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Thursday, May 13, 2010
He was born in New York City, New York, the son of Marilyn Kolmer, a boutique owner, and Jay Robert Lauer, a bicycle-company executive. Lauer is of Romanian descent, as seen on the Today Show's "Finding our Roots." His parents divorced during his youth and his father died in 1997. Lauer had become co-host of The Today Show not long before his father's death. In 1999, both Lauer and his cohost Katie Couric initially resisted participation in Today's proposed series about their family roots. The series turned out to be a hit, and Lauer was moved by what he learned about his immigrant ancestors. "My dad was Jewish. My mom is not. So I was not raised anything. I do feel a desire now to find something spiritual. Getting married and wanting to have kids has something to do with that.".
Lauer was married from 1982 until 1989 to a television producer named Nancy Alspaugh. The marriage ended in divorce. From 1989 until 1996, he dated Kristen Gesswein, a television newscaster. They were briefly engaged. In 1998, he married Annette Roque, a Dutch model known as "Jade." She appeared in one of Revlon's 1991 ads "The Most Unforgettable Women in the World Wear Revlon" along with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover girl Daniela Pestova and supermodel Elaine Irwin, who is married to John Mellencamp. During Roque's pregnancy with their third child in 2006, she and Lauer separated. Although Roque filed for divorce in Manhattan Supreme Court on September 13, 2006, the couple subsequently reconciled.
Lauer shares a December 30 birthday with his co-anchor Meredith Viera.
Lauer is a School of Media Arts and Studies (formally the School of Telecommunications) graduate of Ohio University. He attended Ivy Tech, but left six credits short of graduating in 1979. In 1997, he received his degree from Ohio University. The university awarded him his remaining credits by counting his journalism experience as "independent study" towards his degree. Lauer began his television career in 1979 as a producer of the 12 o'clock news for WOWK-TV in Huntington, West Virginia. By 1980, he had become an on-air reporter on the 6 and 11 o'clock newscasts. He then started to move around the country to further his career, hosting a number of weekly information and talk programs in Boston, Philadelphia, Providence and Richmond. He was also host of PM Magazine from 1980-1986 and worked for ESPN in the 1980s. He worked on the show "Talk of the Town" during 1988.
Lauer got his first job in the New York area when he was hired to host a three-hour live interview program, WWOR-TV's 9 Broadcast Plaza, from 1989–1991. In 1990, he was hired by the Kushner-Locke Company to host a pilot called "Day In Court," executive produced by veteran producer David Sams, who helped to launch the Oprah Winfrey Show into national syndication. The program was retitled, "Trial Watch," when it went to series, and ran on the NBC network for two seasons. Ironically, NBC chose to hire Rob Weller, as host, over Lauer when the program was picked up as a daily series. Lauer moved to WNBC-TV in 1992 where he became co-anchor, alongside Jane Hanson, of the early weekday news show Today in New York. After a year, he also filled the role of Live at Five co-anchor with Sue Simmons. He held that job until 1996.
Lauer with President Vladimir Putin prior to the 32nd G8 summit in Saint Petersburg.
Lauer's broad on-camera presence provided him with many opportunities with NBC's national news organization while working for WNBC in New York. Lauer filled in as the newsreader on The Today Show for Margaret Larson when needed from 1992 to 1993. This "audition" period allowed him to join The Today Show full-time in January 1994 as news anchor, while still co-anchoring Today in New York and Live at Five.
Lauer stepped in for Scott Simon, Mike Schneider and Jack Ford as the co-host of Weekend Today, and for Ann Curry as anchor of the former NBC News program NBC News at Sunrise from 1992 to 1997. He had also filled in for Tom Brokaw on NBC Nightly News. As the Today Show news anchor, he also pinch-hit for Bryant Gumbel on the Today Show before being named the official co-anchor on January 6, 1997, after Gumbel stepped down. In April 2006, Lauer announced that he intends to stay with Today until 2011.
In addition to his duties on the Today Show, Lauer has also hosted programming on the Discovery Channel and MSNBC.
Beginning in 1998, Lauer has embarked on a once-yearly five-day globe-spanning adventure called "Where in the World is Matt Lauer?" on the Today Show. It was named after the PBS game show Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? from which it borrowed the theme song. This segment has sent Lauer to the far reaches of the Earth where he has reported on the importance of each location. In recent years, he has broadcast from locations including Bhutan, Easter Island, the Panama Canal, Iran, Hong Kong, Croatia, and the Great Wall of China. For 2009 NBC announced this popular segment would not be airing because of the country's economy.
On some occasions, interviews conducted by Lauer have escalated into tense exchanges. In a June 2005 interview, Tom Cruise started an argument with Lauer about psychiatry and postpartum depression and called Lauer "glib". In December 2008, three and a half years later, Cruise said that he regrets the exchange, and even playfully arm-wrestled Matt Lauer in the same studio where the confrontation took place.
In a June 2006 interview with Ann Coulter, Coulter responded to Lauer's questioning her criticism of September 11, 2001, widows and said, "You're getting testy with me." On December 30, 2009 during an on-set Birthday Party for him, Lauer introduced "Barney Miller" and "Fish" TV star Abe Vigoda who was standing behind the cameras. Lauer then warmly invited Abe to come over and sit on the couch where Lauer announced that Abe Vigoda was his favorite guest of all times on the "Today" show. The two then discussed Matt's Birthday and Abe's long career.
In November 2006, Lauer and his daughter Romy hosted the Sesame Street direct-to-DVD Sesame Beginnings: Exploring Together.
Lauer hosted The Greatest American on the Discovery Channel, which used Internet and telephone voting by viewers to select the winner. Lauer was critical of his own program since it tended to favor well-known figures over others who had less influence in pop culture. Since 1998, he has co-hosted NBC's live coverage of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Lauer guest-starred as himself on a live episode of Will & Grace in early 2006. (Former co-anchor Katie Couric had guest-starred as herself on an episode of the same NBC sitcom a few years earlier.)
On June 19, 2007, he interviewed Prince Henry and Prince William of Wales.
Lauer served as the 2009 Class Day speaker at Harvard University's undergraduate commencement ceremonies on June 3, 2009.
Matt Lauer appears as himself in the Land of the Lost movie, appearing in the beginning when Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell) appears on his show and single-handedly ruins his career. Lauer appears again at the end of the film, when Rick shows up with his new book Matt Lauer Can Suck It. Both scenes ended in violent physical confrontation between the two, with the staff trying to break them up. The first confrontation was caused by Marshall and the second by Lauer after Marshall gloats how his new book's title was legally acceptable.
Lauer has also co-hosted the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. He has broadcast with Bob Costas the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer and 2010 Winter Olympics, carrying what his former co-host Katie Couric had done since the 2000 Summer Olympics.
1989–1991: 9 Broadcast Plaza host[
September 1992–September 1994: Today in New York co-anchor
August 1993–September 1996:early evening newscast News Channel 4/Live at Five co-anchor
June 13, 1994–January 3, 1997: Today news anchor
January 6, 1997–present: Today co-anchor