Rumor has it that Matt Lauer is going to be dumped from Today when his contract expires in 2014. But that doesn’t seem to bother Lauer (or it least he’s not showing that it does) who joked about his recent unpopularity during the NBC News Group’s upfront presentation Thursday in New York City.
According to a recent report (okay let’s be honest, a rumor) Lauer will be released from his $25 million per year contract in 2014 (when it is up for renewal) due to his plunging popularity among viewers over that whole Ann Curry thing.
NBC employees have reportedly laughed at him openly during meetings, and execs might be eye-balling a younger face to reboot the Today brand.
Bear in mind, this report goes against everything the studio heads have ever said on the matter, but Lauer’s popularity has definitely waned over his perceived influence in the sudden (some have said forced) departure of Curry.
Also, if the rumor is true, Lauer is either completely unaware that his network is plotting against him, or he simply doesn’t care.
“I would like to tackle what might be a teeny white elephant in the room. We all love covering the news, we hate being the news,” he said on stage at the New York Public Library’s Celeste Bartos Forum, alongside co-host Savannah Guthrie. “I promise to spend all of my time and energy over the next several months trying to keep Savannah out of the headlines.”
Good joke, but to be fair, Savannah is perfectly capable of making headlines all her own.
In any case, maybe the deal with Lauer is simply that he still believes Today will survive its most recent scandals, though he seemingly admits that the show’s programming might need at least a soft reboot.
Lauer noted, “we want to go back to the most-watched morning program and the least-talked about morning program.”
His comments were echoed by NBC Universal News chairman Pat Fili-Krushel, who likewise stressed that Today was on the right track in her own comments at the luncheon. Fili-Krushel pointed out that what we perceive as “failure” was actually months of difficult “evolving” for the troubled show.
“We are really pleased with the direction it’s headed,” she said of Today, citing MSNBC’s Morning Joe and CNBC’s Squawk Box, as evidence that they “own” morning television.
So I kindly doubt Lauer is going anywhere any time soon, and honestly, he just needs to come out and meaculpa whether he had a part in Curry’s departure or not. Just do it, Matt. It’s what everyone wants. Then get back the show’s focus and put these God-awful awkward slip-ups to bed.
And let’s not forget Al Roker, who is trulythe wronged party of Today.