SBD/August 2, 2012/Olympics

NBC's "Today" Falling Back On Old Format For Olympic-Themed Episodes



The "Today" hosts said this has been a popular spot for fans' photos
NBC's “Today” has “substantially changed its team” since the '10 Vancouver Games, but its coverage of the London Olympics contains the “same tired mix of fawning interviews and stars-try-the-sports shtick as they avoid anything that comes too uncomfortably close to actual news or controversy,” according to Robert Bianco of USA TODAY. The show is broadcasting three hours live each weekday from London, and viewers have grown “used to the Olympic version of ‘Today' being more E! than ESPN" during the Games. However, it "doesn't seem unreasonable to expect a show produced by the news division to keep up with Olympic news.” U.S. cyclist Kristin Armstrong won her second straight Gold Medal in the time trial event prior to the start of "Today" yesterday, and an “actual news show would attach a spoiler alert and tell us, but ‘Today' cares only about yesterday.” Instead of news, “Today” fills the hours “touring markets, eating British food and talking to (mostly) winners from the day before” (USA TODAY, 8/2). This morning’s episode of “Today” led with co-hosts Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Natalie Morales and Al Roker standing beneath a large set of Olympic rings perched atop a hill in the Olympic Park. Guthrie said, “We have taken a little walk this morning down the road from our set to see these Olympic rings.” Lauer added, “With the brouhaha over the Olympic cauldron located in Olympic Stadium where people can’t get to it or get a view of it to take that iconic photograph, people have been looking for an alternative and this has become the go-to place. We’ve got some Olympic rings up on a hill. There’s a line of people waiting to take photos here. In fact, we stopped by just a moment ago and took a photo of our own.” The photo shows the co-hosts smiling and “jumping for joy,” according to Roker ("Today," NBC, 8/2).

THIS IS "TODAY": In addition to the photo op, the opening hour of "Today" included live interviews with Bronze Medal-winning all-around gymnast DANELL LEYVA and fellow Team USA gymnast JOHN OROZCO and Gold Medal-winning swimmer SHANNON VREELAND, a taped interview with beach volleyball players KERRI WALSH JENNINGS and MISTY MAY-TREANOR. It also featured taped reports on the disqualified badminton players and the taxes Olympians could owe the IRS for their medals and prize money.’s ALAN ABRAHAMSON discussed the success of the U.S. swimmers. The second hour included former Gold Medalists NASTIA LIUKIN, CARLY PATTERSON and MARY LOU RETTON previewing GABBY DOUGLAS and ALY RAISMAN competing in the women’s gymnastics all-around event, a live interview with snowboarder SHAUN WHITE, a taped report on U.S. swimmer NATHAN ADRIAN winning the Gold Medal in the 100-meter freestyle and a taped report on the emotions parents of Olympians face during their children’s competitions. The third hour included live interviews with Gold Medal-winning cyclist KRISTIN ARMSTRONG, Bronze Medal-winning synchronized divers TROY DUMAIS and KRISTIAN IPSEN and gymnastics analysts TIM DAGGETT and ELFI SCHLEGEL (THE DAILY).

THE REAL DEAL ON THE REAL DEAL: In N.Y., Victoria Cavaliere noted Monday's episode of "Today" stopped "random people in front of Buckingham Palace ... to ask about Queen Elizabeth's performance" during the Opening Ceremony. A man in a white baseball cap and blue T-shirt said the Queen was "wonderful." The comment "was strung together with a series of others from passers-by, but it turned out the gracious American tourist" was boxing HOFer Evander Holyfield. The net was "unaware of who they had just interviewed." Holyfield later tweeted, "Look, the @todayshow did a good job. It was hard to recognize me with the baseball cap. This could happen to any reporter. LOL!!" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/1).
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