Books Compete for 'Today'
By Lloyd Grove,
New York Daily News - 2/10/04
Don't invite Washington Post
television critic Tom Shales and "Today" star
Matt Lauer to the same dinner party.
Shales is deeply annoyed that
the NBC morning show has booked comic actor Jay Mohr in a couple
of months to flog his upcoming memoir, "Gasping for Airtime:
Two Years in the Trenches at 'Saturday Night Live.'"
Because in 2002, when Shales
and co-author James Miller were promoting their best-selling
"uncensored" oral history of "SNL," "Live
From New York," the top-rated "Today" declined
to have them on.
Shales blames Lauer.
"The 'Today' show gave us
the run-around for weeks," he told me. "They said maybe
we could come on if we brought a star from 'Saturday Night Live'
with us. And I said to Jim, 'Since when does a guest have to
produce his own segment?' Finally, I got a call from somebody
high up on the 'Today' show [Katie Couric? Shales wouldn't comment]
saying that Matt didn't want me on because I have written mean
things about him."
The portly Shales has indeed
been nasty over the years to the svelte Lauer.
the critic once sniffed.
"A male model with a gift
for the glib," he jabbed another time.
Years ago, on "Larry King
Live," Lauer admitted that Shales' gibes were wounding:
"You know what? No, no, it doesn't roll off me completely.
... Do you look and say it doesn't matter? No. I don't want people
to read that."
I like and admire both men, and
it's too bad they can't get along. But yesterday Shales was unapologetic.
"Where in the world is Matt Lauer? I don't know, but I can
tell you where he should be."
NBC News spokeswoman Allison
Gollust seemed baffled that Shales was still nursing his grudge.
"Given 'Today's' longstanding
record as the nation's No. 1 morning program, there are countless
authors hoping to get on," she told me. "While we cannot
accommodate all of them, we are looking forward to welcoming
Jay Mohr to hear about his book."