Preston’s ominous final interview
MASTERCHEF judge Matt Preston cheerfully spruiked the show's finale on air mere hours before his dramatic axing yesterday - but his mood grew sombre when asked about his own future with the show.
In an interview with KIIS 101.1's Jase & PJ yesterday morning, Preston said he was "excited" for the finale and sounded upbeat as he answered questions about what happens on set.
Then came a question from the hosts about how "poor" George Calombaris is "holding up".
Calombaris has been engulfed in scandal since a Fair Work investigation concluded the extent of his underpayment of more than 500 staff across his restaurant empire totalled more than $7.8 million.
"Look, for me, if you want to know about George, you've got to talk to George. I think the thing that's coming out of this is that Fair Work are doing a good job making sure the most vulnerable people - migrants, casual workers, kids - get paid properly. Whether that's oversight, it's a massive problem. It isn't just hospitality - it's in retail, food delivery, it's in media, and it needs to be addressed," said Preston.
The hosts asked Preston what he thought about the calls to ditch Calombaris from the show. His previously upbeat tone changed.
"Look, George, Gary and I work well together on TV. That call about whether they bring George back, whether Ten bring me back or Gary back - that's solidly in Ten's alleyway, not mine," he said.
"Sadly, much as I would love to be in charge of everything, I don't get to make those decisions."
In a statement issued by 10 yesterday afternoon, 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."
Preston confirmed on Instagram they were "really keen to continue but we were unable to agree to all terms for the new contract".
Once the news broke yesterday, the judges' remaining promotional commitments were abruptly cancelled - Preston dropping out of a planned guest slot on The Project, which aired before the MasterChef finale.
"We were expecting to have Matt on the show tonight to promote the finale, and then this bombshell happened, and we're getting our heads around it," panellist Peter Helliar explained at the top of the show.