Lifetime has optioned the rights to a book that chronicles the fall of Today and was panned by critics for painting Matt Lauer in a negative light.
Lifetime has optioned Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV by Brian Stelter, a media reporter at the New York Times.
While the book chronicles the rise of ABC’s Good Morning America to the top of the morning show heap, its juicier story is the more public tale of the ouster of Ann Curry from her position as co-host of Today, and it’s likely that angle that will be the focus of the made-for-TV movie.
Ironically, Stelter admits in his book that a report he made on the Times website of a plan by Today executive producer Jim Bell to replace Curry was instrumental in the failure of any negotiations to keep Curry with the show.
Curry’s firing sparked national outrage and Matt Lauer was no longer seen as the charming, handsome co-host. Once his biggest fans, women everywhere stood beside Curry and felt she had been treated unfairly by the network, the show and Lauer.
A year later, Curry pounded Lauer in the ratings in an interview showdown. Curry reached 6 million viewers, engaging the first successful facial transplant recipient versus Lauer’s 5 million viewers two days earlier when he spoke with Paula Deen after her disastrous racial slurs incident.
There isn’t any doubt the story has staying power. In September, Lauer was still talking about his experience in an interview with Esquire. “The way the media treated what happened with Ann Curry was a disappointing learning experience. I was disappointed by the laziness of the media, the willingness to read a rumor, repeat that rumor, and treat it as a fact,” he told the magazine.
This past November, Bryant Gumble brought the issue up during a visit on Katie and was defending Katie Couric’s old co-host, Lauer. “It happens to all of us at some point. It’s a big-boy league and you move on.” He added, “But it became a big deal and in my opinion, the wrong guy got blamed, but that’s my opinion. What do people expect?” His choice of words is interesting and reminds us that the discussion isn’t over — not by a long shot.