The New York Times is reporting that “Today” show producer Jim Bell is out. He’ll be replaced by NBC News vice president Alexandra Wallace, who will oversee all four hours of “Today.” She will also pick a day to day producer to handle the minutiae of running the jewel in NBC’s crown for the last 60 years. Wallace is the first woman ever to run “Today.” and she was put in charge by another woman, long time TV exec Pat Fili-Krushel, who came to NBC this past summer as Comcast took over the network from GE.
The reason Bell is out: ratings. The “Today” show has fallen behind “Good Morning America,” as everyone knows, for the first time in years and years. Many blame the firing of Ann Curry (or reassignment, as NBC might put it). The announcement of her departure was maybe the single worst moment in “Today”s long and illustrious history, beating even the ousting of beloved Jane Pauley years ago for its coldness.
In the scuffle, Matt Lauer took the brunt of criticism until Bell finally stepped up and put his head on the chopping block. In an interview he took responsibility for moving Curry off the show. That sealed his doom.
What will happen next is anyone’s guess. First Wallace has to pick that producer. Then the “Today” show, which has always been a class act, has to be tightened up. It’s doubtful Curry will come back. And NBC has put a lot into Savannah Guthrie, her replacement, even featuring her on election night. But the “Today” show is a forever institution, so it will recover. Meanwhile, hundreds of young teens are sleeping outside Rockefeller Center overnight to see the British boy group One Direction perform on the Plaza Tuesday morning.