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Matt Lauer, still very much in damage control after the Ann Curry ouster fiasco and the continued downward pressure on numbers, turned up at "The Tonight Show" Thursday to promote the Psy performance Friday morning on "Today," and perhaps more importantly, to address his own performance.
In one respect, this was a profoundly harmless encounter — as you might expect — but especially interesting to see him describe Kathie Lee Gifford as a close friend, especially close after she came to his defense recently.
Meanwhile, not entirely sure who's giving Matt press counsel but at some point, someone has to tell him: Just say nothing, or — in less polite terms — shut up. A Jay interview doesn't even count as an interview, but as promotion, and to address — once again, even in a highly controlled and positive environment — his ongoing "troubles" serves only to remind viewers that he has ongoing troubles.
The relevant clip:
Ratings for the morning shows - "Today," "Good Morning America America" and "CBS This Morning" come out a little later, and they are expected to indicate the same new story: That "GMA" and "CBSTM" have added viewers from a year ago, while "Today" has not.
Law in morning TV: If you don't add viewers, your anchor team in in trouble, and that has been the case with "Today" for months now. But how much trouble? Brian Stelter, the New York Times media reporter whose book on morning TV ("Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV;" Grand Central Pub.) is out shortly and will be excerpted in this Sunday's Times, indicates - strongly - that Matt Lauer will complete his contract at the show, or, in his words, "Lauer has said he signed again to stop “Today” from sliding. Even though that hasn’t happened, his job still seems safe. High-ranking sources within the company suggest that the only way Lauer would leave before his deal ends is if he wanted to. Few at NBC have the stomach for a repeat of last year" - referring to the Ann Curry transition debacle..
Then there's this: The excerpt indicates that the Anderson Cooper talks are not entirely dead, and that in a brief meet with Pat Fili-Krushel (the executive with in overall charge of the news division, which remains without a president) he had "discussed a role for him on “Today” — not this year, but perhaps in 2014. According to one person with direct knowledge, one option called for Cooper to overlap with Lauer for 12 months, allowing for an orderly transition."
For the second month in a row, WNYW/5 has beaten "The Today Show" in New York -- highly unusual in the nation's largest city and symptomatic of "Today's" ongoing struggles. Per Ch. 5's figures, "Today" is down 27 percent year to year (or March to March) in the critical midrange adult demographic (25-54). "Good Day" bested "Today" by nine percent in this category.
Normally we don't tarry with numbers in this space -- though I have covered "Today's," while pointing out that the decline long predated Ann Curry's ouster last June -- but if "Today" can't pull out a victory on its home turf, then problems are serious.
Meanwhile, I wrote a TV Zone post about Matt Lauer's recent efforts to spin his travails at "Today" the other day, and mentioned that Howard Kurtz's recent scoop for the Daily Beast had come from an "impromptu" call from Lauer to Howard.
Wrong! I now hear Kurtz had made the pitch months earlier and that NBC management did in fact know about it. Why is timing relevant? Because there's been some speculation that New York mag's subsequent piece on Lauer was even tougher because Kurtz's piece beat them to the punch.
This may be inside baseball to you, but it's important to NBC and Lauer as they struggle to contain the damage that continues to envelop the most important anchor at NBC.
In the quickly unravelling world at "Today," now this: A prominent report says that NBC management made a call to CNN's Anderson Cooper about joining "Today" before year's end, which ostensibly would put him at the head of the line to replace Matt Lauer, whose deal at the show is up in just under two years.
True or not true?
I am told: True, although NBC has...Read more »
"Good Morning America's" Josh Elliott as the next co-anchor of "Today."
Let that thought, which is all it is, roll around your head for a minute. Get your arms around it. Think about why it might work or might not work. Think about what a Josh Elliott move to "Today" might mean, and what a Josh Elliott move from "GMA" might mean for that show. Think...Read more »
After the New York Post's latest salvo in its entertaining campaign to oust Matt Lauer as co-host of "Today" -- I think they've got him anchoring "Sesame Street" when his current contract ends -- I figured it's time to finally come to Matt's defense.
After all, he and NBC are sure doing a winning job of that. Someone had better step up before he does join Big Bird on the...Read more »