Carson Daly seems a little taken aback at the idea that he could be Matt Lauer's heir apparent on NBC's Today. "Oh God I wouldn't go that far," he told TV Guide Magazine on Sept. 12, shortly after being named a full-time member of the morning team.
Daly will have to get used to being mentioned as part of the program's future. Lauer has an option in his contract to leave at the end of 2014, so expect speculation to focus on whether Daly or Today's third hour co-host Willie Geist will succeed him.
"Daly will be a strong option," says one former morning show producer. Geist played down the notion the two will be in a bakeoff. "Our thing right now is growing the Today family," he says. "There's nothing competitive about it."
Daly, who will remain as host of NBC's hit singing competition The Voice, says he was approached about a full-time Today role in late August after producers were impressed with his fill-in work at the anchor desk. When the new Today set is unveiled on Sept. 16, Daly will be stationed in "The Orange Room," designed to track social media responses to the news and events presented during the first three hours of the program.
Daly acknowledges that he's received a favorable response from audience members who were once the teenaged girls who watched him every afternoon on MTV's phenomenally popular daily live show TRL. "There is a feeling that they have grown up to be Today viewers," he says. "They've been very receptive."