There may or may not be an on-air shakeup in the works at NBC’s “Today” show, but for now, the show’s nine hosts “have our support,” a network exec says.
Us Weekly, in an “exclusive,” reported Wednesday that news reader Natalie Morales and 9 a..m. hour co-host Willie Geist were recently told they’d been fired. The magazine attributed that information to “an NBC source.”
Geist, who also appears on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” flatly denied the story Wednesday.
Us Weekly’s source claimed that Morales, 42, is talking to ABC about another job and Geist, 39, has a gig lined up at CBS.
We can report with certainty one firing at “Today”: the show’s general manager, Jamie Horowitz, who had been on the job just 10 weeks. He was shown the door Monday.
As CNN’s Brian Stelter reported: “Horowitz, during what’s been dubbed a ‘listening tour,’ spoke indiscreetly about all sorts of ideas for on-air and off-air changes, including changes that would have removed Morales and Geist from ‘Today.’
“Another scenario even involved replacing the current co-anchor of the show, Savannah Guthrie, with Hoda Kotb,” who co-hosts the 10 a.m. hour with Kathie Lee Gifford. (In Kansas City, KSHB delays the fourth hour of “Today” until 1 p.m.)
In a statement issued hours after the Us Weekly story was posted, NBC News president Deborah Turness said, in part:
“The entire ‘Today’ show anchor team — Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Willie Geist, Carson Daly, Tamron Hall, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb — are incredibly talented, valued and have our support.
“In response to the false rumors that have been circulated about our anchor team, NBC wants to be absolutely clear: The rumors are wrong — period. This is the team we are committed to. And this is the team that our viewers turn to in the morning.”
CNN’s Stelter writes that despite network brass’ support of the “Today” hosts, changes are likely at the show.
It was the top-rated network morning show for more than 20 years. But now ABC’s “GMA” claims 600,000 more viewers than “Today.”