Home Uncategorized NBC “Today” and “Tonight” PR Catastrophes Are the Same, For a Reason

There’s a lot of explosive talk today about Matt Lauer leaving the Today show. It began with a New York magazine piece, continued into a second story on Deadline.com about NBC reaching out to Anderson Cooper to replace him, and has now echoed into the New York Times. The connection I still haven’t seen: that what’s going on with “Today” show this week is what happened to the “Tonight” show last week. Both shows are on NBC, and the signals being sent, however awkwardly, are coming from the same place: the new management.

As an NBC expert pointed to out to me today: Comcast wants all the old people out. I don’t mean senior citizens, although maybe that’s so. But they want a fresh look to a dead network. And that means Jay Leno and Matt Lauer. “Remember, the “New” NBC aka Comcast wants to get away from the old. Look at Fallon,” says my expert.

Also look at Elisabeth Hasselbeck at ABC’s “The View.” She will make her own exit announcement in April or early May. But what got leaked earlier this month was a smoke signal. It was a warning that Hasselbeck was done. Network executives never say things to talent’s face. They “let it be known.” And this was the month a lot was made known. March is going out like a lion.

The Cooper-Lauer thing? My expert says Cooper is probably ready to go to “Today.” His CNN show is endangered by changes taking place over there. Jake Tapper is the new ‘it guy’ at CNN. Cooper no doubt senses that. Chris Cuomo is also going to big man on campus over there. His CBS gig at 60 Minutes is by lend lease, and it just end.

And Matt Lauer? Even though I suggested this was all crazy, I was told “not so.” “Matt wants out. He knows everyone blames him for Ann Curry. If NBC wanted to buy him out, or move him somewhere else on the network, he’d jump at the chance,” says my NBC expert. “Matt has one foot out the door,” says my insider. “[This plan]– yes, it makes sense.”

Meanwhile, one week after NBC staged its public war with Jay Leno by using the press, Leno has calmed down, and is now talking succession with the brass. A week from now, Lauer, will probably do the same thing.

Tonight, Today.

What’s next? Someone tested the waters a couple of weeks ago suggesting that Kathie Gifford and Hoda Kotb were at each other’s throats, and that someone wanted to move to LA. These stories are not complete fiction. My guess is they can be traced back to very related areas.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
71 replies to this post
  1. Comcast will do what they do best!, FIRE Leno. As most Comcasters will tell you, few people ever get to retire from Comcast. They either get fired or let go. Leno fits Comcast’s profile of someone who makes too much money so they will replace him with someone for less. I worked for Comcast for 24 years and have seen how they operate. I did manage to retire and it felt like I won the Japanese TV game show, “Ninja Warrior”!. Retirement is a rare achievement at Comcast.
    If Leno goes, don’t be last in line to sell your Comcast stock before it drops through the basement of Rockefeller Center!

  2. NBC irrelevent. They blew it with their uber liberal agenda. I don’t care who goes where because we don’t watch any of the rich Hollywood elitists. They can go to he** for all we care!

  3. NBC’s scripted shows stunk this year. MSNBC has been a rooting section for the Obama administration, and I’m afraid that bias has tainted NBC’s news programming. So yes, maybe they do need to clean house though starting with their one consistent winner, i.e. Leno’s show, seems a bit dumb. But then again I use Comcast cable, and it’s a horrible company. It’s the Comcast way to screw things up and then be nasty about it. I expect that’s what will happen to NBC. RIP NBC!

  4. It’s not the kids who have the money to spend, it’s the older adults. Think about it, parents aren’t moving in with the kids, it’s the kids moving in with the parents. Then there’s the notion, woefully outdated, that older viewers are so set in their ways that they can’t be persuaded to try new products and or services and are, therefore, less attractive to advertisers. While they may be less attractive to advertisers, (read ad agencies), it’s a truism that isn’t necessarily true. Older viewers are just as apt to spend money on new products, (when those products are marketed to them.) But, since the AD BIZ has bought into the idea that young is hip and easily malleable, their customers (agency clients) believe their agencies know what they are talking about. So it goes with the television networks feed off the ad agencies image of the perfect consumer which, in turn, breeds an unrealistic image of the perfect consumer which Hollywood then perpetuates. Unfortunately, Hollywood thinks the rest of the country looks like Hollywood: Young, hip, successful and high income. It doesn’t. NBC, Comcast and the rest of the television Industry should be educating advertisers on the value of older viewers, possibly their core viewing audience, instead of looking for ways to dismiss the largest segment of the buying public.

  5. Comcast is either the source or the poor unwitting recipient of NBC’s troubles.
    There has to be somebody at 1701 John F Kennedy Blvd who is really worried about their job.

  6. Cockcast is a bucket full. If there is reason to believe that Leno and the other metro sexuals are kicked to the curb becuase of age there will be some really hungry lawyers ready to pounce.

  7. Comcast wants changes BUT not to the “news” people. Despite NBC News and MSNBC’s dismal ratings, Comcast and NBC are politically sympatico. Comcast management are raging liberals and fit right-in with their new acquisition. Expect more liberal programming and blather from Comcast.

  8. nbc won’t get better by eliminating people based on age. Right now the entire network appears to be populated by imbeciles and fruitcakes who have no real knowledge or understanding of what would make nbc a viable, entertaining network. Rather, they simply bump along carelessly, trying whatever whim strikes them. If it was “funny” or “dramatic” to their imbecilic minds, perhaps others will like it too. Not.

