Various hosting stylesBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
What was once a rumor, as we reported recently, has swiftly come to pass: Ann Curry has been dismissed from her plum post as female host of NBC’s long running morning show, “Today.” Her replacement is former junior segment host, Savannah Guthrie.
It was heartbreaking to see Curry’s four-minute farewell on the show, during which the usually low-key host broke down and apologized for not being able to live up to some people’s expectations of her as a “groundbreaking” TV talent (she was the top Asian-American on-cam personality on US daytime TV).
From our vantage point, she had nothing to apologize for. She was just doing the show her way, which wasn’t necessarily inferior to how the daily program was handled by Katie Couric and then Meredith Vieira before her.
It’s unfairly speculative to lay the blame for the show’s ratings dip at her feet. Now, if ratings perk up after her dismissal, that would be another matter.
“Today” has segment hosts who haven’t been carrying their share of the load lately. Weatherman Roker can sometimes be a turnoff with his loud, pushy ways—so why didn’t he get the boot?
Main host Matt Lauer has been doing rather “low-bat” work lately. Maybe it’s time for him to take a long leave and make way for a younger discovery with more flair—and hair?
When Curry bade viewers adieu, Lauer was criticized for not being more supportive of her. After all, she had worked on the show in different capacities for 15 years—surely she deserved better than just an awkward kiss on the head?
Curry’s dismissal serves as a good occasion for us to compare different hosting styles evident on the show.
No-frills approach out
Couric had gone for the “bright and bubbly” option, like a young Debbie Reynolds for the TV screen. Vieira was older and less pushbutton-perky but kooky in her own more mature and “deeper” way (she had established herself as a respected broadcast journalist).
Curry favored the no-frills, natural approach, and was faulted for not being “fun” enough.
What about her replacement, Savannah Guthrie? She looks and comes across as a younger version of Vieira. It turns out that she’s a lawyer and is no raw recruit to the TV industry. She can be expected to do solid work in her new post.
But viewers will be waiting to see her own, unique on-cam personality and character emerge. Will she turn out to be “deep” but occasionally kooky like Vieira? Let’s hope she doesn’t go all “perky” on us, like Couric.
Come to think of it, Couric has dropped her signature “Debbie Reynolds” TV style and tried to carve a new career for herself as a nightly news anchor—with little success.
As for Curry, don’t count her out just yet. After she licks her wounds, she’s expected to resurface elsewhere on NBC as a news and public affairs documentary host-producer. You can’t put a good talent down—for long!
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