In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, NBC News president Steve Capus said that he gave Ann Curry plenty of time to prove that she could handle the duties of a morning television host, but that ultimately she wasn’t sincere enough on the segments that tend to make up the bulk of morning television shows.
“I think it was not where her real passion was,” he said. “In her heart of hearts, I think she would admit that. I think her real passion is built around reporting on international stories. It’s tough to convey a sincere interest in something if you don’t possess it. We live in a HD world. Dan Rather used to say the camera never blinks. Well, this is an HD world now, and the camera picks up everything. And you could tell with her, you can tell with any anchor, whether they’re into it or not. And I think we’ve now come up with a role that will play to her strengths.”
Curry, who left The Today Show on Thursday in an emotional farewell, will now serve as an international correspondent and anchor, contributing to a variety of NBC News shows, saving NBC the expense of swallowing the estimated $20 million left on her contract had she been fired.
Capus felt that Curry was given plenty of time to develop and has no regrets about her departure as the co-host.
“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,” said Capus. “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.”
That, plus the fact that The Today Show provides the bulk of NBC News’ profits; and that with Curry the program saw its 16-year winning streak as the top-rated morning show recently snapped, obviously had the NBC brass worried.
The message to Curry’s successor, Savannah Guthrie, is loud and clear. Even if you don’t really care about cooking and interviewing prima dona celebrities, do your best to convince viewers that you care if you want to keep your job — because it’s good for ratings and profits.
We’ll have to wait until next week to see if she can start to adapt.