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Boss: 'Today' would be worse without Matt Lauer

Morning show's executive producer says staff loves host, doesn't want him to leave

By Mekeisha Madden Toby Apr 2, 2013 12:37PM

'Matt Lauer' '/' NBC

 

Matt Lauer isn't the most popular guy on TV these days but his "Today" show bosses say he's still loved.

 

A recent focus group made up of women who watch daytime TV were polled and said they would stop watching "Today" if Lauer were to leave. "Their opinions didn't square with what we had been reading in the papers and on websites," said Don Nash, the morning show's executive producer in a TV Guide interview.

 

Bing: More about 'Today'

 

In case you haven't been paying attention, Lauer has received a lot of criticism as of late regarding his role in Ann Curry's firing. Negative attention reached an apex when a New York magazine feature hit newsstands last week and revealed that Lauer not only had a hand in Curry's demise on "Today," but he almost jumped ship and went to ABC. After the article came out, more scuttlebutt surfaced that Lauer bullied CNN's Anderson Cooper when he learned his bosses were courting Anderson as his replacement. Lauer will be with NBC through 2014.

 

Plus: TV shows that were movies first  | 'Scrubs': Where are they now?

 

But Nash said "Today" ratings and staff morale would drop even lower -- the show is currently trailing "Good Morning America" -- if Lauer were to take off. "I think it could be much worse without him," Nash said. "I can tell you unequivocally that the staff is not divided over whether Matt should stay or go. This staff loves Matt."

 

Nash conceded that one of his fellow executives did approach Cooper, who is said to be not interested, but said that doesn't mean Lauer is one his way out. Lauer could become the host of "Jeopardy" when Alex Trebek retires in 2016. "We hope Matt stays forever. But you're always looking for talent because you want the person to grow into the job and you want some time to groom them," Nash said.

 

While "Today" is still behind "GMA" in the ratings war, numbers for "Today" have started to increase as of late because of Lauer's now less-than-perfect persona. But Nash hopes people are tuning in more because the show is better.

 

"I'd like to think we've really found our groove," Nash said. "Matt and Savannah (Guthrie) are in a good place, and we're comfortable with the programming. I told my staff, 'The best answer to all this negative press and this whirlwind of criticism is to win.' So each and every day, we're putting on the best morning show that we can."

 

"Today" airs weekday mornings on NBC. 

75Comments
Jun 24, 2013 4:33PM
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I enjoyed Matt when he First Started,After he got rich he acts like he is better than anyone else.He needs to go.Al would be A good replacement for Matt.
Apr 11, 2013 6:40PM
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Matt Lauer needs to go. He did not treat Ann Curry right and Natalie would be better than Savannah by far Put Willie in there. He shows me a lot..young and vibrant!!
Apr 3, 2013 12:27PM
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It's not the talent (including Ann).  It's the way they rush from segment to segment, counting down the last 5 seconds to their guests, making them rush, or cutting them off.  It's very uncomfortable to watch.  I say, let it go long.  It's a morning show.  Who cares.  Have fun.  It used to be fun.  Run the 1st few hours like Kathy Lee and Hoda do it.  They are relaxed and fun (and drunk, but whatever).

The only talent problem they have is David Gregory on Meet the Press.  He's a douche.  I now watch George Stefanopolous.  Much better.  Smart guy too. 

NBC executives, wake up and stop being reactionary and stupid.  WTF?!?!

Apr 3, 2013 5:58AM
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I was happy to see that Lauer recently apologized on Twitter to an intern who felt he had been treated badly. At least we know he does know how to apologize, he should have done it for some of his more egregious mistakes
Apr 2, 2013 8:23PM
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It's the chemistry that makes the morning shows worth watching and Matt doesn't have it with anyone but Couric who isn't coming back. The backstabbing he gave Curry sealed his fate and whatever was left for people to like was wiped out with the ridiculous paycheck he received for not standing up for anyone but himself. He sold out everyone but himself and his ratings drop is his own doing. Get rid of him, start over with a new group and NBC MIGHT have a fighting chance.
Apr 2, 2013 5:56PM
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I'm curious about these women in the focus group who seemingly love Matt Lauer. What's the attraction?? He's not especially attractive. He has a reputation as a womanizer. He's cheated on his wife multiple times. Clearly, Lauer does not respect women. So why do these women like Lauer??? It makes little sense, unless they are the type that go for the "bad boy". 
Apr 2, 2013 5:51PM
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Matt is now old and tired. He is overpaid and brings nothing to the table. When Ann Curry left, I left. Found CBS Morning News with Charlie Rose to be much better. Hopefully they find new people to start this show over. 25,000.000 works 4 days a week and less hours per day for what. 
Apr 2, 2013 5:51PM
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He is horrible  ............ he has a personality of a can of worms. He cuts guests off in mid sentence if he feels the conversation is not to his liking . he makes the show boring and acts like an eighty year old man. He should take lessons from Betty White. Way too stuffy. get him a rocking chair and toupee PLEASE CAN HIM
Apr 2, 2013 5:49PM
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NBC is completely clueless. It's not just the Today Show that is terrible. Their entire weekly lineup stinks. Sunday Night Football will Al Michaels stinks too. Who thinks he has any sports broadcasting talent??? 
Apr 2, 2013 5:49PM
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When I watch Today or GMA ..I get cooking and entertainment and some great pro Liberal PR ...When I turn on FOX I get stories about Ft Hood and the Sequester . I get stories on Benghazi and the Gun rights fight ...I see panel debates and debates between Dick Durbin and Marco Rubio ...I dont get get cooking or fluff . NPR does news and human interest stuff ..Not bad but they also promote the Liberal Agenda . I no longer watch Today or GMA . If I want to see Liberals having little spats like infantile  sissies ( are you listneinig Matt and Ann ...or Matt and Savanah ) I can walk out my front door . I live in Chicago and these people will argue and back stab over a happy meal at McDonalds
Apr 2, 2013 5:48PM
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I wonder what it is the staff sees. I stopped watching after Ann was cut. Lauer's involvement was not a class act. Ann has credibility and is authentic - also very bright. I believed what she said. She also didn't engage in "stupid stuff". Matt relies on his GQ style persona - which he hones to perfection.

