The New York Times has an excerpt from a new book by Brian Stelter titled Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV that deals with Ann Curry’s departure from Today. The gist of it is this: NBC executives promoted an ambitious employee to a position she was ill-suited for, despite multiple warnings from people who knew better, then bungled her exit in spectacular fashion. Okay, fine. This much we knew. But the details — oh, THE DETAILS — are what make the whole excerpt a fascinating read.
For example, did you know that lots of people at NBC are dicks? Because they are. Like, as in “one time Ann Curry wore a nice yellow dress and everyone in the control room responded by repeatedly comparing her to Big Bird and Photoshopping a picture of the two next to each other under the headline ‘Who Wore It Best?’” and “her executive producer allegedly commissioned a blooper real of her worst mistakes and called staffers into his office to watch clips of her screwing up.”
Oh, and also there’s this, which sounds like something I am making up, but I swear I am not:
One morning-TV veteran suggested to him that firing Curry, who had been co-hosting for only about six months at that point, would be tantamount to “killing Bambi.” Undeterred, [executive producer Jim] Bell hatched a careful three-part plan: 1.) persuade Lauer to extend his expiring contract; 2.) oust Curry; 3.) replace her with Savannah Guthrie. According to this source, Bell called his plan Operation Bambi.
He called his plan to get rid of Ann Curry “Operation Bambi”? Oh that is just wrong, not only because it is cold as ice, but also because the better analogy is probably The Lion King. At least the first hour of it. That way you can still have the right Bambi/Simba helpless orphan imagery, but you can ALSO compare Matt Lauer’s role in her departure to Scar’s plan to get rid of Mufasa via murder by wildebeest and scare Simba into running away. I may have put a lot of thought into this. Al Roker is Rafiki.
But anyway, the excerpt goes on to discuss the effect the turmoil had on the ratings, which led to Good Morning America and its lighter, cheerier format overtaking Today for the first time in years.
Viewers were increasingly attracted to “G.M.A.,” which, in the Robin Roberts-George Stephanopoulos era, had become brighter and lighter — the cast was more bubbly and the stories more gossip-laden. And short: If you didn’t like what they were covering, you could just wait 45 seconds and the cast would be on to a Chihuahua playing pool.
For the record, this is also a fair description of what we do here at UPROXX. Which brings me to my final point…