May 09, 1994 12:00 PM

NBC newscaster Matt Lauer’s Top 10 list of things he doesn’t like about his looks includes his forehead, his nose, his profile. “I either come out in photos like one big nose or one big forehead,” he laments. The 36-year-old news anchor of the Today show, who sometimes fills in for Bryant Gumbel and who hosts two other daily New York news shows, will, however, concede that his deep-set brown eyes are “expressive.”

After growing up in the svelte suburbs north of New York City and attending Ohio University, Lauer was a TV reporter and talk show host in half a dozen eastern cities before landing his Today job just five months ago. He is baffled by his sudden status as, in the words of The New York Times, an “on-air heartthrob.” “I get letters from women, and they say, ‘I love your Roman nose,’ ” he says. “If I weren’t on TV and I walked past that same woman, she’d go, ‘Did you see the beak on that guy?’ ” The divorced Lauer has been dating journalism-school grad Kristen Gesswein, 25, for the past four years. Like him, she is a 6-foot-tall brunette; unlike him, she wears neither foundation nor powder. “When I first started doing it, I was kind of uneasy,” says Lauer of his on-air makeup. “It was like wearing a sweater that you didn’t like.” Sans makeup, he takes thrice weekly step classes at the NBC gym. Appraises fellow stepper Gumbel: “Mart’s a klutz, but no more so than any other guy there, including me.”

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