It won't be official until tomorrow, but The Hollywood Reporter has word that NBC has tapped a few of its regulars on the shoulder to host the fourth, yes, fourth, hour of "Today," which will bow on Sept. 11.
Come on down, Ann Curry, Natalie Morales and Hoda Kotb, along with a rotating cast of guest hosts that will include Giada DiLaurentis and Tiki Barber, among others.
The first two are already in residence in the third hour-- already laden with the cooking, fashion, entertainment and home-improvement segments that will rule the roost at 10, after Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira have high-tailed it out of Rockefeller Center.
Still not known if Curry will remain newsreader between 7-9 a.m. That's a long haul on camera, especially if she has to also double up on prep for "Dateline." And will Al Roker also linger for the full four?
Exactly why is there a need for a fourth hour of "Today," especially when the third hour has seen its ratings drop for the last three years? Just follow the money, specifically the greenbacks doled out by affiliates, who would otherwise fill the hour with syndicated programming that, lately, has either tanked or eked out middling ratings.
Instead, Jeff Zucker & Co. want to further milk the franchise that already earns an estimated $250 million a year in profits, help affiliates avoid paying for lousy shows and still give them enough local commerical slots to make it worth their while.
And it appears the affiliates are on board. The Reporter says the 10 a.m. hour is cleared in 96 percent of the U.S.