To say it’s been a rough year for the “Today” show, would be an understatement.
The once-dominant morning program is settling in to second place, as new top producers, on-air talent and show segments meld in the hopes of catching on with viewers and regaining the top spot. Meanwhile, star anchor Matt Lauer continues to find himself in the unenviable position of taking the licks — and the responsibility — for the show’s woes.
But last night, Lauer didn’t want to dwell on the downside. Instead it was a night to celebrate with his co-anchor Savannah Guthrie, and hundreds of other media luminaries, at the 18th annual National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association Headlines and Headliners benefit. “Today” national correspondent and news anchor Natlie Morales was the host for the evening which raised more than $75,000 for scholarships and program activities.
Morales delivered a few zingers during her speech, including giving a new name to HLN — “the hysterical ladies network.”
HLN anchor Jane Velez-Mitchell, who hosted this event last year, missed the joke as she was still taping her show. But she took it in stride when we told it to her later. They may be hysterical, but HLN ratings of late, thanks to coverage of the Jodi Arias trial, are nothing to laugh at.
We chatted with ABC’s Amy Robach, whose star has risen at “Good Morning America” since leaving NBC News last year. Robach and husband Andrew Shue are leaving today for a Caribbean vacation. Gayle King represented for “CBS This Morning,” while CNN’s Christine Romans, John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin chatted with guests. We caught up with MSNBC’s Alex Witt, FNC’s Rick Reichmuth and CNBC’s Mandy Drury, who’s heading home to Australia next week to catch up with family. On the local news scene, WABC’s Lori Stokes and WNBC’s Contessa Brewer worked the room. And we couldn’t pass up the chance to talk with The Weather Channel’s Bryan Norcross, the father of the named Winter storms. “Everything needs a hashtag now,” says the longtime meteorologist. “What better way than to name the storms?” Of course, an unending Winter helps. Did you hear Winter Storm Virgil is on the way this weekend?
(l-r) “Today” show publicist Megan Kopf Stackhouse, Andrew Shue, CNN’s Javier Morgado, NBC’s Natalie Morales, ABC’s Amy Robach
More photos after the jump…