Two big secrets were held close this morning on NBC’s Today show as it sent Savannah Guthrie off on maternity leave. First, Guthrie did not reveal the baby’s sex and still insists she does not know. Second, NBC News will not say whether Katie Couric is among the “surprise guest hosts” booked to fill in while Guthrie is off having her first child.
NBC News chief Deborah Turness has been quoted saying the show plans to spotlight “homegrown talent” in Guthrie’s absence, with a few “surprises” pitching in. In May, word leaked of discussions around having former Today co-host Katie Couric fill in. Also rumored to be subbing: Couric’s successor Meredith Vieira, whose NBCU syndicated daytime talker launches in the fall. Couric famously substituted for Today co-host Deborah Norville when the show was ratings challenged and Norville took maternity leave in 1991; Couric wound up taking over full-time and stayed until ’06 when she left to anchor CBS’ evening newscast. Today enjoyed ratings supremacy during Couric’s tenure — these days, it’s struggling to regain ratings ground lost to ABC’s Good Morning America.
Adding to the fun, NBC News has kept secret the length of Guthrie’s leave, and will only say the show’s Natalie Morales, Hoda Kotb and Tamron Hall will fill in for Guthrie, on rotation, while she is out with Morales kicking it off this week. Guthrie announced Friday she would be leaving after this morning’s broadcast; she married Mike Feldman last March and they announced they were four months pregnant.
Guthrie’s decision not to disclose the baby’s sex has been put to good use by Today, which has asked viewers to guess online — 54% of respondents thought it will be a boy, while 46% picked “girl.” The Today gang also got asked to weigh in on-air, by holding up blue or pink paddles. Split decision.
Meanwhile women, from First Lady Michelle Obama to Tina Fey, have offered parental advice to Guthrie, and viewers have been able to weigh in too on Today Parents’ Facebook page — “‘Like’ us if you want to get the latest baby news,” the show urges.