Back in January, NBC News president Deborah Turness sent out this org chart of her senior leadership team. There was a slot to fill: SVP and GM of the “Today” show. Today, that position is open again.
This morning, insiders tell us Matt Lauer was among those who’d lost faith in his leadership, but that any goodwill Horowitz had earned from Turness and her boss, Pat Fili-Krushel, who both recruited Horowitz from ESPN earlier this year, had run out.
Horowitz had been making the rounds at the show since September. “He’s a really smart guy, and he’s been great at reaching out to us, getting our input, and so far we’re really impressed,” co-host Willie Geist told TVNewser two weeks ago.
It was in those meetings, from top talent, to the production assistants, that a profile began to emerge of an executive who would pit staffers against one another; a game of ‘Survivor,’ the Daily News called it, with people’s livelihoods at stake. “He was creating drama that wasn’t there,” an insider says.
Geist, who knows Horowitz personally, was among those angered by his antics. (Geist’s sister Libby worked with Horowitz at ESPN and is married to his former producing partner Kevin Wildes.)
Despite the best attempts by Disney/ABC president Ben Sherwood to keep him from going to NBC, Horowitz was let out of his ESPN contract last spring. Sherwood and ABC were still reeling from the departures of Sam Champion and Josh Elliott from “Good Morning America.” Both Champion and Elliott have appeared on “Today.” Horowitz’s creativity and leadership were seen as a further threat. Despite all that, “Good Morning America” maintains its No. 1 ranking in the mornings.
With its 16-year winning streak in the rear-view mirror, NBC is moving on from this most recent embarrassing setback. Turness will be working closely with show EP Don Nash and Jen Brown, who oversees Today.com, until that org chart is complete.
“The role of General Manager remains an important one, and will be filled in due course,” Turness says.