Meredith Vieira on Ann Curry’s ouster from The Today Show: ‘it turned so nasty’

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Everyone loves Meredith Vieria. When she left The Today Show in 2011 after five years as a co-anchor, they had a huge sendoff for her including multiple clip montages, tributes, and a dance routine with the entire crew through the streets of New York. Meredith left on very good terms in order to spend more time with her husband, who suffers from MS. She was replaced by Ann Curry, who famously lasted just one tense year. The day that Ann left, she gave an awkward teary speech on the Today couch, during which she didn’t even look at co-host Matt Lauer. When you compare the effusive goodbye The Today Show gave to Meredith with the way they kind of kicked Ann in the butt to get her off, the difference is extreme.

Ann of course wasn’t a great anchor, she had one “serious/sad” setting and an apparent lack of humor that made some of her interviews uncomfortable. Still, she was treated very poorly. It’s thought that Matt Lauer pushed her out, and that producers pressured her to act sexier, which she wasn’t comfortable with. (She’s said as much.)

Meredith Vieira was offered Ann’s spot after Ann was fired, but she declined and Savannah Guthrie stepped in instead. Meredith was smart to stay away from that mess and she now has her own daytime talkshow coming out. Meredith covers the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter. She tells THR that it was hard to watch all the drama go down at her old job. She’s pretty diplomatic about it too, saying she felt badly for both sides.

“That was such a bad time,” says Vieira, referring to the botched handover from Ann Curry, who replaced Vieira, to Savannah Guthrie in 2012. “I really felt for Matt a lot. And I felt for Ann, too. It turned so nasty, really nasty. Every day you’re reading this stuff that is just beyond cruel from angry, angry people who felt that Ann had been slighted and embarrassed and humiliated. And they basically pointed to one person on whom to take out all of their anger. I don’t know if I would have survived that.”

She says she did not offer Lauer advice through the turmoil. “I just told him I loved him and I was there for him. But I never sugarcoated what had happened. I thought it had not been handled smartly from the very beginning, because I don’t think they ever felt that was the right fit for Ann so they should never have put her in that position to begin with. And then the ending was so mishandled. But you know what, shit happens. People make mistakes. We all do.”

One insider speculates that NBC would have paid Vieira more than $10 million a year to stay at Today. (When she left, her contract was worth about $8 million a year.) Less than a year later, the show, which had topped the ratings for more than 16 years, fell to second place against Good Morning America.
“I think they thought, ‘She’s not going to leave, it’s too much money’ — which is a real incentive,” says Vieira. “Then I realized if I’m sticking around for that, there’s something wrong. If you don’t feel like doing the job, especially a job that’s that hard on your life, why keep doing it? I like being well-paid. But that’s never my incentive for jobs.”

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

Meredith handled that very well. She is a smart cookie and people love her. I wonder whether her new talkshow will be a success, though. That’s an extremely competitive market, and Katie Couric’s show only lasted two seasons. Meredith’s new show, The Meredith Vieira Show, will premiere on September 8 on NBC. THR says that the budget is around $35 million which is incredibly expensive but less than the $50 million that was spent on Katie Couric’s show. I hope it’s a success for Meredith, but the fact that it’s on NBC doesn’t bode well.

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68 Responses to “Meredith Vieira on Ann Curry’s ouster from The Today Show: ‘it turned so nasty’”

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  1. Jenns says:

    The View hasn’t been the same since she left either.

    • Suzanne says:

      I’ve never been a fan of this woman…and never understood why she’s so well thought of.
      I saw her guest spot on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and she was so AWKWARD and seemingly uncomfortable in her own skin….it was hard to watch.
      I will not be watching her talk show any time soon either.

  2. Kiddo says:

    She has common sense, intelligence, and the ability to stack priorities.
    Isn’t she a bit of the old genuine journalist instead of the more pervasive TV personality?

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      Oh man..I’ve always loved Meredith. We’re talking about Meredith here right, not Ann?

      I know everyone loves Ann Curry, but I could not STAND her on Today. I’m sure she’s a very sweet woman but she was NOT good on live television–always stuttering and very awkward. I’m glad for her if she’s found a better fit, preferably behind-the-scenes, like very, very far away from live television.

      • Kiddo says:

        Yeah, Meredith. Ann was TERRIBLE. I am in the minority who believe that she doesn’t have skills.

