Nobody thought Jay Leno’s “Tonight” would ever come under the budgetary ax like it did a few weeks ago, with staff layoffs and host Jay Leno taking a massive pay cut. Today, September 2, 2012, word is out that NBC may be about to apply that same ax to “Today.”
Comcast, owner of NBC, is looking for ways to save money and “Today” is no longer consistently at the top of the morning show ratings heap, coming in behind ABC’s “Good Morning America” one too many times.
Why are the ratings slipping? Many attribute it to the loss of popular host Ann Curry in June when she was unceremoniously forced out, supposedly by Matt Lauer as their chemistry never quite clicked. Curry has stated that NBC wanted her to glam it up, wearing high heels, dressing in what they considered more stylish clothing and they wanted the 55-year-old host to dye her hair. She refused.
There have been a few verbal scuffles between host Al Roker, a good friend of Curry’s, and Lauer over the past few weeks. Curry was replaced by Savannah Guthrie, but she doesn’t have the following Curry had after 15 years with “Today.”
Lauer is the king of the hill as far as salaries are concerned on “Today.” Coincidentally, he makes about the same as Jay Leno did, about $25 million. Jay Leno reportedly offered to work for free if it would save more jobs on “Tonight.” Will Matt Lauer be that magnanimous if and when the ax comes?
The prime concern on shows like this is advertising profits. “Tonight” used to bring them in better than anyone else. Now it barely breaks even. “Today’s” advertising revenues are slipping. NBC is not going to be able to stand that too long, so it will make cuts where it feels it must.
Would bringing Ann Curry back help the ratings? At this point, that’s anyone’s guess, but many, many people claim that they stopped watching “Today” or switched to “Good Morning America” when Ann left.
And what about Matt Lauer? Popular opinion says he’s conceited and rumors swirl about him, too, that he’s not in the producers’ good graces any longer. There were even rumors that NBC was in negotiations with Ryan Seacrest to replace him. (See video clip at top of article.) Will he accept a pay cut like Leno?
For the longest time on “Today” it was Katie Couric, Matt Lauer and Al Roker, with Ann Curry as a news reader and feature reporter. Then it was Meredith Vieria, Matt and Al, again with Ann in the background but gaining prominence. Then it was Ann Curry, Matt and Al. Now it’s Matt, Savannah and Al with backup. Is it the loss of Ann Curry or this game of musical chairs over the last few years that have hurt ratings at “Today?”
Or maybe “Today” has run its course and it’s time for something new. Leave a comment and tell me what you think.