Just when you thought the Matt Lauer sexual misconduct ordeal was over and done, there is a new twist, and it involves celebrity chef Giada de Laurentiis.
Rumors had abounded in recent years that Lauer and de Laurentiis had a romantic relationship, but both claimed they were just good friends. Those rumors continued even while Giada made appearances on Lauer’s Today Show.
Now that Lauer has been humiliated and fired from NBC over allegations of sexual misconduct, reports say the network is clearing out any Lauer friends and allies from the show. That includes de Laurentiis.
According to the New York Post, NBC is getting rid of everyone who is close with Lauer, putting the celebrity chef on the chopping block.
The Food Network star has long been pals with the now-disgraced former “Today” anchor, and the two were spotted in 2011 spending time together on a beach in Barbados. In 2013, they had dinner together in New York City. Their friendship has caused speculation they were an item, but they have denied their relationship was more than a friendship.
The Post reports “Today” wants to cut ties with De Laurentiis now that Lauer has been fired, part of a purge of Lauer favorites following the firing of the powerful anchor for alleged inappropriate sexual conduct.
“Matt always had the final say on show experts, but now they want new blood. They want more diversity,” a source told the newspaper.
But a rep for De Laurentiis insisted there was no truth to that claim. Still, the rep admitted the star doesn’t have any confirmed upcoming appearances on the morning show.
“Giada will still be making her appearances on ‘Today’ and we are currently working on her schedule to confirm,” the rep told The Post, which pointed out that De Laurentiis had not been on “Today” for some time.
NBC is clearly trying to rid the “Today” show of any last remnants of Lauer. On Tuesday, the same day Ann Curry claimed there was a culture of harassment at “Today,” the show attempted to quietly announce the departure of longtime Executive Producer Don Nash.
A memo sent to staff stated Nash had chosen to step down to spend more time with his family. However, a Florida NBC affiliate reported that the internal memo was “met with skepticism inside and outside NBC, given the network’s firing of ‘Today’ co-host Matt Lauer last November.”
Nash will be replaced by Libbie Leist, a career NBC producer who “Today” expert and CNN media reporter Brian Stelter described as a “close friend” of “Today” co-host Savannah Guthrie.
Untouched in the shakeup are NBC News’ two top executives, Andy Lack and Noah Oppenheim, who have been fending off calls for an independent investigation to look into their ties to Lauer and whether they looked away from or encouraged sexual harassment at NBC News. Both executives were close with Lauer, with Vanity Fair reporting that Lauer and Lack had even vacationed together. For his part, Oppenheim – who moonlights as a Hollywood screenwriter — has had managerial roles at “Today” for years and insiders say he gave no attention to the show’s internal culture.