Friday, 19 April 2013

Ann Curry 'tortured' in ‘Operation Bambi’ by boys’ club

Ann Curry 'tortured' in ‘Operation Bambi’ by boys’ club, Ann Curry “tortured” by “the boys’ club atmosphere behind the scenes at ‘Today’ undermined her from the start, and she told friends that her final months were a form of professional torture.” The boys’ club, consisting of her co-host Matt Lauer’s indifference, her executive producer Jim Bell’s humiliation, other male staffers’ personal jokes about her outfits, and co-workers’ meanness are described by The New York Times article published on April 18, 2013.

The New York Times article is an adaption from the book “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV,” which is to be released on April 23, 2013 by Grand Central.

In the book, the New York Times media reporter and author Brian Stelter reveals “all the dish and dirt behind the polite smiles and perky demeanors of morning television.” According to Amazon’s description, Brian Stelter was behind the scenes when Meredith Vieira was replaced by Ann Curry on the “Today Show” and he was behind the scenes when, just a year later, Ann Curry was ousted by the boys’ club in what is called “Operation Bambi.”

“Operation Bambi” was executive producer Jim Bell’s plan on regaining lost ratings against the competition and to replace, just once more, one female with another female.

“By comparison, ‘Today’ had stuck to the same camera angles and scripted intros and outros since the 1990s. Some suggested that the show was getting stale. Others privately wondered if Lauer’s star power was beginning to fade. By January, Bell had another culprit in mind: Ann Curry. So insistent was Bell that Curry was the problem — that she was ‘out of position,’ as he put it in an e-mail to his deputies — that he had been talking about it with friends for months. One morning-TV veteran suggested to him that firing Curry, who had been co-hosting for only about six months at that point, would be tantamount to ‘killing Bambi.’ Undeterred, Bell hatched a careful three-part plan: 1.) persuade Lauer to extend his expiring contract; 2.) oust Curry; 3.) replace her with Savannah Guthrie. According to this source, Bell called his plan Operation Bambi.”

“And so in February, Burke effectively initiated the first phase of Bell’s operation: he told Lauer about the plot to replace Curry with Guthrie, whose playful, sometimes bashful personality many of NBC’s top executives found appealing.”

Ann Curry’s torture included, among others, listening to comments by Matt Lauer like “I can’t believe I am sitting next to this woman,” being discouraged to move her belongings into the “Today” co-host office next to Lauer’s office, harshly being told by Bell to cover tabloid segments, having to watch Jim Bell’s blooper reel which made fun of Ann Curry’s most on-air mistakes, having to listen to other staffers laugh at a gaffe that she had made, and having one’s clothes stuffed into a coat closet because she really wasn’t supposed to be there anymore anyway.

According to one “Today Show” employee, staffers working in the control room would routinely poke fun at Curry's fashion choices and generally make her the object of their jokes. In one instance, Curry wore a bright yellow dress, for which she was compared to Big Bird.

While executive producer Jim Bell, a 6-foot-4 former Harvard lineman, denies using the term “Operation Bambi,” and being involved in any of the “torture” activities, it seems that in the end, the boys’club won.

Ann Curry had spent 22 years, a majority of her professional life, with NBC. In June 2012, only a year after her June 9, 2011, first appearance as co-host on the “Today Show,” Ann Curry finally signed off as co-host alongside Matt Lauer for the last time. “Operation Bambi” – mission accomplished.

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