Ann Curry was “tortured” by the Today Show staff, according to Brian Stelter’s new book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV.
In his book, Stelter says the Today Show is run like a boys club and boys club president and co-anchor Matt Lauer developed a “growing indifference” to Curry and a “general meanness on set” towards his former co-star.
Also in the book, Stelter says Today’s executive producer Jim Bell made a blooper reel of Curry’s biggest on-air gaffs to show the staff, a move reserved only for Curry.
According to the book, the Today Show staff also gave Ann Curry a bad office location, and even the security staff made jokes at her expense.
In his book, Stelter writes:
“Many executives at the network never grasped how profoundly hurt and humiliated Curry remained — not just by her televised dismissal but by all the backstage machinations that led to that fateful morning. Curry felt that the boys club atmosphere behind the scenes at ‘Today’ undermined her from the start, and she told friends that her final months were a form of professional torture.”
Here are two more excerpts from Top of The Morning:
“At one point, the executive producer, Jim Bell, commissioned a blooper reel of Curry’s worst on-air mistakes. Another time, according to a producer, Bell called staff members into his office toshow a gaffe she made during a cross-talk with a local station. (Bell denies both incidents.) Then several boxes of Curry’s belongings ended up in a coat closet, as if she had already been booted off the premises. One staff person recalled that “a lot of time in the control room was spent making fun of Ann’s outfit choices or just generally messing with her.” On one memorable spring morning, Curry wore a bright yellow dress that spawned snarky comparisons to Big Bird. The staff person said that others in the control room, which included 14 men and 3 women, according to my head count one morning, Photoshopped a picture of Big Bird next to Curry and asked co-workers to vote on “Who wore it best?””
Apparently even Katie Couric had problems with Curry’s ambitions:
“Before she even arrived at Studio 1A, Curry’s ambition was legendary. In 1993, while anchoring an early-morning show called “NBC News at Sunrise,” Curry made a play for the weekend “Nightly News” slot. When it went to Brian Williams instead, she called the president of NBC News, Andrew Lack, at his home to express her frustration. When she eventually replaced Lauer as the “Today” news reader four years later, Curry jockeyed to fill in for Katie Couric every time Couric was away. According to several well-placed producers, Couric didn’t appreciate Curry’s eagerness. Producers said Couric thought Curry was melodramatic and, in a word that one used, “fake.””
Ann Curry felt “tortured” by the Today Show staff, but perhaps she had managed to get the last laugh. Stetler writes:
“On particularly bad days ‘Good Morning America’ beat ‘Today’ by a million viewers. Some of this was attributed to Curry’s fans exacting revenge. She was overwhelmed by condolences. ‘It feels like I died,’ she told colleagues afterward, ‘and I’ve seen my own wake.'”
With Good Morning America continuing to battle against The Today Show and fans still seemingly upset with the back stabbing and behind the scenes antics, perhaps its time for The Today Show staff to turn against the rest of the shows staff.
In the meantime, I simply don’t understand why Today Show fans don’t want to watch Al Roker suddenly turn into a frozen statue or talk about accidentally pooping his pants at the White House. Perhaps Ann Curry getting the boot from the show was the best thing that could happen for her.
[Image via David Shankbone]