Matt Lauer knows ... the first morning show to interview Ray Rice WINS -- and that's why the "Today" show ... and everyone else in morning TV is officially in on the chase to lock down the NFL star.
Matt played coy when we asked if he had already reached out to Rice -- but the answer was written all over his face.
He also explained, "Ray Rice has a story to tell that he wants to get out there." It's clear, Lauer wants to be the one to help him tell that story.
"I think anybody who does what I do for a living would wanna sit down with either of them [Ray and Roger Goodell] and Janay as well."
Ray has texted back and forth with some ESPN reporters over the past few days -- but it's unclear if he's committed to an on-camera interview ... yet.
Flood Watch for Savannah's Uterus
7/16/2014 12:02 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
'Crashes' 'Today' Show
6/17/2014 6:15 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Dave Chappelle was banging on the window at the "Today" show this morning -- but the stunt was just as transparent as the glass.
Matt Lauer feigned surprise when he just happened to notice the comedian hyping his show from outside.
Lauer took a break so he could walk outside and interview Chappelle about his upcoming shows at Radio City Music Hall ... and it was just plain weird. Lauer happened to know the first 5 shows sold out immediately, so Dave is there trying to sell tickets to 4 additional shows.
The way to sell ... be funny. And it really wasn't.
Maybe Dave isn't a morning guy.
6/13/2014 5:21 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Matt Lauer places silver in the morning show ratings, but he's gold at NBC ... because the network has just re-signed him for multiple years.
Lauer has been through a rough few years, playing the role of scapegoat for NBC's botched firing of Ann Curry. And the show slipped from ratings dominance.
But the criticism has subsided and the show's rating have gone up some ... so NBC just re-signed Lauer with just a few months to go before his contract expired.
Lauer was earning around $30 million in his last contract, and it's a safe bet he got a raise.
This could be an interesting summer for the show. Savannah Guthrie is on maternity leave, and the plan was for Katie Couric to temporarily re-team with Matt.
Another good lesson ... you can never take a snapshot of someone in troubled times and assume things won't get better.
NBC Mulling over
Return to 'Today'
5/5/2014 4:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Execs at "Today" are talking about filling a pregnant pause -- with Katie Couric ... TMZ has confirmed.
Co-host Savannah Guthrie is 5 months pregnant and headed for maternity leave ... we're told NBC honchos are seriously considering bringing Katie back while Savannah is on maternity leave.
The reasons -- Katie is still hugely identified with the "Today" brand, she gets along great with Matt Lauer and she's friends with Savannah.
The NY Post reported and we've confirmed ... it's just in the talking stages, but we're hearing it's being seriously considered.
As for Katie, sources say her exclusive deal with ABC is up mid-summer, so the timing would work out.
One final thing ... the execs are saying Katie makes sense because she's not a "threat" to Savannah. Hmmmm.
The 2 Chicks Held Hostage in Ohio Should Lighten Up
4/23/2014 2:54 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Joan Rivers is scoffing at the 2 women who were held hostage in a Cleveland, Ohio basement ... telling TMZ they shouldn't complain -- "They got to live rent free for more than a decade."
The women are pissed at Joan's comments on the "Today" show this week ... when she talked about her daughter's guest room, saying "Those women in the basement in Cleveland had more space."
The women -- Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus -- came out swinging, saying they were shocked and disappointed at the "hurtful" comment.
Joan tells us she WON'T apologize, telling them to lighten up, adding, "One of them has a book deal. Neither are in a psych ward. They're ok. I bet you within 3 years one of them will be on Dancing with the Stars."
And Joan says, plenty of comedians have done schtick about tragic events like Hitler's terror and the sinking of the Titanic. Joan says, "The TV the guy gave them must not have had SNL."
I Wanted Out of "GMA" So Bad
I Took a Pay Cut!
4/1/2014 6:54 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Josh Elliott was so disgusted with ABC ... he took a pay cut of more than a million dollars ... multiple sources connected with both ABC and NBC tell TMZ.
Our sources say ABC offered Josh between $4 and $5 million to stay, but he chose NBC despite the fact that they offered him just over $3 million.
We're told Josh was at the point of no return when Robin Roberts signed a $14 million a year contract to anchor GMA. He felt slighted by the ABC offer and just wanted out.
Sources say the feeling is mutual. As one source put it, "He's definitely an abrasive guy." Another source says, "People hated him. He was always just rude."
And get this ... we're told just weeks ago Sr. VP of ABC News James Goldston confronted Amy Robach -- Josh's replacement on GMA -- and called her "toxic" because she created tension on the set. Indeed, we're told Amy and Lara Spencer "hate" each other and can't hide their contempt.
Another source says Robin Roberts hasn't helped matters -- one person saying she acts like a "diva" on the set.
As for Josh's future ... our network sources say NBC did NOT promise Josh any role on "Today," but we're told there's no doubt he's got to the top of the heap as the likely successor to Matt Lauer.
Morning TV ... it's just like grade school, only all the students are really rich.
