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NBC’s Today show is topic A in media gossip circles. And a report Tuesday about CNN’s Anderson Cooper as the latest heir apparent to Matt Lauer spawned dozens of breathless blog posts about Lauer’s future with the show.
True, NBC executives and sources close to Anderson Cooper say the network did reach out to silver-haired CNN correspondent. But he is not in line to replace Lauer.
According to an NBC executive, the network has “exploratory talks with talent inside and outside of the network. But to read anything specific into that is presumptuous.”
Furthermore, sources close to Cooper say he is not interested in trading globetrotting for 4 a.m. wake up calls. And NBC News senior vice president Alexandra Wallace told THR in a statement: “As we’ve said before, Matt Lauer is the best in the business. We want him in the Today show anchor chair for many years to come. We are not considering replacing Matt Lauer.”
Lauer last year signed a long-term deal with NBC News that keeps him there until 2015. And sources close to both men deny that Lauer ever contacted Cooper to register disapproval over any talks.
Cooper is currently under contract to CNN and is also a correspondent at the CBS News program 60 Minutes. He recently told THR that he expects new CNN chief Jeff Zucker to keep his program, Anderson Cooper 360 in its 8 p.m. time slot, though the 10 p.m. repeat is likely to go away. And he praised Zucker’s in-the-trenches leadership style.
“[To] have somebody with Jeff’s experience not only as an executive and a manager, but as somebody whose sleeves are rolled up and has experience producing news programs, is fantastic,” said Cooper. “I’m in constant discussions with Jeff, emails going back and forth, and it’s really dynamic and it’s really exciting to be here at this time.”
Seth Abramovitch contributed to this report.
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