Anderson Cooper is the most buzzed about guy on TV right now. Hot on the heels of reports that he’s planning a potential new CNN series with his NYE’s pal Kathy Griffin and is being eyed to possibly take over “Jeopardy!”, comes news that the Silver Fox is being pursued by NBC too.
Anderson Cooper has been approached by NBC News as a possible replacement for Matt Lauer on “The Today Show,” Deadline.com first reported Tuesday night.
Soon afterward, The Associated Press said they confirmed the report, along with The New York Times, which suggested that Cooper may have told the network that he was not interested in the gig. Regardless of whether the alleged talks between Cooper and NBC advance, the intriguing news here is that it “indicates that NBC executives are actively talking about a succession plan for Mr. Lauer,” the Times points out.
Also intriguing is the passage in the Deadline story that claims Lauer got wind of the whispers and allegedly called Cooper “to express his disapproval.”
The stories suggested NBC News is looking to replace Lauer by the end of this year.
By Wednesday afternoon, however, NBC News executive Alex Wallace commented on the reports, saying, according to The Associated Press, that Lauer is “the best in the business” and that “NBC wants him on ‘Today’ for many years to come.” Wallace did not confirm or deny that talks with Cooper may have occurred but claims NBC currently has no plans to replace Lauer.
The move to poach CNN’s biggest star to reinvigorate “The Today Show” comes as a surprise to those inside the TV industry, but the NYT confirms an unnamed person did contact Cooper. “Three people with knowledge of the call confirmed that it happened, and said they too were taken aback by it.”
Lauer’s future on the morning show has been the source of widespread speculation for months, ever since the one-two punch of the Ann Curry ouster and the surge of rival “Good Morning America” in the ratings last year, toppling “Today” from the top spot after a historic 16-year reign at No. 1.
Lauer has been a part of the “Today” show family for nearly two decades. His contract, renewed last year and believed to pay him in the ballpark of $25 million a year, goes through the end of 2014.
Cooper’s current contract with CNN expires this fall.
Ironically, both Cooper and Lauer have been mentioned as being under consideration to take over as the host of “Jeopardy!” when Alex Trebek is expected to retire in 2016.