia’s biggest TV stars over a car space has been fully revealed for the first time after it reared its ugly head after this year’s controversial Logie Awards†
Network Ten insiders exposed the 2017 showdown between Lisa Wilkinson and respected news anchor Sandra Sully, earning The Project host the nickname “parking thief” and splitting its loyal staff.
It all started, says a former Ten employee, when Wilkinson made her high-profile move from Nine in the wake of her controversial resignation after a decade on Today.
“And you don’t upset Sandra. You just don’t. We love Sandra,” says an ex-Ten employee
Lisa Wilkinson has been accused – publicly and privately – of squeezing Sandra Sully’s car spot in 2017
Lisa Wilkinson reportedly drove into a car space reserved for Sandra Sully at Ten Sydney’s studios (pictured)
No sooner had the decorated presenter and journalist arrived at Ten’s Pyrmont studios in a sparkling white Audi convertible (for whom she has long been an ambassador), Wilkinson is said to have driven to a well-positioned car space – one of just a handful – in the proximity of the staff entrance.
The only problem was that the space – clearly marked ‘reserved’ – belonged to Ten legend Sully, who would arrive later in the day to prepare for her usual 5pm broadcast.
The secure space was of particular interest to Sully, who had first spoken the same year about the violent attack she had survived 20 years earlier, which took place in the parking lot of her apartment complex in 2007.
Held at gunpoint by a masked culprit, Sully managed to escape a much worse fate after the man pulled the trigger twice—only for the gun to fail.
‘I still don’t like to be surprised. If someone makes a loud noise, I jump. I’m always alert in a parking lot,” Sully told Zodiac sign in 2017.
Sources at Ten say Wilkinson – who had joined the network a month before Sully’s snitch – was politely informed by parking security that the space was not to be used by anyone but the newscaster and that one would be arranged for her.
Despite this, Wilkinson would continue to use the reserved space, even cutting down traffic cones placed around the site to prevent her from taking the spot.
“At first it became a bit of a joke that this happened and it was just something we all gossiped about in hair and makeup,” said a Ten employee who has since switched networks.
“But then it kept happening. And we all started to see how much it upset Sandra.
“And you don’t upset Sandra. You just don’t. We love Sandra.’
It’s clear that a small handful of defenders are siding with Wilkinson, and a senior executive from Ten suggests that Wilkinson and Sandra “share” the space, as the newscaster usually arrives at the studio later in the day.
Wilkinson, he reasoned, could use it until Sully arrived.
Wilkinson was politely informed by parking security that the space was not to be used by anyone but Sully in 2017
However, this tactic apparently failed when Sandra reportedly arrived at Pyrmont to find her spot which was constantly occupied by Wilkinson’s white Audi.
‘This is when colleagues really started to rally’ [around Sully]’ said the Tien insider.
“And it got so big, because who in their right mind is sidelined with Sandra?”
The matter was eventually resolved quickly when Wilkinson stopped visiting the Pyrmont studios and settled solely in Melbourne, where The Project is filmed.
But the incident lingers on Ten – it resurfaced last week when former Channel Ten weather forecaster Tim Bailey took a very public swipe at Wilkinson after her problematic speech from Logies.
‘Happy Retirement’, but Tim Bailey made his thoughts on Wilkinson clear
“Accept your F-ing little trophy and go!” tweeted Bailey, referring to a comment once made famous by comic book artist Ricky Gervais.
He signed with the hashtag #carparkthief
Bailey, who was contacted this week for additional comment, withdrew from the controversy and told the Daily Mail Australia: ‘I’m in Thailand on holiday… Had no idea about the brouhaha. †
He added, “I’m a million miles away from all that stuff and I’m happily retired.”
However, ten employees close to the ex-weatherman confirmed that he and Sandra remained “close friends” after their 20-year working relationship.
Former Ten news consultant and broadcasting legend Peter Meakin — who has since left Ten and now works for Roving Enterprises (which produces The Project) — declined to discuss the now-infamous saga, despite attending the network.
“I have nothing to say to add to this story, I’m afraid,” Meakin told the Daily Mail Australia.
“But I know both (Sully and Wilkinson) and have a lot of time for both,” he said.
However, several hints about the pair’s current relationships became apparent last week in the wake of Wilkinson’s Logies speech, which resulted in the ACT Supreme Court warning The Project star to refrain from public discussion of the case. Brittany Higgins.
Wilkinson received criticism from the public, the legal fraternity and the media alike for mentioning Higgins, despite the case not yet being heard in court.
Significantly, Sully “liked” a tweet condemning Wilkinson that read, “If only she had stuck to silly stories like the paparazzi stalking her on Chapel Street. I hope she backs down now and lets people seek justice they (both sides) deserve.”
Wilkinson ‘moved away’ from The Project in the wake of the Logies furore
Sully later removed her “likes,” but not before many of her colleagues at Ten—then and now—took note.
“A few of us saw it and knew exactly what it was about,” one of them said.
Interestingly, Ten has since completely abolished the staff parking lot, with employees now allowed to “rent” a space if they wish.
Wilkinson, Sully and a spokeswoman for Network Ten declined to comment further this week when approached by Daily Mail Australia.
Meanwhile, Wilkinson, one of the highest paid personalities on Australian TV, is reportedly out of her role on The Project until mid-July.
Nine also reportedly erased Wilkinson’s speech – delivered when she picked up the gong for the most notable coverage for her interview with Brittany Higgins – from Logies streaming coverage.
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