Nearly a week after word got out, to the surprise of no one, NBC News was working on a plan to replace Ann Curry on ratings-challenged “Today” show, everyone’s been wondering who’s it gonna be and when it’s gonna happen.
Here’s your “Today” Show Fantasy League update:
Savannah Guthrie reportedly has a lock on the gig replacing Curry, who’s only had the job one year, replacing Meredith Vieira who vacated last June. Earlier speculation had both Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, co-host of “Today’s” fourth hour, in the front running.
Ann is one year into a three-year-at-$10 mil-per contract and would like the rest in cash, reports TMZ.
NBC, however, wants to give her a portion of that coin and a nice foreign correspondents job. That way NBC saves some money, and the network — and “Today” host Matt Lauer, who recently signed a new contract — don’t wind up looking like meanies in this soap opera.
They’d like to have her replacement named in time for NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympic Games in London.
Last week, one day before ratings come out that were expected to show ABC’s morning infotainment program “Good Morning America” beat “Today” show for the fifth week in the past 10 weeks, word got out that NBC News was negotiating Curry’s exit from “Today.”
(“Today” wound up edging ahead of “GMA” in the ratings for the previous week, because “GMA” had run longer than usual, having put a national ad in at the end of the broadcast, when the ratings are lower. Typically, the networks’ morning infotainment programs do not carry national ads in their final half hour or so, in order that Nielsen does not include that lower rated portion of the program. Nielsen only rates network time periods that include national ads.
So, at this point the record stands: “GMA” has snagged a lager audience than “Today” four of the last 10 weeks, ending a years-long “Today” winning streak. And, among the 25-54 year old viewers who are the currency of news programming, “GMA” this season has cut in half its year-to-year ratings gap with “Today” and now stands the closest to the NBC show that it’s ever been in the past 16 years.)
Since December, when The Reporters Who Cover Television were jolted out of their post-November sweep slumber after spotting NBC News suits dining with Ryan Seacrest, there’d been rampant speculation as to the future on “Today” of Lauer, who’d floated word he might opt to leave, and Curry, the show’s former news reader, whose future on the show had looked iffier as the ratings sank.
Things looked bleak for Curry as long ago as April, when two things happened the week Lauer’s old “Today” partner Katie Couric filled in at “GMA”:
1) Lauer announced he’d signed a new contract and would remain anchor-in-chief of the morning infotainment show
2) “Today” producers announced they’d signed a big mystery “get” for that week, who turned out be Vieira, returning to the show to announce she would help out with Summer Olympics coverage.
“We’re stuck with you, for a long time,” Ann Curry joshed – tragically, given the odds being given on her prospect at that time -- to Lauer when he made his happy announcement.