By Jen Heger - Radar Assistant Managing Editor
After months of upheaval at the TODAY show, which has been relegated to second place behind Good Morning America in the morning ratings race, the cast and crew have rallied around Matt Lauer, who had been blamed for the firing of co-host Ann Curry, RadarOnline.com is exclusively reporting.
"The cast and crew have rallied around Matt and feel that he has been unfairly blamed for Ann's firing," a source close to the situation tells Radar. "Jim Bell, the executive producer, actually made the decision that Ann had to go, not Matt. NBC has always prided itself on seamless transitions of journalists on their news programs -- Bryant Gumble to Matt Lauer, Katie Couric to Meredith Viera -- but when it came to Ann Curry to Savannah Guthrie, it wasn't handled well at all.
"Matt is extremely supportive of the show and just wants to be back on top, he isn't happy with being in second place and is working with the staff to get back to where they used to be. Matt has been unfairly blamed for things that are just simply beyond his control as far as the show is concerned. If Matt was such a tyrant to be around, why has he had the same assistant for over 15 years? Bryant went through a slew of assistants during his time at NBC and Matt has only had one during his tenure. A majority of the producers have also been on the staff for a number of years -- if Matt was so horrible to be around, why isn't there a revolving door of exits?"
As we previously reported, Ann Curry is going to be featured on the morning news program on a more routine basis.
"Ann is truly doing what she loves the most now, reporting from war-torn countries and bringing viewers stories of people that are affected by the destruction in the region," a source previously told Radar.
"Ann has been reporting for other NBC news programs as well. She certainly didn't like getting sacked from being the co-host, but Ann is making the best of the situation and is a true professional. Fans of the TODAY show let the network know they missed seeing Ann and the plan going forward is to use her more. Hopefully that might bolster the show's falling ratings."
Meanwhile, Ann's replacement is finally finding her co-hosting feet.
"Savannah is truly settling into her role. She walked into a sh*t storm, which she had nothing to do with and has handled it with true class," the insider says. "Savannah is truly part of the TODAY show family. She is wicked smart but she isn't arrogant about it. The cast is truly working together."
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