Matt Lauer, Al Roker get prostate exams on ‘Today’

“We should mention, we’re going to do this in a tasteful way – this is not The Learning Channel,” Savannah Guthrie said at the top of hour on Today show this morning, when Matt Lauer and Al Roker got prostate exams live, on the air, on the ratings hungry Today show.

Turns out, a tasteful, live, on-air prostate exam involves watching Matt Lauer open a door, enter another room, close the door, after which the Ladies of Today vamp for 34 seconds until Matt emerges from behind the door and his doctor pronounces his prostate small, smooth and nodule-free.

It’s not as dull as, say, CNN’s Crossfire, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Katie Couric’s Celebrity Colonoscopy, about 13 years ago, on Today.

More than 13 years ago, morning infotainment ratings leader Today aired Katie Couric’s colonoscopy live, on air, and changed how many Americans viewed that screening. But back then,we watched Katie prep the night before, we listened to her talk about the death of her husband from colon cancer; Katie was sedated and therefore charmingly semi-loopy in her hospital gown at the hospital for the procedure. We watched in horror/fascination, as the little camera snaked its way up Katie’s intestine with Katie and her doctor proving commentary. It was gripping stuff. Matt and Al walking behind a door lacks drama.

While the guys headed over to be examined by Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology at Lenox Hill in Manhattan, Hoda and Kathie Lee head over to the Today show set to join Guthrie, Natalie Morales, and Tamron Hall.

“We came to watch The Prostate Movie,” Hoda, wearing hair curlers and carrying booze, bellowed. They kill time while the guys get ready, talking about their favorite chick flicks which, incredibly, include Love Actually, Working Girl, Sixteen Candles, and Sweet Home Alabama.

Finally, the guys were ready. Wait – they’re still in their suits, though they’ve taken off their jackets. Dr. Samadi also is impeccably suited; he complained he had to lose five pounds to look good on camera for the occasion. Today show’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman set the scene, explaining more than 238,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every year in this country, and more than 29,000 men will die of it annually. She described a prostate, where it’s located, what is its function.

Matt went through a door into an examining room with Samadi. While he was being examined, we watched Snyderman and Roker, out in the waiting room, discuss how much more likely African American men are to get prostate cancer. Just 34 seconds later, out came the doctor, followed by Matt. “Is it the best 34 seconds of your life? Probably not,” Matt announced. The doctor pronounced Matt’s prostate healthy, normal sized, smooth, and nodule free.

Al Roker’s turn to go behind the door. “For a second opinion, I’m going to use two fingers,” the doctor joked. Clearly Dr. Samadi is auditioning for something.

“We’re so proud! We could have done without the finger humor,” Guthrie pronounced, as The Ladies of Today watched from Today show HQ. “This is the most exciting prostate exam I’ve ever known!” she added, damning with faint praise, but mostly killing time while Roker got examined. Al’s exam is not timed, as was Matt’s. But very quickly, Impeccably Dressed Dr. Samadi emerged, and pronounced Roker’s prostate enlarged, but “not terrible,” and says he’s going to monitor Roker every six months to see if the size changes. Matt talked about the “embarrassment factor” for some guys when they mull the prospect of a prostate exam. “Physicians are not embarrassed,” Snyderman responded, settling that question.

“Alright! Let’s give the guys a hand!” Savannah concluded. Today show producers understandably seemed to have worried their Live On TV Prostate Exam might not pack a lot of ratings punch, during the important November sweep — they immediately followed that segment with live adoptions of breathtakingly adorable babies and young children, outside Today HQ in the plaza at Rockefeller Center.