Monday, July 02, 2012

Ann Curry was weak on cooking segments. KILL HER!

Ann Curry was weak on cooking segments!

That’s the horsehit explanation Steve Capus, the idiot president of NBC News gave for why they had to unceremoniously dump Ann Curry as co-host of THE TODAY SHOW.

Yeah. That was the problem. America tuned out in droves because Ann wasn't enthusiastic enough about whipped potatoes.  It wasn't the guests.  It wasn't that NBC's primetime lineup had become a national afterthought?  No, sir.  It was those damn potatoes!  Turn in your apron, Ann.   We can't allow you to bring down the National Broadcasting Company any longer.

Attention journalism schools: Forget international relations. Ditch Political Science. Teach cooking!

You tell me what’s worse -- A top executive of a major television network publicly humiliating a lifelong loyal employee by saying something hurtful and unconscionable or not being excited enough when corn muffins come out of the oven?

Ann Curry didn’t deserve that.  Jeff Zucker didn’t deserve that. Well… maybe Jeff Zucker. But not Ann Curry.

So why was she fired… excuse me – “re-assigned to exciting new challenges?”

THE TODAY SHOW ratings have declined. GOOD MORNING AMERICA is nipping at their heels. Robin Roberts apparently can baste.

Ann Curry is 55. Savannah Guthrie (her replacement) is 40.

This was NBC’s plan all along. Ann was just a placeholder while Savannah got more seasoning. Her goose was already cooked, to use metaphors that obviously have great priority at NBC News.

Everything NBC does this year revolves around its Olympic coverage. The Olympics will bring back millions of viewers who fled because of WHITNEY, THE PLAYBOY CLUB, etc. NBC is trying to maximize that coverage to promote its shows. So they want the new TODAY SHOW line-up already in place.  Pity because Ann is really a whiz on the mesquite grill and would absolute kill it on the 4th of July party segment, but alas, she’ll never get the chance.

Look, if they wanted to replace her it's their prerogative.  But they could have handled this matter sooo much better. And there’s a good chance it will backfire on them. Remember Deborah Norville, Mr. Capus? For years, the co-host of THE TODAY SHOW was Jane Pauley (pictured: right). The audience took to her. She asked knothead questions at times but made a mean strudel. After 13 years it was announced that she was being “re-assigned to exciting new challenges” and replaced by Deborah Norville, who was a rising star at NBC (and younger than Pauley). The audience perceived Norville to be a backstabber who squeezed Pauley out and they just hated her. Ratings plummeted and Norville was gone in five months.  Savannah beware! 

Ann Curry may not be flashy, may no longer be 40, and might not give a fuck how you make blintzes, but she’s the consummate professional, intelligent, sincere to a fault, and even in what has been described a “public execution” she has handled herself with dignity and grace.

Just compare these statements:

Ann Curry to the viewers of TODAY: “I have loved you and I have wanted to give you the world. And I still do.”

And:

The President of NBC News: “We gave her a year to prove herself, and ultimately we came to the conclusion that she had played at the highest level she could. When you’re in the major leagues of our profession, you’ve got to continue to be at peak performance in order to stay there.”

Here is Ann's final sign-off from THE TODAY SHOW. I offer her nothing but gratitude and wish her nothing but enormous success and happiness. For Steve Capus, I hope in three years he's covering a neighbor dispute over sprinkler heads for some Public Access channel.

58 comments:

Raymond said...

"exiting new challenges." Now that's a Freudian slip.

MikeBo said...

Ken, that is a wonderful comment! I just hope that the suits at NBC realize that we, Ann's fans and friends (and, yes, fellow journalists) totally understand what really happened in this dog and pony show. One of your commenters said, a few days ago, that the real reason the "Today" show is tanking is because they only do a half hour of news in that whole endless melange of cooking segments and PR handouts. Ann Curry is the best. I'm sure she is stung by all of this, but most of us know what a pro she is. NBC management really represents the "Nitwit Broadcasting Company."

Laura said...

I stopped watching Today and went to GMA when Ann Curry took over. I just didn't enjoy her. I perceived a condescending attitude and she seemed hyper and would interrupt a lot. It wasn't pleasant anymore. It was her interviews that I would cringe at. I don't remember any cooking segments that caused me to cringe. I am a 53 yo female. I had no idea Ann was 55.

