THR's 35 Most Powerful People in Media
It is Friday, April 6, and Matt Lauer is pawing through a stack of newspapers in his dressing room above Today’s Studio 1A. He scans a New York Times article about Keith Olbermann’s nasty legal battle with Al Gore and the executives at Current, the latest in a string of former employers for the volatile cable news host. “Olbermann is suing Current for $70 million,” says Lauer, betraying a hint of disbelief.
Of course, the most famous face of the morning doesn’t mention the day’s other big-money media headline: his signing of a four-year contract with NBC’s Today for a reported $25 million a year. (Lauer won’t comment on the dollar figure.) Earlier, at 7:09 a.m., Ann Curry announced on air that her 54-year-old co-host was staying at the top-rated morning show, capping months of speculation about his future on the franchise, one that funnels more than half a billion dollars a year into NBC News coffers.
“I should have retired,” he jokes, as he contemplates his evening plans — the Bruce Springsteen concert at Madison Square Garden. “I have to nap to go to a rock concert... That’s how sad it is.”