A new report from The Hollywood Reporter suggests that NBC brass is already starting the process of “grooming” an heir to Matt Lauer on “The Today Show.”
” ‘Today’s’ Ticking Clock: Who Is Matt Lauer’s Heir Apparent?” reads the headline on the story, which you can read here.
“Less than two years after a disastrous anchor transition on NBC’s ‘Today,’ the clock is counting down to the next one,” reads the story’s lead sentence, which refers to the shortened stint Ann Curry had as Lauer’s co-host until she was jettisoned in favor of Savannah Guthrie.
Then, as now, the same problem persists: “Today” is in second place, behind ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and NBC wants to reclaim the top spot. So it’s looking to a time in the not-too-distant future when Lauer might not be a part of the “Today Show” scene, the story says.
The story even quotes a top official who says the process of “grooming” a successor — or at least thinking of grooming one — is already under way, although the same exec says she hopes Lauer will stay.
Reading the tea leaves on that: They’ll let Lauer stay to finish out his contract, which reportedly expires in early 2015, but after that, NBC might gamble on someone new.
Who would that be? The story mentions such in-house candidates as David Gregory and Willie Geist. Surprisingly, the story says neither Ryan Seacrest nor Carson Daly — who have both been mentioned as possible Lauer successors — are under serious consideration. In fact, one study cited in the story says Daly’s not scoring well at all with viewers.
Lauer, 55, has been a fixture of “The Today Show” since 1994. He reportedly earns about $25 million a year — a salary NBC would be able to cut down on considerably with a lower-paid successor, the story suggests.