HourOfLead said...

I always thought Ann should've gotten the nod over Viera in the first place.
Besides, even at 55, Ann's a hottie and I don't care if she knows shit about making an amuse bouche.

Rick Baldwin said...

Ann will get the last laugh here if things don't drastically turn around for the show in her absence. They made her a temporary scapegoat but someone else's head will have to roll when ratings continue to plummet and Ann can say, "Well, what do you know, it wasn't me after all."

JJadziaDax said...

Thank you for posting that. I don't watch the morning tv so I had never seen her but she seems like a real sweetheart, sucks what they're doing.

Anonymous said...

I always preferred Ann Curry over anyone else when she substituted on the evening news. I think what the network is doing to her is ridiculous, and I hope she gets back into the harder news. She is a class act and deserves better treatment than this. Nothing the powers-that-be do is unexpected, and Americans often seem to not remember what happened a few weeks or months down the line, but I do hope the ratings tank; I will be boycotting the show on general principle (not that one person refusing to watch the show will make a lot of difference, but it makes me feel better).

Nathan said...

You'll get no argument from me that she was let go in an unforgivably shabby manner, but she still drove me batshit crazy. When she's interviewing people, she's got the most transparent way of asking progressively more leading questions until she gets the answer she wants to hear.

"What did it feel like when the bear ripped our arm off"?

"But, weren't you sure you were about to die when the bear was savaging you and batting you about like a meat pinata"?

"Surely, you blame your Congressman (or Congressman's opponent), for the way this bear was permitted to make the rest of your life an unbearable hell, and you wish you could just die and take your Congressman (or Congressman's opponent) with you"!

Alan said...

I was never a regular viewer of TODAY but stopped completely when they invited Sarah Palin to co host the show for a week. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

I think Ann's a great person, but her interviews on emotional stories aren't so great. She does the soft-whisper thing that just comes off as insincere because it's TOO much. If she spoke in her normal voice, she'd be better. Just look up the story about the girl who saved her sister from a car. Ann's interview is lackluster.

If I were NBC, I would have made it a three-host show with Savannah, Matt, and Ann. Savannah could do the celeb interviews.

Mike Bell said...

I can hear PDs and GMs all over what's left of radio saying, "See! THAT'S why we don't let jocks do a farewell show!"

cadavra said...

Ken, you expect intelligent behavior from a network that cancelled its highest-rated drama because its viewers were "old?"

Melissa Banczak said...

For years, I kept hearing friends talk about how much they hated Ann Curry. How stupid she was, how cold she was. My husband and I thought they were crazy. We loved her. We were excited when she took over for Meredith. Our excitement lasted about 5 minutes into her first show. She was terrible at interviews, asked too many stupid questions, seemed confused at times, and had absolutely no warmth on that side of the couch. It has nothing to do with her age or ability to baste. She is just awful.

Tom Quigley said...

What?! Jane Pauley's left the TODAY show?...

Wolfie said...

As someone who has worked with and around the Today Show crew,I can tell you that one of the reasons she was let go was that despite her high skill level at reading copy,she was a complete bitch who no one could stand.

Anonymous said...

I agree she was treated poorly, but I have to admit that she's the main reason I switched over to GMA. As a serious journalist and correspondent I think she's terrific, but the last thing people want when they tune into these types of shows at 7am is "serious." They may have once been legitimate news outlets, but that hasn't been true for quite some time; that's what CNN is for (although it's getting pretty vapid as well). Curry could be downright cold with guests and her ability to banter was practically non-existent. For the best example of this, take a look at YouTube clips of Matt Lauer with Katie Couric or Meredith Viera at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Together they are natural, warm, fun, inviting. Then bring up Lauer with Curry at the same event and you'll immediately see that they are stiff, wooden, cold, boring. Even when there was absolutely zero serious journalism required of her, she could never act natural without it seeming like an act. That's why people changed the channel. For NBC to say that she was let go for being weak on cooking segments is a low blow to a very talented journalist. The truth is she was weak, but NBC knew this before they put her in the position. I did anyway. When they announced her as Viera's replacement, I knew immediately things were doomed. For NBC to blame her for their mistake is typical, but not acceptable. They should have known that people want to wake up and have their morning cup of coffee with their good friend, not some disapproving aunt.

