New Book Reveals Details Behind Ann Curry's Firing
It's the behind-the-scenes account of what led to this now infamous TV moment when a weepy Ann Curry stepped down as co-host of the Today show.
New York Times TV reporter Brian Stelter is the author of the new book, Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV.
"'Operation Bambi' was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the plan to remove Ann Curry," Stelter said.
The name "Operation Bambi" comes from a crack by a Today show staffer who predicted firing Curry would be like "killing Bambi."
"There are some parallels there because there's so many people who love Ann Curry, and the last thing they wanted to see was her being removed the way she was," Stelter said.
In the months leading up to her firing, Curry was the target of backstage humiliation. When she wore a long yellow dress on the show, somebody put her photo beside a shot of Big Bird and rudely asked "Who wore it best?"
Stelter said, "There was even a blooper reel created by one of the young producers that would show some of her biggest on-air flubs."
Stelter's book is the talk of TV insiders. The new cover of US Weekly blared "Stabbed in the Back." Stelter said Matt Lauer was a major figure in the conspiracy to push Curry out of the way.
"I could tell that Matt Lauer and Ann Curry were not speaking to each other unless they had to on camera. They would come in the studio around 6:30, they would sit down, and then they would look in opposite directions," he said.
Stelter said that Lauer will almost certainly step down when his contract comes up next year.
"Odds on favorite right now to replace Matt Lauer someday is Willie Geist," he said.
INSIDE EDITION caught up with Geist last night in New York at Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People Event.
"Honestly, I haven't read the book. I probably won't read the book. It doesn't mean everything in it is wrong, but you can't get bogged down on that stuff and worry about it," Geist said.
A representative for NBC said, "We are focused on ...producing the best show we can for our viewers, not on year-old gossip."
Ann Curry still has two years left on her reported $5 million per year contract, but she rarely appears on the air. She reportedly hopes that the new book will let everyone know what she went through. "She feels vindicated. Like the truth has come out."
Stelter said, "The day she was removed, we saw the emotions that she was feeling when she was crying on the air. Those emotions haven't really stopped."