NBC stood by Matt Lauer during the controversy over the dismissal of Ann Curry as Today co-host in 2012. Two years later, the network has reaffirmed its commitment to the long-time Today host, signing him in a new multi-year contract extension, according to the New York Times. “I consider this the best job in broadcasting,” Lauer told the paper in a statement. The new deal will take Lauer’s tenure on Today to two decades, the longest ever on the morning program. After the ratings meltdown two years ago when Today lost its decades-long ratings lead to ABC’s Good Morning America, the NBC show had been clawing its way back up, recently narrowing the gap with GMA in the 25-54 demo. In addition to his duties on Today, Lauer subbed for Bob Costas in Sochi earlier this year while NBC’s Olympics anchor was sidelined with pink eye.
NBC News President Deborah Turness has tapped ESPN‘s Jamie Horowitz to become SVP and GM of Today. Horowitz, who is VP Original Programming and Production at ESPN, will start the NBC gig later this year. Reporting to Turness, he will lead the morning infotainment program’s brand, with NBC saying he will be tasked with driving “greater integration and growth among all parts of the brand, on all platforms — including the four hours of live television every weekday, weekend Today, Today.com, and the Plaza experience.” He also will explore new formats, such as extensions in digital, e-commerce, events and other opportunities. Today Executive Producer Don Nash will report to Horowitz, as will weekend EP Dee Dee Thomas and Today.com director Jen Brown.
At ESPN, Horowitz oversaw a number of successful shows including First Take, Olbermann, Numbers Never Lie, SportsNation and its Sports Emmy-nominated World Series of Poker programming. Before joining ESPN in 2006, Horowitz worked at NBC Sports, where he won four Sports Emmys for his work on NBC Olympics coverage and the NBA on NBC. He began his career in television as an NBC Olympics researcher for the 2000 Sydney Games.
SiriusXM and NBC News this morning announced the launch of Today Show Radio Channel, on which the long-running morning infotainment program will be broadcast on radio for the first time, featuring daily live feeds from both coasts — and, yes, including Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb’s slice of the franchise. SiriusXM will be the exclusive audio home of Today. From today’s announcement:
Cynthia McFadden, who left ABC News after 20 years to become NBC’s new senior legal and investigative correspondent, made her debut on her new network’s Today this morning to discuss Oscar Pistorius taking the stand in his own murder trial. Last month, McFadden jumped from her job as co-anchor of ABC News’ Nightline to join NBC. Watch her debut here:
“We can officially announce we shot cameos Tuesday,” Today co-anchor Matt Lauer announced this morning on the program, of his appearance with Today weatherman Al Roker in Syfy‘s upcoming Sharknado sequel, Sharknado 2, debuting July 30 on the fellow NBCUniversal network. Lauer’s co-host Savannah Guthrie, giving the performance of her lifetime, responded that she is “wildly jealous.” Today played a clip in which Roker, on the Today set, explains to Lauer, “This is a twister with teeth.” Lauer contributes: “Enough said indeed, Al, Thank you very much.” The cameo was shot yesterday. Lauer also showed a clip in which he uses a Today orange umbrellas to stab something that looked like it came from the fish department of Whole Foods, only wrapped in green fabric. “I can’t believe we gave away the whole climax of the movie,” Lauer said. “I’ll remind you the Golden Globes are next January — who are you wearing?” Guthrie snarked.
In Sharknado 2, “a freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a ‘sharknado’ on the city’s population and its most iconic sites,” Syfy has said of the sequel. The original orgy of bad special effects and even worse acting had triggered a social media feeding frenzy among journalists and celebrities when it premiered last July.
New wrinkle in the very heated morning show war: Today show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie announced on this morning’s show she got married over the weekend – and is pregnant. The morning shows are locked in a ratings war since Today show returned from the Sochi Winter Games, with emphasis on big “gets,” personal stories, and interactive programming. Your move, GMA. Watch here:
This morning, Good Morning America unveiled the #socialsquare, which it says is a “groundbreaking new digital studio” engaging viewers on a daily basis with the broadcast and social conversation. An expansion of the morning infotainment series’ current Times Square studio, #socialsquare is the new social “nerve center” for the broadcast, featuring installations developed with the leading social media platforms allowing GMA guests to interact with viewers throughout the broadcast, ABC News says. ”This will revolutionize how our show is produced in the morning and its all about engaging directly with our viewers from beginning to end,” GMA senior executive producer Tom Cibrowski said this morning.
More than one person this morning has noted NBC’s Today, which is in a ratings death match with GMA, debuted its like-minded digital space, Orange Room, last September. But, of course, Orange Room is orange, whereas Social Square is pink, and blue — and it has foosball. ”If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we are deeply and sincerely flattered — and not surprised given our ratings gains, specifically in younger viewers,” Today responded. Here’s GMA‘s reveal this morning:
NBC News will present a two-day cross-platform event, Forgotten? Syria’s Children Of War: A Live Documentary, on Tuesday and Wednesday. More than 5 million Syrian children have had their lives scarred by conflict, the news division says, including children displaced inside the country, another million living under seige and a million who are now refugees. The project will span Today, NBC Nightly News, NBCNews.com and social media, creating what the division is calling a “live documentary” — aka a continuous stream of reports from inside and outside Syria’s borders. From the announcement:
“Symphony” is NBC parent Comcast-speak for “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” It involves various properties of the company promoting each other. In the case of the star of HBO’s Girls Lena Dunham‘s, the music started when the network booked the creator-writer-star to guest host Saturday Night Live for the first time, this weekend. This week, Dunham showed up on NBC’s Late Night, now hosted by former SNL head writer and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers, to help keep up his second-week ratings, during which she plugged this weekend’s SNL . Today, NBC News sent out info about a Dunham interview, taped for tomorrow morning, on Today – from the set of Saturday Night Live — during which she talks to Savannah Guthrie about the fact that she is hosting SNL for the first time, and her love of SNL. In the course of that conversation, which will be broadcast tomorrow, she also plugged Late Night, while answering a question as to whether she came to SNL with any sketch ideas of her own. In that conversation, which will be broadcast tomorrow, Dunham said she asked new-host Meyers for advice about pitching the SNL writers, because she “didn’t want to be the person who shows up for the first day of school with, like, all their pencils sharpened, already knowing all the answers.”
