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Deborah Turness has only been at the helm of NBC News for five weeks, but the new set of the “Today” show speaks to her vision for the future.
Turness called the new set, which will officially be unveiled Monday, a “physical manifestation of a very clear strategic plan we have for the ‘Today’ show going forward.” She said the strategy is a research-based approach with three guiding principles — substance, uplift and connection — that will push the show forward through “evolution, not revolution.”
The primary color on the new set is orange, which executive producer Don Nash joked was inspired by Savannah Guthrie’s new hair color. In fact, it is designed to represent the sunrise, which “Today” says they will be incorporating into the set via viewer pictures and live feeds from local affiliates.
The revamped Studio 1A features several large high-definition monitors, one of which can be broken apart into six separate panels, to showcase the sunrises and other video. It has a large orange curved couch that can seat at least eight people comfortably, as well as a more intimate interview area for one-on-one interviews. The anchor desk — expected to be delivered and put in place on Sunday — will be on a rotating disk on the floor, like a large lazy Susan, so its backdrop can change throughout the show.
“The turntable thing is great. I’m trying to picture it on a One Direction morning when there’s 18,000 people out there,” Matt Lauer told TVNewser. “Spinning around and seeing [the plaza] is going to invigorate you.”
Adjacent to the anchor desk will be the weather center, which Al Roker was very involved in designing. The touchscreen monitor has a number of interactive features, including the ability to zoom in on specific parts of the weather map and highlight the latest watches and warnings, all with three-dimensional graphics.
The newest element is the Orange Room, which will be manned by Carson Daly. Daly described the room as a digital “welcome mat” for the show’s audience. He will incorporate real-time social media reactions into both “Today” and the rest of NBC News’ platforms.
“If you look at the landscape and where we sit, we are, more than any other morning show, about connecting with our viewers, connecting with our audience, understanding what they want and what they need,” Turness told TVNewser. “The Orange Room is a brilliant tool to enable us to do that more immediately, and to physically, genuinely, really let them into the show.”
Turness said the set is just one part of a push to “reinvigorate and reinforce our commitment to news,” something which news anchor Natalie Morales said is “very much a reflection of what (viewers) want.”
“All around you you see screens and information and tickers. We live in a different world of newsgathering nowadays, where we’re so used to having screens all around us,” she told TVNewser. “I feel like we are stronger than ever … we are making and breaking news on a daily basis.”
For Turness, the new “Today” set is the first project of many she plans to tackle at NBC News.
“Every day is like, my head’s on fire with ideas,” she said.