Natalie Morales on Today Show’s Future: ‘We Don’t Dwell On the Past’

By Brian Flood Comment

Natalie Morales is busy these days. In addition to co-hosting the Today show, her Dateline NBC series My Kid Would Never Do That returns Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. We caught up with the 9-year Today show veteran to discuss the series, the fate of Brian Williams, and, of course, food.

TVNewser: The Today show was dominant for 16 years, now in second place three years, but with new signs of growth. Why do you think the show is making a comeback?

Morales: With enterprising content like My Kid Wound Never Do That or powerful interviews like Tracy Morgan and former Biden Chief of Staff, Ron Klain… With investigative pieces like Jeff Rossen‘s Pink Tax series… With our commitment to helping our viewers get back to their goals with the “Start Today” series… With Matt’s Red Nose bike ride (I can go on and on). These are all recent examples of the strength of the Today show, most from just this week. I think viewers see a team reinvigorated and interested in telling them good stories that we hope they are as passionate about as we are. Simply put, we love what we do and who we work with, and I think it shows.

TVNewser: Now that the mess that occurred with Jamie Horowitz hiring fiasco is behind you, has it helped you guys come together as a team?

Morales: We are all focused on the here and now and on the show’s future, and we don’t dwell on the past. We are a strong team and very upbeat about the positive trajectory and growth we are seeing.

TVNewser: The news division, as a whole, has been waiting on the Brian Williams decision. Is that something that you discuss with your Today colleagues?

Morales: Again, we are all focused on the Today show in the here and now.

TVNewser: For people who aren’t familiar, how does the Gracie Award-winning My Kid Would Never Do That work?

Morales: How this works is we allow parents to see how their kids do in very real-life tricky situations. We constantly preach to our kids. But are the important lessons really hitting home? We took our hidden cameras to different parts of the country, and with an airstream “watch mobile,” parents could see how their kids reacted in situations involving stranger danger, party safety and sex, gun safety and cyberbullying. This time we tested older kids (tweens and teens) because they are the ones who are most vulnerable to these situations.

TVNewser: It was a big hit the first time around. Why do you think people are so into watching kids confronted with critical decisions?

Morales: This series is such an eye-opener and great conversation starter for parents. We have heard time and again from teachers, educators and parents all over that they use our series to educate and talk to their kids. So we felt the timing was right to do more. And with so many news headlines involving sexual assault and cyberbullying, we have raised the stakes hoping these lessons really drive home with older kids. I believe in the message of the series so much as a parent of 2 boys that I re-tested my 11-year-old Josh on stranger danger again.

TVNewser: This season kicks off in Hoboken, where you and I both happen to live, with a segment on “Stranger Danger.” What would you advise your kids to do if I offered them a ride and said, “Don’t worry, I interviewed your mommy?”

Morales: The advice any parent should give is to tell your kids to never ride home with anyone else unless they call you and get the OK, or you explicitly tell them you’ve arranged the ride beforehand. So my kids would know by now to not accept a ride even with a good friend of mine, unless they call me or I tell them my friend is picking them up beforehand. Also, a big piece of advice here for parents: No adult should ever be asking a kid for help – for anything! So I tell my kids never fall for that.

TVNewser: If you ever get a chance for a date night with the hubby, what is your favorite restaurant? And what do you typically order there?

Morales: In NYC, Babbo or Del Posto are our all-time favorites, and any pasta dish. In Hoboken, we love Bin 14 (good wine and tapas-type food), and La Isla, and Zafra for some good Latin dishes.

What I love about Hoboken is the variety. For a city that is only a mile square we have as much diversity of restaurants as NY. But I’m really into the gourmet trucks right now over at the PierGarden. It’s such a fun summertime activity to take the kids and dog over, have a beer and some yummy food with the city view glowing right in front of you.