By Sally Garcia, EnStarz | Sep 29, 2012 02:56 PM EDT
"Today" show executive producer Jim Bell may have been pressured by Matt Lauer to speak in his defense against the backlash after Ann Curry was fired from the show.
Bell admitted that the transition from Curry to Savannah Guthrie hasn't been as the "Today" show hoped, however, he said, "Matt really should not bear any of the blame for that. I'm the executive producer of the show. He's not. He's the public face of the show, so he's taken some of this. But it has been wrong," according to an interview with the Hollywood Reporter Wednesday.
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According to the New York Post, Bell reached out to the media because "Matt wanted him to do it. Matt was sick of being the punching bag," a source told the paper.
"Matt feels that Jim didn't take accountability for all the ratings drama at 'Today.' [Jim] was away at the Olympics, getting all the glory," a source told the post on Wednesday. "So Lauer forced Jim to stand in the firing line. Matt wanted Jim to take responsibility."
Bell also set the record straight about reports that Lauer has become an "anchor animal."
"Some of the stories that have just been wrong and silly about Matt being the anchor monster, that stuff is just laughable. I mean, come on. He's gracious to every single person on the staff, from [NBCUniversal CEO] Steve Burke down to the person who is up at 1 a.m. hanging lights and pulling cable. That's how he is. And he's never changed," he told THR.
While Bell says that there is no word about him leaving the "Today" who, a source in NBC told the New York Post that Bell could be gone within the month.
Good Morning America has earned better ratings than the "Today" show in the last six weeks by up to 883,000 viewers, ending the "Today" 16-year weekly winning streak.
But while Bell admitted that some viewers were turned off by Curry's departure, he is confident about the changes in the cast and said they're trying to "move forward."
We think Savannah is a great host and works well with everybody, and we love, frankly, having Ann in the role that she's in now, " he added in the interview.
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