Paul Duca said...

I would just like to give some historical background...for its entire six-decade existence, THE TODAY SHOW has struggled to balance hard and soft features in the right proportions. In the 50's people had some trouble getting news from a program whose biggest star was a chimpanzee (J. Fred Muggs).

Then for a time in the early 1960's, John Chancellor and Edwin Newman handled hosting duties, and the news-heavy result was driving viewers away...and that was when the only alternative was CAPTAIN KANGAROO and an even more news-centric morning show on CBS.

Jane Pauley was justg 25 when she moved to TODAY from the NBC station in Chicago (where a local TV critic said she had the IQ of a canteloupe). She was found by an executive who would go to different cities, get a hotel room, and watch local TV waiting for someone to make an impression on him. That was how Pauley and the late Jessica Savitch were signed to NBC.
(and in what might have changed history, his urgings to snap up a young Oprah Winfrey, years before her success in Chicago led to the national show, were ignored).

Trent said...

Ken, can you please source your direct quote from the NBC News exec? I've never seen that comment anywhere else.

IMO, Ann Curry was fired because she was a terrible interviewer (with her goopy "empathy face," inability to improvise questions and inappropriate physical touching) and was unable to handle the fluff pieces that make up most of a morning show's content. I personally stopped watching Today after she took over (despite being a loyal viewer for 25+ years).

[Also, re: Alan's comment upthread: Sarah Palin "co-hosted" for one hour of one day on the Today Show, not an entire week.]

YEKIMI said...

Now if we can just get CBS to dump their morning news program and bring back "Captain Kangaroo". Yeah, I know he's dead but I'd watch his skeleton over ANY of these current so-called morning "news" shows.

Barry Traylor said...

I wonder where they find these knuckleheads in charge of programming at NBC. One of my favorite shows is Southland which was cancelled by NBC and was picked up by TNT and is now in it's 4th season with the 5th coming next year. When I compare this show to the crap they have on NBC it seems to me that the suits there hardly earn their high salaries.

Steve B. said...

Sorry, Ann was a decent news reader, but she simply was not right for the lead role. Every time she had to talk extemporaneously, she fell flat.

Think of it like casting a sitcom. When Shelley Long left "Cheers," was serious thought given to bumping Rhea Perlman up to the lead role? Rhea was perfect as a supporting player, but her Carla character wouldn't cut it as the star. In this case, Ann=Carla.

And am I supposed to feel sorry for a person who, instead of being fired, is reassigned to a new position where she gets to trek around the globe reporting on whatever story pleases her, all while pulling in multiple millions? Cry me a river.

Ken Levine said...

Like I said, it's NBC's prerogative to replace her. If they think there's someone better that's their call. My beef is HOW they dismissed her. Did they have to do it in such a humiliating way?

Tallulah Morehead said...

Well, the IMPORTANT thing is that Kathi Lee Gifford and Yoda are are still there getting drunk on their asses everyday, showing us what REAL professional broadcasting is all about, a fine example to women broadcasters everywhere! My heroines!

Maybe it wasn't really the cooking sessions where Ann "failed," but just not drinking enough. She should have trained at my broadcasting academy. Tallulah Morehead's Academy of Airtime, otherwise known as Tallulah Morehead's AA.

And if I drank a tad less and was ever up at that hour and watching TV, I'd have known to help, but I haven't watched Today, or any other morning show, since the days of Dave Garroway.

Maybe if she'd changed her name from "Ann Curry" to "Ann Vodka". After all, who can face curry at that hour? Who is conscious at that hour?

Tallulah Morehead said...

Have they ever tried giving Today a less-insane timeslot? You know, if they put it on in Prime Time, given it's - what? - 6 hours long? - 7?, they could replace their entire prime time schedule, and no one would ever be the wiser. After all, the show is Jay Leno-free, so it might work.

