NBC’s attempt to push “Today” back into first place ahead of ABC rival “GMA” by hiring top ESPN programmer Jamie Horowitz has ended in turmoil after he was fired Monday night amid a climate of “instability and insecurity,” sources tell Page Six.
Horowitz, who was hired last year following a negotiation with ABC to allow him out of his ESPN contract early to take the reins as SVP of “Today,” was fired by NBC News President Deborah Turness. She had said at the time of his hiring, “Jamie has the skills, the talent and the experience to lead the Today brand into the future. He is first and foremost a great producer … [and] he comes at things from unexpected angles and has a popular touch combined with real intellectual creativity.”
Horowitz, who has recently been on a “listening tour” taking in the opinions of “Today” staff, was released from his job even before his official Dec. 1 start date when he was due to oversee all four hours of the show.
While Page Six reported that Natalie Morales and Tamron Hall had recently been feuding over their positions at “Today,” other sources suggested that Horowitz’s longtime friendship with Josh Elliott, who is now in a sports role at NBC and will appear on “Today” regularly, was also seen as a problem. A second source said, “Josh is a talented and welcome part of the ‘Today’ team, but the idea that he would get Matt [Lauer]’s job in the immediate future is just wrong. Matt has just signed a new long-term contract.”
It is believed that NBC will have to pay Horowitz around $3 million for the remainder of his contract.
NBC did not immediately comment and Horowitz could not be reached Monday night.