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Why is NBC ready to boot 'Today' cohost Ann Curry?

June 21, 2012|By Scott Collins
  • Ann Curry (embracing Matt Lauer last year) is rumored to be in trouble at NBC's "Today."
Ann Curry (embracing Matt Lauer last year) is rumored to be in trouble at… (Peter Kramer/Associated…)

By now, it seems clear that Ann Curry won't see many more todays at "Today."

Over the past 24 hours, a flurry of reports — led by a New York Times blog post — have ramped up speculation that NBC is about to boot Curry, who cohosts the No. 1 morning show with Matt Lauer. And these stories come on top of months of rumors about her future: In March, the website Gawker featured an item with the demure headline: "Ann Curry Will Be Fired As Co-Host of the'Today Show' Because Everybody Hates Her." 

Curry said nothing about the gossip on Thursday's program, although online wags made great sport of a chyron (industry-speak for the headlines on the bottom third of the TV screen) during her interview with actor Steve Carell: HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW.

Clearly, someone out there is talking about Curry, although officially, an NBC spokeswoman had no comment. A call to Curry's representative, Washington lawyer Robert Barnett, was not returned. Earlier this year, "Today" show executive producer Jim Bell offered Curry a tepid endorsement, telling Show Tracker the network had "no plans" to replace her.

Assuming that not everyone really hates Curry — always a dangerous assumption in the TV business, where nasty stories tend to stick to people who achieve a high level of success — why is she evidently on the way out?

The short answer: Ratings. "Today" was the undisputed leader in the morning-show wars since the mid-1990s. But since Curry, the former news reader, took over for Meredith Vieira a year ago, the program has been struggling to maintain a lead over its archrival,ABC's"Good Morning America." This year "GMA" has actually pulled out weekly ratings wins, although "Today" was back on top for the week of June 11.

This dynamic has made NBC executives understandably nervous, especially since the network has precious little good ratings news to report elsewhere on its schedule. Curry is thought to have poor personal chemistry, onscreen and off, with Lauer, who recently re-upped his contract and is considered a demi-god by NBC management. A scapegoat is needed, and with Lauer a golden child and Bell overseeing NBC's all-important Olympics coverage as well as "Today," Curry appears to be next in line.

So Curry may not be gone tomorrow, but it's a safe bet summer's end won't find her greeting sleepy viewers on "Today."

What do you make of Curry and her role? Would you be sorry to see her go?

RELATED:

"Today" claws back to top of morning wars

"Good Morning America" thumps "Today" in ratings battle

"GMA" with Katie Couric battles "Today" to ratings tie

Matt Lauer reups at "Today"

Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT

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