Thursday, July 12, 2012

You really had to go there, TODAY Show?

Once upon a time (in 1997), I moved to a land far, far away (Germany). I didn’t know anyone (except my husband). I’d never been out of the country before. It was weird; it was really hot. There was no air conditioning and they didn’t put ice in their soda.
It was like being on another planet.
The weekend of our arrival, which was Labor Day weekend (which means, like, nothing to Germans but means a 4-day weekend to Americans living in Germany). The Americans were few and far between. A future co-worker of my husband was assigned to meet us and bring us to our military hotel, and then we were on our own (she and her husband did collect us later that night for dinner; we had Mexican food which was surreal). I may have cried. It was a very strange transition. I thirsted for a taste of something, anything American.
It was delivered in the form of the TODAY Show, which came on AFN (Armed Forces Network—one of the few television stations we were able to get with our “cable TV package” which consisted of 3 channels that basically played the same shows at different times, a few British channels and a Spanish channel. No lie.) live at 1pm each weekday. This two hour slice of Americana was my safe harbor, my touchstone. I learned to endure and then love living in Germany over the course of the 4 years that we were there, but when I needed a taste of America, that was where I turned (unless it was Sunday afternoon—that’s when Saturday Night Live aired. And this was the era of Mary Catherine Gallagher. SUPAH-STAHR!).
Upon our return to the United States, we found ourselves with orders to Oklahoma. You know, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain? It was early September. The world had changed a lot in the four years we were overseas (we totally missed the dot-com boom and bust. But we had Mary Catherine Gallagher), and the TODAY Show gave us again a bit of a touchstone for what we found familiar and comfortable. We couldn’t find a decent beer or schnitzel, but we could find our TODAY Show.
So, this September of 2001 as my husband was preparing to report for his first day of work on base, we were watching the TODAY Show. And this Tuesday morning, the 11th of September, the anchors delivered the news that would forever change our normal. We relied on them and they became like a voice of reason, something to grab onto when nothing seemed normal anymore.
Why the big, long buildup? I want you to know—I’m a fan of the TODAY Show. I like Al Roker (he’s cheeky!) and Matt Lauer (sweet and sort of naïve), Katie Couric (she played well against Matt) and Meredith Vieira (though she looked too librarian-esque to pull off her ribald jokes). And through it all? Ann Curry.
From the news desk, she brought us stories. Remember those guitar string bangles? She was totally on the leading edge of that trend (I bought ‘em). I’ve always respected Ann, her easily-flustered way and her amazing ability to go somewhere big and scary and bring home an amazing story.
When Meredith left the show, I was so pulling for Ann! So happy that she would finally get her shot! TEAM ANN! … but then … well then she started co-anchoring and she really wasn’t the right person for the job. She is such a better reporter than she is anchor. And darn that Savannah Guthrie really has the Katie / Meredith quality that really makes her a good candidate for the job. Within a few months of her gig as co-anchor, I was heard to say: “They should replace Ann with Savannah and let Ann go back to doing what she’s amazing (and so much more comfortable!) doing—reporting.”
And damned if that isn’t exactly what they did.
If I may be so bold as to hypothesize—Ann has this quality of a reporter, a journalist, that doesn’t transfer to the anchor desk; she’s more of a Barbara Walters-type (who never ever seems quite comfortable sitting on panel with the ladies of The View—and who was savvy enough to give other, more qualified ladies the job). Savannah has more of an Oprah (Oprah name drop alert! Man your “a-ha moment” stations!) quality that I think is also shared by Meredith. Katie can wear either hat & I think that’s why she pisses off so many people.
Now the whole debacle of the firing and the rumors and the ten million dollar package to not host our show that was rumored to have been given to Ann? Shame on NBC, shame on the TODAY Show (and you know I don’t say that lightly) and kudos to Ann Curry. Take the money and run, RUN I say along that high road.

I may not be as strong of a TODAY Show devotee as I once was; this might have cured me of it. But you can be for damn sure that when Ann Curry starts speaking again? I’ll be listening.


  1. Preach. I like Savannah Guthrie but the way NBC handled the situation was deplorable.
    On Twitter I said I wanted to see Ann and Matt dance off the set ala the Cosby show.
    I was NOT a Meredith fan. In fact, I still maintain she and Martha Stewart were about 2 cooking segments away from a hair-pulling incident. And SHE got a friggin flashmob. Not fair, I say.
    Ann never even got a cake. NO CAKE? Come on, NBC!

    1. I'm only a summer watcher, but even I knew it was a tacky send off. Made me sorry I was even up that early.

    2. My kids were watching the other day. They said "that one looks just like that one" referring to Savannah & Natalie. They are right. They look like sisters. I find that disturbing.

      PS I think if Ann had gotten a cake, she might have shoved someone's face in it. Or maybe I'm thinking of what I would do. High road, schmigh road.

  2. Thanks for sharing about this. I didn't know. Seems weird to me. Sad.

  3. So sad. I haven't been following what happened, but always had a high regard for Ann.

    1. I love Ann - maybe we could get her a gig here on Chick-Wit!

  4. I've been watching Ann since she had that very unflattering pixie cut back in the 90's. I've always loved her and she deserved a better send-off.

    1. It seemed very anti-climactic for their other goodbyes. She's always been so classy and smart - this goodbye was neither classy nor smart on NBCs part.