BLUE Wiggle Anthony Field has broken his silence on the "dumping" of Sam Moran, and said that original Yellow Wiggle Greg Page will not be sticking around for long either.
Field said Page had agreed to come back to the band as a favour after two years of contract negotiations with Moran fell flat.
"It was really unfair. The next day it was like we brought him in one day out of the blue and said 'You're gone'," Field told Fox FM yesterday. "You can't do that with industrial relations."
Moran's departure from the Wiggles caused a furore when it was announced in January, with claims the other band members had not spoken to him for years and teased him about being the "salaried Wiggle".
Field yesterday said the claims were "unnecessary and nasty".
"We employ 60 Australians," he said. "It is a business and we could go under if we don't be mindful (of workplace relations)."
Field said that Page, who took a five-year hiatus from the Wiggles due to health concerns, would not be back for long.
"It's a very short time he's staying with us, because he just actually helped us out. He actually feels really bad because the story came out that Sam made way for him and that made him look bad."
GREED is now killing The Wiggles. But it's not the greed of the band's founding members.
Sorry, but the original Yellow Wiggle, Greg Page, is over his illness and can return to the band he helped form.
So far, so normal. Moran was not promised a job for life when he replaced Page five years ago. Yet now The Wiggles are abused from Sydney to Perth as greedy graspers, unfit to play to the children.
Yesterday, for instance, a Sunday newspaper column blasted them as "untalented buffoons", exploiting "underpaid" staff.
It added: "The drama over the Yellow Wiggle this week has proved these 'entertainers' are all about the money."
That "drama" is the news that Moran was paid $200,000 a year, and on leaving will get a $60,000 payout, plus royalties of at least that much every year.
That actually strikes me as good money for a musician, and I doubt anyone had to hold Moran's feet to the flames to make him sign up.
But what's caused the fuss is that Moran was paid $200,000 a year by a band that earned $28 million last year.
That's "less than 1 per cent of Wiggles Incorporated's reported annual earnings," huffed one newspaper. And the Easily Resentful took up the chant.
But wait. Did Moran write the songs that made the band famous? Did he dream up the band's famous look, or invent their side-kicks, from Dorothy the Dinosaur to Captain Feathersword?
Was he there when the young band played its first nervous gig, at a Randwick pre-school?
Did he sell the early Wiggles merchandise from a suitcase, or give up teaching for a year in the anxious hope the band might earn its way? Did he sign the breakthrough TV deals?
Joining a band when it's finally made good takes little daring and no great skill.
So, yes, the "drama over the Yellow Wiggle" is "all about the money". But that drama comes from those who dream of idle windfalls from the enterprise of others.
THE media circus that has followed Greg Page’s return The Wiggles has tired the Dural resident out, but has not dulled his excitement.
The founding member of the worldwide children’s entertainment sensation told the Times about the joy of getting back into the yellow skivvy over coffee in Castle Hill yesterday.
``It’s an opportunity to do once again what it is I love doing,’’ he said.
Page was replaced by Sam Moran five years ago after he was forced to resign due to illness.
He said the chance to return was not one he had expected.
``They were in negotiations about (Sam’s) contract and they had the inkling that my health was much better,’’ he said.
``The request was put to me and I thought it is not every day that you get a second chance to do what you love to do.’‘
Despite some media reports claiming Moran’s exit was a controversial one, Page said the swap was a friendly one.
``Sam and I saw each other yesterday morning and he handed over the yellow skivvy and gave me a hug and said `all the best and good luck’,’’ Page said.
``He said `I’m really comfortable with it, I’m happy’.
``I know Sam reasonably well… I know that he is the kind of guy that is a genuine person.’‘
Page also denied claims that his return was for the money.
``That speculation has been fuelled by a story that came out last year that was based on misleading and false information,’’ he said.
``I haven’t lost my fortune… I haven’t lost my house or my superannuation.
``The Global Financial Crisis has affected me, but not as badly as it has affected a lot of people.’‘
Page said he will trial his return but is confident that he is up to the task.
``It will be at least six months. I’m going to give it a good shot and see what transpires within that period,’’ he said.
``I’m looking forward to the live shows, being on stage and seeing the children.’‘
He will join the rest of the group, whose headquarters are based in Bella Vista, to record some new songs before going on tour in March.
Greg Page is an unlikely candidate for the rumour mill. He is, after all, the original Yellow Wiggle, a former trainee teacher who rocked a primary-coloured skivvy all the way into entertainment history, as a member of the only children's band ever to parlay songs about fast food into a regular spot on the Australian BRW Rich List.
Indeed, Page is so squeaky clean that when he recounts - in his new memoir - about feeling freaked out while driving a massive truck full of equipment as a roadie for rock band the Cockroaches, he writes that he was ''absolutely you-know-what-ing myself''.
But, still, the gossip has flowed.
Now and then by Greg Page (HarperCollins, $35).
Most recently the headlines have been about him losing ''millions'' in bad development deals made during the global financial crisis.
Before that, it was ''rumours of marital turmoil'' with his first wife.
Who knew that life for a man in a band that emitted the musical equivalent of sunshine and lollipops could be so stressful?
''I've been thinking of ways to express [what I've been through],'' Page says, sitting calmly in front of me at a pier-side restaurant. ''I feel like I've lived three life times in 39 years, I've crammed so much in.''
In between taking quiet bites of steak, he addresses all the rumours.
