What is it with those guys? Can't they handle internal issues internally? This week came NY magazine's lengthy, behind-the-scenes account of how "Today" co-host Ann Curry was unceremoniously dumped (though for good reason if you plow through the piece) and whether head honcho Matt Lauer has morphed into a passive-aggressive version of Bryant Gumbel. (More dirt could be forthcoming with release of a book on the morning TV wars by NYT writer Brian Stelter.) Now comes word, via Deadline, that someone at NBC has reached out to CNN's Anderson Cooper about replacing Lauer before the end of the year.
After their initial approach to Cooper, I hear NBC reached out to Lauer to get his blessing about the changeover. But I heard they got pushback from the Today veteran, who contacted Cooper to express his disapproval. I also hear that call caught Cooper by surprise, as he had assumed Lauer had been brought on board before NBC began making overtures. Cooper has been one of the leading faces at CNN, though I hear his contract has an out, and he previously was able to do his syndicated daytime talk show in addition to his CNN program.
There's no telling where any of this will lead. Anderson would be a find, though he's said to be more of a night person so the early-morning grind might not be a great fit. But never mind that - once again, NBC is clumsily dealing with a personnel problem. Earlier this month, there were the leaks about late-night host Jimmy Fallon taking over the "Tonight Show" when Jay Leno's contract runs out in the fall of 2014. Around that time there was a leaked story that had NBC boss Robert Greenblatt firing off an angry email about Leno poking fun at the network's low-rated lineup. And let's not forget how NBC executives aired its dirty laundry - quite anonymously - over Leno's disastrous shift to prime time, and before that in his battle with David Letterman over who would replace Carson as host the "Tonight Show." The other networks must deal with inflated egos as well (Katie Couric's rocky departure from the CBS evening news made headlines for a while), but pound-for-pound, nobody creates bigger unforced firestorms than NBC. They almost make it an art form. As for Leno and Lauer, they would seem to be history - Jay is running out of lives at the network and Matt's bad-boy image will not be easily reversed (is it just me or does he always have a jerky look to him?) But the real issue at NBC is ... NBC.