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For Tuesday’s White House program, “Today” required 13 cameras and a technical and production crew of almost 80 people.
Securing access took months, said Guthrie, who worked contacts from her days covering the White House to help make the broadcast happen.
ABC’s “Good Morning America” remains the nation’s most-watched morning program – a position it swiped from “Today” in 2012 amid viewer backlash over the ouster of then-host Ann Curry – but “Today” has beat “GMA” steadily among people between 25 and 54, the audience most desired by advertisers.
“Today” producers and anchors have kept relatively mum on the show’s progress since the summer of 2014, when they told the show, at the time well behind “GMA,” had reworked itself and was gearing up for new battle.
“We are far from claiming victory,” said Noah Oppenheim, the NBC News senior vice president in charge of the program.
“We are just putting on the best show we can and hoping to give the audience an informative and interesting program.” Maintaining the current status – or building on it – will require a lot of work, much of it behind the scenes.
When “Today” opens on most mornings, it is with the duo of Lauer and Guthrie, rather than the entire ensemble, which had become the standard opening in recent years – a conceit widely seen as an effort to emulate the look of “GMA.” Now, “Today” can get right down to business.
Producers soon cut to scenes from a taped interview between Lauer and the nation’s Commander-in-Chief.
“It’s what we try to do every day,” said Lauer, holding forth from a Washington, D.
Originally, the show had not planned on being at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on the morning of the State of the Union, she said, but she’s glad it worked out that way.
“It added real urgency and momentousness to the day,” she added.