'Today' Show Stunt
Al Roker Faux Filthy Rant on Billy Bush
3/21/2014 10:15 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
The "Today" show has an interesting new strategy for regaining its king-of-the-morning title ... do a phony, f***-laced meltdown with Al Roker ... but the show needs some pointers ... which TMZ will gladly offer.
We just got this video of Al going off on Billy Bush, who was interviewing Johnny Weir during the Sochi Olympics. The clip has a whispery set-up, where Al seems to be schooling Billy who just doesn't know his place on the broadcasting food chain.
And then Al rants ... and it's dirty. And NBC clearly wanted us and everyone else to run it ... which we will gladly do.
Advice to NBC: Lose the crew from the shot. The camera guy can barely focus he's laughing so hard. Also, use a lavalier mic (clip-on), rather than a boom. The boom is in Al's face so there's no way anyone would believe it's authentic. And, get Al an acting lesson or 2. The overacting is felonious.
Nonetheless .... it's an interesting new strategy. We'll see if foul-mouth stunts actually work.
NBC Threatens Celebs ...
It's Fallon or the Highway
3/6/2014 8:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
NBC is coming down like a hammer on celebs who want to get on Jimmy Fallon's show ... if they dare do a show on CBS or ABC ... they can forget about "The Tonight Show."
Sources connected to CBS, NBC and ABC tell TMZ ... the Peacock network believes Jimmy Fallon's ratings success gives them extreme bargaining power. They put the word out to celebs, agents and publicists ... if they want to be on Fallon they can't appear on ANY other network ... and not just shows that go head-to-head with Jimmy, but morning shows as well.
We're told NBC is saying the stars who go on Fallon are also allowed to appear on "Today," "Dateline" and any similar shows they air, but that's it.
A GMA source tells TMZ ... they've already gotten fallout from people they were trying to book.
Fallon is dominating late night .... crushing Jimmy Kimmel by bringing in more than twice the number of viewers.
Hot Mom ...
or HOT MESS?!
From Fox 411: "Pammy is really good about attending her boys' sporting events, but she doesn't exactly fit in with the other soccer moms."
Click through to Fox 411 to see what some Hollywood kids have to deal with on a daily basis!
TBS is Like IBS
2/25/2014 12:40 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Al Roker ... who famously crapped his pants at the White House ... took repeated cheap shots at former pal Conan O'Brien ... saying he misses him on "real TV."
Here's the backstory ... Al used to appear frequently on Conan's show back in the day at NBC, but the 2 apparently had a falling out.
So on the Sirius show "Stand Up" with Pete Dominick, Roker got incredibly holier than thou, saying he thought Conan was on "this web thing." Apparently Al doesn't know the web is kinda the future.
Nonetheless ... he then took a shot at TBS, Dominick mentioned that Al had IBS at the White House, and Al dismissively shot back that TBS and IBS are the same thing.
Al certainly knows crappy TV ... so maybe he's right.
Lawyer Says Mia's Just
A Bitter Bitch
2/4/2014 6:02 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Mia Farrow is a bitter woman living in the past, brainwashing her children, and propagating outrageous lies just to hurt her wildly successful and acclaimed ex ... so claims Woody Allen's lawyer.
Attorney Elkan Abramowitz did Allen's bidding on the "Today" show Tuesday ... claiming Mia went on the warpath because she couldn't handle the fact that his client got a Golden Globe Lifetime Achievement Award.
As you know ... Woody's adopted daughter Dylan claims he molested her when she was 7 and she got real specific over the weekend ... claiming, among other things, he shoved his face in her naked crotch.
To believe Abramowitz you also have to believe that Mia has brainwashed both Dylan and Woody's biological son, Ronan Farrow.
Kate Put Our Kids in 'Horrible' Situation
1/16/2014 12:10 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Jon Gosselin says he felt TERRIBLE for his daughters for having to appear on the "Today" show with Kate this morning ... telling TMZ the whole thing was "horrible" to watch.
Gosselin appeared on "TMZ Live" moments ago and said Kate's humiliating meltdown on live TV this morning shows exactly why the kids shouldn't be forced to participate in a lengthy publicity tour with their mother.
"I’m going to handle this as a family matter," Jon said ... adding, "I don’t want to affect the children anymore."
My Problem Isn't Drugs & Booze
... It's Food!
11/19/2013 8:30 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Toronto's crack smokin' Mayor Rob Ford says he doesn't need help with booze and drugs ... Ford instead says he really needs to come to terms with his enormous appetite.
Ford was on the 'Today' show and told Matt Lauer he's not in any kind of treatment program for alcohol or for drugs ... but claims he's training every day to drop some lbs.
Ford -- who just got stripped of most of his mayoral duties -- admitted he smoked crack cocaine ... "probably in one of my drunken stupors" ... after video leaked showing him smoking.
But you gotta hear Ford explain why citizens of Toronto have nothing to fear when he's on a binge ... because GOOD FORTUNE is on his side.
Feelin' lucky, Canada?