The rumor that Matt Lauer is leaving NBC's Today Show has long been plaguing the airwaves, as with each month, the ratings at the long-time number one morning show continue to slump. The last couple of days, the rumor the Matt Lauer is leaving has hopped into high gear as Lauer came forward, candidly speaking with the Daily Beast about the Ann Curry's firing from the Today Show debacle.
Just this week, The Post reported that Matt Lauer was not expected to renew his contract with the Today Show in 2015 when his 25 million a year deal expires.
Matt Lauer the Next Alex Trebek? "Jeopardy" Host Spot Could Be On The Horizon
So if Matt Lauer leaves the Today Show, where is he expected to go? The answer is not too shocking as the path he could choose is one other morning show hosts before him like Regis Phibin and Meredith Vieira have taken. The path of a game show host.
But knowing Matt's finicky personality and tendency toward diva-like behavior, it couldn't be just any game show. No, it would have to be one that would match Lauer's image of himself--as the most interesting man in the world. What better game show then, than the long-running Jeopardy?
According to The Post, if Matt Lauer is leaving the "Today Show" then we could very likely see him show up as the replacement for aging Alex Trebek who is expected to step down from Jeopardy in 2016 at which time Matt Lauer would pick it up.
The Ann Curry Firing Curse: Will Lauer Ever Be Free From It?
Still, 2016 seems a long time for Matt Lauer to have to stick it out before leaving the Today Show. After all, since the Ann Curry firing debacle, he hasn't exactly had it easy. In fact much on the blame for Ann Curry's firing has fallen squarely on the shoulder of Lauer though NBC executives have repeatedly stated that Lauer had nothing to do with it. According to executive producer Tim Bell last summer,
"Matt has been the heart and soul of the [TODAY] show for a long, long time, and any of the stuff out there that has portrayed him in an unflattering light as being difficult to work with is patently false and it's been tough to deal with."
Bell went on to say this about the decision to fire Ann Curry from the morning show,
"I need to say for the record, [Matt] really should not bear any of the blame for that...I'm the executive producer of the show. He's not. He's the public face of the show. So he's taken some of this. But it has been wrong. And that fact should be corrected."
Still viewers weren't so convinced.
Numerous reports from insider sources pointed fingers at Matt Lauer as the ouster supreme in the Ann Curry firing from NBC's Today Show.
According to one inside source at the Today Show who spoke to Radar Online last summer,
"There are several producers that have been with the "Today Show" for a very long time, over ten years, and Matt Lauer is now hated by them because they feel that he is responsible for Ann Curry's is fired.
The source went on to say,
"Ann was tremendously popular with the producers, cameramen, and other staffers of the show because she truly is a team player. Ann was all about the news, and breaking stories, just a true pro."
"Matt on the other hand has been known to act like a real diva. The staffers are disgruntled because they were looking forward to working with Ann during the Olympics and she ended up relegated to very limited camera time and didn't even appear until several days before the games ended," the source revealed.
Another source that had previously spoken with Radar Online added that,
"Morale is extremely low and something is going to need to change very quickly before they can get the TODAY show back in first place"
Still the "Today Show" has limped along with Lauer at the helm. Things got increasingly worse too, when NBC refused to let Ann Curry out of her contract to take a job at CNN, and before long, the opportunity disappeared altogether. Since that time we have seen or heard little of what Ann Curry is doing now, but apparently Matt Lauer is still facing a lot of heat. Enough so that he even offered to leave the Today Show if the producers felt it would help the situation.
Matt Lauer told the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz that "I don't think the show and the network handled the [Ann Curry leaving] transition well. You don't have to be Einstein to know that. It clearly did not help us. We were seen as a family, and we didn't handle a family matter well."
Stand By Your Man: NBC Says Matt Lauer Is Welcome To Stay with Today Show As Long As He Likes
Still, it seems the producers at NBC are firm about the fact they aren't trying to get rid of Matt Lauer or have him leave the Today Show anytime soon. In a recent statement here are what the show's producers had to say:
"NBC News has no plans to replace Matt Lauer. Everyone at the show hopes he stays for many years to come..."
Perhaps this is true, but for now, it sounds to me like Lauer is pretty wearing of fighting the good fight. Perhaps it is time for a change for the long-time Today Show anchor, where he can finally put ratings, disgruntled fans and perhaps the curse of Ann Curry, far behind him.