Apr 2, 2013 5:40PM
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I love Matt but very disappointed about the loss of Ann Curry to the show.  I loved Ann's style and I watched everyday to see what she was wearing.
Apr 2, 2013 5:25PM
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liked Ann....don't care for Matt................. started watching GMA for the first time
Apr 2, 2013 5:24PM
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I don't watch any of the "news" shows anymore.  They are more entertainment magazines with opinions.  If I can figure out if they are are republican or democrat, then they have put their opinion in the interviews.  I miss starting my day getting world news.  I wish there was a objective place to get reliable information.
Apr 2, 2013 5:23PM
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This isnt a news show . It is entertainment and Liberal agenda PR . Matt is an Idiot and Savanah while somewhat hot is as ditzy as Joy Behar . Fliipin the bird on live TV is dumb
Apr 2, 2013 5:19PM
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ANN CURRY SUCKED AND HE KNEW IT! ENOUGH SAID!!
Apr 2, 2013 5:19PM
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Look... I wouldn't watch GMA if they paid me to do so!  Change does suck sometimes.  I liked Matt & Katie when they had the ship together, but good things don't always last forever.  Ann Curry really didn't belong hosting.  She is/was very sweet, but not host.  I really do like what Matt brings to the show.  Al, really does need to get rid of the "anywhere from",  "as much As" , "We're talking about".  Its the weather..... If I see him in another puddle of water trying to convince everyone that the whole town might disappear under water, I think I might lose my lunch.  Keep Matt!!
Apr 2, 2013 5:15PM
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"Today" used to be a morning NEWS show.  It used to be pretty good back then with just straight news reporting. Then they started putting in little "filler" and "puff" pieces to make it more fun to watch.  It became the "Ken & Barbie" show with just cute talking heads like the young Matt and Katie. 

Matt Lauer used to be the "darling" of morning TV.  I think it went to his head.  He certainly doesn't know how to interview anyone seriously since he's such a liberal.  Just watch him interview a fellow liberal.  All the questions are easy and none are confrontational.  It's a totally different interview than he does with a conservative.  Those people he just attacks. 

 

Unfortunately, I don't think there are any unbiased news reporters.  News is slanted, not just reported. Reporters also used to write their own news stories, but now they just speak the words that  their network writers give them to say based on the Network's political policy.

Apr 2, 2013 5:13PM
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We quit watching today show months several ago.  Don't cover news, have irrelavant foo foo stuff on, can't stand it any more.   Tired of Natalie, Matt,  liked Ann, I do like Savanna.  Thought some of the stupid stuff they have them do should be on kids tv.  Like when they had Natalie & Savanna boxing with gloves.  Natalie looked ridiculous, acts like she thinks she is too cute for word.  They should not have got rid of Ann.  Stupid stuff, no news, don't care for the new guys they have (men), not crazy about Natalie, Cameron(sp) was added to the show year or so ago & was treated with kid gloves, anyone else trying to come on she basically laughed at them.  Won't watch it anymore no matter what they do.  I ended up liking Meredith, watch Millionaire all the time, she's great.
Apr 2, 2013 5:12PM
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The show is horrid, so is the weekend show, and I loved Lester but after Campbell left, so did the show, GMA weekend staff is great.  Today is, what now 10 hrs long, so boring, only Willie iS great and he is peddling crap.  The whole show needs canceled.  MSNBC needs Scarborough to have a mind meld, no one cares what happened in 1990 when he ran, becides both he an mika take off so much, why have them there, give me Heilman, barnacle and the other guys.
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