It's not Ann's fault the show is on at an hour when all sane humans are asleep. The fact is, if it weren't for clips on The Soup, I would have no idea who Ann Curry even is, or Kathi Lee and Yoda, for that matter.

Cap'n Bob said...

I sleep in every day now that I'm retired and don't watch morning TV. But when I did, I never cared for Curry. She just didn't seem real.

Dan Jenkin said...

She was a competent news reader, but awful host.

And maybe she was treated badly, but it is a big league--which paid her some $10 million and a new carte blanche position traveling the world to go away. I could stand being mistreated that way.

Best part of the clip is the clear brush off she gave Matt when he tried to kiss her at the end. Reminds me of high school.

Bill McCloskey said...

Well, I have to disagree with you on this one Ken.

First, I really disliked Ann. When I first heard she was going to take over the top slot, I stopped watching the Today show. I really found her personality to be grating She seemed like a humorless, uptight, person to me and that is not the kind of image you want projecting from a morning TV show. To me, the biggest mistake NBC did was giving her the job in the first place.

As to HOW they handled it: the endless speculation on the blogs, to me, was much more cruel and humiliating. I wasn't too bothered by the "we gave her a year" quote and the "she didn't do cooking segments" line. The fact is she DIDN'T do cooking segments well: meaning she didn't do human interest and fluff well and like it or not, that is most of the show.

jcs said...

Ken,
You're absolutely right about the unprofessional attitude shown by top NBC brass.
The cynical view from Central Europe? US TV news are too focussed on anchors/presenters. No news anchor here in Europe will "apologise" to the audience because the regular guy is on assignment or on holiday. No one will be allowed this much time to bid farewell. A news show should focus on breaking interesting stories, not on the person who hosted (or will host) the show. Ann Curry should take a clue from Auntie Beep, show some stiff upper lip and should not tell us that she loves us all. I can fully understand that this is a very emotional moment, but a seasoned TV veteran should know how these things work. If you want to be taken serious as a journalist and you don't want to be judged by your cooking segments, there's always NPR.

Bill McCloskey said...

And by the way, I don't think I ever saw her laugh out loud, or even smile from the heart. That is poison for a show like Today.

Chris said...

Ken, You are spot on. The debate here is not whether you liked Ann Curry or thought she was up to snuff as a co-host. We could debate that for hours. The point is that the suits at NBC put a 20 year veteran on the air to announce her own demotion in a public flogging never witnessed before on live television.

An earlier poster said she was hated by the staff. The people I know in the business and who have worked on TODAY say nothing could be further from the truth. They go overboard to say she was TOO nice and one of the kindest people you would ever meet.

The real story here is that a corporation as big as NBC should have smarter people making better decisions. There were THOUSANDS of better ways to handle this. You don't take someone you have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting over several years as a "member of your family" and then let her swing in the wind for 2 weeks while you leak tidbits to the press and THEN let her take the death march to the electric chair on live tv and pull the swith herself.

This WILL go down as one of the worst, if not THE worst transitions in television history.

TODAY lost to GMA by 400,000 viewers the day after Ann left. Just sit back and watch. You are going too see their numbers go further south than Savannah. Pun intended, and not one I can take credit for.

benson said...

There is now way in hell I will ever watch a morning show until they pair Frasier Crane with BeBe Glazer! There's a TV match made in heaven!

Johnny Walker said...

So I'm still watching Cheers, and now I'm wondering: How did Kirstie Alley get second billing as a new cast member? Quite ballsy considering nobody knew how the audience would take to her

Anonymous said...

If I didn't now better, I would think that you were describing Diane Sawyer...

Steve R said...

I always liked Ann. I liked Matt until I heard he was the one who pushed Ann out. The way they did it was horribly rude, Matt and NBC should be ashamed.

I won't be returning to the Today Show until Matt is gone. I moved to GMA, trying it out for the first time.

I got a kick out of hearing that the day after Ann was gone, GMA got the #1 spot in the ratings. I hope that continues and they pull ahead even more.

Phillip B said...

The parallel between NBC and the Boston Red Sox is striking. Not enough just to get rid of someone, humiliation and defamation is necessary to provide cover with the fans.

