Anchors Away? First Couric, Now Vieira, Lauer Reportedly Leaving

VIDEO: The "Today" show hosts are reportedly moving on from their anchor posts.
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It's been a week of speculation about shakeups in the television news business.

Each day came new reports citing anonymous sources. On Monday, The Associated Press reported that Katie Couric is expected to leave her anchor post at the "CBS Evening News" and launch a syndicated talk show in 2012.

On Tuesday, TV Guide broke the news that Meredith Vieira is considering leaving the "Today" show when her reported $11 million annual contract expires in September.

On Wednesday, "Entertainment Tonight" said Vieira's "Today" co-host Matt Lauer, would be following her out the door -- though not until his contract expires on December 31, 2012.

What's going on?

According to NBC, which produces "Today," a whole lot of speculation.

"There seems to be an awful lot of speculation around news anchors these days, and it's not our practice to comment on any of it," the network said in a statement to ABCNews.com.

Couric's spokesman Matthew Hiltzik told ABCNews.com, "Katie is proud of the award winning accomplishments of her team at CBS, but has not made any decision about her future."

Even if all this talk is just that, Syracuse professor Bob Thompson says it proves that network news isn't going the way of the dinosaurs any time soon.

"I don't think an era is ending. These shows are still relevant," said Thompson, an expert on the media and pop culture. "The big story is Katie Couric is leaving the "CBS Evening News," not that the "Evening News" is leaving the air or the "Today" show is leaving."

Thompson said these shows will survive, but gone may be the anchor who stays in the job for 20-plus years, along with the stratospheric anchor salary.

"My guess is some of these superstar salaries may not be the model of these programs as much as before," he said. "The economics of the business have changed. Katie Couric's superstar salary didn't work that well for CBS ... to bring it up out of third place."

Where Are Network Anchors Going?

Couric reportedly earns $15 million a year.

In last Sunday's New York Times magazine, Couric, 54, admitted she's been talking with her former "Today" show boss Jeff Zucker about hosting her own talk show. Asked what she'd been known for, she replied, "Hopefully for smart conversation."

"Entertainment Tonight" reported that Lauer, 53, could be part of Couric's plans with Zucker.

Thompson said such a show would be "iconoclastic" compared with the current crop of daytime talk shows, but re-teaming Couric and Lauer could be magic.

"They were the best morning show combination in the history of the medium," he said.

If Vieira leaves, it won't be for another show. She still hosts "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." But, according to TV Guide, Vieira, 57, has grown tired of the grueling morning show routine, including 3 a.m. wakeup calls, and would like to spend more time with her husband, Richard Cohen, who has battled cancer and multiple sclerosis.

"I'll know when it's time to go, and I'm not afraid," she told Ladies' Home Journal in October. "If I were to leave 'Today' at the end of next year because it's time for me, I wouldn't jump to another show. I would look forward to not working, to traveling with Richard and carving out time for us."

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