Power Play

Ann Curry Is Back. What Will She Reveal About Matt Lauer and NBC?

Ann Curry is promoting her new PBS show this week. So far there have been no new revelations that might shake NBC’s ‘Today’ or Matt Lauer. That could change Wednesday morning.

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

Former NBC Today show anchor Ann Curry is going on the rival CBS morning program Wednesday, and the media world is riveted on what she might dish to Today’s third-place competitor about her former employer and her erstwhile co-host, the disgraced Matt Lauer.

“We’ll all be watching,” said an NBC News insider, adding that while there’s intense interest at the Peacock Network in what Curry might say, there’s little if any nervousness in the executive suite—even if Curry’s appearance ultimately amounts to a nose-tweaking of the dominant morning show by a scrappy challenger.

A second NBC insider told The Daily Beast: “I don’t sense anyone would be terribly concerned about it.”

That sanguine attitude may be informed by the headline quotes from Curry’s cover interview in this week’s People. “I’m not going to say it wasn’t hard,” she says of what the magazine calls Curry’s “darkest days.”

“But I had to let go. And I learned that when you not only let go but open your arms wide and learn the lessons that an experience—no matter how bad—can teach you, that’s when you rise.”

The People story, slated for the next issue which goes on sale in New York on Wednesday, is not expected to contain sensational revelations about Lauer or NBC, judging by an online excerpt posted Tuesday afternoon.

However, a well-placed CBS News employee said Curry’s appearance will be accorded an unusually generous amount of time on CBS This Morning, which has been gaining in the ratings on ABC’s second-place Good Morning America and first-place Today over the past year.

This person added that cohosts Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell (Curry’s former NBC News colleague) will try their best to tease out some headline-making revelations from the friendly session.

“It was a sought-after interview,” the CBS-er said, adding that the morning show “is planning to devote a fair amount of time to the interview” and that CBS is “expecting her to go further than what she has said” previously about Lauer and NBC.

It will be Curry’s first television interview since she left NBC News in January 2015, ending 2 ½ years of doing special reports and other projects after being dropped from Today in a spectacularly damaging incident that prompted enormous public sympathy for Curry, hostility for Lauer, and drove once-loyal viewers away from NBC’s long-dominant morning show.

The CBS This Morning interview will launch Curry’s media tour, including appearances on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and The View, plus the cover story in People, to promote her upcoming PBS series, We’ll Meet Again—on which, appropriately enough, folks who’ve survived traumatic moments in history get together to relive and try to make sense of their ordeals.

Curry can certainly empathize.

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When Lauer, Curry’s Today show nemesis, was fired six weeks ago amid credible allegations of workplace sexual misconduct, television industry insiders speculated that she had every reason to enjoy the moment—possibly at the expense of NBC.

Yet Curry initially held back.

“I’m still really processing it,” she meekly told People during an interview to flog the PBS series in a session that was serendipitously scheduled for last Nov. 29, the very day that NBC News Chairman Andy Lack announced Lauer’s shocking downfall. Curry’s new venture debuts Jan. 23.

In her People interview, Curry spoke words of support for the women in Hollywood and elsewhere calling out the perpetrators of sexual harassment and more serious workplace misconduct.

“I admire the women who have been willing to speak up both anonymously and on the record,” she told the magazine, which released a portion of her interview on the day of Lauer’s downfall. “Those women need to keep their jobs, and all women need to be able to work, to be able to thrive, without fear. This kind of behavior exists across industries, and it is so long overdue for it to stop. This is a moment when we all need to be a beacon of light for those women, for all women, and for ourselves.”

Of her own experiences, she said, in a newly released portion of the interview: “Most of the men I’ve worked with have been exemplary, adding, "I feel real hope that change is coming. That our daughters are not going to have to face what the majority of women in this country who’ve entered the workplace have had to face.”

Beyond that, Curry seems to have little to say about the star anchor whom many at NBC and elsewhere—including Curry herself—blamed for the theft of her dream job back in June 2012, when Lauer was accused of scheming behind the scenes to push her off the couch.

At the time, Lauer was at pains to deny any involvement in Curry’s humiliating on-air termination—a cringeworthy TV event that resulted in public recrimination, the sullying of Lauer’s good-guy image, and the loss of Today’s first-place dominance to ABC’s Good Morning America.

During her tearful on-air farewell from Today, Curry said all the correct and gracious things while sitting next to Lauer, but betrayed her raw true feelings with body language that fairly shouted: I really dislike this guy!

“That departure was such a fiasco for NBC and the beginning of the bad will towards Matt,” said the CBS employee.

Now, however, Curry might not be unwilling to address the touchy subject of Lauer’s recently revealed misbehavior and NBC’s apparent willful ignorance, or even toleration, of it—to say nothing of her feelings about how she was treated by news division executives who have since departed the network.

In announcing the CBS This Morning booking on Twitter Tuesday, the network crowed: “TOMORROW on @ CBSThisMorning: Former ‘TODAY’ co-anchor @ AnnCurry will join us for her *first* TV interview since leaving NBC in 2015. She'll discuss her upcoming @ PBS show and we’ll also ask her about the #MeToo movement and the firing of her former colleague Matt Lauer.”

Nothing but eyeballs.