      • Emma - the JP Lover says:

        But I would take Anne Curry any day over Savannah Guthrie. To me, she always talks like a ‘Valley Girl’ and acts like a sorority sister talking to new pledges about the right way to wear makeup; whether she’s talking to a world leader, or a high school rape victim. Why the “Today” show picked her over Natalie Morales, who actually has a degree in communication/journalism and has years of experience at different local market news shows reporting the news. Savannah Guthrie has a law degree.

        Ann Curry also has a degree in journalism and like Natalie Morales, Ann has years of news reporting in regional news markets. She actually won two Emmy Awards for news reporting while working as a reporter at a Los Angeles TV station.

      • Rhiley says:

        Agree TOK. Ann was really bad. I pretty much watched the first half hour of the Today Show every day that Meredith was on, and Ann was behind the news desk. But then even the first half hour turned to Octomom and Kate Gosling and the latest disappearance of some blond haired blue eyed girl. I don’t know if Savannah Gutherie really does any better than Ann but it really doesn’t matter. The Today Show is just terrible and Meredith was smart to stay away. She does seem to have a brother sister dynamic with Matt, but I was under the impression that it was for the most part fake. I was surprised to learn how much she really does seem to care about him. He grosses me out.

      • gooner says:

        Agreed on Ann Curry. She seems to be a very sweet person, but I remember she did an interview with Angelina Jolie (I think it was before the Today Show) and she was just fawning all over Angelina, like a starry-eyed fan girl. I know it’s fluff journalism, but it was irritating to watch.

      • I used to really like Ann Curry when she was a reporter for the Today show in the 90s. Never having seen her as a host, I don’t have an opinion on how she did, but I do wonder if over the years she got spectacularly bad coaching for a job that wasn’t a great fit.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I feel so bad, but there was this clip they used to play on the Soup of Ann saying, “Good morning, good morning, in the news this morning, good morning” and it cracks me up just thinking about it.

        From what I have heard, Ann had more of a serious “news” background, and would have been better off in the field for the nightly news than discussing recipes and celebrity gossip.

      • holly hobby says:

        Emma – it was rumored (not sure if it’s true but there were rumors circulating) that Natalie Morales slept with Matt some even say her last baby looks just like him. That is why she did not get the promotion. Again, no basis but that rumor was heavily circulated a few years ago.

  3. lisa2 says:

    I’m in the minority because I don’t “love” Meredith. So no not EVERYONE does.

    I think her show will go the way of Katie’s show. I won’t be watching.

    • Kiddo says:

      I wouldn’t say that, “I love her” either. But she does have interview skills and she’s able to form intelligent sentences. I’m not interested in the show, myself, but this is clearly a step up from the remaining members of the view, the Kardashians, and so on.

    • bella says:

      ^this^
      I’m always amazed to read how beloved MV is…
      Not for me…I just CANT with her.
      I find her grating.
      I won’t be watching either.

      • Jen2 says:

        She definitely grates on me. She comes across as above it all and superior to the “celebrities” she is forced to interact with. Curry went a bit overboard sometimes (stroking Pitt’s cheek–oy!) but she was a journalist who deserved better than what she got.

    • Sugar says:

      I don’t love her, either. Her quote here about how it would be wrong to stick around to do a job just for money grates, too. I guess she doesn’t realize that most people in the world work for money, not love of their job. Hush up, Meredith.

      • holly hobby says:

        Well her job quote makes sense. Many people find jobs that will fit their lifestyle. I know someone who quit the high powered law firm to work in a more laid back government job because they want to spend more time with their kids. All the money in the world isn’t worth much if you put family above career. Her husband has MS. She probably wants to spend more time with him than going to sleep at 5 and waking up at 2:00 AM for Today.

    • beatrice weller says:

      i agree- i don’t like her either.

      • beatrice weller says:

        I don’t think Meredith was as good as Ann. Meredith has a filthy mouth a lot of times, and thats very unladylike.__and it’s not needed in the news business.

      • bella says:

        I wrote an email tirade to the Today after a show early on asking WHY they hired MV given how abrasive and trashy she was and how she offended me every morning before I had the benefit of finishing a cup of coffee!!!
        That’s how much I don’t like her.
        Anyway…to each his own, I guess.
        Ann was much more professional, but lacked dimension – probably not the best personality for the role.
        I LOVE Natalie Morales and hope to see her at the post someday.

