NBC appointed Savannah Guthrie as Matt Lauer's co-anchor on the "Today" show Friday, a day after Ann Curry made a tearful exit from the job.
Guthrie did the job on Friday, doing segments ranging from analysis of the Supreme Court health care decision to decorating toast red, white and blue for Fourth of July party decorations, although nothing was said on the air about her getting the job permanently. The new team will debut July 9.
The turnover comes as NBC's profitable morning show faces its most serious ratings challenge from ABC's "Good Morning America" since the mid-1990s.
Guthrie, 40, is NBC's chief legal analyst, a role that she will continue, and had been co-host of the "Today" show's third hour for the past year (the show currently stretches to four hours). She's been at NBC since 2007. She covered Sarah Palin's campaign and was NBC's White House correspondent from 2008 to 2011.
A graduate of Georgetown Law School, Guthrie has mostly worked in television but did take two years to practice law in Washington about a decade ago. She then went to Court TV. Guthrie worked in local television news in Tucson, Ariz., and Colombia, Mo., in the 1990s.
NBC News President Steve Capus praised Guthrie's "undeniable range" in announcing the appointment.
"She has a one-of-a-kind combination of sharp wit and approachability, and our viewers value her journalistic skills and legal background just as much as her humor and charm," said Jim Bell, "Today" show executive producer.
The "Today" show team appeared noticeably more comfortable Friday than during Curry's last week of broadcasts. Guthrie joked with Lauer following a story about David Beckham being left off the British soccer team because at 37, he's considered too old.
"He's still young enough to be in those underwear ads, though," she said. "There's a silver lining."
"Thanks for that," Lauer replied.