Fans of the Today Show should start preparing themselves now: Matt Lauer's contract is up at the end of 2012, and it's as-yet unknown whether or not he'll renew. NBC is thinking ahead, however, and courting a possible replacement: Ryan Seacrest. As if he hadn't already violated our televisions enough?
Whether you realize it or not, Ryan Seacrest's well-manicured fingertips are everywhere: he has a daily radio show, hosts American Idol, fills in on E! and Larry King, produces Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, and appears as a celebrity contestant on practically every reality game show. He's also the host of New Year's Rockin' Eve — as soon as that big ball drops in a few weeks, Seacrest will have managed to taint 2012. The guy's fare may in nature be relatively harmless, innocuous even, but his increasing omnipresence is a little creepy.
But Seacrest's a part of the NBC Universal family, and he's profitable. Why not put him on NBC's most profitable show, The Today Show? Sticky dollar bills for everyone! And so the courtship begins, with various avenues for Seacrest's potential involvement — from random segments (easy to stomach) to the anchor's chair (choking on your morning Activia).
No one's under the illusion that the Today Show is a serious news show; out of its four hours on air, only the first (7 AM) really focuses on hard news. And by "hard news," I mean that which does not involve cooking segments or celebrity interviews. Matt Lauer and Ann Curry own this territory, and they cover it pretty well, given that it's a morning show. And even the celebrity stuff comes off better when it's covered by either of these two — Lauer, in particular, has a sick way of making a sit-down with Dina Lohan seem like an issue of national security.
If Lauer leaves at the end of next year, and if Seacrest does become Matt Lauer's replacement — a bold move on NBC's part but, as reported today, certainly not outside the realm of possibility — that leaves only one anchor with enough credibility to carry serious news segments, and that's Ann Curry. It's all on her, and that's not good. She can be…awkward. She touches people a lot.
Matt Lauer, however, smoothes over Curry's weirdness; the serious stuff works largely because of him. Without Lauer…well, what then? Ryan freaking Seacrest isn't going to talk about another shooting at Virginia Tech.
Not that it matters, because ladies love Ryan!
Mr. Seacrest is perceived to be hugely popular among women who make up the core demographic for "Today," which is the most watched and most lucrative morning program on television. He would bring to it immediate star power and a galaxy of Hollywood contacts.
WHO ARE THESE WOMEN? Are they the ones always on Kathie Lee and Hoda's Facebook page?
Ryan may be "hugely popular" with these ladies, but they may not actually want Seacrest's galactic burst of celebrity before lunch. They may not want to hear too much about the unemployment rate — it's a bummer, after all! — but is another story about Kim Kardashian's lonely eggs actually preferable? The market is already flooded with this stuff; between what the show already covers and what the internet serves up each morning, the celeb crap is covered. Moreover, the Today Show is already followed by Access Hollywood (in the New York market, anyhow); a one-two morning punch of Seacrest and Billy Bush is like throwing a lukewarm Jägerbomb in everyone's face. It's never pleasant, but it's less devastating after the workday's done.
If Seacrest comes on board, the Today Show's successful news/celebrity/lifestyle balance will be thrown off, and possibly to their detriment. If you're not a Good Morning America person (and I do believe the world is divided into GMA people and Today people), maybe you'll have to get your real-headlines-served-with-chit-chat from Morning Joe… Actually, no, you can't understand half of what they're saying since interrupting cow Joe Scarborough is always mooing all over everything. Maybe you'll learn to love American Morning? Maybe you'll learn not to watch morning television at all? But that means living in a world where you're not starting your day with silly cooking segments. And I don't think any of us are ready for that.
Seacrest Has Options, And One May Be 'Today Show' Anchor [Media Decoder/NYT]
["Ladies" quote via.]