    Still. Not. Watching. nbc

  9. It is all VANITY, and anyone with an once of a brain, would say let them all get fired, and we can go back to sitting on a comfortable chair and just meditate…We have an illegal president, and anyone with a brain realizes it…The news media has covered up this matter from the beginning, and America is fed up with all news agencies…Those who think otherwise are really mentally ill.

  10. These changes don’t matter. Nobody wants to watch State Run TV anymore. Not the people who are wide awake, not the Left who know that it’s all just government propaganda (even if it is their own), not even the Low Information voters, who feel (since they don’t really think, per se) that it is all vaguely repetitive and boring.

  11. I think Comcast/NBC are a victim of their own liberal slant to news and agenda. They live in a bubble of very liberal staff and neighbors. They feed off that attitude and belief structure not realizing a lot of this ‘youth’ thinking eventually becomes more conservative and sophisticated as the ‘kids’ grow older and the family values of their parents begin to be realized….we saw it in the Vietnam madness. Not to mention people are living longer, getting older and are the ones who spend the money.

  12. Comcasts version of Focus Group Testing? They lost me as a viewer when Jack Welch left GE. The head of Comcast is a friend and major bundler for Obama. The Obamas spend one of their many vacations with this gentleman and his wife on Martha’s Vineyard. You know all the 1 percenters are not Republican’s or Libertarians like myself. And, I’m unfortunately not in the 1 percent. A lot of illmanaged companies do exactly what COMCAST and ABC are doing to Leno, Lauer and Hasselback respectively. They have someone in HR put the firing rumor out there -deny it, and weeks later strike. It’s inhuman. One day it will happen to the doers. KARMA is a B. Matt is going to find out. KARMA

  13. who cares. it’s a dead medium. just like the news papers. soon the internet will be so regulated, over advertized and snooped that it too will be useless. the Eloi don’t care, they have their cell phones, facebook and munchie laws to keep them calm while the ruling class chows down on the real stuff. Here, have another bottle of soylent green…..you prefer the red?

  14. I believe this…
    This scenario happened at Tech TV. After Comcast bought it and turned it into G4, they got rid of the old people and dumbed it down. The management by report and by numbers (MBA syndrome) is going to rock NBC like an earthquake.

  15. I think NBC / Comcast will be harmed by trying to go more extreme liberal than they already are right now. Is it an agism situation? Perhaps, but the interesting thing is the people being replaced are less demonstrative about their liberal leanings than those who are likely to replace them.

    How far will a network go to destroy itself? Will NBC be the next to sell out to Al Jazeera?

  16. The further destruction of NBC. Good.
    The “young” won’t be coaxed into watching the new “young” talent.
    The “young” do not watch tv anymore.
    Get a clue.

  17. NBC is just the beginning of the transition from these liberal dinosaur backwards media centers to more cutting edge news delivery systems such as The Blaze. NBC and other old media outlets were on the bandwagon with liberal Democrats and Obama… look where they are now!! I saw this trash coming a mile away. See ya’ll at The Blaze my friends.

  18. All they are going to do is dumb down the network. Leno is no comic genius but has a great and likeable personality and I believe number one in the late night program race. Fallon is an annoying little dweeb with no discernible talent whatever and whose presence in place of Leno’s will cause this viewer to change the channel.

  19. I worked for Comcast for years here in Jacksonville, Florida. When they laid off everyone in my department, I was the only one not offered a new job. I was also the only one over fifty. Your statement is true – Comcast does want all of the old people out, literally and figuratively. The company hides under the motto ‘Comcast Cares’, but in reality, Comcast Doesn’t Care at all.

  20. Leno is the only winner in NBC’s stable, so it’s natural that Comcast would expect to reverse the decline of the network by eliminating its only success. Well at least in the minds of the ‘expert TV programmers! The irrational meanderings of NBC management over the past decade or so are just inexplicable. From their news division to their entertainment production division, those in charge simply fail to know the market and they seem to make decisions designed to copy others instead of using innovative thinking. Perhaps it’s simply time to dissolve the network and make their ‘stations’ independent.

  21. Why the heck would Anderson Cooper want to leave CNN and hard news to go to a morning fluff timewaster for stay-at-homes? I’m not his biggest fan, but he’s WAY better than the Today Show.

  22. Every name mentioned is liberal and boring. I wouldn’t watch any of them because they are as boring as what they have now, they are all interchangeable drones. As for Hasselbeck they want her out simply because she is a conservative and to Comcast that is an act of corporate treason, you must maintain the party line on the Comcast plantation. The executives don’t have a clue, so full steam ahead into that iceberg over there.

  23. Don’t end your story there. Keep going. Local, cable, network. Sue Simmons, Len Berman and Paul Moyer. Mika and Joe to CBS This Morning. Never trust people who say, “Change is difficult,” like they do at Comcast, and as Zucker likes to say.

  24. Who cares? WHO CARES? They are all a bunch of narcissists, including the networks. Just animate the stupid shows like Gieco does…they sure are a lot smarter, more common sensical, easier to manage and sure a lot less costly! Maybe then we can have more meaningful, entertaining, informative air time.

  25. Old people are the only one who watch TV and cable. Who is this Lauer guy? Cooper the dim witted light weight who gets blow jobs on TV from trench mouthed hags? The View? You’ve got to be mentally crippled. Who cares? This is stupid media writing about stupid media. Big bunch of losers. TV is so 80’s. Get a life.

  26. The Comcast takeover at NBC is like the moronic helping lead the merely stupid! They bankrupted one company because they don’t know how to run a decent cable company, and they take controlling interest in a network that is on financial life support because nobody there can figure out what people really want to watch! So their first big moves are to screw up probably the only two financially profitable programs they have with any viewership! Seldom watch NBC now and looks like it will move to never at this rate.

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