Kotb was named co-anchor of the NBC franchise, making for its first-ever all-female-fronted lineup. NBC sources say Kotb landed a $7 million-a-year deal — the same as co-host Savannah Guthrie. Lauer, of course, was getting $25 million a year until he was fired in November for alleged “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
One show insider said, “Hoda isn’t complaining about the money. She has landed the big job she always dreamed of, and most definitely deserves. Plus, Matt’s salary reflected the long time he was on the show — 25 years. If things go well, Hoda could ask for more next time if she re-ups her contract. But the figures underline the huge wage disparity at NBC News.”
A “Today” rep said the organization doesn’t comment on talent contracts. But Megyn Kelly still remains on a monster deal — as high as $20 million a year just for hosting the 9 a.m. hour. Kelly awkwardly congratulated Kotb on Tuesday, ominously referring to “a dark period” Kotb had 10 years ago, without explaining that it was due to a cancer battle.
Plus, Kotb will continue to do the heavy lifting for “Today” as she carries on hosting with Kathie Lee Gifford at 10 a.m. Kotb gets up around 4 a.m. to host “Today” from 7 to 9 a.m., then records updates for the West Coast and other video before going back on the air.
We’re told that if Kotb — whose new contract currently keeps her hosting with Gifford — does decide to leave the 10 a.m. show, Gifford wants one of her friends to join her for her morning pinot grigio, such as Marlo Thomas or Kris Jenner.
Meanwhile, fans collectively choked on their açai bowls when Kotb said she’d gotten a “sweet” text message from Lauer. She said, “He was sweet this morning . . . he said some nice words.” (Remember the time Lauer said Ann Curry had the “biggest heart in the business,” then gave her the “Godfather, Part II” kiss-off?)