NBC seems to have given Curry enough cash to buy her acquiescence, but it would be satisfying to see her share tales with David Letterman or Conan O'Brien - perhaps with Norm McDonald and Keith Olberman sharing the couch.

Anonymous said...

This is my analysis of Ann Curry. She was great on the Today show! She was sincere, real, smart, and compassionate. She wasn't fake like the other hosts on the Today show. I saw some of her interviews, and she was great. No one is perfect.

Craig Russell said...

Well, considering how they handled The Conan/Chin debacle, this was just par for the course. How do they figure out a way to get rid of Brian Williams and replace him with the younger and gayer Anderson Cooper?

Anonymous said...

Ann Curry was overly emotive and had to "demonstrate" how distraught she was during emotional interviews. Often times I thought we'd see her balled up on the floor rocking herself by the time she got to the end of an interview. Plus, after an emotional interview, she'd always pre-apologize for making a "hard turn" to other, more lighter news.

Yes, Ann, we understand it was an emotional interview. We get it. Give us 2+2 and we'll come to the 4 on our own.

Sorry Ken. Can't agree. Ann was terrible in this role. They should've never put in this position.

Ken Levine said...

This is just fascinating. I keep stating that my point wasn't whether Ann Curry was good on the job but the way her dismissal was handled.

And yet, I keep getting people (many Anonymously) chiming in with how bad she was. Again, that's not the point.

I look forward to the next twelve anonymous posters reminding us she sucked at interviews.

Cap'n Bob said...

I understood your point, Ken, but was adding my 2 cents to the love her/hate her comments. I think you're right that she should have gotten the usual mock-sincere handshake, gold watch, and bon voyage party and all public announcements from the suits should have been laden with crocodile tears, but would anyone have bought that? I wonder.

A Non-Emus said...

Cap'n Bob, it doesn't matter if anyone would have bought it. There's nothing wrong with showing some class. Give her a public flogging because that's what people want?

David said...

The low for me was a week ago when they ran a chyron under Curry that read ' here today, gone tomorrow?'

A low blow

Cap'n Bob said...

Somehow, class and NBC suits don't seem to exist in the same universe.

Bill mccloskey said...

"This is just fascinating. I keep stating that my point wasn't whether Ann Curry was good on the job but the way her dismissal was handled. "

My problem with this arguement is that I ( and therefore have to consider others) are not convinced Ann didn't do this to her self. I have to admit I only saw the complete humiliating 4 minute exist rant on your site, after making previous comments. But it makes me wonder. Did the execs require that she make this humiliating exit? Or did she demand that 4 minute carreer killer? You are more inside baseball than I'll ever be in 2 lifetimes but come on. The idea that she wasn't complicite in her exit ( and I'll not dwell on the fact that she walked away with a financial bundle that anyone would exchange for a wisp of humiliation. Or at least most - we'll exempt the 1percent) is difficult for those on the outside to fathom.

This was a self inflicted wound to some of us on the outside looking in.

SteveInDe said...

Her weirdness during cooking segments was simply an example of her ineptitude at every role she held in the program. Ann is okay as long as she is reading from a script. The moment she utters a single unscripted word, she becomes embarrassingly painful to watch.

I'll never forget the time she asked a man whose son had drowned the day before whether he didn't hold out hope that, since his son's body had not yet been foundmerge boy might have swum to safety on some uncharted island in Lake Erie.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ken Levine said...

Frankly, I'm getting tired of all these Anonymous posters ripping Ann Curry (or whomever) and not having the balls to leave your name. I'm going to be more diligent about deleting them.

You have an opinion? You want to criticize someone or something? Fine. Leave your name.

At least Ann Curry does that.

Bob from Iowa said...

Right.

Ann Curry, terrible at co-hosting, overly emotive and didn't connect with the Today Show audience. Ann Curry, wonderful at producing long-form, in-depth news segments.

They showed her the door. Gave her $10 million bucks on the way out (of just co-anchor chair - she's still part of NBC). What would've been the better way? Certainly not letting her spill her emotions all over the floor for four minutes. Very unprofessional. Would a party with balloons and cake been better?

