AS shocking new revelations emerge about chaos on the “Today” set, NBC execs have decided the only way to save the war-torn show is to bring back fan fave KATIE COURIC.
The iconic program has been rocked by a new book revealing that top execs hatched a vicious plot – called “Operation Bambi” – to drive co-host Ann Curry off the show by taunting and humiliating her.
Staffers regularly made fun of the veteran newswoman, snubbed her and even made a blooper reel of her on-screen blunders. Co-host Matt Lauer reportedly told a production assistant: “I can’t believe I am sitting next to this woman.”
Now, with viewers calling for Lauer’s ouster for turning on Curry, panicked producers are desperately wooing likable Katie to come back to the show that made her a star, say insiders. “They’re calling Katie and begging her to return, saying the morning couch on NBC is where she belongs,” revealed an insider. “They want to save Matt and the show.”
VIEWERS LOVED KATIE when she worked on “Today” from 1991 to 2006 before spending the next five years at CBS where she got the prestigious assignment of hosting the evening news.
After leaving as anchor, she was delighted to land her own syndicated talk show where she was the boss and could approve the guests and format, say sources.
But she may be considering the “Today” offer because her afternoon program, which debuted in September 2012, initially ran into ratings problems. “Katie is not happy TV execs she trusted to help her have found other jobs,” revealed the insider.
Although Katie’s show has been renewed for another season, her ratings are uncertain.
“She’s devastated,” said the source. “She asked people if they thought they were on a sinking ship.”
While she ponders her future, the multitalented broadcaster, 56, continues to get calls almost daily from “Today” staff, hoping to convince her to bolster Matt Lauer, who is struggling to restore his own reputation after his involvement in the Curry scandal.
Recently, the atmosphere on “Today” turned even more toxic after word leaked that NBC had considered replacing Lauer with CNN news mainstay Anderson Cooper.
What’s more, the balding anchor recently made headlines, landing on a widely publicized list of “Most Hated Celebrities.”
Now Lauer is being dragged through the mud once more by the book “Top of the Morning,” a behind-the-scenes look at the morning show wars by “New York Times” reporter Brian Stelter.
The author claims that Lauer and his cohorts made Curry feel bullied during her year-long stint as co-anchor. “She told friends that her final months were a form of professional torture.”
“Matt is not happy he needs anyone to save the show because he has such a big ego,” a show insider added. “But Matt said if he had to sit next to anyone, it would be Katie, because she’s always prepared and she ‘gets’ him. He would actually welcome Katie back with open arms and he’s called Katie to discuss the possibility.
“But she hasn’t said yes – YET.”