With NBC still not officially commenting on its reported plan to fire Today co-host Ann Curry — and Curry awkwardly being asked to show up for work amid the rampant speculation — news has leaked that Curry may be paid a reported $10 million to walk away from her deal early. (When she was named co-host last year, she signed a three-year contract worth $20 million.) Of course, NBC is no stranger to paying off longtime on-air employees: In 2010, Conan O'Brien was paid $45 million to leave The Tonight Show. The network remained almost offensively silent during the Conan saga, and received disastrous PR because of it. Is NBC repeating the same mistake with Curry?
The situations are awfully similar: This is "the second coming of Conan O'Brien," says Aly Semigran at Hollywood. Both hosts exhibited "perseverance, quality, and strong, if not unconventional work ethic" for over a decade at NBC, and somehow still failed to earn the network's loyalty because of "fears regarding sagging ratings." Sure, Curry isn't likely to inspire a frenzied Team-Coco-like legion of supporters, but she would still be wise to follow O'Brien's lead. He made a fresh start at a new network, and though his profile may be lower than it used to be, he has landed on his feet with the dignity that he deserves.
"Ann Curry: The second coming of Conan O'Brien?"
But Curry has it way worse: Each morning since the news broke, Curry has showed up for work, "despite the seat-squirming spot she has been put in by the network," says Michael Shain at the New York Post. When Conan was enduring his ordeal, he could joke on-air about it. Curry can't get away with the same on Today. Plus, Conan was in demand outside of NBC, while NBC News is only expected to offer Curry a foreign correspondent position. And no other network has expressed any interest in her, leaving her with markedly fewer Plan Bs than Conan had.
"NBC paying Curry $10m to leave Today show: Reports"
And she deserves better: Compared to NBC's massive payout to Conan, $10 million for Ann Curry to go away is a steal for the network, says Jessica Grabert at Cinema Blend. But while Curry was hardly the best Today host ever, she deserves better than "being unceremoniously dumped, being stuck in the middle of a media brouhaha, and then being forced to go back to her more humbling roots." NBC is being unforgivably tactless in its handling of the situation. Not even $10 million will soften that blow.
"Ann Curry reportedly earning $10 million to be replaced on Today"