By BRIAN STELTER New York Times Media Reporter MediaDecoder.blogs.nytimes.com
Picture courtesy Peter Kramer/NBC.
NBC executives are making a plan to replace Ann Curry on the “Today” show, only a year after she became the co-host of the newly vulnerable morning television franchise.
The planning — which is taking place in secret and has not been completed — is effectively an admission that all is not well at “Today,” the show that invented morning television 60 years ago and inspired countless lower-rated competitors since. “Today” consistently ranked No. 1 in the morning ratings until this spring, when ABC’s “Good Morning America” beat it in the ratings for several weeks.
Even before then, some at NBC were openly criticizing the co-hosting style of Ms. Curry, 55, who succeeded Meredith Vieira last year, after spending 14 years on the show in a lesser role. Questions about her future have circled the broadcast for months, as some staff members have placed the blame for the ratings woes on Ms. Curry and others have defended her.
The questions have been debated at the highest levels of NBCUniversal because “Today” is a profit center for the network, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue each year.
Several weeks ago, network officials and Ms. Curry began to discuss a different job for her, according to people with knowledge of the negotiations, who insisted on anonymity because the matter was confidential. Those discussions have continued and are expected to be completed before NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics begins in late July.
Ms. Curry, who has not had a television agent for years, has hired a well-known lawyer, Robert B. Barnett, to represent her in the negotiations, according to these people. It is unclear whether she has explicitly agreed to any arrangement that NBC has offered her in lieu of “Today.” But several people who know Ms. Curry say that she has been struggling with the idea of leaving the show for some time.
“She got her dream job, and she doesn’t want to let it go,” one of the people said. But Ms. Curry has also expressed dissatisfaction with “Today,” where her journalistic interests sometimes clash with morning television realities. Accordingly, she may be moved into a foreign correspondent role, reflecting her strengths in reporting from disasters both political, like the ethnic killings in Darfur, and natural, like the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
...I would suspect the local stations in major markets achieve higher ratings with their own "news" programs, so I would imagine NBC is panicking that they would drop TODAY in whole or in part....
Despite your disdain for the show, which has been in place since the dawn of network TV, it dominated the competition in the ratings on a regular basis until Meredith left and was replaced by Ms. Curry. It is reported she has no chemistry with main host Matt Lauer, who recently signed a major many million dollar renewal.
I'm sure NBC knows what is has to lose if the downward trend continues, thus the "Ann must go" movement. The format of the show must attract a lot of people for the ratings to be so consistently dominant until this spring.