To boost Matt Lauer’s image, NBC seeks friendly lunch with Ann Curry

NBC wants Matt Lauer and Ann Curry to literally break bread to help shift the public perception of Lauer back to what it once was — the gracious and friendly “Today” talk host — before the backlash from Curry’s firing. RELATED: NEW YORKERS HEAP ABUSE ON MATT LAUER OVER ANN CURRY'S EXIT Network execs are encouraging the duo to do lunch — preferably at media hotspot Michael’s in midtown — and make a public display of patching things up, a source tells [email protected]’s Marianne Garvey. “When the ratings fell after Ann, there was no more public ‘Matt’s really nice,’ and the bosses now need to do damage control,” the source says. “Matt’s beloved inside and they want to help him.” The source adds that higher-ups feel the only way to repair Lauer’s image is having Curry — still under contract with NBC as a correspondent — agree to the public outing with her former co-star. “It’s terrible; every time they try to do something to fix this, another Ann story pops up,” says the show insider. “Their biggest mistake was letting her burst into tears on air and her saying she wasn’t able to carry the ball, shifting the blame on Matt.” The staff “absolutely loves” Lauer, insists the source, noting that he has had the same assistant for more than nine years. “He knows every cameraman, every crew guy. He turns up for staff weddings and he’s very loyal,” says the source. “They all said Ann would bring down ‘Today’ and she really has.” But despite reports saying Lauer’s future is in jeopardy, he’s unlikely to be fired. “The numbers are good. Getting Ann backlash is not firable,” says the source. “Even with their problems, it’s still a hit show. They’re trying to make it better and making ideas Continue Reading


There is such a thing as star quality. The casting agents who launched the careers of Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Cusack, Matt Damon and many others say future stars share a certain something that can be seen early on. "I think that when someone has that special ­quality and it meets with the right part, an explosion happens," said Jane Jenkins, co-author with Janet Hirshenson of "A Star Is Found" (Harcourt), their scrumptious memoir of casting movies like "The Da Vinci Code," "Jurassic Park," "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Home Alone," among others. "That's what happened when we met Meg Ryan," Hirshenson told us. "We were casting for Rob Reiner's 'A Sure Thing' and we loved her, just loved her. But she didn't get the part. But when we did 'When Harry Met Sally,' she came in and she was the girl. We auditioned very few others after that. " In the book, Jenkins recalls how an unknown ­Julia Roberts (above) blew an audition for Ron Howard's "Willow": "I liked her spunk and wanted to get her on tape, but she could only come in on a Saturday. I was willing to give up an hour or two of my day off - until I found myself waiting in my office with no Julia. " Her car had died. A year later, her agent tried again, this time for "Mystic Pizza. " "Sure," Jenkins told her, "if you promise she won't have car problems. " Roberts, then 19, showed up in baggy jeans and an oversized shirt. "­Beneath the ­sloppy clothes, I could sense an exuberance, a warmth, an unself-conscious sexuality ... someone who could show us a working-class girl reaching desperately for the glamour ... she knew she deserved, but didn't quite know how to attain," Jenkins said. "To this day, I couldn't tell you how I knew Roberts had that special quality, but it was definitely there. " Ditto Tom Cruise. "When I met him, he was about 19 and we were casting 'The Outsiders,'" Hirshenson recalled. "There was something about Tom - the Continue Reading