NEW YORK (AP) — Lester Holt will replace Ann Curry as host of the newsmagazine “Dateline NBC” when it begins its 20th season on Sept. 23.
The NBC News veteran will keep his job as co-anchor of the “Weekend Today” show. Curry, who is now co-anchor with Matt Lauer of the first half of the weekday “Today” show, was judged too busy for both jobs.
The announcement was made Monday.
Holt has been a valued utility player at NBC News, doing multiple reporting and anchoring jobs at the network and sister station MSNBC, and he said people often come up to him wondering when he takes time off.
“Sometimes, I’ll be flipping the channel at home and think, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of me on TV,’” said Holt, who said his weekends are busy but he has a lot of schedule flexibility otherwise.
He said he’ll report stories for “Dateline” as well as anchor, and his hour-long show about the economy was well-received this summer. He’s used to reporting quick pieces for NBC’s “Nightly News” and “Today,” and the longer-form journalism will give him the chance to do something new, he said.
“He’s a terrific anchor, he’s an excellent reporter and a great team leader — all the things you need to do to run a show,” said David Corvo, senior executive producer in charge of NBC’s newsmagazines.
“Dateline NBC” airs on Fridays in the fall, most often focused on crime mysteries. The menu broadens after pro football season, when “Dateline” rejoins the schedule on Sunday nights, but usually stays as a single-topic hour. In the spring it runs twice a week.
The newsmagazine itself has been a valued utility player at NBC, expanding and contracting to air multiple days a week or just one. There was some question about whether it would make a third year, much less 20th, following the 1992 scandal where the show rigged a fiery truck crash to expose defects, a misdeed that led to the resignation of the NBC News president at the time.
This year it risks being overshadowed at its own shop by the development of “Rock Center,” a multi-topic newsmagazine being led by top NBC anchor Brian Williams. “Rock Center” has no scheduled debut or day on the schedule and will replace a failed NBC entertainment program in prime time, meaning its premiere is likely this fall.
Holt said the question of how “Dateline” would co-exist with a new program likely to have considerable promotion time was the first he asked when approached about the anchor job.
He said he was convinced that it would work and that the development of the second show illustrates a commitment to news by NBC’s corporate bosses.
“There’s a lot more creative energy in the building, which can only be good,” said Liz Cole, executive producer of “Dateline.” She’s pleased that “Dateline” has shown some ratings energy this summer, most recently with Tom Brokaw’s special looking back at Sept. 11, 2001.
Holt said, “There’s room for both, and there’s room for both to grow.”
NBC is owned by NBC Universal.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.