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NBC News has signed “Today” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie to a new contract that is said to last at least three years, according to a report in The Los Angeles Times, a move that would seem to position the venerable morning program for more news, and less of the drama that has plagued it in recent months.
The report, which featured an interview with Guthrie, said the anchor would interview President Obama during NBC’s pre-game coverage leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, a duty that longtime “Today” anchor Matt Lauer has handled twice in the recent past. Guthrie joins Lauer, who agreed to a new contract with NBC last year, in agreeing to stick with the show for the short-term future.
A spokeswoman for NBC News, Ali Zelenko, reposted the Los Angeles Times article in her Facebook feed Sunday evening, calling the article a “smart take” on Guthrie’s path at NBC News.
For Guthrie, the maneuver would seem to be a vote of confidence in her recent tenure at “Today,” which started under difficult circumstances. Guthrie took the place of Ann Curry, the longtime news anchor at “Today” who ascended to the co-anchor spot only to find her on-air style did not mesh well with that of Matt Lauer or expectations of senior producers. Curry was pushed out from her post in June, 2012, in a tearful and mawkish on-air departure that even NBC News executives have acknowledged helped to hasten the program’s demise in the ratings. ABC’s “Good Morning America” has trumped “Today” in the fevered battle to capture viewer attention since April of 2012.
“”My own approach was not to go in there with guns blazing, saying, ‘Pay attention to me,'” Guthrie told The Los Angeles Times of her move to anchor alongside Lauer. “It called for someone to come in, put their head down and do the work. I tried to be a credit to the show and not another problem.”
In an interview with Variety in August, Lauer cited his rapport with Guthrie as a reason for deciding to extend his contract last year.
NBC News seems to be working to bring new stability to “Today” after enduring a long bout of ratings losses to ABC in the race to lure breakfast-time viewing.
NBC earlier this month named a new senior executive, Noah Oppenheim, to oversee the entire “Today” franchise, a position originally held by Jamie Horowitz. NBC ousted Horowitz, whom it worked to secure from Walt Disney’s ESPN, after the executive began to ruffle staffers after just a few weeks at the job. Horowitz was believed to be working to radically change anchor lineups across the franchise’s various hours. Oppenheim is a former “Today” producer who went on to serve as an executive producer at MSNBC and, more recently, take on screenwriting projects.