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Matt Lauer Speaks: How Katie Couric Almost Returned To ‘Today’

More than half a year after Ann Curry left the “Today” show, Matt Lauer opens up about exactly what happened behind the scenes. The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz spoke to Lauer, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke and former NBC News president Steve Capus about the decision.

The story paints the decision to remove Curry as a corporate one, and Lauer as valiantly trying to slow the process down. That said, Lauer acknowledged that their chemistry wasn’t great, and that he was reluctant about Curry before she officially became co-anchor. Curry had a guarantee in her contract that gave her the slot.

Then there was this bombshell about Katie Couric, now with ABC:

At the outset, though, Lauer would have preferred to anchor with someone else. Before Curry was formally promoted to co-host in 2011, Lauer quietly reached out to an old friend. He asked Katie Couric if she would be willing to return to Today, where they had ruled the time period for nearly a decade.

Couric was receptive to the idea. She was shopping a syndicated show, and she and Lauer were talking about doing the show together. Their plan was to sell the daytime program to NBC and feature Couric on Today during the year and a half until the show could get on the air and Lauer would be contractually free to join her. Couric could be a Today co-host, perhaps as part of a troika with Curry, who had already been offered the job. NBC executives debated the plan, but Burke rejected it after concluding that the syndicated show would be too expensive to produce. Couric teamed up with ABC instead.

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