When NBC fired Matt Lauer back in November because of alleged inappropriate sexual conduct in the workplace, it may have shocked viewers, but the network seemingly had known for years that Lauer was a liability for The Today Show. Now that he is gone, fans may have thought that the drama was over for the popular morning show, but a new report claims Lauer’s termination was just the beginning.
The ratings for The Today Show have headed in the right direction ever since the network named Hoda Kotb as Lauer’s replacement. NBC apparently knew for years from multiple focus groups that Lauer was hurting the show, and now that he is gone, Today is back on top and beating Good Morning America.
But, some behind-the-scenes tension has brought drama back to the set at 30 Rockefeller Center, and not everyone is getting along, which is creating an uncomfortable work environment.
After Lauer’s departure, the changes continued on Today when Savannah Guthrie pushed out Executive Producer – and friend of Lauer – Don Nash in favor of her bestie, veteran Senior Producer Libby Leist.
Guthrie reportedly wanted Leist in the Executive Producer role, so she could get the best assignments, but also so someone at the top would have her back.
The move shocked many staffers since Nash had been at the network for 30 years and started out as an NBC page. Guthrie’s power grab also puzzled some, because the assumption was that co-executive producer Tom Mazzarelli was the obvious choice to take over for Nash.
However, one insider points out that Leist is an accomplished and talented producer, and there is no way that NBC would put her in charge of a show that brings in half billion dollars a year just because she is Guthrie’s best friend.
Leist does have the necessary experience to succeed in her new role. She was with the 7 a.m. hour of Today for five years, and she also traveled the world as Andrea Mitchell’s State Department producer.
Executive producer changes are extremely common after an anchor change. The same thing happened at NBC Nightly News when Lester Holt took over and at Meet the Press when Chuck Todd became the host.
The drama is also finding its way into the third hour of the show, with Megyn Kelly allegedly throwing a fit over NBC hiring Katie Couric for the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics instead of asking her if she wanted the job.
Her $23 million a year contract gives Kelly the option to choose whether or not she wants to be involved in special events.
She didn’t want the network to have the power to force her to cover something she didn’t want to. But, the fact that NBC didn’t even consider Kelly for the Olympics gig once Lauer was gone angered her on principle.
Matt Lauer is reportedly planning a comeback as a film producer, and his estranged wife was recently spotted without her wedding ring.