Update 2:25 p.m. EST: Amid some soft denials from NBC and promises that they want to keep Lauer as a Today show host, it appears the network did in fact call Cooper about the Today job. "[T]hree people with knowledge of the call confirmed that it happened, and said they too were taken aback by it. The people insisted on anonymity because the call was considered confidential," reports The New York Times's Brian Stelter, who is painting a dreary picture for NBC's $25 million man:
Regarding Mr. Lauer, "the calculus within NBCUniversal now is ‘Can we really wait a year and a half?'" said a person with past ties to the network, one of many who has been sought out by network executives for advice about Today.
The person added, "Matt’s now in the same situation now as Ann Curry."
Update 10:27 a.m. EST: TMZ is reporting that Lauer is actually fine with the idea of Cooper replacing him. NBC has thrown cold water on the story, saying that (as they have been) they're planning to keep Lauer in his Today show seat for "years to come" though they didn't exactly deny that they called Cooper. "NBC News has many exploratory talks with talent inside and outside of the network, but to read anything specific into that is presumptuous," an executive told the Huffington Post.
Original: Anderson Cooper, Vanderbilt scion and part-time Michael Phelps swim buddy, is being approached by NBC to replace Matt Lauer by the end of this year, reports Deadline's Nellie Andreeva: "I hear NBC toppers recently reached out to CNN’s Anderson Cooper to replace Lauer on the show before the end of the year."
This, of course would be sorta great—we know Cooper can do the smile, giggle (oh man can he giggle), and facetious banter morning thing when he wants—he filled in for Regis on more than one occasion.
BUT ... there's a catch. Lauer, like villains in horror movies, won't go away that easily. On Today, if a host won't go away on their own terms, you have to burn the bones or make a goat sacrifice to Deborah Norville ... or so we heard. Lauer, like anyone who gets paid $25 million to
smile and talk about salmon work four days a week, is trying to save his job, Andreeva adds:
I hear NBC reached out to Lauer to get his blessing about the changeover. But I heard they got pushback from the Today veteran, who contacted Cooper to express his disapproval. I also hear that call caught Cooper by surprise, as he had assumed Lauer had been brought on board before NBC began making overtures.
So, if you dream of waking up to Anderson's giggles, you might just have to wait until 2015 when Lauer's contract expires. At this point, Cooper has essentially become the Cady Heron to Lauer's Regina George— Cooper is also on the short-list for with Lauer for the next host of Jeopardy, and is the apple of Lauer's bosses' eyes.
Cooper also has his own thing going at CNN, where he's umm... apparently making a show with his New Year's Eve buddy Kathy Griffin. "I hear the duo filmed a pilot today at the CNN studios in the Time Warner Center in New York. Details about the hourlong project are sketchy, but I’ve learned that it had a lot of humor in it and filmed in front of a live audience — which I hear included new CNN topper Jeff Zucker," Andreeva, who's owning the Cooper beat, wrote in a separate report.
And that's sort of fun, right? People seem enjoy their antics on New Year's. Though, a lot of that magic revolved around Griffin playfully setting Anderson's closet on fire (he wasn't out-out back in the special's heyday), making blatant penis jokes and him suppressing his blushing and acknowledgment of said penis jokes. It's not exactly a format for a regular show.
Cooper, no doubt is a very busy man and has more projects than he can count. And who knows if this will cut into Cooper's other job of being a superhero journalist who saves kids in Haiti and swims with crocodiles in the Nile River.