NYT: 'Today' co-anchor Ann Curry to get the boot
NBC News is trying to force out Ann Curry as co-anchor of "The Today Show," a year after she replaced Meredith Vieira, the New York Times is reporting.
Citing unnamed executives, the paper says a foreign reporting role has been offered to Curry, who so far has been reluctant to accept the exit offer. In addition, she has hired a well-known Washington, D.C., lawyer and power broker, Robert Barnett, to handle her negotiations. (Barnett handled Bill Clinton's literary negotiations, and has repped many high-powered on-air network anchors and reporters over the years.)
NBC has declined to comment on the Times report.
The report comes on the heels of a Times review that is pointedly critical of Curry.
The timing of the news may be critical: the network may have in place a window, not uncommon, in Curry's contract allowing it to renegotiate her contract. Those are often predicated on ratings; if ratings are bad -- and Curry's "Today" did fall behind "Good Morning America" for the first time in 16 years -- then that might be a clause that could impact either salary or tenure.
In fact, I've reoprted in this space over the last year -- as recently as two weeks ago -- that Curry's tenure has hardly been stellar. She was replaced by Vieira during "Today's" coverage of Queen Elizabeth II's jubilee. Such replacements are almost always indicative of behind-the-scenes problems, though in this case "Today" execs probably made the simple calculus that Vieira would be a better fit for Matt Lauer during the hugely presitigious event. Moroever, keeping Curry off of jubilee coverage was a sharp blow to her that also sent a message: We will replace you when we have a mind to.
Replacing Curry might not prove so easy. There is no obvious in-house replacement, even though Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of "Today's" third hour, is believed to be the logical successor. And a precipitous change could trigger audience backlash, not unlike the time Jane Pauley was dumped for Deborah Norville. However, the Times report, citing a source, noted that execs were feeling "real pressure" to complete a transition by July 27, when the Summer Olympics begin.