      • Jess says:

        I don’t like the idea that women are supposed to behave a certain way or be “ladylike”, I think it’s more important to be yourself and not worry if you fit into some mold of what a woman “should” be.

      • bella says:

        well, i believe that tv personalities who claim to be journalists should maintain a certain professional decorum.
        your individual personality can shine through and doesn’t need to be that of a wreckless, brash, drunken sailor.

      • Sozual says:

        @ bella

        EXACTLY!!! I never knew she was like that. I just saw her on the view. She was dry, boring, and unintelligent.

    • Vic says:

      Don’t care for her either. I believe many feel this way.

  4. PunkyMomma says:

    Another “shit happens” quote?

  5. hutter says:

    I’m quite surprised THR put the word “shit” on the cover. I’m not offended or anything but I think it’s quite surprising.

  6. bns says:

    Has she learned how to use Twitter yet?

  7. eliza says:

    I liked Ann as the hard core journalist she was. Unfortunately when she took the seat next to Lauer, she turned into some gushing overly flattering journalist/fan. Her Brad Pitt interview was cringe worthy. That said, I think how they got rid of her was horrible and they have tied her to some contract now where basically she cannot work except when they allow her out of the basement to do one story per year.

    I firmly believe Lauer had a lot to do with it and I will never think otherwise. The fallout after her departure and day of was evidence of his fingerprints being all over it.

    I will say, I rarely watch any morning show outside of an actual news program but when I do catch a minute of the Today Show I cannot stomach Savannah Guthrie and wonder why Lauer can work along side her but couldn’t with Ann. Ann was way more professional most of the time.

    • Renee says:

      I agree with you too, I completely think that Matt Lauer had a hand in what happened to Ann. I mean the fact that she couldn’t even look at him spoke volumes to me. And do you remember when Al Roker made that comment on air about Matt throwing people under the bus shortly after Ann was unceremoniously dismissed?

      • eliza says:

        Al Roker is the only one who has had the guts to call it he sees it. I remember several comments he made and that bus one was GOLD!

      • kibbles says:

        Al’s comments made me like him a lot more because clearly he also had some issues with Matt’s throwing people under the bus at Today. I believe Ann and Al genuinely liked each other so it goes beyond the argument over whether Ann was a good fit for her role. If they didn’t think she’d be good for the job, then Today should not have offered it to her. Ann was fine at the news desk. However, once you give someone a job, then honor the contract or at least give that person the respect to give her a proper sendoff and not embarrass her in public.

    • Dhavynia says:

      ^this

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      Exactly. She’s not untalented, just not right for live television.

    • Sozual says:

      He was intimidated by her.

    • holly hobby says:

      Read Top of the Morning. That book goes into detail about NBC’s missteps. From the hiring of Ann to her eventual demise. Matt L had a lot to do with it. So did that stooge producer.

  8. Diana says:

    Such a classy woman. Always loved her and yes Ann Curry too. They always came across warm and kind on television.

  9. MediaMaven says:

    I used to watch Today all the time while getting ready for work. The day after Meredith left, I switched to the CBS Morning Show, because Matt Lauer’s ego was way too big for my 42″ television screen. I’ve never looked back.

    • lisa2 says:

      Awww I like CBS Morning too.

      I was watching GMA but I think that their getting the number 1 spot went to their heads and the feel of the show is different. CBS is very relaxed and I really like their format and the way the guest sit with them during interviews. Sometimes being last means you can do good quality reporting without trying too hard..

      • pwal says:

        I think GMA’s ratings wins have gone to their heads, but I’m sticking with them, mainly because of Robin Roberts and the way she responded to questions regarding Josh Elliott’s departure. Sure, she could’ve watched the Today Show’s c0ck^p of Ann’s departure, but Robin came across as genuine and sincere.

        I can only do CBS if Gayle King isn’t on. Can’t stand her at all.

        And Today revealed themselves as very high schoolish. Hated high school, so will duck them like a plague.

    • lucy2 says:

      I left during their ENDLESS coverage of Michael Jackson’s death. I couldn’t take it anymore and stopped watching, and never really went back.

      I like Meredith and Ann, can’t stand Lauer.

