*The New York Post’s Page Six is reporting that a major anchor shakeup at the “Today” show that would’ve seen Savannah Guthrie and Natalie Morales fired and replaced by Hoda Kotb and Tamron Hall, respectively, was averted after Matt Lauer stepped in and put his foot down.
Page Six reports that executive Jamie Horowitz was fired instead, after Guthrie, Morales and Willie Geist lobbied Lauer with their concerns and he intervened.
According to the report, Josh Elliott was also a possible replacement for Morales. He is expected to take a larger role at “Today” with a possibility that he could unseat Lauer much further down the line. Lauer recently extended his $20 million-a-year deal through 2016.
Below, more details per Page Six:
Lauer complained to NBC News President Deborah Turness — who, fearing a full-on “Today” anchor revolt, fired Horowitz on Monday.
Former ESPN exec Horowitz was hired by Turness and NBC Universal News Group Chairman Pat Fili-Krushel, who made an enormous effort to get him from ABC and tasked him with the job of making changes to turn around their ratings slide against their rival “GMA.”
Turness was fully aware of Horowitz’s plan to shake up the anchor roster on the show, sources said, but, “Once the talent complained, she sided with them,” and Horowitz was fired after 10 weeks on the job. Insiders said his direct approach had offended some show staffers, who feared for their jobs.
Us Weekly reported Wednesday that Morales and Geist have been fired, with Morales in talks with ABC and Geist with CBS. But insiders tell Page Six the pair have not been fired and are still with NBC, but had been expected to be moved into different roles under Horowitz’s plan.
NBC News President, Deborah Turness said in a statement, “NBC’s TODAY has the best anchor team in morning television. The entire TODAY show anchor team — Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Willie Geist, Carson Daly, Tamron Hall, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb — are incredibly talented, valued and have our support. In response to the false rumors that have been circulated about our anchor team, NBC wants to be absolutely clear: The rumors are wrong — period. This is the team we are committed to. And this is the team that our viewers turn to in the morning.”