May 24, 2024

Media Decoder: Curry to Replace Vieira on ‘Today’

NBC announced on Monday that Ann Curry will replace Meredith Vieira as a principal host of “Today” next month, marking a major transition for television’s top-rated morning show.

NBC expects the transition to be a smooth one for viewers because Ms. Curry has been the news anchor on “Today” since 1997. As Mr. Lauer put it during a segment on Monday announcing the change, Ms. Curry is moving “from this cushion and leaping over here and coming over to this cushion.”

“Today” had been bracing for Ms. Vieira’s departure since last spring, when she opted for a contract with the network that would last just one year, rather than the usual longer-term contract. She had been leaning toward leaving for months.

“We will miss you like crazy,” Matt Lauer said of Ms. Vieira on the air on Monday.

For her part, Ms. Vieira said on the broadcast, “Time is one of those weird things you can never get enough of, and I want to spend more of mine with my husband Richard and my kids, who are now rolling their eyes going, ‘No more time, mom!’ But I’m going to do it anyway.”

NBC intends not to lose Ms. Vieira altogether. Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, said in a statement that “we are working together on developing her next chapter at NBC News.”

The network said on Monday that Natalie Morales, now a co-host of the 9 a.m. hour of “Today,” will replace Ms. Curry as the program’s news anchor; and Savannah Guthrie, the White House correspondent and MSNBC anchor, will become a 9 a.m. co-host, effectively replacing Ms. Morales.

The changes, announced during the 7 a.m. hour of “Today,” take effect in June, NBC said. The new contracts were finalized more than a week ago, and NBC had intended to make the announcement last Monday, but the killing of Osama bin Laden prompted the network to delay the announcement.

“Today” is by far the top profit maker in network news, and has maintained its high ratings and profits through a skilfully handled series of transitions from established stars to new hosts. The change from Ms. Vieira to Ms. Curry is the first big talent handoff for Comcast to manage since it took over NBC in January.

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