More screen time for Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski at NBCU. The It Couple of NBC’s Sochi Olympics coverage will be part of NBC’s Today Oscar show from LA on Monday. Kathie Lee Gifford and Al Roker are hosting the split Today show from LA, where Weir and Lipinski will join them to announce their red carpet winners and losers.
A couple days ago, NBCU announced Weir and Lipinski would join the company’s syndicated show Access Hollywood on the red carpet at the Oscars to report on the fashion, with Weir saying he hoped “to bring my own special brand of sparkle to the broadcast,” adding that he and Lipinski “hope to entertain America’s pants off.”
The duo got high marks for their ice-skating commentary for the networks of NBC at the Winter Games, but the two — and especially Weir — were Must See TV for their outfits. Weir and Lipinski told NBC’s Today during the Olympics that they came to Sochi with four suitcases apiece, describing the cases as being the same size as Ford Focuses and Audi S4s. They contained, among other things, 22 pair of shoes, 25 blazers, six pair of leather pants, 10 pounds of jewelry and four fur coats.
ABC’s Good Morning America attracted more overall viewers on Monday, despite the best efforts of NBC’s Today show to hang on to its Sochi ratings bump – but Today hung on to the important demo win. GMA outstripped Today by 89,000 viewers overall. The first day after the most recent previous Games — the 2012 London Summer Olympics — GMA had finished behind Today by 301,000 viewers. Today beat GMA on Monday by 92,000 news demo viewers; the Monday after the London Games, Today beat GMA by 102,000 demo viewers.
It’s the first time GMA has beaten Today among total viewers the Monday following the end of the Olympics (when NBC aired the games) since at least 1991. Monday’s Today featured Olympic athletes, a kiss-and-make-up between Al Roker and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who came to cut the ribbon on Today‘s re-done outdoor space, and the removal of Today talent makeup as part of a “Love Your Selfie” series on body image.
Al Roker Makes Up With NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio As ‘Today’ Looks To Keep Ratings Up Post-Sochi: Video
Today show weatherman Al Roker kissed and made up with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on the program this morning when the mayor came to cut the ribbon on the show’s revamped Rockefeller Center outside space. It’s part of Today’s campaign to hang on to the ratings bump it enjoyed in Sochi, which put the show back on top of the morning show pile.
“We’ve got Mayor Bill de Blasio,” Roker announced, though he needn’t have bothered – the mayor was hard to miss, towering over the Today show team, and Roker barely came up to his shoulders. ‘We’ll get this out of the way,” Roker opened. “We had a little chat about school closings and snow; we both want the best for school kids and our city.”
NBC’s ‘Today’ Bags Biggest Crowd Since London Games, But ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ Nabs More Viewers
ABC‘s Good Morning America attracted the largest audience among morning infotainment programs the week that included the first couple days of NBC‘s Olympics coverage. NBC began covering Games competition on Thursday of last week and broadcast the Opening Ceremony in primetime on Friday. NBC noted Today won those mornings last week — by an average of 190,000 viewers and 326,000 news-demo viewers.
ABC also noted that on Tuesday of this week, GMA topped Today, for the first time ever during official Olympics Games.
UPDATE, 8:30 AM: NBC has issued a news release about Bob Costas’ decision to end his streak of 157 nights of Olympics coverage. The network reiterated what Costas announced this morning on Today: that Matt Lauer will host NBC’s Olympic primetime and late-night shows tonight in place of Costas, who has an eye infection. In the news release, Costas says he bowed out tonight because, “as a practical matter, I simply couldn’t do my job because my eyes had become so blurry, watery and sensitive to light.” He added: “I’m hopeful the symptoms will improve in the next couple of days and I can return to the broadcast. Also, the last thing I want is to go through the rest of my life owing Matt Lauer a bunch of favors.”
Tonight marks the first time since CBS presented the Nagano Olympic Winter Games in 1998 that someone other than Costas will host an Olympics primetime show. It’s also the first time since 1988 that someone other than Costas will host the Olympic primetime show on NBC — a remarkable 157 straight nights. “I’m happy to keep his chair warm. Although I might Purell it before I sit in it!” Lauer said in the announcement, which noted Costas is listed as ‘day to day’ on the NBC injury report.
Costas’ full statement:
Russian Police Choir Performs ‘Get Lucky’ On ‘Today’ As NBC Makes Amends For Opening Ceremony Snub (Video)
NBC’s shocking lack of cop-choir performance was among the offenses listed by The Reporters Who Cover Olympics in their How NBC Screwed Up the Opening Ceremony This Time think pieces last Friday. (The other biggie was NBC’s decision to edit IOC chief Thomas’s Bach’s opening ceremony speech so that viewers did hear him make one comment in favor of embracing human diversity, but did not hear him expand on the theme. “The IOC’s President was edited for time, as were other speeches, but his message got across very clearly to viewers,” an NBC spokesperson told Deadline after the ceremony broadcast.)
No mention was made of the fact NBC had not aired their act last Friday, but the Today talent several times re-iterated NBC’s defense on a technicality: the choir had performed at Sochi on Friday before the opening ceremony “officially” began.