Whoa, just when you thought things couldn't get any worse at The Today Show, along comes Joe Hagan and his no-holds-barred New York Magazine profile of the program and its current "family." And I thought the Honey Boo Boo clan was dysfunctional.
In spite of Hagan's observation that "uplift" and "warmth" are the new Today buzzwords, it's clear that changed are needed. And I'm not talking superficial changes like a new set or high-tech cameras, both of which Hagan says are on order. No, I'm talking starting from scratch. NBC executives, it's time to clean house in much the same fashion as Saturday Night Live in the mid-80s. Dump Matt and send Savannah back to her White House beat. Jettison Natalie for she is way too hot to be informing the viewing audience about murders and Middle East violence. You can keep Al because, let's face it, where else is Al going to go? But send him on an extended "Where is Al doing the weather from?" tour while you search every neck of the woods for new hosts with the following qualities:
Great kissing ability. You're going to need hosts who know how to successfully lock lips should one of them be abruptly fired a la Ann Curry. Hagan points out how Lauer awkwardly swung and missed when he tried to peck Curry during her tearful on-air goodbye last summer, an observation I confirmed through repeated YouTube viewings of the incident. Heck, Courtney Rabedeau received a better kiss from me at our eighth grade graduation dance. (Courtney, if you're reading this, I've improved over the years. I think.)
Afflictions of some sort. Hagan observes, correctly, how Good Morning America producers used Robin Robert's cancer fight as a ratings boost. I'll admit I cheered when Roberts returned and hope she has regained enough strength to take an on-air whack at George Stephanopoulos and knock the smug off his face. Your hosts' maladies shouldn't be too gross; the Katie Couric televised colon cancer screenings were a bit over the top. Actually I was fine with seeing Katie's colon but was in New York City the day Al decided to let cameras tag along for his colonoscopy. The site of Al's colon on a Times Square JumboTron haunts me to this day. So start small. I have a herniated disk in my neck which requires physical therapy three times a week. Let your viewing audience see a Today host performing neck rotation exercises and see where that goes.
Some athletic skills. The Winter Olympics will be here before you know it. When your hosts go to Sochi and engage in the inevitable "today we learn to speed skate, tomorrow we try the luge," segments, make sure they don't look too ridiculous before the cameras start rolling. I know these spots are supposed to be humorous but the "Al and Matt do Rhythmic Gymnastics" piece was so awkward that I expected them to kiss halfway through. (Incidentally, I never would have found that clip had YouTube not "suggested" I watch it after I viewed the Ann Curry exit video).
Complete disdain for cooking. Seriously, can the revamped Today just ban culinary segments altogether? Most Today viewers are watching while simultaneously trying to get their kids ready for school before the bus appears. Who has time to copy down the ingredients in a low-fat risotto? Today needs two hosts who live on Chinese takeout and are perfectly okay with it.
Potty mouths. I don't mean they should unleash a slew of profanities while interviewing a Powerball winner. The viewers can do that as they get dressed for work. But some of these self-absorbed celebrity guests need to be put in their places. I would have had so much more respect for Matt during the Tom Cruise dustup had he looked directly at his subject and said, "Tom, I may be glib but you are unequivocally full of shit." Bleep out the naughty words; the audience will still be enraptured and ratings will skyrocket.
That's it for now. I'd add more but it's 7 a.m. and I'm going to flip on CNN's Starting Point and watch Soledad O'Brien before she is shown the door.
Can't wait to see who will fill that chair.