Embattled Today anchor Matt Lauer, already the focus of blistering criticism for the ouster of co-anchor Ann Curry and the ratings slide at NBC‘s morning show, has long been rumored to be on the chopping block — despite his $25 million contract and recent efforts aimed at rehabilitating his image. Here’s the latest wrinkle: I hear NBC toppers recently reached out to CNN’s Anderson Cooper to replace Lauer on the show before the end of the year. After their initial approach to Cooper, I hear NBC reached out to Lauer to get his blessing about the changeover. But I heard they got pushback from the Today veteran, who contacted Cooper to express his disapproval. I also hear that call caught Cooper by surprise, as he had assumed Lauer had been brought on board before NBC began making overtures. Cooper has been one of the leading faces at CNN, though I hear his contract has an out, and he previously was able to do his syndicated daytime talk show in addition to his CNN program.
Cooper’s is just the latest name to be rumored to replace Lauer, who inked a long-term contract last year. Ryan Seacrest, current Today co-host Willie Geist and Meet The Press host David Gregory have all been reportedly considered by NBC. Lauer, meanwhile, has been tied to rumors (along with Cooper, Brian Williams and Dan Patrick) to take over for Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek when the longtime game show host decides to retire.