Musical chairs on the ‘Today’ showBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
For many years now, NBC’s “Today” show has topped the ratings for morning TV in the United States. However, starting this year, its main rival, “Good Morning, America,” has occasionally been chalking up better viewership figures, prompting the erstwhile leader to shake up the way it does things.
Most of the time, the rule on TV is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But, slipping ratings indicate that there is a problem, so solutions are in order before the situation worsens.
Part of the “Today” show’s problem appears to be the “musical chairs” rigodon that some of its hosts have been made to participate in of late.
First, Meredith Vieira quit the show to spend more time taking care of her husband, who has a serious illness to contend with. Then, Ann Curry was promoted to replace her.
Unfortunately, Curry got some flak and was (unfairly) pinpointed as one of the reasons that the show’s ratings were in distress.
Instead of backing her up, NBC decided to replace her with Savannah Guthrie, who now cohosts the show with Matt Lauer.
Aside from these “remedial” measures, other changes have been made, including the occasional use of even younger segment cohosts, like Jenna Wolfe.
A veteran host of “Early Today,” Jenna has delighted viewers not just with her hosting talent and verve, but also with her feats of physical derring-do.
A sports and workout standout, she’s pulled off some extremely challenging stunts, like becoming a member of a team of
“mermaids” who perform in a huge aquarium for many strenuousminutes on end.
She’s also admired for her refusal to say and do the usual decorative things on-cam, and her feisty comments have enlivened the show and made it less predictable viewing fare.
Incidentally, another rising star on the “Today” family of shows is a dusky Fil-Am beauty, Veronica de la Cruz, who hosts some telecasts of “Early Today.”
Like Jenna, she’s competent and feisty, and we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw her soon on the main telecast of the “Today” show.
Even Matt Lauer hasn’t been spared in the show’s efforts to come across more dynamically and not quite as safely predictable as before. Only last month, we were surprised to see him getting to the show, not in a car, but on a motorized surfboard! He was able to pull off the stunt without falling, too!
Unusual gambits like that should effectively counter criticism that attributes the show’s drooping ratings to its inability to excite younger viewers.
Meanwhile, over on “Good Morning, America,” they’re continuing to savor their best ratings ever, and keep coming up with interesting and edgy features that keep people watching.
Just last month, the show’s ailing (but recovering) cohost, Robin Roberts, who’s on hospital leave, was replaced for the day by none other than the Oprah Winfrey! Well, you can imagine what that surprise appearance did to further boost the show’s viewership!
Clearly, the “Today” show needs to “hustle and bustle” more determinedly and imaginatively to neutralize its rampaging rival’s new advantage!
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