NBC Newsers always like to say they are part of one big family. But in a family that big, with several making millions of dollars a year — even a select few in the double-digit millions — there is bound to be sibling rivalry. And so it was on display Thursday as NBC News held an upfront presentation at the event space 583 Park Avenue. Matt Lauer tweaked Brian Williams for his run-on questions; Williams took a shot at Willie Geist: “I just found out he had a show;” who had fired first: “Brian is the caregiver for our parents and grandparents at 6:30 every night.”
Kidding aside, the event was all business: a gathering of sales teams, planners and agencies in an effort to get advertisers excited by what NBC News — the #1 news network — and MSNBC have to offer. At one point, Williams mentioned “the elephant in the room.” While some may have thought he was talking about his primetime newsmagazine’s ratings — “Rock Center” hit a new viewership low drawing just 2.6 million viewers Wednesday — the newsman-comedian was actually taking a jab Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford.
“Hods and Kathie Lee are just baked. Permanently hammered,” said Williams of the fourth hour “Today” team. He referred to Ed Schultz as “a big bowl of humanity. His head alone is bigger than my first apartment in New York.” And after Al Roker revealed he and Williams “spooned” in a tent
while covering the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, Williams admitted, “It was worse than ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles.'”
“I love you. I love you,” said Williams gesturing to Hoda, Kathie Lee and Willie.
The sales pitch included Lester Holt reporting a day-in-the-life of NBC News and MSNBC. The day happened to be Super Tuesday. But, in an effort to show-off NBC’s global resources there were the other stories covered that day from Israel, Afghanistan, Japan and Indiana, where a series of deadly Tornadoes had struck a few days before.
David Gregory moderated a “Meet the Press”-like panel with Chris Matthews, Chuck Todd, Savannah Guthrie and Rachel Maddow discussing the 2012 presidential campaign. Matthews made this observation about the political life of Newt Gingrich: “He’s like Freddy Kruger. He just keeps coming back.”
At the luncheon, NBC News and MSNBC anchors and correspondents including Natalie Morales and Alex Witt (below), Ann Curry, Harry Smith, Kate Snow, Amy Robach, Andrea Mitchell, Chris Jansing, Jeff Rossen and contributor Chelsea Clinton.