Published November 13, 2012
NEW YORK – The “Today” show had a busy morning Tuesday as pop band One Direction performed, prompting thousands of teenage girls to line up screaming for the boy band outside the “Today” studio.
But behind the scenes, a different kind of screaming may have been going on as rumors swirled a top show exec is about to get an Ann Curry-like ousting.
Jim Bell, who has been in charge of “Today” since 2005, is almost out the door, after his plan to replace Curry with newbie Savannah Guthrie proved unable to propel “Today” back to its No. 1 spot above competitor “Good Morning America.”
An NBC executive confirmed the rumors to the Associated Press, noting that the decision was not yet finalized.
Bell, who is said to have been a driving force in the embarrassing firing of Curry in July, is going to be replaced by Alexandra Wallace, according to the New York Times, giving Curry the last laugh.
If Wallace takes charge of the show, she will be the first woman to lead the four-hour morning TV show, which has a mostly female viewership.
NBC Sports said Bell will become executive producer of NBC's Olympics coverage, a role he took on this summer for the network's successful coverage of the London Olympics.
The management shakeup would be another layer in a series of attempts to save the once top-rated series from falling behind “Good Morning America,” which has been ahead of “Today” in the ratings since Curry’s teary goodbye from the show. Since her departure, show host Matt Lauer has also been under fire from viewers who initially blamed him for Curry’s ousting, making the “Today” show couch an awkward place to sit.
In October, a source close to the show attempted to explain the tension at the “Today” studio, saying those in the studio knew the decision to get rid of Curry came from the upper management.
“This was a decision made at the top,” the source told FOX 411. “Everyone was sad when Ann left, but she just didn’t fit into the new role.”
In September, Bell stepped forward to take responsibility for Curry’s botched exit, a move that may have ultimately cost him his role. He told the Hollywood Reporter that Lauer was not to blame for the Curry- Guthrie switch up.
“I think it’s really unfortunate how that played out,” he said. “And obviously the transition didn’t go quite as we had hoped. And Matt, I need to say for the record, really should not bear any of the blame for that. I’m the executive producer of the show. He’s not. He’s the public face of the show, so he’s taken some of this. But it has been wrong. And that fact should be corrected.”
In the same interview, Bell addressed rumors that he was on the way out of the show, saying that he was unsure about reports he was moving on from “Today.”
“I really don’t know. [The speculation] has been very frustrating. I’m the EP of the ‘Today’ show and the Olympics, and I love both. That is more than a full-time job. And that’s the end of that.”
Prior to Curry’s departure, the “Today” show had led in the ratings for 16 consecutive years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.