Anderson Cooper may top list of Lauer replacements

NBC News management recently made a call to

NBC News management recently made a call to CNN's Anderson Cooper about joining "Today" before year's end. (Credit: Getty Images, 2013)

In the quickly unraveling world at "Today," now this: NBC News management recently made a call to CNN's Anderson Cooper about joining "Today" before year's end.

That would put him at the head of the line -- or at least on line -- to replace Matt Lauer, whose deal at the show is up in a little less than two years. Speculation in recent months about other possible "Today" co-hosts has included these names: "Good Morning America's" news anchor Josh Elliott and even Ryan Seacrest, while the "Today's" third-hour co-host, Willie Geist, is considered the inside front-runner.

What's going on here? In the wake of a sensational New York magazine article that hit the stands Monday, it is now apparent that NBC's -- and Lauer's -- attempts to contain the damage in the wake of Ann Curry's ouster last June have come to naught.


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The article was especially tough on Lauer, sparking some industry speculation this week that the magazine was infuriated after he had "gone off the reservation" -- in the words of one industry executive -- to conduct an interview with the Daily Beast, thus spoiling its scoop.

So what gives? Given the current firestorm around Matt and the cratering of "Today's" ratings (down 15 percent from a year ago in early March) quite possibly this: That the "Today" veteran now may regret signing a recent two-year extension and may even be exploring a graceful exit.

NBC has declined to comment on the Cooper contact though The New York Times -- which, like Newsday, also confirmed he had been approached, as first reported in Deadline -- did get this statement: "We are not considering replacing Matt Lauer."

Nevertheless, statements do have a way of changing in TV.

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