The executive producer of the "Today" show responded to rumors that both of his stars are bolting.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, Jim Bell admitted that he doesn't know whether Meredith Vieira will renew her contract when it expires in December. But he was outright dismissive of reports that Matt Lauer is considering leaving at the end of 2012.
Vieira is at the end of a one-year contract, which she signed in 2010. In early April, it was reported that she was expected to leave the show, with its grueling early-morning hours, to spend more time with her husband, who has multiple sclerosis. Vieira has previously said she is "not afraid to go" if she wants to.
Bell acknowledged that NBC was "still talking" with Vieira, and that she has not yet told them what she will do. But, he stressed, "we think she's fantastic and hope we'll have her with us."
Lauer was a different story. Ever since Entertainment Tonight reported that he was thinking of leaving when his contract is up at the end of 2012, rumors have swirled. Most have speculated that he is either angling for a huge new deal, or thinking about re-teaming with Katie Couric on a syndicated talk show.
But Bell said that such talk is "ludicrous. When we're talking about something that is almost two years away, it's silly speculation."