Josh Elliot Leaves GMA
Rumors of on-set bad behavior and allegations that he has “major issues with women” made Josh Elliott’s last days at GMA turbulent ones. He was reportedly demanding a $7million pay increase to stay at the top morning show when negotiations to renew his contract failed in March 2014. But since his abrupt departure to NBC Sports, GMA’s ratings have actually gone up, proving that if NBC thought they’d gain viewers for TODAY by removing a core member of their competitor’s team, they were sadly mistaken.
NBC Nab Sam Champion
It was supposed to be a win-win for Sam Champion and NBC. The network would pluck GMA’s popular weatherman from the top show and the self-described “weather geek” would get a gig hosting AMHQ on The Weather Channel, a cable outlet owned by NBC Universal. Except so far it hasn’t worked out well and when the show debuted in March 2014, it ranked 80th in the 7 to 10a.m. time slot. Even Lifetime reruns of Frasier scored higher.
Ann Curry;s Teary Farewell
“For all of you who saw me as a groundbreaker, I’m sorry I couldn’t carry the ball to the finish line, but man, I did try.” That’s what a teary Ann Curry said during an emotional farewell from TODAY in June 2012, after just over a year as co-lead anchor. Months of speculation of behind-the-scenes backbiting and rumors that Matt Lauer was allegedly pushing the presenter out came to a head. The show was hemorrhaging viewers before Curry was ousted, but after her controversial departure the ratings only got worse.
Al Roker’s ‘Under The Bus’ Comment
Well, it certainly sounded like a snarky remark. When Al Roker made an off-the-cuff on-air comment about TODAY’s “tradition, which is to throw one of us under the bus” it was widely assumed the weatherman was taking a jab at Matt Lauer. But an NBC executive quickly released a statement saying the August 2012 remark was not a backhanded reference to the co-host or the Ann Curry debacle.
Ann Curry v Matt Lauer
According to the New York Times bestseller Top of The Morning: Inside The Cutthroat World of Morning TV, there was no love lost between Ann Curry and Matt Lauer almost from the moment she joined him as co-host of TODAY in 2011. Apparently, shortly after she made her on-screen debut replacing Meredith Vieira, he allegedly told a production assistant: “I can’t believe I am sitting next to this woman.” Lauer later denied he made the comment, which featured in Brian Stelter’s exposé.
That was the name that TODAY former executive producer Jim Bell, allegedly gave to his quest to rid Ann Curry from the show – according to the book Top of The Morning. Bell supposedly blamed Curry’s lack of chemistry with Matt Lauer for the ratings dive. In a bid to prevent the long-term co-host from jumping ship he decided to replace Curry with Savannah Guthrie instead.
Deborah Norville Comforts Ann Curry
While Ann Curry’s departure from TODAY was grabbing headlines for all the wrong reasons, Inside Edition presenter Deborah Norville had some comforting words for the ousted co-anchor. In 1991 her short stint as TODAY show co-host came to an end following weak ratings. In 2013 Norville told Orlando Sentinel: “The TODAY thing was screwed up. I am living, breathing proof you can survive.”
Angelina Jolie Backs Ann Curry
She may have lost her gig co-hosting TODAY but Ann Curry apparently never lost the respect of Angelina Jolie. The Hollywood star reportedly reached out to the veteran journalist in 2012 and offered her support. A source told RadarOnline.com: “Angelina reached out to Ann Curry after she was fired from her gig on the TODAY show and was very clear; if ANY news program from NBC wants an interview with her, or Brad [Pitt], Ann will be the only one to do it.”
Lara Spencer v Amy Robach
It seems that two women can’t be successful in their fields without allegations of catfights swirling around their heads. And Amy Robach and Lara Spencer from the GMA team are no different. A show insider told RadarOnline.com that the two co-hosts allegedly dislike each other with Robach pouring scorn on Spencer’s flirtatious ways, which she considers to be “cringe-worthy” and “unprofessional.”
Lara Spencer v Josh Elliott (and George Stephanopoulos)
If Amy Robach is allegedly turned off by Lara Spencer, rumor has it she is not alone. A show insider told RadarOnline.com that Spencer and her former colleague Josh Elliott had “multiple fights over trivial issues.” Meanwhile, when Robin Roberts was recovering from a bone marrow transplant, co-lead anchor George Stephanopoulos was allegedly desperate for her to return because Spencer was “grating on...[his] nerves” and he felt that she was “extremely childish.”
TODAY Show Lay-Offs
As if Matt Lauer’s bad guy reputation couldn’t get any worse, in July 2013 he took a hammering in the media after it was revealed that nine people were laid off from TODAY. Insiders grumbled that Lauer could have saved those jobs if he took a pay cut from his $25 million contract that allows him to work just four days a week. But the veteran journalist allegedly refused because, according to an insider, he “blames bad management for TODAY’s rating woes.”
Milking Robin Roberts’ illness?
It was the height of GMA’s ratings triumph over TODAY and the middle of Robin Roberts’ battle with a rare, life-threatening bone marrow disorder. But that didn’t prevent Chicago Sun-Times TV critic Tom Shales from accusing the team of milking her illness to boost their ratings. In September 2012 he wrote: “[W]e hope she [Roberts] is not being charged with sick days, considering the fact that her illness has practically become another character in the show’s cast.”
Matt Lauer’s Plunging Viewer Popularity
In the years since Ann Curry’s tough exit from TODAY, Matt Lauer’s image and popularity among the show’s viewers have taken a beating. In September 2012, according to the New York Daily News, the co-host’s Q Score (a measure of a TV figure’s popularity) plunged by 25 percent. Meanwhile, according to a 2013 Reader’s Digest report, only 41 percent of more than 1,000 people surveyed said they trusted Lauer. It was the lowest number for any of the network news hosts who made that list.
Robin Roberts On TODAY?
According to Brian Stelter – author of Top of The Morning: Inside The Cutthroat World of Morning TV – at one point TODAY show bosses were desperate to nab Robin Roberts from GMA. While the NBC breakfast show’s ratings tumbled in 2012 they allegedly considered giving the former ESPN presenter Ann Curry’s job. Stelter says: “NBC had done a lot of research about Robin Roberts and they found she is by far the most popular female morning show host.”
Natalie Morales v Mrs. Matt Lauer
Could gossip surrounding Matt Lauer’s relationship with co-worker Natalie Morales have cost the journalist the chance to be the lead co-host of TODAY? According to the National Enquirer when Matt Lauer’s wife Annette Roque heard that Curry was leaving, she allegedly threatened divorce if Morales got the job presenting the show alongside her husband. Although an NBC Universal rep slammed the allegations as “totally untrue” Lauer and Morales have faced rumors of infidelity in the past.
Jenna Wolfe Demotion
Was Weekend TODAY co-host Jenna Wolfe demoted in 2013 because she was a pregnant lesbian? Former CNN journalist Rick Sanchez accused NBC of ditching the presenter because she came out and revealed she was expecting a child with her partner Stephanie Gosk. But a show insider told RadarOnline.com that Wolfe was replaced with Erica Hill simply because she had better chemistry with co-host Lester Holt.
Today Skips 9/11 Tribute
As their ratings tumbled maybe it wasn’t the smartest thing to do but TODAY was faced with a backlash after deciding to air an interview with Keeping Up With the Kardashians star Kris Jenner on September 11, 2012, rather than broadcasting the annual 9/11 tribute. NBC News stood by the show’s controversial decision but viewers expressed their disgust on Twitter. One person tweeted: “The fact that Kris Jenner is a guest on the today show on 9/11 seriously makes me doubt humanity.”