Matt Lauer spoke candidly about his decision to return to "Today," his ongoing chemistry with co-host Ann Curry and Katie Couric's "Good Morning America" guest hosting stint in a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter's Marisa Guthrie.
After almost a year of speculation, Lauer announced on April 6 that he had signed a new, "long-term" deal to remain as a "Today" host. The announcement came as the long-running morning show wars escalated sharply in their intensity, as the ratings between "Today" and "GMA" have tightened.
The new deal with Lauer was signed and sealed just 36 hours after he called NBC CEO Steve Burke and confirmed he would return, Guthrie wrote.
"This is a second family," he told THR, echoing what he said on the air when he announced the new deal. "It's impossible to leave."
Lauer also spoke about Couric's controversial return to morning television on "Good Morning America." Her decision to host the ABC show just as "Today" was in the midst of one of its more publicly challenging periods was widely reported to have rankled many within the show that made her famous, but Lauer was very diplomatic in his interview.
"I thought it was absolutely right," he said. "Katie hasn't been here for six years. She had a completely different stop in between at CBS. She's under contract at ABC News. She's one of the best morning hosts ever. Why wouldn't you use her on that show?"
Lauer is still close with Couric, and he repeated what he confirmed nearly a year ago: that the two talked about reuniting on a syndicated talk show.
Rumors have swirled about his relationship with co-host Ann Curry -- that their on-air chemistry is shaky, that there is a personal coolness between them, that she is floundering. Lauer referred to what he called a "cottage industry of meanness" as he addressed the whispers.
"I love Ann," he said. "...We're not at all alike. But I feel very comfortable alongside her ... I think the chemistry is good. People have to get used to the fact that it's not what it was eight months ago [or] eight years ago. Every team is different. And people need to give us a chance to be different."
However, he did say that he misses the "dynamic" between himself and former co-host Meredith Vieira.