Another day, another report about behind-the-scenes drama at the “Today” show involving Ann Curry‘s departure. A new story in New York magazine claims that Matt Lauer very nearly jumped ship for ABC last year, after it was leaked that Ryan Seacrest had been approached to replace him on the morning show.
While NBC execs attempted to assure Lauer that they weren’t looking to edge him out and only viewed Seacrest as an “insurance policy” should Lauer decide to explore other avenues, the anchor reportedly became angry when he learned the talks with Seacrest had been leaked.
At the same time, he and former co-anchor Katie Couric approached Jeff Zucker at ABC about a daytime talk show the two would host together, the report claims. As a part of the deal, Lauer would also have had a role on ABC News.
ABC executives believed that Lauer had given them a verbal agreement that he would leave the Peacock for their network, according to the report. But in a week’s time (during which he negotiated his his hew $25 million contact with NBC), he pulled out of the deal.
It had become increasingly clear to everyone involved with Today that either Curry or Lauer would need to take their exit from the show. “At the moment when he had maximum leverage with NBC, Lauer, as the multimillion-dollar megastar, could easily have saved her–but he didn’t,” the article says. “To the contrary, in signing a new contract to remain at the show for at least two more years, he tacitly ratified the plan to remove her.”
Lauer and Curry haven’t spoken about her departure from the show in June 2012, he tells New York.