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NBC to Matt Lauer: Can’t Live With Ya, Can’t Live Without Ya

Matt Lauer: We are the champions... till the end.

Matt Lauer: We are the champions… till the end.

Matt Lauer and NBC are in a death waltz. With the “Today Show” in tatters and Matt the fall guy for Ann Curry’s botched departure, it seems like he ought to go. But NBC can’t let him. Then who does it have? Willie Geist? More like Willie Yikes!!!

Instead, the network is doing everything it can to resuscitate Matt’s comatose reputation, hoping their Frankenstein will stop shedding his putrid skin, at least long enough to right the ship.

As it is now, NBC’s sterling morning franchise is down at the bow and sinking like the Titanic, slowly and with great astonishment to everyone at NBC who foolishly thought it was unsinkable. Ann Curry was one big iceberg. But enough with the cheesy metaphors. Back to Matt.

Here’s the play in three acts.

Act I: NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke falls on his sword (faking it, of course!)

He turns to someone who is unlikely to push back too hard, namely Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast and spills the beans on what REALLY happened.

Steve Burke: He even looks like a weasel.

Steve Burke: He even looks like a weasel.

Hey, Matt didn’t push out Ann, even though that’s what everyone believes, including Curry and jovial weatherman Al Roker, who has been sulking ever since.

According to Burke, Matt was mad about it. Matt even slammed NBC, privately. In fact, he also offered to resign. What? Even though he was “unfairly” blamed?

Yes, because Matt’s that kind of guy. Burke said Matt told him he was ready “to get out of the way” if he thought it would stop the ratings hemorrhage.

A real hero lurks beneath the tabloid slime showered on Matt. It’s just too bad he didn’t let at least a little anger escape from the pursed smile on his lips when Ann got the shaft.

Sun Tzu: Taking his ancient advice.

Sun Tzu: Taking his ancient advice.

Act II: The Death Spiral begins. Unbelievably, Burke had the chance to cut his losses early. It would have been messy, but over quickly. Is this guy really in television? Doesn’t he know viewers have like a ten-second attention span, max? In the end, though, he balked.

Sure Matt has been the franchise since Katie left, but much more was at stake.

Lauer’s departure would be a clear signal NBC brass had royally fu*ked up. And, Burke couldn’t have that. (OMG, what about his job?) That left only one alternative; a death embrace; clutch him tightly and pray he can spin his way out of this. That’s why they call it a death spiral.

So what now? Ah yes, in times of doubt, any suit worthy of a seven-figure salary (not including bonus, stock options and retirement allowance) turns to Sun Tzu and the ancient “Art of War.” It’s on every executive suite bookshelf.

What does the venerable philosopher advise? “The hand which strikes, also blocks.” Or, as John Madden would say: “The best defense is a fu*cking good offense.”

Move over Broadway Joe, Matt is here!

Move over Broadway Joe, Matt is here!

Act III: Matt strikes back. Sure things are a mess at NBC. “Today” has become a punching bag for ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Damn, ABC’s got Katie, too.

But hey! “In some ways being No. 2 in the ratings is a real shot in the arm, a kick in the pants,” Lauer tells Kurtz. “It makes you hungrier… I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a fire lit under your ass.”

That’s right, Matt’s the underdog now! It’s the ’69 Mets all over again. Matt’s Tommie Agee, just waiting to make the big catch. Two catches! It’s the 1968 Super Bowl. Matt’s just like Joe Namath, waving his index finger in the air like a damn fool.

Hell, yes there’s a fire under his ass. Bring it on! Go Matt! Ann Curry is history! Savannah Guthrie is hot! And best of all it wasn’t your fault! Despite the months of forced banter, endless fidgeting and long vacant stares on the couch, Ann was family! Your family!

Don’t let anyone take that from you, got it? At least not without an eight-figure severance and a cushy afternoon talk show. That’s right, head-to-head with Katie. Then, get ready for the sequel… revenge!

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