Joanne LaMarca, the spirited executive producer behind the fourth hour of NBC’s “Today” morning franchise, plans to step down from the role later in August.
In a memo issued to staffers on Thursday, Libby Leist, a senior vice president at NBC News who oversees “Today,” said LaMarca was eager to spend more time with family, and had initially taken the job in 2019 with the intention to stay for a year. LaMarca helped launch the hour under Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager after Kathie Lee Gifford retired from the program in 2019, and then faced a series of intriguing challenges. Both Hager and Kotb took time off in subsequent months to welcome new children into their families. She also steered the program into a new format, under which Kotb and Hager host in front of a live audience.
“If that wasn’t enough, she navigated the fourth hour through the challenging times of producing a new show from home during a pandemic,” Leist said in the memo.
LaMarca is the second top producer at “Today” to leave. In August of last year, Jackie Levin, the executive producer of the franchise’s third hour, elected to take a buyout. Levin had also spent time as the top producer behind an hour of “Today” anchored by Megyn Kelly.
NBC News will begin a search for a new executive producer for the hour, Leist said. In the interim, Meredith Reis and Rena Popp, two senior producers, will manage the show on a day-to-day basis. They will both report to Leist. “This 10 a.m. team is incredibly talented, and I’m confident we won’t miss a beat,” Leist said.
NBC’s main morning rival, “Good Morning America,” is also looking for a senior executive producer. ABC News has yet to fill the role left vacant after longtime “GMA” chief Michael Corn departed abruptly in April.