[Blind Gossip] This television show continues to go through some major changes and it’s causing pain for everyone… especially its male lead.
The situation is very fluid, so the strategy has been changing from week to week (or sometimes even day to day)!
Here is the latest: As of today, the plan is to have two new young costars has been scrapped. It’s too risky to bring in two new people and hope that they have some chemistry.
So, the new new plan is to keep the male lead and bring in a new female lead with whom he has some chemistry. And what better way to do that than to bring back one of its classic stars? That’s right, instead of going with a young, fresh face, they are going to bring back one of the old ones!
All three of these contenders have worked with the male lead before in some capacity. Here are the three women in contention:
1. This former leading lady just quit her job. She has nothing else lined up for the foreseeable future. Although she has publicly claimed several times that she won’t go back and she wants to spend more time with her family (blah blah blah), she is telling friends that it is all a negotiating tactic to return to the male star’s side… for the really big bucks. She wants the same salary as the male lead… which is something that was unthinkable a few years ago!
2. This former leading lady is doing well in her new gig. There is really no compelling reason for her to return to her old show. She is moving forward, and although she has a very good personal relationship with the male star and owes part of her success to him, she doesn’t see it as a good career move to go backwards.
3. This woman has great credentials, but she is not owing anything the male lead in regards to her career success. Besides, she is so rich on her own, they may not be able to afford her no matter what they offer.
The network has approved all three women, and is willing to pay a huge price to lure one of them into the co-starring role. If the partnership works, the male star can stay. If it doesn’t, the older male lead is out, the older female lead will stay, and she will then be paired with a new younger male lead.
Oh, and will they have to cut the male lead’s salary to make this happen? Yes! He is going to have to take hits to both his ego and his wallet for this strategy to work. This is going to be interesting.
Bonus Question: What will be the salary of the new female lead?
Show: Today Show
Male Lead: Matt Lauer
Woman 1: Meredith Vieira
Woman 2: Katie Couric
Woman 3: Maria Shriver
Bonus Question: What will be the salary of the new female lead? $20 million per year
A year ago, the producers of Today were feeling the desperation of slipping behind Good Morning America in the ratings. They could not lure Katie, Meredith, or Maria to the second chair, so they settled on Savannah Guthrie to co-anchor. Savannah is now going out on maternity leave. GMA is faltering with its recent defections and in-fighting, so it is now the perfect time to once again consider a big name to bring some buzz back to the show.
Katie Couric’s own talk show – Katie – ends in the next couple of months, but she still has about twenty jobs with Yahoo and ABC ( she serves as special correspondent for ABC News, contributing to ABC World News, Nightline, 20/20, Good Morning America, This Week, and primetime news specials). We don’t know exactly what her contract terms are for each of those jobs, but apparently NBC sees some sort of loophole there if they are talking about bringing her aboard. The other possibility is that she is using the publicity from this to help her salary negotiations with her current employers.
From The New York Post:
Katie Couric in talks to co-host ‘Today’
Katie Couric is in preliminary talks to head back to NBC’s “Today” — at least on a temporary basis, The Post has learned.
Couric is a contender to sit in and co-host the No. 2 morning show while Savannah Guthrie is on maternity leave, sources told The Post.
Guthrie, 42, is five months pregnant and expected to be away from the show for a few months beginning in late summer.
While the preliminary talks between Couric, 57, and NBC concern a temporary position, it could, sources added, turn into something longer-term if she sparks an uptick in ratings.
The talks, if successful, could spark a sense of déjà vu for the veteran Couric. In 1991, she got her first taste of the co-anchor chair on “Today” when she sat in for Deborah Norville when Norville left for maternity leave. When Norville didn’t return, Couric got the gig full-time.
Couric left “Today” in 2006 to become host of the “CBS Evening News.”
Guthrie and Couric chatted like old pals during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night. Guthrie, glowing in a pink pleated dress, gushed while showing off her baby bump.
Couric and Guthrie are said to have gotten close recently. The two have had lunch in the past eight weeks, sources told The Post.
To be sure, NBC News is also talking to others to fill Guthrie’s chair, including Meredith Vieira, who succeeded Couric at “Today.” Vieira, who was with “Today” until 2011, when she was replaced by Ann Curry, has a daytime chat show starting in the fall that could use some NBC cross-promotion.
Vieira remains close with top NBC brass and was part of NBC’s Olympics coverage from Sochi.
There are no official negotiations currently between Couric and NBC — just friendly talks, sources close to the newswoman said.
Couric currently has a deal with Yahoo! where she is “global anchor,” but online doesn’t carry the same prestige as a broadcast network. Plus, Couric’s online interviews with heavyweights like Mike Bloomberg and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates have been looking for a network home, say several sources.
Yahoo! has a partnership with ABC News, but Couric’s interviews aren’t covered by the deal, raising the question of whether a deal with Couric could also involve her Yahoo! work.
Couric’s talk show, “Katie,” syndicated through Disney’s Buena Vista, ends in June.
“With the Today show in a good place, we are blessed with great talent and many options to temporarily fill Savannah’s chair while she’s on leave, but there’s no plan yet,” an NBC spokeswoman said in a statement. “Stay tuned.”
Meredith Vieira was leaving Who Wants to be a Millionaire last year, and is now busy with her own show ( The Meredith Vieira Show premieres in national syndication on September 8. ) so it is interesting that she is still on the list. Maria Shriver was a possibility last year, but she was still too fresh off the Arnold love-child scandal to give it any serious consideration (Did you catch the “owing” clue? Maria’s middle name is “Owings”). The Schwarzenegger are still married.
Anybody else? Jane Pauley is a completely unknown to viewers under 40. Deborah Norville just isn’t a big enough name. Barbara Walters is a dinosaur. Anne Curry will never be considered as there is just too much bad blood there. Other talk show veterans were also considered, including Oprah. You can scratch her because she is too busy yelling about both racism and chai tea and pretending to be interested in professional sports.
Although this is just for a temporary substitute position, if Today ratings soar during SG’s maternity league, NBC won’t think twice about making a sweet offer to the sub.
Congratulations to Aafke for being first with the correct answer!