Bryant Gumbel, Jane Pauley return to ‘Today’
Many of the “Today” show’s core anchors were off for the holidays Monday, so NBC called in two veterans to join Matt Lauer on his birthday. Former “Today” anchors Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley returned for a one-day-only tour of duty in an effort to help viewers recall the days when “Today” was the top-rated morning show.
Pauley left the show in 1989; Gumbel departed in 1997. As weatherman Al Roker, by remote in California, joked, “I understand Gene Shalit’s standing by to review ‘Back to the Future.’”
Lauer turned 56 on Monday and Gumbel, who currently hosts “Real Sports” on HBO, led the birthday boy through a series of well-wishes from Roker, the vacationing Savannah Guthrie, former co-anchor Meredith Viera and even cake from Pauley’s 30-year-old twins, who have never been seen on “Today” before now.
Notably missing from the well-wishers was Ann Curry, whose teary departure from the show last year was the start of a rough patch for “Today,” which has been surpassed in the ratings by ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Co-host Carson Daly was also on hand to deliver a box of Just for Men from Roker for Lauer to apply to his salt-and-pepper beard.
“Just put it on a small patch of your body to test it,” Roker cautioned.
“Al, you don’t have to worry. I only have hair on a small patch of my body,” Lauer responded.
The last time Gumbel appeared on “Today” was in January 2012 for the show’s 60th anniversary, while Pauley appears monthly with her “Life Reimagined” segments, focusing on older American beginning new careers.
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