NBC was first up at the Upfronts and Matt Lauer took center stage.
Lauer on a (so far unsuccessful) mission to try and recover his image used humor as his latest ploy to get back his reputation.
Toward the end of the presentation, Lauer strode out on stage with his co-anchor, Savannah Guthrie.
“I would like to tackle a teeny white elephant in the room,” Mr. Lauer said as many of the 400 people in the audience leaned in. “We hate being the news,” The New York Times Reports.
“From the bottom of my heart, I promise to spend all my time and energy the next several weeks and months trying to keep Savannah out of the headlines,” Mr. Lauer said. His jocular remark drew appreciative laughter.
“But you said all press is good press,” Ms. Guthrie said. Mr. Lauer replied, “Yeah, that didn’t work out.”
More seriously, Mr. Lauer said, “We want to go back to being the most-watched morning program — and least talked-about morning program.”
Mr. Lauer also earned laughter from the agency executives in the audience for a remark he made at the end of the presentation, after a performance by Apollo Roberts, a sleight-of-hand artist known as the Gentleman Thief, in which he and Ms. Guthrie took part.
“You knew you were coming here to get your pockets picked,” Mr. Lauer said. “You just didn’t know it was literal.”
After the presentation, a reporter asked Mark Miller, executive vice president for advertising sales at the NBCUniversal News Group, part of the NBCUniversal division of Comcast, when executives had decided to address the “Today” situation in a lighthearted fashion rather than ignore it and whether they had been pleased with the positive response from the audience.
“I don’t think we want to make any comments on the record,” Mr. Miller replied, adding that he would be happy to provide them “once we talk to the press guys.”
Later, Megan Kopf, vice president for public relations for “Today,” answered in a statement the question asked of Mr. Miller.
“It’s no secret that the ‘Today’ show has been in the press recently,” Ms. Kopf said, “and we decided to bring it up in our own way.”
Ms. Guthrie, approached after the presentation, said: “Everything’s good. We’re hanging in. It’s better than the press would have you believe.” Mr. Lauer, with a smile, said his banter came “off the top of my head.”
Patricia Fili-Krushel, chairwoman at the NBCUniversal News Group, alluded to the “Today” situation in her opening remarks when she talked about “why the press is just so fascinated with us.”
Full story at the NY Times