Matt Lauer’s contract on Today Show to expire ‘his popularity has plummeted’

Earlier this week, The Daily Beast ran an interview with Matt Lauer on what happened at the Today Show nine months ago during Ann Curry’s perfunctory firing. It was way too little, too late and it was clear that higher-ups at NBC didn’t want Matt Lauer to take the fall for it. He took some modicum of responsibility, but the story went that Ann had to go and that it wasn’t Lauer’s doing. He said “I don’t think the show and the network handled the transition well. You don’t have to be Einstein to know that. It clearly did not help us. We were seen as a family, and we didn’t handle a family matter well.

So Lauer wants us to know that he wasn’t responsible for the way Ann was ushered out, but that weak gesture isn’t going to do much for him. The Today Show has been way down in the ratings and now it’s clear that Matt is the problem. He’s about to get ousted too although he’ll probably have to wait until his fat contract expires next year. I guess Ann didn’t have that protection built into hers. The NY Times has a pretty juicy piece about the goings-on at NBC, and how everyone thinks Matt is the problem.

Staff members at NBC’s “Today” show huddled for a performance review last month, 10 months after the longtime morning show leader first fell behind ABC’s “Good Morning America” in the ratings. The mood was anxious, according to several attendees, as network executives discussed the findings from focus groups with hundreds of viewers.

The employees were reassured that “Today” viewers didn’t want their show to turn into “Good Morning America,” the ABC rival that has become Americans’ No. 1 choice in the mornings. But then they were told this: “What matters most is the anchor connection to the audience; what we need to work on is the connection.” As the word “connection” was repeated, some people in the room started to chuckle because of a name that went unspoken: Matt Lauer.

“What they meant was Matt. But no one would say it,” said a senior staff member who, like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Lauer was not there, but it is clear that the once-popular host’s relationship with his audience is in peril. Last April, Mr. Lauer signed a contract said to be worth $25 million a year, the most lucrative deal in the 60-year history of morning television. And then the bottom fell out.

The following week, “Today” fell to second place in the morning ratings for the first time in 16 years. When his co-host, Ann Curry, was forced out over the summer, it was Mr. Lauer and not network executives who shouldered most of the blame.

Since then, his popularity among viewers has plummeted and NBC has been forced to deny what was unthinkable a year ago: the rumor that Mr. Lauer, 55, who first took over the co-host chair in 1997, could soon be replaced by a younger host like Willie Geist, 37, or David Gregory, 42…

The employees spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared retribution from Mr. Lauer and their bosses. They all agreed that his contract, thought to keep him at “Today” through at least 2014, would be his last.

[From The NY Times via Radar]

Willie Geist, 37, is the lead contender to replace Lauer, and The NY Times reports that before that happens they’ll probably bring in another anchor so that the audience isn’t so focused on that a-hole Matt and how much of a smug jerk he is. I’m adding a bunch of adjectives in there, but that’s the subtext. Maybe Lauer isn’t totally to blame for the way Ann got shafted, and maybe other people were behind it too, but he just highlights how unfair the whole situation was. Plus it’s not like he was advocating for her in any way, and you get the sense that if she would have dressed sexier and flirted with him, that would have happened. It’s about time he got knocked off his high horse.

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40 Responses to “Matt Lauer’s contract on Today Show to expire ‘his popularity has plummeted’”

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  1. dorothy says:

    That’s what happens when your an a-hole.

  2. ker says:

    I havent’ watched this show in years, but the problem is that he believed he was powerful and untouchable. So different from the first year he was on.

    Glorified news reader, anyway

  3. GeeMoney says:

    That’s what he gets. Ann Curry deserved to be treated better.

  4. Amy says:

    I still love his Tom Cruise interview. He was so glib. But he is not interesting enough to carry a show.

  5. marky mark says:

    Everyone at NBC handled this terribly and even if Matt wasn’t as responsible for most of it, as the more public figure (& powerful one at that) He could have advocated for her a bit more. He didn’t want to & I’m kind of glad to see him pay the piper for it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget seeing how Anne cried as she signed off…Those pigs

  6. Rhiley says:

    I quit watching the Today Show because they stopped covering real news. The first half hour goes: Young-white-college woman missing, boyfriend a suspect; John Gosselin broke, Kate desperate; Octomom set to release workout video; Duggars have a surprise announcement- Surprise! they are having another child. I now love Charlie Rose and Norah O’donnell.

  7. jamie says:

    About time. Where’s Lester Holt in all of this? I don’t watch NBC news much anymore so maybe he’s left the network. I remember watching weekend Today regularly a few years back–he and the co anchor, I think her name was Cambell Brown or something, were a good team. Never seen Willie Geist before but am betting that he or Gregory will be a huge improvement.

    Haven’t seen much of the new female co-anchor but she seems incredibly blah. Maybe they should totally clean house and dump her too.

  8. Simple Red says:

    Ha! Who didn’t see this coming..
    Majority predicted this would happen..

