NBC's match for Matt a mistake

Well, NBC, replace in haste, repent at leisure.

 

You might have wanted to consider your options a little more carefully before you rushed ahead Friday and anointed Savannah Guthrie as Matt Lauer's new Today deskmate.

Let's face it: The deposing of Ann Curry did not go well at all. Public sympathy for her was far greater than you had projected. Worse, many were casting Lauer, your morning monarch, as the heavy in all this, the egotistical divo who sabotaged his innocent coworker.

That made your next move crucial. After all, you don't want to drive even more viewers into the waiting arms of Good Morning America.

But, instead of mulling, you moved, handing the title over to Guthrie, the presumptive heiress, just a few hours after she took Curry's chair for Friday's broadcast.

 

I'm telling you, NBC, you're making the same mistake twice. It's not too late. Just say you've realized on second thought that Guthrie's contibutions as your legal correspondent are so important that she can't be spared. No disrespect to Guthrie, but she's the wrong person for the Today job. (I actually think it's kind of cute the way she dons a pair of glasses whenever she's acting as legal correspondent, so we know she means business.)

Like Curry, Guthrie lacks the goofy side that is essential to teaming with Lauer.

Anyone — and I mean anyone — can handle the political interviews. You read from your list of questions, and the politician answers from his list of talking points. It's like two people playing tennis on adjoining courts. You're limited to one follow-up per interview or else you seem like a bully, and one of the producers will provide you with that probing question in your earphone. The politician will respond to something completely different anyway.

The only thing that matters on Today is your chemistry with Matt, a bond that was encapsulated by the sainted Meredith Vieira. (Katie Couric dominated Lauer in their years together.) Vieira struck just the tone Lauer thrives on: playful but a little submissive and a little naughty. It was like a proud older sister visiting her B.M.O.C. brother at Dartmouth.

Guthrie simply can't provide that. The closest you could have gotten in-house was Hoda Kotb, but you can't move her, because there's no one else who can or will work an hour a day with Kathie Lee Gifford.

It's time to think outside the box, NBC. You need a woman who makes Matt look and feel young, one who can put up with his teasing without losing her sense of humor.

How about Sally Field? Definite Vieira vibe going on there. And Matt could make cracks about her Boniva ads and osteoporosis. But there is the danger that she'd get all caught up in the human-interest stories and show her emotions like Curry did. Yuchh!

Liza Minnelli. Seriously, she'd be perfect — a little flustered, a little spacey, but always a trouper. The challenge would be convincing her night was day, because you'd never be able to get her up at 5 every morning.

Madea. Tyler Perry's alter ego may well be your best option. She'd be aces at all aspects of the show. Imagine her on the plaza or interviewing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. She's smart, funny, and wise — and she could give it back to Matt and Al Roker with top spin. Nothing but upside on this choice.

Or do things your way, NBC. But don't come crying to me in six months, when Today's ratings are south of Savannah.

 

After the game. This has been quite an offseason for The Good Wife as it adds to an already-outstanding cast. Nathan Lane, Maura Tierney, and Kristin Chenoweth will all be coming aboard. Too bad I won't get to see it.

 

CBS and Fox announced that the kickoff time on Sundays' late NFL games is being moved back. Which means that my DVR, which used to record about 18 minutes of The Good Wife, now won't even catch the opening scene.

Look who's slumming. Who runs the world? I'll give you a hint. Oprah has agreed to appear on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, according to US Magazine. No big deal, right? Well, try if you can, to think back to a time as recently as three years ago. Had I told you then that the Queen of Enlightenment would dignify E!'s trashy carnival with her presence, you would have scoffed. It would have been like the pope guest-starring on Californication.

 

Just a suggestion. You know what would make Charlie Sheen's new sitcom, Anger Management, really funny? If any one of the characters had a problem with anger.

 

Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv. Read his blog, "Dave on Demand," at www.philly.com/dod.