In the wake of Matt Lauer’s ouster from the “Today” show, it appears women are taking over.
Two weeks after Hoda Kotb officially replaced the accused serial sexual abuser on the show, NBC brass announced the long-running morning program is getting a new executive producer for its 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. ET hours: Libby Leist.
Leist will be the first woman to serve in this top behind-the-scenes position during the show’s key morning hours, anchored by Kotb and Savannah Guthrie. The co-anchors made “Today” show history when they became the first women to helm those slots, during which the show earns the most viewers.
Leist will join Jackie Levin, executive producer of Megyn Kelly’s 9 a.m. hour; Tammy Filler, executive producer of the 10 a.m. hour; and Matt Carluccio, who executive-produces weekend segments.
Formerly a senior producer on the show, Leist will step into the role recently vacated by Don Nash, who became an executive producer on “Today” in 2012, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Nash says he wants to spend more time with his family after more than two decades at the network, explaining in a statement provided to Variety that he aims to “be a better dad to my two beautiful girls.” In a memo to employees, NBC News chairman Andy Lack credited Nash’s decision to the “change in anchors” and said it was a result of Nash “having rethought some of his priorities.”
Nash’s decision comes over one month after NBC announced it would investigate how the company handled the Lauer accusations.
“At the conclusion of the review we will share what we’ve learned, no matter how painful, and act on it,” Lack said in a memo late last year.
Lauer was fired from the “Today” show after two decades when NBC executives received a complaint about sexual misconduct that inspired “reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.” More women came forward after his termination, suggesting a pattern of behavior stretching back years.
In a Wednesday interview, former “Today” show anchor Ann Curry ― who was pushed out of the network in 2012 ― said she was “unsurprised” by the allegations against her former colleague, adding that she witnessed a culture of “verbal sexual harassment” at NBC.
Following Lauer’s exit, the “Today” show enjoyed a ratings boost and continues to beat out ABC rival “Good Morning America” as the No. 1 morning show.