[BlindGossip] A successor has been chosen! Man 2 – the same man who spurred the demise of the last co-host – has chosen a successor.
Interestingly enough, it’s Woman 3, the competent candidate with whom he hasn’t slept. Yet. (She is single, so you never know what may happen in the future!) She will move into her new post as soon as her predecessor leaves.
What happens to Woman 4, the woman with whom he did have an affair? She is staying put. She’s got a good job and she knows it.
Man 2: Matt Lauer
Woman 3: Savannah Guthrie
Woman 4: Natalie Morales
The story of Ann Curry leaving The Today Show just broke today in the national news. According to those reports, a successor has not yet been chosen. Not true. It’s Savannah Guthrie.
Ratings had slipped over the past year, and the producers really really wanted Katie Couric or Meredith Viera back in the seat next to Matt Lauer. However, Katie is committed to a new talk show this fall, and even an obscene amount of money (approximately $20 million/yr!) could not tempt Meredith back to a full-time gig.
So that left NBC with a few options: Natalie Morales, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, one of the weekend anchors (Jenna Wolfe) or someone completely new. Matt would have a voice equal to that of the producers in the choice.
An affair with Natalie strained Matt’s relationship with her. Plus, Matt’s wife would go ballistic if Natalie was chosen. Hoda is well-liked, but is the perfect foil for Kathie Lee for the successful fourth hour of Today, so it makes sense to keep her there. Jenna Wolfe’s very personal relationship with a top NBC executive would create a huge scandal if she was given the job. Bringing in someone completely new would be too risky.
(Lesson that should be learned by two of the players listed above: In trying to screw your way to the top, you could wind up screwing yourself out of the top job.)
That leaves Savannah Guthrie. Not the most exciting choice, but she is competent, intelligent, and well-regarded within NBC. If she can lighten up a bit on-screen, we think she has a real chance of creating a great partnership with Matt Lauer.
In other interesting news, Ann Curry almost didn’t show up to work yesterday, so the producers scrambled to fly in Hoda at the last minute. Also, Savannah is being kept quietly in the wings because the NBC producers are trying to protect her from a backlash by Ann Curry fans. Hmmm. If they haven’t picked her, why do is she the only one who needs protection? From The New York Times:
On Wednesday afternoon, The New York Times reported that NBCexecutives were making preparations to replace Ms. Curry on “Today,” potentially as soon as next week. It is unclear whether she has accepted their proposals to move into a different job at the network news division.
At the time the story was published online, it appeared likely that Ms. Curry would not appear on Thursday’s show. The show’s producers looked to Ms. Kotb, who was in Nashville and about to board a previously scheduled flight back to New York. When she landed in New York, she found out that the plans had changed: Ms. Curry would be co-hosting after all.
An NBC spokeswoman declined to comment.
NBC has not picked a replacement for Ms. Curry on “Today,” so any move to fill her seat, even temporarily, would surely be scrutinized by people inside and outside NBC for signs of the network’s plans. By picking Ms. Kotb to fill in on Wednesday, the producers of “Today” may have been trying to protect Savannah Guthrie (the woman most often mentioned as a replacement) from possible backlash from Ms. Curry’s fans.
Related: He Wants To Choose His Costar
Lots of you got this one right. Mrk34 was first!
As Liz Lemon would say: “Twist!”
Although producers were ready to go with Savannah – and were even busy protecting her from marauding Ann Curry fans – they decided to conduct a focus group this week. And they were very surprised with the results!
Remember how we said that Hoda Kotb was well-liked? Well, the focus group overwhelmingly agreed… and now Savannah may get bumped in favor of Hoda! Hoda was overwhelmingly favored by the focus group as “warm and likeable”, while Savannah was labeled as “confident but cold”. That’s not good news for Savannah. Hoda has another key advantage: she has helped to score consistently good ratings for Today. Savannah is relatively untested as a host who can bring in the ratings.
This all just happened, but the producers are going to have to make a decision soon. Ann’s days are numbered (she may be leaving as early as next week), and they definitely need to have a new cohost picked before the Olympics.
We think that Hoda would be a great choice. We don’t know who would take her place in the fourth hour. We certainly don’t see Natalie, Savannah, Jenna or Ann chugging down chardonnays with Kathie Lee anytime soon!
We had it right the first time! The winner is Savannah Guthrie! According to TMZ:
Ann Curry Negotiating Exit From NBC
Savannah Guthrie A Lock
Ann Curry and NBC are negotiating her exit from “Today” and the hang-up is money … sources connected with the network tell TMZ.
Our sources say Savannah Guthrie has already made her deal with the network to succeed Ann as co-anchor of “Today,” but the snag is the amount of money Ann will get.
As we first reported, Ann gets $10 million a year. She is one year into a 3-year contract, and from what we’re hearing NBC does not want to pay her $20 million for the balance of the contract.
Sources tell us Ann wants the full $20 mil and her exit papers. NBC wants to pay her $10 mil and give her a foreign correspondent job. And therein lies the hang-up.
The network could pay her the $20 mil and then prohibit her from working anywhere else for 2 years. But we’re told they don’t want to shell out that kind of dough, so Ann’s lawyer and NBC are haggling.
NBC wants to make the switch quickly … certainly before the Olympics so they can showcase Savannah. We’re hearing the goal is to make the announcement late this week or early next.