9:37am PT by Marisa Guthrie
NBC News Ups 'Today' Co-Host Savannah Guthrie
NBC News has locked Savannah Guthrie into a new long-term deal that will keep her at the Today show for the foreseeable future. The contract is a vote of confidence for Guthrie and, like her last one, includes a clause that she remain at Today, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Guthrie first joined the morning show in 2011 as an anchor on the show's 9 a.m. hour. Well-liked within NBC News, where she is viewed as a low-maintenance team player, she was promoted to sit alongside Matt Lauer in 2012 during a particularly tumultuous period for the morning franchise. Ann Curry had been ousted, leaving the show and its audience shaken after a notorious tearful on-air goodbye.
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The deal follows a new two-year contract for Lauer in 2014. Guthrie's deal extends beyond Lauer's and sets her up as the future of Today at a time when network executives would certainly like to regain the lead from ABC's top-rated Good Morning America.
Guthrie's recent pregnancy — she gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Vale, in August at age 42 — became a storyline on Today, where the anchors' personal lives have often provided hooks for the sort of soft features inherent to morning television. But Guthrie also is viewed by NBC News executives as having been tested in the hard news arena. She successfully solo-anchored the show's breaking news coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 while Lauer was out of pocket in Texas reporting on a factory explosion near Waco that killed more than a dozen people.
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Guthrie's anointment as the future of Today comes as NBC News executives recently weathered negative headlines around the firing of Jamie Horowitz, a former ESPN executive who was hired to oversee Today. Horowitz had proposed drastic on-air changes that rankled many Today veterans — notably Lauer. Horowitz has been replaced by Noah Oppenheim, a former NBC News producer-turned-screenwriter who segued to the entertainment side as head of unscripted for Reveille. He'll start in March and will have oversight of the entire Today franchise, including the show's increasingly important digital assets.