Matt Lauer nearly went to ABC last year after turmoil in his position on the NBC morning franchise threatened to boil over, a new report says.
The switch was reportedly being considered because of Lauer’s frustrations with Today co-anchor Ann Curry, with his bosses at NBC deciding to give him permission to look at jobs elsewhere. During that time, Matt Lauer met with ABC executives about a possible reunion with Katie Couric on a daytime talk show.
Had Lauer jumped to ABC, it would have been to knock the Today show off the top of the ratings, though it never got further than talks.
The new report seems to confirm rumors from last year that NBC executives were looking into bringing in Ryan Seacrest to replace Lauer on Today. The new reports suggest that the American Idol host would have been tapped if Matt Lauer indeed defected to ABC.
Lauer and Seacrest had joked about the rumors last year when NBC announced that the American Idol host would be an Olympics correspondent. Lauer mentioned that he heard Seacrest was trying to get a job on the show — filling in for weatherman Al Roker.
“I see you doing this as long as you want to,” Seacrest said when Matt Lauer asked if he saw a possible future at the Today show. “So maybe the question is how long will you be on the Today show? Because fans and I think you should be here for years to come.”
It’s not clear just how serious Matt Lauer was about making the move to ABC. Lauer reportedly had a meeting with Disney CEO Bob Iger, who badly wanted to bring Lauer over to ABC. But before they got to any real decision, Lauer went back to NBC and negotiated a two-year, $25 million contract, the highest ever for a morning show host. It was then that NBC also dropped Ann Curry and fully committed to Lauer, building the show around him.