With 4th hour, 'Today' plans to loosen up
EmptyNEW YORK -- When the fourth hour of "Today" goes on the air next month, there will be a familiar feel. But expect some surprises as well, the show's executive producer promises.
"Today," one of NBC's bright spots, remains the leader in viewership and profitability after 55 years on the air. After a successful third hour launched in 2000, NBC decided to add a fourth hour, which has received clearance in more than 90% of its affiliates, many of which will air the fourth hour immediately after the first three at 10 a.m.
The network officially anointed Ann Curry, Natalie Morales and Hoda Kotb as co-hosts for the hour along with appearances by a cast that includes David Gregory, Giada De Laurentiis and Tiki Barber. Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira aren't involved in the fourth hour plans.
Executive producer Jim Bell said the fourth hour will look in many ways like the third hour, which he said focuses on "smart 'Today' show topics" like health and fitness, cooking and finances. But Bell said that there's an opportunity to loosen up a little bit.
"I think there will be days when it's a little more talk, it's a little more spontaneous, a little less formatted," Bell said Tuesday. "It'll be reminiscent of the old co-op breaks when you had to fill two or three minutes."
It will draw on the experiences and personalities of Curry and Morales, who are well known to "Today" audiences, as well as Kotb, who is a "Dateline" correspondent. The fourth hour's senior producer is Amy Rosenblum, whose experience spans from "CBS This Morning" to "Sally" and "Maury," as well as running the third hour of "Today."