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. Photo Credit: Getty Images, 2013

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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.

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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.

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."

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

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