Friday, June 22, 2012

1034 Don't Blame Curry

1034 Don’t Blame Curry

So someone at NBC is leaking these stories, testing the reaction to moving Ann Curry out of the co-anchor chair at the Today Show.  The program is the company’s current crown jewel, a great center of profit and a perpetual ratings winner.

But there are problems, the biggest one being you can’t be number one every week forever.  The competition from ABC -- cyclical -- is better now than it has been at any time since the mid 1990s. And even perpetually third place CBS has shown some signs of awakening from the 7-9am coma it slipped into when Captain Kangaroo went off the air in 1984.

It looks like they’re trying to hang their occasional #2-ness on Ann Curry and that ain’t right.  “Today” managed to survive Bryant Gumbel and Deborah Norville.  It managed to survive when Garroway decided to record the show the afternoon before broadcast.  It managed to survive Barbara Walters and Florence Henderson.  Of this crew, only Norville’s departure was as public as what’s happening to Curry.

Executive producer Jim Bell is a good guy, but he’s no Jeff Zucker.  Plus NBC has this habit of murdering EPs.  When Zucker turned Today into a hit, they rewarded him by making him produce Nightly News as well.  Bell is being stretched into helping lead Olympics coverage which is more than a full time job.  Something’s going to suffer.  Maybe everything.  Then, there’s this little lower third graphic from Thursday morning, 6/21/12:

Actually, they had all kinds of graphics problems at 30 Rock this week.  The local channel for New York put up the wrong intro to a newscast and thus momentarily revived the anchoring career of Sue Simmons. Simmons was “not renewed,” NBC-speak for “was fired after 32 years on the job.”

So, maybe they’ll can Curry, which would be their loss.   Or maybe they’ll find some special niche for her allowing her a graceful exit from the show.  This woman hasn’t used an agent in decades.  Now, she has a lawyer.  Who can blame her.

The Today Show looks a little tired. It’s become pretty predictable and safe, both virtues unless overdone.  And it’s really three shows: the main one from 7-9 in the morning followed by an engine tender and then a caboose.  Sometimes you can stretch a franchise just so thin before people can see through it.

One of the great things about Matt Lauer is that he understands that the star of the show is the show, not the star.  The rest of National Broadcasting Comcast ought to have learned that from him by now.

Ann has the best voice in broadcasting.  She worked her way through college doing the kind of work most of the rest of us wouldn’t do.  She’s paid her dues and earned her spot.  Deal with it.


--Too many British and Aussie accents on TV these days.  They must think it shows class, which it doesn’t.  It’s just annoying.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ® Disclosure: I wrote for NBC News in general and for Ann Curry in Particular from 1992-2000.
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© WJR 2012

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