Today Show's Fourth Hour Also a Watershed For TV Diversity
Just thinking about a fourth hour of the Today show gives me a headache.
Already, I can barely stand the giddy brew of too-soft feature stories, thinly-disguised promos for NBC and NBC cable shows, and anchor-centric nonsense which fills Today after its first 20 minutes or so. Tacking on another hour of recipes and celebrity interviews never seemed like a great idea to me.
But there is one cool thing about the fourth hour, officially announced today by NBC and tagged for a Sept. 10 start date; all the women who will serve as hosts of that final hour -- Today newsreader Ann Curry, Dateline correspondent Hoda Kotb and Today correspondent Natalie Morales -- are all women of color.
(Since at least one person reading this blog has assumed they're all black, let me explain: Natalie Morales is Puerto Rican and Brazilian, Ann Curry is Japanese and French, Hoda Kotb is Egyptian-American. None are African American, but they all add lots of cultural and ethnic diversity).
This is important because these jobs turn out to be a farm team for the show, allowing the network to develop its younger talent so they aren't caught flatfooted when somebody like, say, Campbell Brown or Katie Couric decides to take their talents elsewhere. NBC has always been the best at maintaining a deep anchor bench, which they deploy across all their shows -- meaning Curry or Today weekend host Lester Holt might fill in on Nightly News for a vacationing Brian Williams at any time.
With these ladies in the pipeline, it does mean NBC's news shows will have a visible mix of on air ethnic diversity, at least. This also means that Tiki Barber and Giada DeLaurentiis-- two non-broadcasters touted as possible hosts -- will not get a regular slot in the rotation, saving the audience from their amateurish fumbling.
Though NBC says 90 percent of its affiliates will carry the fourth hour at 10 or 11 a.m., in Tampa the fourth hour won't air until noon, after WFLA-Ch. 8 airs it's local show Daytime and its midday news at 11 a.m. Fear not, Montel fans, the bald one's show will move to 1 p.m., while the daytime soap Days of Our Lives will air at 2 p.m.
Now, if only they could do something about that airhead Maria Menounos...