NBC's Matt Lauer mess gets even murkier

Will the embattled 'Today' host get the boot? The network says no, but that isn't stopping rumors of candidates that could replace him.

By Jonathan Berr Mar 27, 2013 12:59PM
Matt Lauer, co-host of the NBC Updated 1:50 p.m. ET

Is Anderson Cooper going to replace the embattled Matt Lauer as the host of NBC's "Today" show? Who knows.

According to Deadline.com, the Comcast-owned (CMCSA) network wants the silver-haired broadcaster to replace Lauer "before the end of the year."

Then things get a little tricky. Lauer reportedly wasn't thrilled to learn that NBC was trying to replace him -- imagine that -- and contacted Cooper to "express his disapproval." Cooper, the host of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," was surprised by Lauer's reaction because he thought NBC would have checked with Lauer before approaching a potential replacement. 

NBC responded Wednesday by saying that it wants to keep Lauer on "Today" for years to come, according to the Associated Press. It's telling that the network didn't deny the Deadline.com story.

Confused? You aren't alone.

The gossip pages are chock full of potential replacements for Lauer, including Ryan Seacrest. Whether the hardest working man in broadcasting will make room in his already-busy schedule -- which includes "American Idol" -- remains to be seen.

"Meet the Press" host David Gregory and Willie Geist of "Morning Joe" fame, who's a co-host on "Today," have also surfaced in the who'll-replace-Lauer soap opera. Adding another twist to the plot, Deadline is reporting that Cooper and comic Kathy Griffin, who host CNN's New Year's Eve show, recently shot a pilot for the Time Warner (TWX) cable channel.

Lauer may be preparing an exit strategy. Deadline notes that he has been mentioned -- perhaps by his publicist -- as a potential replacement for Alex Trebek when the long-time host of "Jeopardy" retires. Other rumors had Lauer joining his former colleague Katie Couric as the host of a talk show.

Clearly, "Today" is the lead car in the train wreck that is NBC. As Joe Hagan noted in New York Magazine, Lauer has been the focal point of fan outrage over the botched ouster of Ann Curry. The impact of that decision has been catastrophic from a financial perspective because morning shows are such huge cash cows for the networks.

"In the aftermath of the Curry debacle, ('Today') lost half a million viewers and ceded first place in the ratings war to ABC’s 'Good Morning America,' losing millions of dollars overnight," Hagan wrote.

Getting rid of Lauer, however, may not be easy or cheap. He reportedly earns $25 million a year and just signed a new contract last year. No doubt, Lauer will demand big money to walk away quietly from the Peacock Network.

About the only silver lining for NBC in the Lauer drama -- and it's not much of one -- is that it makes the media temporarily forget the network's other hot messes such as the anemic ratings performance of its prime-time lineup and its efforts to oust Jay Leno from the "Tonight" show. The square-jawed comic is reportedly planning to stay on the job through 2014 so he can "keep peeving everyone at the network off," according to Fox's 411 column.

NBC faces two public relations disasters at the same time that are almost totally of its own doing.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Mar 27, 2013 1:54PM

They lost me when they canned Ann Curry.  She had credibility, brains and class... Now it's just a bunch of goofballs in fancy clothes.  SHE should be the main host of the show.

