Movie Based on Brian Stelter’s Morning Show Book Shelved

By A.J. Katz 

It appears the sun has set on a potential Lifetime movie based on Brian Stelter‘s 2013 book Top of the Morning, which focuses on the heated battle between NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America during a tumultuous time in 2012.

In 2013, Lifetime announced its intention to develop a TV movie based on the book which takes readers behind the scenes as NBC’s Today show suffered ratings declines and the ouster of then co-anchor Ann Curry, the ascendance of Good Morning America and, briefly, the launch of CBS This Morning.

Reports Variety’s Brian Steinberg, “Lifetime, part of A+E Networks, a joint venture of Disney and Hearst, let its option on the project lapse several months ago, according to three people familiar with the situation. Indeed, said one of these people, the project has been out of development for about a year.”

Steinberg also got a look at a 2014 draft of the script:

The cast of characters includes Jeff Zucker, the one-time NBCUniversal CEO who now runs CNN; Steve Capus, the former NBC News president who is now a senior executive at CBS News; and Jim Bell, the former Today executive producer who now guides NBCU’s Olympics coverage. Katie Couric is spotted watching Curry’s Today farewell from her kitchen. Bryant Gumbel plays a round of golf with Lauer. Ben Sherwood, the Disney/ABC TV Group president who supervised ABC News when Good Morning America surged past Today in the ratings, makes a brief appearance, as does the on-air GMA staff. Megan Kopf Stackhouse, Today’s veteran publicist, gets several lines.

The morning show landscape has shifted since the book came out. The Today show regained its top spot where it counts, in the A25-54 demo, while GMA still draws the most viewers. CBS This Morning, while still in third place, is the only program to see consistent growth. In a Media Beat interview in the Spring of 2013, when the book was released, Stelter told us about the access he got for the book, and when some of that access stopped: