Contrary to speculation, Matt Lauer is not leaving NBC's morning program The Today Show. On Thursday, Lauer signed a new multi-year contract with NBC News to remain as the show's co-host. Today will announce the news on the air Friday morning, but given the recent signing of Ryan Seacrest to the network, will Ann Curry be axed?
TMZ believes this to be the case. Citing sources from within NBC, the company says Lauer does not want her as his co-host, and it appears her fate is now sealed with the re-signing of Lauer. TMZ adds that Curry's likely replacement would be Savannah Guthrie, the former White House correspondent and Today co-anchor of the third hour along with Al Roker and Natalie Morales.
But one thing we know for sure: Lauer is with NBC News and The Today Show, its most profitable program, for the foreseeable future.
Matt is the franchise, and our franchise player has decided to keep leading our team, said Steve Capus, president of NBC News, in an interview with the New York Times.
The re-signing comes at a good time for The Today Show, as its ABC counterpart, Good Morning America, has been nipping at the show's heels in terms of ratings. The Today Show boasts the longest ratings winning streak in TV history. NBC's morning news show has lasted more than 16 years without losing in the ratings for a single week.
Matt always said he would only continue if he could be all-in, Capus said. The all-in factor was really key. This is demanding job with a demanding schedule. For him it was a question of lifestyle. As his family is getting older he wants to be able to spend more time with them.
For some time, rumors circulated that Lauer might leave Today at the end of his contract, and maybe even join former Today co-anchor Katie Couric on their own talk show. Rumors heated up even more on Wednesday, when Ryan Seacrest visited the program to announce while he was joining NBC, he had no beef with Lauer. Nevertheless, fans jumped to the conclusion that Seacrest was going to join The Today Show.
Lauer began Wednesday's interview saying he would handle the situation as he would handle any other guest who visited the show.
What kind of conversations have you had with NBC about joining the 'Today' show? Lauer asked Seacrest.
Oh they didn't tell you? Seacrest joked.
Seacrest explained that he will still continue his work for E! News, but he will slowly join the NBC family as he gets his first crack for the network during this summer's Olympics in London.
Do you see yourself doing a job like this? Lauer asked.
You know, I don't know, Seacrest said. I see you doing this for as long as you want to, so maybe the question is, how long will you be on the 'Today' show? ... Because fans, myself included, think you should be here for years to come.
Lauer admitted that Seacrest would be very good at his job. There is a faint possibility that Seacrest would get a crack at a major NBC spot sooner than this summer if Curry leaves and Guthrie doesn't replace her. Either way, Lauer will need a co-host to boost NBC's lead in the ratings.
Capus did not disclose any financial terms of NBC's new deal with Lauer, but he did say it was a long-term deal. He added that negotation with Lauer was never difficult because of the terms, and that the published rumors about what NBC could offer Lauer were complete silliness.
We're just thrilled to have his considerable skills for many more years, Capus said.