NBC needs to clean house, Steve Capus included. Ann Curry should've never been in that chair. She's not good at it. Obviously. The market spoke loudly about it. That's what happens in the ratings game. Surely she had to know this wasn't going as planned. They gave her the chance, she took the risk, everyone involved knew the deal. Sink or swim. Nothing new to broadcasters.

Greg6833@aol.com said...

Ken, I couldn't agree with you more, Ann is a class act. The TODAY show ratings will continue to fall and hopefully some heads will begin to roll!

Anonymous said...

Nothing
But
Caucasians
That's what the Today really wants to be on NBC. Al Roket, watch your back but DO learn how to cook! That's what got Ann Curry the ax. Learn from her mistakes! Swayback Savannah must know how to cream Capus' spinach real well. Cause in just a year, she ascended & Ann got fired.

Julie Mills said...

I completely understand why people are commenting on whether Ann Curry was good or not (versus the manner she was let go): because in your original post you imply/state that she was let go because of her cooking segment failures, or being 55 versus 40. Your readers are responding to YOU--it was because she is a good journalist but horrible host, not because she bombed in cooking segments or because of her age. And yes--she is affected, terrible at host banter. In a way she should be proud--she's better at serious journalism than morning fluff.

Anonymous said...

Swayback Savannah has already broken up one marriage. Matt the Ratt is now in her sights. The way she leans over to him, trying to look sexy and adoringly into his eyes, does not work because she's so stiff and awkward. She should concentrate on speaking the hard news in an adult and clear manner. That young valley girl way of chopping up her words is autrocious. And what about all those bruises up and down her legs yesterday! What a failure.

Anonymous said...

I prefer Ann - enough said- switched to GMA today

Anonymous said...

Great blog. Agree 100% Support Ann Curry - boycott Today and watch Good Morning America !

Zoe said...

Spot on. Think what you will about Curry's interviewing skills-the fact remains that NBC showed its money-grubbing butt by making the whole affair public, offering pathetic, insulting reasons for removing Curry, and then dismissing her like a first-year employee on probation. Curry's professionalism, particularly throughout the days leading up to her last, put the executive hacks at NoBrains or Conscience to shame. NBC's failure to recognize Curry's commitment to its success makes for a sad commentary on its corporate culture. I smell crow... and Curry ain't cooking it.

Ecletic Observer said...

From Eclectic Observer.

Seriously, folks critiquing interview styles etc. This is a the superficial part of the network day. The few times I looked up from my exercise to see what was going on-- she seemed fine. I do think vapid corporate entities can be exceedingly crass about how they handle people. I wish her well as she seemed both smart and hardworking along side with a pleasant disposition. And let's remember it's been along time since televison was in the Murrow-Cronkite mode.

Anonymous said...

Ann Curry was HORRIBLE on The Today Show. NBC didn't get rid of her because she's Asian, (and she's absolutely gorgeous) they got rid of her because she SUCKED. I can't believe they gave her the job when Meredith departed. Any time she filled in for Meredith or Matt, she couldn't get through an interview without "umming" 15 times, or interrupting the guest. Good riddance.

Lauren

Chloe Louise said...


To CNN--Hire Ann Curry--Put her in the big leagues where she belongs...
I watch the news all day or I listen to the radio and watch a few shows in the night--I don't know why I am just a news person, always have been.

I previously wrote to you about the compassion often shown from your great reporter, Martin Savidge. You have so many real good journalists in all shapes and sizes and ages. Well, that is the shape of our country, isn't it.

Why not hire Ann Curry and show off her talents. I often write in my blog about the way women are treated. I think it would be good for your network and good for her.

I quit watching shows like "Today" a long time ago, because there is really no substance to those shows. There is no Wolf Blitzer, Candy Crowley Andrea Mitchell, or Chris Mathews, if you know what I mean..........or the one with equally stunning earrings and interview skills, Leslie Stahl.

Does the dinosaur, NBC, really have a grasp on the current thinking and trends of the media today? I would not even consider watching "Today" now, after the way they treat people.

Anyway, just a thought, but I think it would show forward thinking of your network and you would have a real, real good reporter, or even give her a big position or her own show. Put Ann Curry in the big leagues where she belongs.

Respectfully,

Chloelouise--theronnierepublic