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Posts Tagged ‘Timothy Dolan’

Maria Shriver Returns to ‘Today’ for Papal Coverage

For the last two days, former NBC News anchor/correspondent — and former California first lady — Maria Shriver has been reporting for the “Today” show from Rome. She’s had several reports, including the story behind the pope’s choice of names, and how the role of women in the church could change under Pope Francis. This morning she took part in an interview, with Matt Lauer, of New York Archbishop, Cardinal Timothy Dolan. “Your dad was a great man. He was a wise man too,” said Dolan speaking of Sargent Shriver who died two years ago.

Shriver’s career in TV news goes back 30 years. She co-anchored “The CBS Morning News” in the mid-1980s before moving to NBC News where she anchored “Weekend Today,” the weekend edition of “Nightly News” and, later, reported and anchored for “Dateline NBC.”

In 2007 — following the coverage of the death of Anna Nicole Smith — Shriver declared she was done with TV news. “It was then that I knew that the TV news business had changed and so had I,” Shriver said at the California Governor and First Lady’s Conference on Women . “I called NBC News and told them I’m not coming back.”

Of course, things change. Six years ago, “Today” was the undisputed No. 1 morning show. “Today” producers hope that by bringing back familiar on-air faces, some of the hundreds of thousands of viewers who tuned out over the past year, will also return.

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Tim Russert the inspiration for this week’s ‘Today’ show Vatican Reports

The Russert family in the Vatican Library in June 2008. (Courtesy: Russert family/NBC News)

This morning, about an hour before the “Today” show went on the air, co-anchor Matt Lauer had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, a rare event for most anyone. But the groundwork for this reporting trip goes back more than three years.

“Today” show EP Jim Bell tells TVNewser the Vatican was “a particular passion of Tim Russert‘s.” Russert, the Washington Bureau chief for NBC News, had his own audience with Pope Benedict XVI just days before he died, three years ago this month. Russert died of a heart attack in the Washington Bureau. His family — wife Maureen Orth and son Luke Russert — were still in Europe concluding what had been a family vacation.

“Tim and I had been working on a trip for TODAY that he was going to be a part of,” Bell says. But the 2008 election started to heat up. “So we decided to hold off until after the election.” Russert died June 13, 2008.

“A trip to the Vatican and an audience with Pope Benedict still ranked high on the show’s ‘to do’ list,” Bell says. The show had been planning it for this past March, but the news cycle — the Arab Spring and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan — led to another postponement.

Lauer along with Al Roker were in St. Peter’s Square this morning, and afterward shared a private moment with the pontiff and New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Today, Dolan will give Lauer and Roker a private tour through the Basilica including a look at Pope John Paul II’s newly installed tomb — the first look for an American broadcast. NBC’s Anne Thompson will examine how the church has embraced social media. Those stories air tomorrow on a split edition of “Today.”