By Jen Heger – Radar Assistant Managing Editor
Trouble is brewing already on the TODAY show in the immediate aftermath of the show dumping its executive producer while struggling with ratings, RadarOnline.com has learned exclusively.
Matt Lauer, and his new boss, executive producer Alexandra Wallace, have had a very tense relationship and Lauer disagrees on the direction Wallace will be taking with the embattled morning show, a source close to the situation told Radar exclusively.
What’s more, Wallace has a very close relationship with former co-anchor, Ann Curry, whose relationship with Lauer is frosty at best. Curry’s departure triggered TODAY‘s ratings crash and enabled ABC’s Good Morning America to knock TODAY out of the No. 1 spot it held for years.
“Matt Lauer is NOT happy that Jim Bell who had been the executive producer of the TODAY show since 2005 has been forced out,” the source told Radar. “Alexandra Wallace, who will be Bell’s replacement, and Matt have never had a good working relationship. Matt doesn’t like the fact that Alexandra is a big advocate of Ann Curry’s.
“Alexandra is going to be shaking things up on the show in order to get it back on top. For instance, against Matt and Jim Bell‘s long-time stance of only having NBC-paid experts to comment on current events in the news, which has made the show feel very, very stale, Alexandra plans on using non-NBC staffers to do that. The reason is that having different experts will give the audience a much more diverse and knowledgeable base of information they can use in their own lives that isn’t the same predictable information being dispersed.
“Matt hates the idea and likes the continuity of using NBC talent such as Star Jones, Dr. Gail Saltz and Donnie Deutsch. They will still be used, just not as much,” the insider tells us.
As previously reported, Bell, the TODAY executive producer who masterminded the disastrous removal of Curry and hiring of Savannah Guthrie as co-host of the NBC morning show, has been pushed out. He’s held the job since 2005.
Bell has been on the receiving end of much of the blame of the show’s turbulence and declining ratings in recent months.
Wallace is an NBC News VP and the first woman to helm TODAY in its 60-year history.
Bell will become the full-time executive producer of NBC Universal’s Olympics coverage.
Sources told RadarOnline.com several weeks ago that Bell was on his way out, but a TODAY show spokesperson denied it to Radar at the time and said “he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”
“The fact that Bell is being forced out, and the timing of it during November sweeps shows how desperate NBC executives are for the TODAY show to get back to first place, and quickly,” the source said.
Wallace will be the first female executive producer of the TODAY show and “is widely respected by the TODAY cast and crew, sans Matt,” the insider said.