What the heck is going on over there at NBC? Is it just a coincidence, or do three major on air players know something we don’t? In the space of three days, Alec Baldwin told New York Magazine that “30 Rock” is “over” and that he’s leaving at the end of his contract; Meredith Vieira is reportedly exiting the “Today” show in the fall, when her contract is up; and now Matt Lauer is saying he’s gone from “Today” at the end of 2012.
All three work in New York, close to NBC’s new owner, Comcast, and its new chief, Steve Burke. Has each heard something from NBC’s new owner? Is it money related? Are these contract negotiations? NBC is already dealing with departing Steve Carell from “The Office.” The network doesn’t have a lot of key players besides these guys, Lorne Michaels, Jimmy Fallon, Brian Williams, and maybe the stars of “Law & Order: SVU.”
So what gives? Baldwin says he’s leaving “30 Rock,” but he is probably replaceable if done right. Lauer and Vieira are a different matter. While “30 Rock” is not a ratings hit, the “Today” show is the cornerstone of the network. To replace two co-hosts in a year’s time would be perilous at best. PS Just a thought–but is Lauer invoking a contract clause now so he can join Katie Couric in a “Regis and Kelly” kind of show? Hmmm….