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Willie Geist, who has frequently filled in for Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today, is expected to be named the permanent co-host of the 9 a.m. hour with Natalie Morales, Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie, The Hollywood Reporter confirms.
Geist will give up his early-morning MSNBC show Way Too Early, say sources. But he is expected to stay on Morning Joe in the show’s early hours, likely 6-7 a.m.
NBC News declined comment, but an official announcement is expected this week. Geist’s promotion comes months after Guthrie was promoted to co-host of the flagship 7-9 a.m. hours with Lauer.
Lauer, 54, is still in the early months of a long-term contract worth a reported $25 million annually. Geist has been filling in for Lauer for some time, but his new job as a permanent member of Today could put the 37-year-old in first position as Lauer’s heir apparent.
Geist joined MSNBC in 2005 as a producer for Tucker Carlson but quickly segued to Carlson’s on-air foil. It is a role he also plays with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe. The buzzy MSNBC morning show has certainly raised Geist’s profile — and led to his own show on the network. But a permanent place on Today, even at a time when the morning program is in a ratings dogfight with ABC’s Good Morning America, will help to further establish Geist outside the long shadows of Scarborough and Brzezinski.
He has written two humor books and maintains the satirical video blog ZeitGeist at MSNBC.com
Email: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com; Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie
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