Breaking a nearly three-month silence, Jimmy Bell, the executive producer of The Today Show, defended the decision to fire Ann Curry, while taking some potshots at rival Good Morning America.
Bell told The New York Times that it “was absolutely his call” to fire Curry as the co-anchor of The Today Show, and that Matt Lauer had nothing to do with the decision. He also told the Times that while Curry had earned her shot as a co-anchor, she is now “in the role she is naturally suited for.” Curry is now a special correspondent for the show, which means she will rarely be seen or heard.
The abrupt change from Curry to Savannah Guthrie, however, hasn’t been without its own problems. While the ratings for Today were falling after the departure of Meredith Vieira a year ago, they have fallen even further since Curry’s departure, and the show has now ceded the number one slot to Good Morning America after 16 years at the top.
But Bell isn’t willing to give GMA credit for their success, saying instead that it’s very difficult to maintain dominance for a long period of time and that Today is a “more serious show,” while GMA is “doing something else.”
When asked by the Times if he was suggesting “GMA” was now a tabloid-style program, Bell replied that it was.
That’s an interesting comment coming from Bell, considering that one of the criticism of Curry was that she wasn’t very good at handling the fluffier segments that Couric and Vieira excelled at.
And by serious, did Bell mean the segment on 9/11 with Kris Jenner discussing breast implants while other networks, including sister cable network MSNBC, were observing a moment of silence?
Bell knows that the morning shows are a mix of news and entertainment, and it certainly wasn’t Couric’s news chops that helped propel the show to the top of the ratings.
Maybe Curry wasn’t perfect, but at least during her stint on Today, the show was still number one. That is no longer the case, following Curry’s departure, which should concern Bell, as the show has lost far more ground to GMA than anyone could have predicted, making him nothing more than a sore loser.