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As ‘Today’ Prepares for 60 Year Celebration, Matt Lauer Celebrates 15 Years Behind the Anchor Desk

Next Friday, January 13, NBC’s “Today” will bring back a slew of former anchors, including Meredith Vieira, Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel, Tom Brokaw, Barbara Walters, Jane Pauley, Hugh Downs, Deborah Norville and Jim Hartz. The event is the capper to a week looking back on 60 years of the leading morning news program.

Other segments will include a tribute from President and Mrs. Obama, as well as an interview with a staffer who worked on the show in 1952. Public landmarks such as the Empire State Building, the Bellagio Hotel, Niagara Falls and the CIRA Center will all be lit up in the “Today” colors.

This morning, “Today” also marked Matt Lauer‘s 15th anniversary as co-anchor. The 8:30 half hour began with the “Today” show open from Jan. 6, 1997, with Couric and Lauer (below). To celebrate, the Today.com put up its top 15 Lauer moments, including his very first day:

More on the 60th anniversary celebration, after the jump.

America’s Favorite Morning Program Takes a Look Back at Six Decades of Great Morning Television

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Wish “Today” a Happy Anniversary

Appearances By Former Anchors Meredith Vieira, Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel, Tom Brokaw, Jane Pauley, Barbara Walters, Hugh Downs, Jim Hartz, Deborah Norville and Other Special Surprises

NEW YORK – January 5, 2012 – - On January 14, 1952, Dave Garroway welcomed America to “Today,” and the news broadcasting landscape was forever changed. Since then, “Today” has brought its viewers six decades of historical moments and become the country’s number one morning news destination for more than 16 years straight.

Each day next week, starting Monday, January 9, Matt Lauer, Ann Curry, Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Savannah Guthrie, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb will look back at “Today’s” illustrious past. On Friday, January 13, “Today” will host an anniversary celebration with past co-anchors and hosts including Meredith Vieira, Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel, Tom Brokaw, Jane Pauley, Barbara Walters, Hugh Downs, Jim Hartz, Deborah Norville and many more all live in studio. There will be appearances by special celebrity guests, and President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will wish “Today” a happy anniversary in a very special taped message.

During the week, “Today” will reflect on its remarkable history highlighting groundbreaking moments, news-making interviews and unforgettable shows that spanned the world. Segments include a look back at how the show operated in 1952 and a chat with one of the program’s original staffers, the evolution of “Today” and how the technology of coverage has changed, and the many different ways viewers are watching the show across the globe.

The “Today” anchors and hosts will also participate in a special lighting of one of the world’s biggest landmarks. On Thursday, January 12, the top of the Empire State building will shine red, orange and yellow in honor of the iconic “Today” rainbow. The “Today” show colors will also stretch across the U.S. with Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, The CIRA center in Philadelphia, the FDNY Fireboats on the Hudson River by the Statue of Liberty, and Niagara Falls all shining the “Today” rainbow.

TODAY.com kicks off the broadcast’s 60th anniversary by looking deep into the show’s archives. The “TODAY at 60” digital experience (http://TODAY.com/TODAYat60) features special video highlights from the past six decades. Beginning January 9, viewers can participate in the anniversary celebration on TODAY.com by voting for their favorite show moment of the past 60 years. Viewers can also toast “Today” by checking in on GetGlue to earn a special social media sticker. In addition, viewers are encouraged to share their favorite “Today” moments on Twitter by using the hashtag: #TODAYat60.

Photos will be available after the January 13 show at www.nbcumv.com.

Jim Bell is the executive producer of “Today” (Monday – Friday, 7-11 a.m.). Don Nash is the senior broadcast producer, Mary Alice O’Rourke is the senior producer and Yael Federbush is the supervising producer overseeing “Today at 60.”

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