If you wake up in the morning dreading the day ahead because you’re going to be bullied and belittled by your co-horts to the point that you have to leave, you’re either a middle schooler (hang in there, kid) or you were Ann Curry on the Today show (you know what, you hang in there, too).
In yet another scathing expose on the downright ugly behind-the-scenes drama at Today in the midst of the morning show ratings wars and Ann Curry’s controversial and unceremonious exit that’s widely reported to have been at the hand of her co-anchor Matt Lauer, the New York Times has revealed even more details about NBC’s ongoing PR nightmare. (Or morningmare, to be more accurate).
According to the Times, Today executive producer Jim Bell taunted Curry in the months leading up to her firing by doing things like commissioning a “blooper reel of Curry’s worst on-air mistakes” and concocted the plan to get her out the door for good in a plan that was called “Operation Bambi.” The execution of that three-part plan was reportedly to ” 1.) persuade Lauer to extend his expiring contract; 2.) oust Curry; 3.) replace her with Savannah Guthrie.” (The article claims Bell also toasted with his fellow producers to Curry’s exit just hours after her emotional sign-off).
But Bell wasn’t the only one who seemed dead set on making life hell for Curry. When the journalist wore a bright yellow dress on air one particular morning staff members in the control room allegedly Photoshopped Curry next to Big Bird and voted on “Who wore it best?” Another claim in the article is that Curry’s foe Lauer once allegedly told a production assistant, “I can’t believe I am sitting next to this woman.”
Piling on to the already-dreadful work environment that had been created, following the tragic Aurora movie theater shootings NBC sent Curry and her eventual replacement Savannah Guthrie (“whose playful, sometimes bashful personality many of NBC’s top executives found appealing” according to the piece) to Colorado to cover it and “announced that she would co-host the next day’s Today with Guthrie. The plan was intended to reassure viewers that all was well within “America’s First Family.” But Curry didn’t find out about the plan until after her plane landed and then refused to go along with it. Instead, she filed a single four-minute segment. One staff member was told to look into booking Curry and Guthrie on separate flights home.”
When the axe had been dropped, boxes that had some of her personal belongings had gone missing and “ended up in a coat closet, as if she had already been booted off the premises.”
In short, Studio 1A at Rockefeller Center, comprised of professional adults in a workplace, basically turned into a vicious lunch table in middle school. In fact it was so bad that post-firing Curry “cried as she read e-mail and Twitter messages from fans. For weeks she couldn’t bring herself to return to 30 Rock, where her closed office door bore a red Post-it note that read ‘Do Not Enter’ in capital letters.” Curry allegedly described her last few months at Today as a “form of professional torture.” Bell and NBC deny all the claims in the story.
You can read the entire stunning article — which also delves into Public Enemy No. 1 Lauer’s ongoing mess on the air (an executive at a rival network mused, “I bet he hasn’t had one happy day since he renewed”) and at home (his wife Annette allegedly stated “Two more years, and then he’s mine” regarding his dwindling contract) — here. Though, be warned, it may bring up some repressed middle school and high school memories.