Media personality Em Rusciano has resigned her weekly column for News Corp after a story about her participation in Seven’s The Big Music Quiz left her crying under her desk at her Hit Network radio job.
Rusciano told Facebook followers that she made the decision after lighthearted comments made by The Big Music Quiz host, Darren McMullen, became “an unkind clickbait headline” about her performance, triggering her meltdown.
Rusciano first came to public attention as a competitor on Australian Idol. Since then the writer, singer and comedian has developed a media career which has seen her as a regular on Ten’s The Project and, recently, become the host of a national Sunday night show on Southern Cross Austereo’s Hit Network.
In an interview to promote The Big Music Show, quizmaster Darren McMullan last week told how Rusciano’s performance lengthened filming of the show, which is shot in front of an audience. He was quoted as saying:
“She was a nightmare. She just went on the most bizarre tangents and we were like, ‘Em, it’s a family show, this is never going to make it to air.’
“It was hilarious, everyone was in stitches in the studio, but the show we did with her was probably the longest show we did, it was getting up over the three hour mark.”
After appearing on news.com.au and The Daily Telegraph, the story was the republished elsewhere including Daily Mail Australia which decided to take a more critical angle.
That night, Rusciano told Facebook followers that she was struggling to cope, saying she was “hanging on by my fingernails”.
Rusciano, whose book is also about to be published and is planning a stand-up comedy tour later in the year, told followers that she was feeling pressure from all directions:
“I joked earlier on here about crawling under the desk at work today and crying, but I did. I really did. I forgot to pack Odie’s lunch today, the school called, I felt terrible, so terrible. Then someone said something shit about me in an interview. Something that hit a soft spot. A stupid TV host I barely know. I’m usually ok with that but not today, today my nerve endings were on the outside of my skin. Both small things, but they managed to push me over the edge none the less.”
The Facebook post:
And last night, Rusciano wrote on her own website that she had decided to stop writing her column for news.com.au and to focus on her own site instead.
She told readers that the story broke on a day she was already feeling guilt as a mother after forgetting to pack her child’s lunch for school. She went on:
“The reason I’d hit out-of-control was because the website I write a weekly column for chose to use an unkind clickbait headline about me. It triggered a tidal wave of past hurt.
“TV host Darren McMullen had called me a ‘nightmare” to work with in an interview about an episode of a music quiz show he and I were on. It was apparently said in jest, he’d meant that I was a hilarious nightmare or something to that effect. I wonder if he could’ve chosen another adjective? Perhaps: “Hilarious trouble maker” or “Hilarious magician” or “Hilarious anything other than the word nightmare” but I digress.
“When I read the headline: ‘Em Rusciano is a nightmare to work with’ it felt visceral. I was instantly taken back to a place where I was 25, in a meeting with my boss and being told that I was impossible to work with and made everyone around me unhappy.
“Why am I super touchy over this? I’ve spent my whole career being called difficult. Look there’s no denying that in the past I was, however I was also young, scared and clueless. I think I’ve managed to turn that around with maturity, hindsight and a shit load of therapy.
“Yes: I’m a person who needs to ask questions, who has a strong sense of self and I’m someone who refuses to take shit. If I were a man I’d be called assertive, alas I’m not.”
Saying that the headline “devastated” her, she added: “Is this me being a spoiled brat having a tantrum over someone hurting my feelings? Will I live to regret the money I’m giving up? Maybe and perhaps.”
Rusciano’s episode of The Big Music Quiz – which was a surprise hit for Seven when it debuted just over a week ago with metro ratings of 1.21m – has not yet aired.