New day dawns for NBC ayem

Griffin gets top job as of 'Today'

NEW YORK — NBC removed “Today Show” executive producer Tom Touchet on Tuesday after watching its most profitable program lose ground against ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Phil Griffin, VP of primetime programming at MSNBC, will become VP and executive-in-charge of “Today.” NBC sports producer Jim Bell will be executive producer of the show.

Touchet will stay at NBC. “After (he takes) some well earned time off, I’ll be talking to him about other opportunities at NBC News,” NBC News prexy Neal Shapiro said.

Numerous published reports in recent months have indicated “Today Show” host Katie Couric and Touchet didn’t see eye-to-eye, although the Peacock has always brushed off such claims.

While Touchet has his base of support, some insiders have also faulted him for his leadership skills, noting that Griffin, by contrast, is well-loved by people at MSNBC.

Touchet has held the job since November 2002. All of “Today’s” marquee talent — Couric, Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Ann Curry — is expected to remain.

Show has held the morning-news crown for the past nine years, but recent ratings trends have headed in the wrong direction. Its lead over “GMA” has narrowed to an average of 662,000 viewers this season, down from 1.3 million a year ago. Two weeks ago, the gap had shrunk to 350,000 viewers.

“Today” is said to be a volatile place backstage. One gossip column report a few weeks ago had Touchet slamming a glass door there with such force it shattered.

NBC Universal Television Group prexy Jeff Zucker is a former executive producer of “Today.”

“GMA” has had help from ABC’s resurgent primetime this season. Cast from the net’s hit “Desperate Housewives” made regular appearances on the show on Mondays during February sweeps.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)