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Where in the world is Matt Lauer?

It's a question The Today Show has asked for years, but the answer this week has created even more controversy around NBC.

TMZ has learned that Lauer is on vacation with his family in Vail, a seemingly innocuous luxury, except for two facts:

Matt Lauer Today Pic
  1. It is February Sweeps, the television period where ratings truly translate into advertising dollars.
  2. With Robin Roberts returning yesterday to Good Morning America, you would think Today would want its lead anchor in place to go up against such stiff competition.

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Al Roker pooped his pants at the White House not long after undergoing gastric bypass surgery.

Talk about an easy set-up for a comedian, as Handler teed off on the subject during a recent episode of her E! News talk show, Chelsea Lately.

Chelsea Handler Image

“This isn’t the first time a Today show cast member was in the news about this sensitive subject," Handler told her audience. "For years it was common knowledge that Matt Lauer spent every morning sh-tting all over Ann Curry.”

Oooh, zing! Funny, right? Considering Lauer's rumored role in the Ann Curry firing?

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Largely blamed for Ann Curry's firing, Matt Lauer is reportedly trying to make it up to his former Today Show co-anchor.

According to Radar Online sources, the reporter is pushing NBC to grant Curry's wish and allow her to leave for CNN, where she's been offered a primetime hosting gig.

Matt Lauer and Anne Hathaway

“Matt thinks that NBC should let Ann out of her contract so that she can take the CNN gig,” an insider tells Radar. “He can’t imagine why the bosses are dragging their feet and are at a stalemate.

"It would allow Ann to get back on the air on a regular basis and everyone can move on from the debacle. Matt only wishes Ann the best and thinks it’s for the best if she were to take a job at another network.”

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Goodbye, Matt Lauer? Hello, Willie Geist?

With Today Show ratings remaining stagnant, insiders tell Radar Online that Lauer's job as main host of the morning program is in jeopardy, especially because producers already have a replacement lined up.

Willie Geist Picture

"[Willie Geist] is absolutely being groomed to become Matt Lauer's replacement if the ratings don't improve," the source alleges. "Willie has been filling in for Matt while he has been on vacation during the holidays and has been doing an phenomenal job."

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Count Matt Lauer among those who cannot wait to see the calendar flip to 2013.

Over the past few months, Lauer has been blamed for both the ousting of Ann Curry and The Today Show's floundering ratings.

Sources even say we may see Matt Lauer fired soon if more viewers don't tune in to NBC on weekday mornings.

Lauer, Matt

With this pressure hanging over him, network insiders tell TMZ Lauer is "miserable" and is facing constant taunting on the streets, as Today fans refer to him as a "bad guy" and throw Curry's poorly handled departure in his face.

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Matt Lauer Fired!

According to a new report, the odds of seeing that headline are increasing by the day.

Sources tell Radar Online that new Today Show producer Alexandra Wallace has made it very clear: Lauer will be a goner if program ratings do not improve.

Matt Lauer Today Show Photo

The Today Show has always been considered a cash cow for the network," says this insider. "It dominated the morning news ratings for years and brought in millions of dollars in ad revenue.

“But if viewers continue preferring Good Morning America over The Today Show that revenue will decrease and cuts will have to be made."

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NBC News President Steve Capus has come to the defense of Matt Lauer.

With rumors continuing to swirl - Will Matt Lauer Fired soon be a headline? - and this anchor receiving much of the blame for The Today Show's slide in the ratings, Capus has come out and directed his anger at the Twitterverse.

Sad Matt Lauer

"Sadly, this is the era in which we live," he tells The Daily Beast. "Venomous tweets somehow threaten to drown out all of those who praised Matt for his coverage.

“The Twitter snarkiness is an unfortunate result of misdirected anger that’s been unfairly placed on Matt. There has also been a lot of mean-spirited piling-on, which has been manufactured by many anonymous sources.”

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Has the axe come down on Matt Lauer?

According to The National Enquirer, the veteran Today Show host will soon be fired from the morning program, partly due to its floundering ratings and partly due to his relationships off camera.

Matt Lauer, Scarf

"Matt is finally getting what he deserves," says the insider. “His years-long feuds with former co-hosts Katie Couric, Meredith Vieira and Ann Curry have taken their toll. Everyone has turned against him and Matt is going to be is going to be ousted."

The Ann Curry firing remains a polarizing issue for Today viewers and producers, with everyone agreeing it was handled poorly and many stating Lauer was responsible for the move.

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With ratings still down and The Today Show still trailing Good Morning America, a former executive at NBC has a solution for this long-running daily program:

Fire Matt Lauer.

Matt Lauer Blows a Kiss

“This problem is not going to go away until Matt Lauer does,” the anonymous insider tells The New York Daily News. “He’s great, but fairly or unfairly, his brand is damaged.”

This isn't the first time such an idea has been floated, with many viewers clamoring for Lestor Holt to replace the veteran anchor.

Alexandra Wallace, meanwhile, has come on board as the new producer at Today, taking over for Jim Bell, who was behind the Ann Curry firing.

But is Lauer really the problem? Do you think he should be fired?


Matt Lauer Biography

Tom Cruise, Matt Lauer Matt Lauer is the handsomest face on the Today show. The ladies love him. What a sexy beast. More »
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