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Today fans — and staff — were shocked to wake up to the news on Nov. 29, 2017, that Lauer had been terminated after 20 years with NBC for "inappropriate sexual behavior" during the Sochi Olympics. Visibly shaken co-anchor Savannah Guthrie opened the day's show with the news, having only learned of his exit moments before.
“We are heartbroken. I’m heartbroken for Matt — he is my dear, dear friend and my partner, and he has been loved by many, many people here. And I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story, and any other women who have their own stories to tell.”
In late 2016, Lauer signed a two-year contract with NBC, valued at a reported $20 million a year.
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In the summer of 2016, the longtime Today reporter was abruptly moved from her post to L.A., joining the team at Access Hollywood in the wake of Billy Bush's promotion to Today in New York City. (His stint was short-lived; he was let go in October 2016 after a 2005 recording of him speaking inappropriately about women with Donald Trump was leaked.)
Rumors flew that Morales' departure had to do with the demise of an affair with Matt Lauer. But Lauer himself blasted the claims, telling Page Six, “Every aspect of this story is untrue, and it’s frankly sad that someone would tell lies to harm everyone involved.”
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When it was announced in February 2017 that Megyn Kelly would be taking the 9 a.m. Today time slot — effectively bumping the show's third hour starring Hall, Al Roker, Willie Geist and a rotating cast of other stars and anchors — Hall decided to walk away from the show.
“She wasn’t going to settle for sitting on the sidelines,” a source told PEOPLE. In the end, “She basically said thank you, but no thank you,” added the anchor’s good friend, TV writer-producer Mara Brock Akil, who used Hall as the muse for Gabrielle Union’s career-driven character on the hit BET show Being Mary Jane. “Tamron’s a woman of integrity,” she continued, “and she’s writing her own story.”
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After much speculation, Curry confirmed in June 2012 that she was leaving Today after replacing Meredith Vieira as co-anchor one year prior and working as a reporter for more than a decade before that. “To those of you who saw me as a groundbreaker, I am sorry that could not carry the ball across the finish line — but, man, I did try," she said live on-air, holding back tears. “This is not how I expected to ever leave this couch after 15 years.”
An NBC insider told PEOPLE that Curry was “not a natural” as a cohost and “could be awkward in interviews” — possible factors in Today's declining ratings. Another source said the network had never really wanted to give Curry the anchor role. And there were again rumors of Lauer involvement, though NBC News President Steve Capus denied those. “Matt has been in her corner through all of this,” he told PEOPLE.
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The beloved co-anchor's exit was slightly less dramatic than those of her peers: she just wanted to spend more time with her family. Vieira left the show in 2011 after five years, and though the rumor was that she was doing so to take care of her husband Richard Cohen, who has multiple sclerosis, she said that was just a piece of the pie.
“It was being distorted, because it looked better to make it, ‘Poor Meredith, she triumphs through it all,’ but that wasn’t the case,” Vieira told PEOPLE. “Richard said, ‘What is this? You never tend to me! You won't even get me a cup of coffee!’ ” joked Vieira. “I said, ‘I know! This scam is working!’ But enough gets to be enough.”
She kept busy with sporadic reporting assignments for Today and the hosting job on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, then launched an eponymous daytime talk show in 2014 (it was canceled after two seasons).
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Couric raised eyebrows — and broke barriers — in 2006 when she left Today after 15 years at the anchor desk to host the CBS Evening News, becoming the first woman to serve as sole anchor of a network flagship newscast.
Speaking to viewers as she announced the news, she called the move “a difficult decision,” adding to those at home, “It may sound corny, but I really feel that we have become friends over the years.”
“Once in a while we get on each other’s nerves,” Couric said during her announcement, but, turning to Lauer, added, “As Dorothy said to the Scarecrow, I think I’m going to miss him most of all.”
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Gumbel announced his exit from Today nearly a year before it actually happened, leaving in 1997 after 15 years and at the height of the show's popularity.
"Fifteen years is a long time in one place, and the world's too exciting to enjoy from one vantage point," he said in a statement released by NBC News at the time. He was already hosting an HBO series, Real Sports, and eventually went on to the anchor desk at The Early Show on CBS, resigning after two-and-a-half years on the job (and five at the network). Matt Lauer succeeded him on Today, joining Katie Couric as co-host.
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Talk of tension between the veteran journalist and NBC spurred her 1989 departure from Today — especially in the wake of news anchor Deborah Norville's hiring.
”At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but choosing to go was surely better than being told to go,” Pauley said to LIFE magazine following her 13-year stint on-air. Norville was immediately seated at the anchor desk with Pauley and co-host Bryant Gumbel, and Pauley took the move as a sign of the beginning of her end. Many considered NBC's handling of her exit "botched" — though the network did try to make good by offering her a newsmagazine show and a series of prime time specials.
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