Mar 27, 2013 2:48PM
GET RID OF MATT - HE IS AS OBNOXIOUS AS 'HIS GOOD OLD FRIEND', Bryant Gumble.  He was another sickening person to have to tolerate on the infamous "Today Show".  But I am so sick of this freak'n show and all the pathetic 'replacements' that can never replace good old Merideth Viera who added class to this pathetic circus of a show.  Ann Curray was great, but I am sure she was pressed to have more of a personality which did exactly the opposite for her.  Ann Curry should have stayed who she was (real) and should not have been frightened by all those NBC's execus who are nothing but 'you know what'. It is pathetic what news programs have turned into - they really should be called 'morning ET" because they are no more than announcing the latest Hollywood gossip and thrive on everything 'celebrity' - what ever happend to reporting the news????  What ever happend to the class of "Huntley and Brinkley"?  Take Matt off the air because he is a phoney and looks like a complete "you know what" when he wears that stupid Fedora hat?  Who the hell does he think he is?  I saw through him for a long time now and he is pure sickening.  He is so fanatical about his 'perfect' look that I'd like to pour a gallon of paint on him!  He'd probably 'cry'!  So execs, hope by some luck you'll read some of these great posts telling it like it is!  GET MAUER OFF THE FREAK'N AIR AND GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER!  What is it with all this 'forced' laughter that you think you must project to your audience?  Well, hate to tell you but you're succeeding in doing the complete opposite!  We're all running for the hills as in 'other networks'! True about Savannah, but it only goes to show you NBC has run out of 'class people' for replacements of the class that left.  Savannah is not stupid, but NBC, did you ever hear about the word "medium" as in, it's not everybody's medium to be what others carry off quite naturally.  Savannah was great reporting as the correspondant, but once again, NBC put her in a position where she doesn't belong.  NBC, 'YOU ARE MORONS"!
Mar 27, 2013 2:22PM
Mar 27, 2013 2:50PM
I feel he had a hand in the dismissal of Anne Curry and is an egotist. Karma
Mar 27, 2013 1:23PM
At a feast of egos, everyone leaves hungry!
Mar 27, 2013 2:40PM
Where do these NBC execs go to school. They obviously have the taste of an alleycat. These guys are bigger Dodos than their audience. What the heck do they think they know? They have all the management skills of Nero. I hope Comcast enjoys seeing their investment burn down while Leno fiddles away.
Mar 27, 2013 3:25PM
Comcast and Lauer go together like bees and honey.  He is so full of himself.  If you need customer service try and get through with Comcast.  They deserve each other.  They will both sink to the depths of mediocraty together.
Mar 27, 2013 4:33PM


Mar 27, 2013 5:07PM
Alright NBC, haven't you learned anything yet?   How can you be so stupid.....so many times?   Get rid of Matt Lauer once & for all!!!    He is an egotistical piece of garbage that wandered in off the streets & landed a very special job with a very special network.    Not so special anymore due to all the dumb decisions someone is making!   Just what does it take for you guys to accept the fact that   NOBODY CAN STAND MATT LAUER???   He is disgusting & needs to disappear FOREVER!      Can't stand the sight of him and so many of us will quickly change the channel once his name is mentioned.  You guys are way smarter than you are acting, lets see if you can do the right thing & make him a thing of the past.   ALSO......DO NOT TRY TO REPLACE ALEX TREBEC ON JEOPARDY WITH HIM!    That would be a huge mistake & all it would accomplish is to be moving him from one mess to another.  DUH!  Please pay heed to your viewers and do  whats right!!
Mar 27, 2013 4:48PM
It is not the people, but the content that is hurting the show. I would like to see more newsworthy stories for the 9-10 spot, and put the fluff content on the  Hoda and Kathy Lee segment.
Mar 27, 2013 3:24PM

what goes around, comes around.....


Mar 27, 2013 2:09PM

HERE HERE !    Jetgirl,

I never knew why they brought on Savannah next to Ann she was vastly inadequate.  Ann Curry and Anderson Cooper, now there's a match !

Mar 27, 2013 6:35PM
Good ridance.  Never like him anyway. 
Mar 27, 2013 4:15PM
I quit watching NBC when they killed "Bonanza."
Mar 27, 2013 5:05PM
Just goes to show these supposed news organizations are just a side show of nonsense, fantasy reporting, and drama.
Mar 27, 2013 5:27PM
I stopped watching CNN the moment Anderson Cooper came out as being gay. If he goes on Today, I will discontinue watching Today as well as NBC. A person has the right to theri own sexual preference no matter how revolting it may be. A person also has the right to avoid those who practice un-natural sexual activities.
Mar 27, 2013 1:21PM
We have yet to realize the full economic impact of the ACA.
Mar 27, 2013 7:25PM
Mar 27, 2013 10:24PM
I still cant believe that they pay these dorks 25 million a year!! 
Mar 27, 2013 9:14PM

Haven't watched the Today show since the Ann Curry mess was poorly handled by all and will not watch again until  Matt Lauer is gone,gone ,gone .Let him be treated like Ann Curry or others that he may not have liked. Well, America has spoken wake up and smell the coffee, NBC and just take the 25 million dollar loss let do the odd jobs until his contract is up.

Jay Leno what is that all about is ahead in consistent in ratings are you NBC executives so overpaid and out of touch with everything or is it the new comcast deal. Trying to repeat the Conan O'Brian fiasco. You guys really need a good swift kick in the backside, and figure out what your doing and it isn't  interest for your corp. Whatever silly game your playing is losing more viewers than you are gaining. 


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