Rita Papazian
Published: July 6

All last week I expected Nora Ephron to be on a news broadcast commenting
on NBC’s decision to eject the 55-year-old Ann Curry from the co-anchor seat at
the “Today” show. In a way, as Ephron was leaving this world as she succumbed
to a bout with pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukemia. I could envision
her saying, “Oh, one last thing, as she offered her take on the musical chairs at
the popular morning show where job security is only as good as the last TV rating.

I felt a little Ying and Yang going on last week as I followed the astounding tributes
paid to Ephron’s stunning five-decade career as a journalist, essayist, novelist,
screenwriter and director against the backdrop of daily news reports based on
unnamed NBC “insiders” that Curry would be axed from her anchor seat. WhY?
It seems the chemistry was not right between co-hosts and maybe also between
Curry and the viewing public.

Former “Today” co-host Katie Couric said it more succinctly that something was
not running on all cylinders. But, some believe that when something is not going
right, it is the female who gets blamed. Rumors began flying last spring when
ABC’s “Good Morning America” pulled ahead of the “Today” show in viewer

In her 1996 commencement address to the graduating class of Wellesley College,
her alma mater, Epron told the graduates not to “underestimate how much
antagonism there is toward women and how many people wish we coulod turn
the clock back. One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is,
don’t take it personally, but listen hard to what’s going on and, please take it

As predictable, NBC shot the messenger, instead of dealing with the message. My
take is that the “Today” show is focusing more on” show” than news; more on
entertainment than information.

Ann Curry is a well-seasoned, experienced, intelligent journalist who has a proved
track record in broadcast journalism. As she cited in her “Today” show farewell
Jume 28, she “ventured into dangerous places and interviewed dictators and
jumped out of planes and off bridges and climbed mountains and landed in the
South Pole and convinced the Dalai Lama to come live in our studio.”

Last Friday, Savannah Guthrie, 40, took Curry’s place as the co-host next to Matt
Lauer, in what is expected to be a low-keyed transition. Guthrie, NBC’ s on camera
legal analyst, is no stranger to the “Today” show and NBC newscasts. She is
considerably younger than Curry and I wonder how well she will fair as a co-host.
I have always felt her voice comes across as too youthful for TV news. Her pairing
with co-host Lauer appears as a brother and younger sister duo rather than two
equal professionals. Curry brought a maturity to the position and NBC’s decision
to replace her appears to place more emphasis on style rather than substance.

What would Nora Ephron think of all this? She was well aware of the downside
to aging; yet, I don’t think Curry’s ouster from the co-host’s chair was based
on aging. I do see it more as a personality or maturity issue. Curry was very
demonstrative with her feelings; she was a touchy-feely type of journalist, both
in the tone of her voice and her gestures as she would reach out and physically
touch a person she was interviewing, if the discussion elicited Curry’s compassion.

Curry had a reserve about her that maybe NBC executives felt was too
conservative for a morning show and didn’t fit the bill for the info-entertainment
side of morning TV.

In her commencement address, Ephron told the Class of 1996 that they could
have it all; yet, she noted at times things would get messy. “But, embrace the
mess. It will get complicated but rejoice in the complications. It will not be
anything like you what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And
don’t be frightened; you can always change your mind. I know. I had four careers
and three husbands.”

One media analyst described the recent changes at the “Today” show as if we
were watching a soap opera. This is true as we continue to watch wondering how
Guthrie will succeed as co-host and how well Curry will welcome taking on those
special assignments for NBC, that come, as she said, with some “fancy title.” 

© Copyright 2012 Rita Papazian All rights reserved.