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Put on your “I’ve heard that one before” hats, because NBC’s Today is once again in the middle of a ruckus over putting a brand new executive to pasture. Jamie Horowitz, a former ESPN suit brought in to supervise and potentially expand the morning show, was fired after only ten weeks on the job. This seems like the kind of thing that would spawn “Jamie Horowitz is now working for Yesterday” memes across the Internet.
Horowitz’s fate was revealed in a staff memo on Monday evening, as NBC News president Deborah Turness stated she and Horowitz “have come to a conclusion that this is not the right fit,” according to The New York Times. It sounds like a mutual break-up, but you know there was more going on behind the scenes than would ever make it to a company-wide memo.
The reason for Horowitz’s removal appears to involve a series of disputes that the new exec had gotten into with other people on the Today staff and NBC News management, and that Turness’ superior, Patricia Fili-Krushel, was part of the decision to get rid of him. What’s that old saying, “You can’t expect for feathers to go unruffled when telling a network that its morning show needs to make a lot of changes in order to stay competitive in the ratings.” I may have gotten that wrong.
Horowitz worked for ESPN (which is owned by Disney, just like ABC) in bringing new programming in, for the most part, and was expected to make some moves to turn Today into a bigger rival for ABC’s Good Morning America, which has been the ratings winner for the last two years or so. While he was already predicted to raise some eyebrows with possible host changes and other on-air switches, Horowitz’s move also kicked up enough dust with his former job that Disney decided to prevent him from formally taking the job until December 1. (Those who read calendars are aware we haven’t even gotten to that date yet.) He’d been taking meetings with Today staff since September, though, and I guess some of those “unofficial” meetings didn’t go all that well.
This news comes just a week after rumors started swirling that Today co-host Natalie Morales was looking to leave the show due to problems with Turness and fellow co-host Tamron Hall. (Horowitz’s name didn’t come up.) That whole ordeal was something of a callback to Ann Curry’s sudden departure a couple of years ago, which was steeped in its own bits of controversy.
Who will next enter NBC’s front doors, only to get turned around and pushed back through them almost immediately?