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The Untold Drama Behind 8 Morning TV Shows

kelly-ripa-vs-regis-philbin
Kelly Ripa’s alleged feud with Michael Strahan may seem like a very big deal, but it’s just one of many scandals that have plagued morning television over the last few decades. In fact, numerous TV personalities have fared far worse over the years. From backstabbing memos to on-air fights, here are the very worst


Kelly Ripa vs. Michael Strahan

In April 2016, Michael Strahan shocked audiences when he announced he was leaving Live! with Kelly and Michael to join Good Morning America in the fall. Apparently, no one was more shocked by this than Strahan’s co-host, Kelly Ripa, who was reportedly received the news just as the press release was being sent out by Disney, according to TMZ. Amid a sea of rumors about the fate of Live!’s future, Ripa failed to show up to work the next day, leaving Strahan to address his high-profile exit on his own. After a few days of radio silence, People reported that Ripa had informed her staff via email that she would return to work the following Tuesday. TMZ followed up with a report that Ripa’s return to Live! came only after “tough talks” with Disney.

Ripa addressed the scandal on her first day back in a lengthy speech about respect in the workplace. As more and more rumors hit the Internet about Ripa and Strahan’s tense relationship, Disney announced shortly after Ripa’s return that Strahan would be leaving the show on May 13, 2016, four months earlier than planned. That could be a sign that Disney was trying to play nice with Ripa, who has co-hosted the show for 15 years. Ripa seemingly confirmed things were not cool between her and Strahan in a number of jaw-dropping on-air gags directed at Strahan, including one about his divorce.

kelly-ripa-vs-regis-philbin Kelly Ripa vs. Regis Philbin

Ripa’s anger over Strahan’s exit may have been partially fueled by a case of “deja vu.” According to TMZ, Ripa’s former co-host, Regis Philbin, pulled a similar stunt by telling Ripa he was retiring just 15 minutes before he made the announcement on air. At the time, Ripa was reportedly “blindsided” by the news, the same word used to describe her reaction to Strahan’s departure. However, in that case, sources told TMZ Ripa wasn’t actually angry.

Incidentally, Philbin came to Ripa’s defense during the Strahan debacle, telling TMZ, “They should have told her in the beginning!”

Matt Lauer vs. Ann Curry

On June 28, 2012, Ann Curry bid a tearful goodbye to the Today show after co-anchoring the morning news program for barely a year. Curry’s awkward on-camera exit capped off a disastrous year of behind-the-scenes drama at Today, all of which was captured in a shocking 2013 cover story by New York Magazine. The piece seemingly put some of the blame for Curry’s demise on her co-anchor, Matt Lauer, who reportedly did not like Curry and failed to protect her during his own contract renegotiations. Their tense relationship played out disastrously on camera, both during Curry’s farewell speech and when the two reunited for a segment at the Olympic Games in London.

Whether directly related to the scandal or not, the Today show’s ratings quickly began to erode, and by August 2012, Today’s rival, Good Morning America, topped NBC’s juggernaut morning program in the ratings for the first time in about 17 years, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Today has been playing catch-up ever since.

josh-elliotts-big-risk-misfires Josh Elliott’s big risk misfires

Josh Elliott became a rising star in 2012 as Good Morning America quickly overtook Today in the ratings. But within two years, he was out at ABC after what The Hollywood Reporter describes as a “messy” exit. According to the report, Elliott was demanding $10 million annually to stay at GMA; ABC offered $5 million. Meanwhile, Page Six reported that Elliott immediately wanted George Stephanopoulos’ job as co-lead anchor.

Elliott’s demands were dismissed. Amid the drama, it was announced he’d be leaving ABC to join NBC Sports, where he lasted less than two years. Sources for Page Six claim Elliott and NBC mutually agreed to part ways after the network couldn’t find a proper role for him. “He’s being paid $5 million a year to do basically nothing,” the source said.

In March 2016, Page Six reported that Elliott would become lead anchor for CBSN, CBS News’ digital streaming news network, which is either a huge promotion or a crazy demotion, depending on which side of the technology debate you’re on.

nbc-fires-controversial-today-show-producerNBC fires controversial Today show producer

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse at Today, word got out in November 2014 that newly hired producer Jamie Horowitz had been fired after just 78 days on the job. Horowitz’s termination was reportedly based around his intention to overhaul the show’s personality lineup. The exact details of his plan conflict based on various reports. The Wrap said Horowitz wanted to fire Savannah Guthrie, Natalie Morales, and Willie Geist; The Hollywood Reporter said he intended to bring in Josh Elliott, formerly at Good Morning America, bump Hoda Kotb to an earlier hour and, believe it or not, remove Al Roker from his weather reporting. Whatever the case, Horowitz’s behind-the-scenes orchestrating didn’t fly with Today show staffers or the network. CNN later reported that Guthrie, Morales, Matt Lauer, and others “banded together” against Horowitz, who was reportedly hired to fix Today’s flailing ratings. He has since been hired by Fox Sports, according to Variety.


Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck go to war over Iraq

An entire article could be dedicated to the many on-air and behind-the-scenes controversies on The View, but of all the headaches, none will ever top the epic on-air fight between Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck on May 23, 2007. The debate, over U.S. military involvement in Iraq, grew so heated that O’Donnell quit the show after that episode aired. Less than a year later, O’Donnell told People magazine that she and Hasselbeck had buried the hatchet, but in 2014, Hasselbeck exhumed the beef via an Instagram post, sharing the old clip of O’Donnell’s comments and noting that she still considered them indefensible.

bryant-gumbel-vs-willard-scott
Bryant Gumbel vs. Willard Scott

In 1989, a scathing memo written by Today anchor Bryant Gumbel to executive producer Marty Ryan that criticized much of the show’s on-air talent leaked to the press, putting the program at the center of a media firestorm. The press paid special attention to Gumbel’s comments about weatherman Willard Scott. “[Scott is holding] the show hostage to his assortment of whims, wishes, birthdays and bad taste,” Gumbel wrote (via The Los Angeles Times), later adding: “He can’t leave this job and couldn’t get a better one.”

The memo reportedly caused a riff between Gumbel and Scott behind the scenes, which Scott confirmed in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It was horrible,” Scott said of the feud in 1989. “I didn’t go out for a couple of months. I didn’t go to church. I didn’t mingle in crowds. I got sick of hearing, ‘How’s Bryant?’ It really was driving me crazy. I’m sure it drove him crazy, too. Unfortunately, he was the one who started it.”

Scott semiretired in 1996. He continued to announce birthday wishes on Today up until his official retirement in 2015. Gumbel left in 1997.


Jane Pauley vs. Deborah Norville

Months after Gumbel’s memo leaked, the Today show battled more bad press amid rumors that the show’s anchor of 13 years, Jane Pauley, was about to be ousted by the younger, blonder Deborah Norville. According to People, the rumors started in September of 1989, after Norville replaced news anchor John Palmer and began sitting at the main desk alongside Pauley and Gumbel. Months later, Pauley confirmed she was, in fact, leaving after 13 years on the show. Her final morning on Today was a tearful broadcast on Dec. 23, 1989.

Plagued by tabloid scandals and unpopularity over Pauley’s ousting, Norville left Today in April 1991 after just 14 months on the job. She was replaced by Katie Couric. Incidentally, both Pauley and Norville went on to bigger and even more lucrative careers as the hosts of Dateline and Inside Edition, respectively.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Celebrity is a tough business all around, and the pressures of fame and wealth can be too much for some actors to handle. While these are problems that most people would envy, these actors might beg to differ. Here are ten actors who nearly ruined their careers.

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