A new book reveals that Ann Curry told friends her final months at the Today show were "professional torture."
There was "a general sense of meanness" on the set of the morning show, New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter writes in his book, Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, which is excerpted in New York Times Magazine.
Curry was "hurt and humiliated" by the backstage antics at the Today show in her final months, which allegedly included executive producer Jim Bell making a blooper reel of her most egregious on-air errors, as well as a Photoshopped "Who Wore It Better" image of Curry in a bright yellow dress alongside Big Bird that was circulated among the control room staff. (Bell denies the first incident, according to Stelter.)
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"Curry felt that the boys' club atmosphere behind the scenes at Today undermined her from the start, and she told friends that her final months were a form of professional torture," Stelter writes. "One staff person recalled that 'a lot of time in the control room was spent making fun of Ann's outfit choices or just generally messing with her.'"
In Stelter's telling, it was Bell who was gunning for Curry and christened the operation to remove her from the co-anchor chair "Operation Bambi" (after a TV veteran reportedly told him that firing the newly-minted Curry would be akin to "killing Bambi").
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Once it became clear that chemistry between Curry and co-anchor Matt Lauer was virtually non-existent and NBC's ratings went into a free-fall, it was Bell who proposed the idea to Curry of making her a "global anchor" (aka roving correspondent), to get her out of the show. And, a source tells Stelter, within hours of Curry's tearful departure from the show last summer, Bell took a group of top producers to a Rockefeller Plaza restaurant, where they drank wine and toasted Curry's ouster
Though her official title is national and international correspondent for NBC News, Stelter points out that Curry has been seen on the network only a handful of times since she was replaced at Today by Savannah Guthrie nearly a year ago. One morning in March, according to Stelter, Curry was unable to locate her NBC security badge and was forced to check in at the visitors' center at 30 Rockefeller Center, where she was asked to spell her name for identification.
Read a longer excerpt from Top of the Morning here.