No, he hasn't had to sell his multimillion-dollar home on a three-hectare property at Dural as a result of his deals going sour. (Although he did lose a considerable amount of money and felt, in its wake, like a ''total failure''.)
Yes, his first marriage failed, after a long period of unhappiness.
And, yes, he had an illness that forced him to leave the Wiggles in 2006, after 15 years of touring the world with his best friends.
But he was not pushed.
His leaving the group far before he wanted to was the result of his suffering orthostatic intolerance, an often undiagnosed circulatory system disorder that affects blood flow. Sufferers of the condition lack a nervous system that adequately moves the blood around their body, so that when they sit or stand for any length of time, it instead pools in their pelvis or leg regions, causing them to faint.
For more than a decade, Page suffered embarrassing symptoms that had him worried others might think he was drunk. He often felt disoriented and vague, dizzy when standing upright for long periods and even slurred his words and sometimes walked into walls and missed his mouth when he went to eat dinner.
''I became almost a social recluse, incapable of communicating at any great level with anyone,'' he writes of how it affected him. ''It would exhaust me just to think, let alone talk or walk.''
And after making the decision to leave the group, things got worse. He felt ''totally vulnerable'' and shocked by his transition from global superstar to virtual recluse, feeling that he ''had no friends'' and was just stuck watching reruns of The Bourne Identity on TV, unable to leave his house.
It's this experience that initially inspired him to write Now and Then: The Life-Changing Journey of the Original Yellow Wiggle.
''I wanted to give more attention to this condition, to help people diagnose it and [deal with] the frustration that comes with being misdiagnosed.'' One of the worst parts of his experience, while doctors were skipping from diagnosing him with everything from epilepsy to SARS, was the judgment he faced from the others, ''the icy glare of people who doubt that we are really sick or that there is something really wrong with us''. Among them, one of his doctors.
Still, for Page - and the reader - it's another condition the musician suffered that's even more surprising: arrested development.
Because while Page moved from obscurity to fame - from recording a demo for ABC Music in 1991 with fellow Macquarie University students Anthony Field and Murray Cook and keyboardist Jeff Fatt, to becoming part of a global franchise that spawned a TV series, movies and a section of a Queensland theme park - the man remained more than a mystery to himself.
''What I learnt is that, being involved in the group from such a young age, I just never really got to know myself as a person before
I became Greg Wiggle,'' says Page, who was just 19 when they recorded their demo. ''It's funny. I'm still going through that process of getting to know myself.''
A punishing touring schedule that left time for few extracurricular activities - sometimes playing in 21 different towns in 21 days - facilitated this situation. As did pressure to ''uphold the kind of Wiggle image that was expected of me - the good guy'', which, he writes, often led him to not voicing his feelings on matters and becoming ''gullible, a pushover and easy to manipulate''.
But this tendency to ''squash'' his own desires and needs stems from his childhood, growing up in Northmead in Sydney's western suburbs. He writes of feeling racked with low self-esteem from as early as age eight, when the girls he fancied at Baulkham Hills Primary School didn't respond in kind. And the feeling was further compounded when, at age 16, he started going grey and wondered if ''no one will want me''.
Indeed, even when he was in the Wiggles, ''I wasn't this confident guy. I'd get on stage with the Wiggles and yeah I was confident, because
I knew what I was doing. But in my own life, I had my own personal struggles; I had major problems, growing up, with self-esteem and self-confidence.''
These admissions seem far more personal than any of the rumours that had previously circulated about him in the tabloids. Indeed, his parents, he says, ''probably won't know the depth of the whole self-confidence thing'' until they read the book.
So why reveal all this now?
Partly, Page says, it's to get closure on the uncomfortable experience of having been torn, for so long, between ''Greg Page and Greg Wiggle''.
''That's the thing, you have these people who have a connection to you but they're connected to a perception of who they think you are,'' he says. ''With the book, this is actually who I am. It's not an image on stage, not an image on a DVD; there's a person that actually wears the skivvy, a human being with faults and flaws.''
He also hopes the book might bring comfort to others.
''You know, when I wrote the book, there were all these cases of bullying in the media and people feeling this sense of needing to belong and changing who they were to be a part of the group. It would just be great if people could just be who they are and accept others for who they are as well.''
Now, five years since leaving the group, Page is finally happy, not just professionally - as was the case before - but in all areas of his life.
He remarried, last year, to Vanessa Reid, a nurse he had a crush on at school. They have a daughter, Lara, who is nearly two, and are due to have a son in a matter of weeks.
He is practising music again, having played cover songs at a few local charity concerts, and hopes to record a second solo album. He's also researching the possibility of ''becoming involved in a life-saving water safety product''.
And his financial losses? They have, he says, in a strange way made him a better person.
''It taught me a lot of things,'' he says. ''To be more grounded, to appreciate what we have, rather than look for what we don't to make us happy.
''I was looking for something to do to make me happy and I was looking to try to be successful again … rather than what was the beauty of the Wiggles, which is that it just happened. We weren't trying to create success.
''So it taught me to live in the moment.
''I also know myself better now; I'm more comfortable with the fact that I have faults and flaws.
''Whereas before I guess I wanted to believe that I was … not perfect but that I was somehow impervious to the real world. Now I'm a real person who lives in the real world.''
Now and Then, by Greg Page, is published by HarperCollins, $35.