Matt Lauer’s wife Annette may be the real power behind the throne in determining who will replace Ann Curry on the sofa next to Matt on NBC’s “Today Show.”
Although Matt is considered the franchise–he just signed a new $25 million-a-year contract– his wife has reportedly threatened to divorce him if Natalie Morales is his choice for the TV hot seat.
The injection of sexual politics into the decision-making process has been fueled by rumors that Matt and Natalie had an affair while both were covering the 2006 Olympics in Italy, according to The National Enquirer.
The rumors were convincing enough to prompt Annette to file for divorce, although she later withdrew the petition and reconciled. Both Lauer and Morales denied the rumors. But that hasn’t stopped continued speculation that Matt fathered one of the 40-year-old newscaster’s two children.
Lauer was married to Nancy Aspaugh from 1982 to 1989. He married Annette (nee Roque) in 1998, and they have three children. Annette lives in the couple’s $3.5 million Hamptons house with the kids. Matt’s home on weekends, but lives in the city during the week.
Morales married investment banker Joe Rhodes in 1998.
Ann was ousted last week in a shuffling of the deck following a spate of ratings losses to long-time rival “Good Morning America” on ABC. “The Today Show” had been the ratings leader for 16 straight years.
Savannah Guthrie is reported to be the front-runner to replace Ann, and Morales is reportedly ready to quit if she’s passed over for the job. It would be the second time she was passed over.