sending crew to Winter Olympics in Vancouver
casts starting Tuesday. The show will start at 4 a.m. local time each weekday, meaning athletes who want to show off their medals must travel 20 minutes out of the city and take a tram ride to a set on Grouse Mountain in the middle of the night.
“ They’ll come,” predicted Jim Bell, the show’s executive producer.
Today looms as an ever-more important promotional showcase for NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage, given the network’s dwindling audience in prime-time and late-night hours. Not that it needs it, but the Olympics are another showcase for television’s most popular morning news show.
Matt Lauer and Natalie Morales are arriving first at the Today set; Lauer will carry the Olympic torch through the town of Burnaby, B.C., as part of the torch relay. Meredith Vieira, Al Roker and Ann Curry arrive on Feb. 12, the day of opening ceremonies. It’s the seventh time that Today has gone on location for Olympics coverage.
The schedule was far more comfortable for Today and its guests during the Summer Games in Beijing two years ago. There, the live show kicked off at 7 p.m. local time.
Despite being in the middle of the night, Bell said athletes will still wake up early for the chance to be seen on national television. In many cases, they will just stay up late.
“Even though it’s 4 a.m., we’re excited to have great guests, great crowds, great energy,” he said. “It’s the Olympics. People will want to come if they have a medal draped around their neck or if they want to hold up a sign saying ‘ hi’ to the people back home. It doesn’t matter to us what time it is.”