Wasn’t sure how I felt about Ann Curry‘s meltdown on national TV as she exited from the Today show this week. I’ve admired her reporting and interview skills for a long time. I also thought she was a wonderful role model for Asian-Americans like myself. She’d climbed the corporate ladder with seeming class and elegance. With quiet humility Ann Curry was able to have it all. No hyper, in-your-face, beauty queen, she was one of us who happened to have a job hosting a morning TV show.
Being front man for the big boys means megabucks are at stake. The catchy ad that flashes across the screens at theaters says it all “GO BIG OR GO HOME.” Looks like Ann Curry wasn’t projecting big enough for the small screen.
When I heard of her ouster from the Today Show, I felt sorry for Curry. However with bigger concerns occurring daily…people out of jobs, homes lost in wildfires, children dying from heat exhaustion, the tremendous growth in petty theft, pedophiles on trial…Curry’s situation paled in comparison.
Hearing that she was receiving millions in a contract buyout didn’t make me overly sympathetic toward Curry either. Just enough since she was a woman, an ethnic sister, who slid from the summit of her career. Lucky for her she’s still working for NBC as a roving journalist. A job she’d had prior to her ascension.
A smack to her ego for sure, but Curry’s lifestyle remains intact. The same can’t be said for millions who are unemployed through no choice of their own.
Forget That ‘Today’ Star–Weep for Today
by Joe Queenan
EVERY YEAR or so Americans get really upset because somebody insanely famous loses their job.
First it was “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien, who whined and whined about getting purged from a job he was unqualified to fill in the first place. People were outraged. People were exorcised. People thought he got a raw deal. In fact, he got a payout of at least $30 million for taking a hike. And then he landed another show on TBS that also paid him millions. A show , like his stint at “Tonight,” that has mostly had crummy ratings. If he loses that one, we’ll never hear the end of it.
But that will have to wait. This week, the nation’s lonely eyes turned toward embattled “Today” talk-show host Ann Curry. Stiff, distant, short on pep and nobody’s idea of fun, Ms. Curry was reportedly being offered $10 million to leave the venerable morning talk show and go back to being a real journalist. Ten million dollars. All in 20s.
On thursday, Ms. Curry stepped down from “Today” (but she will stay on at NBC). Whatever the final financial deal, many people thought it was horribly unfair for her to get the ax. Was it her age (55)? Her gender? Or her performance?
Just try watching her . Forget about paling in comparison to Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira. Based on what I’ve seen, Hillary Clinton has more pizazz than Ann Curry. And a better sense of humor.
Anyway, who cares? The number of unemployed young African-Americans in this country is staggering. The number of unemployed young people in America in general is staggering. In Spain, almost a quarter of the people are out of work, a Depression-era level. And, yes, when last I looked, lots and lots of people in developing countries were still hungry and poor and miserable.
So explain to me why Ann Curry getting the bum’s rush was important news?
Earlier this week, I found out that one of my wife’s young relatives had just lost his job. He has a house. He has a 3-year-old. He has a problem. One of my closest friends was recently forced to retire from his job due to kidney failure. And a weird blood disease. And, oh yes, cancer. The 60-something clerk at the convenience store I frequent, a guy who used to work in finance, is now happy to have a part-time job manning the checkout counter. The 70-something cashier at a local drugstore, a woman who fled Castro’s Cuba in 1959, recently got tossed out into the street.
In April, in the space of 10 days, four people I know were forced into early retirement. They worked in the fields of education, air travel, publishing and journalism. They weren’t needed anymore.
Join the club. A few weeks ago I heard some noise outside my office and found a man in the hallway who used to work for a brokerage firm banging on every single door looking for a job. Any job. Nobody answered; I am the only person in this building whose office is still open for business. The other suites have been vacant for years.
So explain again to me why we’re supposed to care about Ann Curry? Or Conan O’Briend? Or Indiana’s Sen. Richard Lugar, finally given his walking papers after 40 years? Or anybody else in the fields of sports, politics or entertainment?
Maybe it’s time we redirected our concern and started showing some compassion for the truly unfortunate. Most of the people I know who lost their jobs recently lost them because of the economic downturn. They didn’t lose them because they were stiff or wooden or incapable of pretending that Al Roker is actually funny. None of them is self-pitying. None of them is overpaid. And none of them ever got $10 million to go away.
So we can all hold the tears when Ann Curry’s name comes up. My advice to her is simple: Get yourself a real job. Not a job where you sit on a couch for two hours and gasbag with the planet’s most fiendish self-promoters. No, a real job.
The kind of thing millions of Americans can now only dream of.
Sorry, Ann. You’re a big girl now. Dry your eyes. Dust off your bruised ego and get back to doing the job you’ve a real talent for…directing the world’s attention to the plight of the downtrodden. It may not be glamorous. It may not pay as much. But it contributes so much more to society than a job that elevates gossip to the level of substantive, thought-provoking conversation.
Civilization has made great strides in advancing the way our needs are met. On the other hand, we’ve made very little progress in what we find entertaining. Watching others writhe and squirm under the media’s spotlight continues to captivate, just as the slaughter of Christians for sport captivated the Romans of old.
today’s message…avoid the spotlight…
Hate to see anyone lose a job and be – essentially – publicly shamed. I’ve been in radio on-air and lost more jobs than you can shake a stick at. Some were cost-cutting measures – 7 folks were laid off with me once. Others were a decision to find someone who they felt were a better fit (meaning: anyone but me). These were not high-paying jobs and I wasn’t offered a buyout.
When I was contacted by a newspaper reporter, who is a friend, he wanted to know what happened, I said I just want to leave with my dignity. I don’t want to burn any bridges.
Ann Curry’s tearful parting might have had to do with NBC doing the Q & A public goodbye to shake off any bad feelings about her being ousted. But I think she should have kept a stiff upper lip and remembered that she isn’t the first to have lost her job on TV and she won’t be the last. Decisions about on-air talent will always a ratings game changer.
Your experiences continue to amaze me! Hence your comment on this matter is a gem. I always welcome your input as it often comes from firsthand knowledge.
Well now come to think of it you guys are right. I hadn’t paid any attention to the amount of money she was getting but gee I think I could stop working and live very comfortably on ten million dollars! She seems like a very nice person but never right for the job.
I’ve always liked her…as a journalist. I’m not a fan of the morning shows. Too much focus on gossip and sensational news. Prefer news shows…taken with a whole shaker of salt, of course. So I’d not really focused upon Curry’s performance in the a.m. But upon reflection, the few times I did see her I guess she didn’t have as much pizzazz as the others. Although I’m not really into pizzazz. But the money. I just can’t be sympathetic where that’s concerned.
It happens here too. Well said.