    See you later prick next have some class and balls when handling situations like this

  9. GirlyGirl says:

    This falls squarely at the feet of NBC management. They let this guy feel untouchable and rode the public wave of ennui into ratings oblivion.

    If anyone’s heads should roll it’s the execs at NBC.

    Also take a long look at Matt Lauer, he’s really a great face for radio.

  10. lisa says:

    i guess he can sit home with his wife. they have always given me the vibe of 2 people who dont like each other much,

  11. GoldenState says:

    This is when public gossip can actually work in our favor–so long, Matt! I won’t be shedding tears anytime soon, you smug jerk.

  12. Jayna says:

    I watch the show. I like the group now. I wasn’t sure about Savannah, but she’s fine. I just like it better than GMA. I am glad to see Ann will be on Rock Center doing an interview piece. I was getting pissed off that NBC wasn’t using her on TV but never liked her as a co-host all that much. NBC really caused more of a problem by taking her off the network completely, like punishing her. I have barely seen her, and that is just wrong, that kind of treatment. If they had put her more out there visibly on other nightime shows utilizing her reporting skills, everything would have smoothed over already.

    • ms says:

      I totally agree with you, Ann was horrible in Meredith’s place! I dont blame the network for getting rid of her but they should have done it differently. I think Savannah sucks and that Natalie would have been better in that position. Also cant stand GMA! Dont understand what the fuss is over that Robin chick, she annoys me.

  13. Rux says:

    Amen. I stopped watching Today several weeks ago because I can’t stand Lauer’s smuggy swag. I still love Al though…lastly Savannah makes my IQ drop so I had to save myself.

  14. Apsutter says:

    Pajiba just ran an article that Alex Tebek might retire and they’re thinking of Matt Lauer for his replacement!! Yuck..that would absolutely ruin Jeopardy!

  15. Sarcasmo says:

    He’s a dick; that’s what he gets. Did anyone else notice that his wife and Ann had the same hair? Maybe Ann reminded him of his wife, and that’s why he wanted her gone. (Not to mention that Ann was accomplished and competent, so she was very likely a threat.)

  16. Lakemom says:

    Karma. Now if only the two vapid Barbie doll twins would go with him….

  17. Runs with Scissors says:

    My favorite Lauer interview was with Anne Hathaway after a photographer zoomed in on her crotch and took a photo without her content and sold it instead of deleting it.

    He actually opened the interview by saying, “so, been seeing a lot of you lately.” (“ha ha, I sought out those photos so I could see your vag!”) He revealed himself to be a PERVY and CONDESCENDING jerk.

    Hathaway schooled him with her response, it was awesome.

  18. Dinah says:

    Ah, hubris… the great equalizer.

  19. LeeLoo says:

    GMA works because everyone from Robin Roberts on down is treated as an asset by ABC and those around them. There’s an air of humility and closeness on GMA that was lacking on Today even before Ann Curry left. Matt was allowed to become too powerful and NBC does not treat their people well as has been proven time and again by the way they handled the ousters of Conan and Ann. Why would I want to support a network that treats their staff so poorly? I’m sure many other people feel the same way. The only thing NBC cares about is ratings and karma suggests that when that becomes more important than the quality of the shows they put on, that they will have neither.

  20. Lbeees says:

    Why don’t they go for a female anchor? About time.

  21. bea says:

    You hardly ever see anyone “get theirs”, so this is kind of thrilling.

    UNFORTUNATELY, they’re talking about replacing Alex T. with effing Matt Lauer on Jeopardy! My favorite show, ruined by His Royal Smugness. Please someone offer him something else.

  22. rhonered says:

    Can we talk about how awful Savannah Guthrie is for a minute?? Wooden, uptight and lacking any charisma whatsoever. They’re going to have to replace her too. Natalie Morales is 100x better, but even she doesn’t have the charm that Meredith or Katie do.

  23. TheOneAndOnlyOnly says:

    Savannah’s terrible; so she has a law degree they are a dime a dozen; I worked in the legal field for 15 yrs. and the lawyers i came in contact with were not well read and well educated by any real standard. These morning shows esp. NBC’s desperately strain to fill the hours. Good riddance Matt.

  24. pwal says:

    I seem to remember that when Lauer got his contract, a lot was made of his power to influence who remains as an anchor i.e. he could give Ann Curry the gate. To me, that is absolutely wrong – wrong for the higher ups to offer and for Lauer to accept. The Today Show isn’t like The View – Lauer didn’t create this show, therefore he shouldn’t have the power to get rid of anyone. This isn’t conducive to creating a familial on-screen relationship, in my opinion.

  25. lsor says:

    I’m a long time fan of Today but hate Matt Lauer’s primadonna attitude. Is he too high and mighty to work after 9am like the rest of the crew? For $25M he should be doing other NBC gigs like his other NBC colleagues. Fame does strange things to people. He needs to be humbled

  26. JFerber says:

    Matt has aged so badly and it’s not like he has a likeability factor like Al Roker that would make that okay. He is after all, a product, and one that is past its prime and over its expiration date. Clearly that’s enough to can any woman. Why should he be exempt? Plus, he’s a bastard.