  10. Francis says:

    I haven’t watched the Today show since.
    I can’t stand the thought of giving Matt Lauer ratings, I just don’t care for what he has to say anymore. He was horrible to Ann Curry a woman who earned her chops on that show.
    I think Matt’s awful.

  11. Talie says:

    I always thought Ann seemed fake… it was always interesting to me that Jolie loved her so much.

    • HappyMom says:

      I agree-she was awful and they never should have given her the co-anchor spot. That said-they way they handled it was unprofessional and rude.

  12. Judy says:

    I do like Meredith. She has smarts and she’s able to tread the line of journalist/celebrity quite adeptly. She can do great interviews without gushing, but she also makes the interviewee comfortable and willing to be candid. I think because she’s so self-assured she puts others at ease. She is bright, yet shows her goofy side. She’s publicly talked about her husband’s illness, yet kept a sense of humor about it and I never felt that she was throwing a pity party.
    I remember when she left 60 minutes and many thought it was a huge mistake on her part, but she made the move for personal reasons and landed on her feet. She’s re -established herself time and time again and she continues to prioritize her personal needs ahead of fame or money. I respect her for that. I also enjoy her journalistic style and her humor. I wish her success with the new show. If I had a TV I’d watch ;)

  13. JudyK says:

    I love Meredith…she was a perfect fit on Today w/ Matt Lauer. They are the BEST of friends. I’m glad she stood up for him.

  14. DavidBowie says:

    I’m so glad I don’t watch daytime TV.

  15. nicegirl says:

    I really liked Ann Curry on The Today Show (I liked Meredith as well). Minority opinions are ok, too.

  16. phlyfiremama says:

    MV needs to ease up on the botox! I don’t watch tv, but was out somewhere and saw Billy Crystal and Bette Midler promoting whatever their project was on her show. It was frigging TERRIFYING to see the 3 of them looking like ventriloquist dummies. I was seriously so repelled by their collective freakishness I still shudder when I see any of them anywhere. Just…no!

  17. phlyfiremama says:

    BTW, if you know anyone with MS please tell them to consider getting tested for Lyme’s Disease~ it is hard to test for, since the bacteria can “hide” itself in the human body and frequently has “false negative” results so sometimes several tests are necessary to discover it. MS is a frequent mis-diagnosis for what is actually Lyme’s, and please keep in mind that MS isn’t really a disease per se but a set of neurological symptoms with an unknown underlying cause. Lyme’s is a “hidden” epidemic, with the CDC reporting over 300,000 cases a year now, and many of the neurological sequale as a consequence are similar to multiple diseases~primarily, it is misdiagnosed as MS though. The great news: It is totally treatable, and many of the neurological issues resolve/clear/improve once treated.

  18. jferber says:

    If I saw Matt Lauer in the street, I’d say ,”F-ck you, Matt Lauer.” He was a beast in how he treated Ann and a lecherous cheat with his own anorexic wife. Can’t stand him.

  19. Sozual says:

    Meredith doesnt have anything to offer. No passion or interesting personality. Not educated either. I never cared for her. No not everyone loves Meredith and she didnt like working with Matt either, I think. That is why she left.

    • Judy says:

      Really? Magna cum laude from Tufts isn’t good enough?

      • JudyK says:

        Thank you “other Judy.” She is best friends with Matt Lauer.

        I really try not to comment when I don’t know what I’m talking about, and, yes, there’s plenty I don’t know anything about, but, as I said, I remain quiet.

  20. roxy750 says:

    Who the hell watches these shows they talk about so much? I work so dont have time to lounge and watch hours of nonsense shows. Honestly—-waste of time.

  21. Leaflet says:

    If we’re talking about great female anchors here, I would say no one comes close to Diane Sawyer and Robyn Roberts. MV was good from the little I saw of her. That was a shame how they basically “handled” Curry, so to ensure that the public doesn’t see her much. I hate it when employers expect employees to behave with good integrity and character towards the company but drop the ball themselves when it’s their turn to relate to employees

  22. Kristen says:

    If you ever want the all the juicy details of what happened behind the scenes at TODAY, I really recommend Brian Stelter’s book Top of the Morning. It gets a little inside baseball-ish at times, but the chapters about Ann Curry and the TODAY drama are interesting.