Matt Lauer has remained relatively quiet about his allegedly frosty relationship with ousted TODAY show co-anchor Ann Curry, but he has plenty to say about his other colleagues. Speaking to Howard Stern on the comedian's Sirius XM radio show on Wednesday, June 19, the NBC standout dished on his relationships with former co-hosts Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira.
"It's like the St. Pauli Girl commercial: You always remember your first," Lauer quipped of Couric, who was his co-anchor from 1994 to 2006, when she left for CBS Evening News.
"Was it always easy? No...We worked together for 10 years. Was every day a bed of roses? No, of course not," he said. "We had our moments where there was probably tension, but overall, we are very much the same person. We have very similar senses of humor, and I thought we had a good and easy chemistry."
Couric agrees. In her own interview with Stern in May, the Katie host confessed to having a "little crush" on her former co-host when he was the news anchor at NBC's New York City affiliate WNBC. Asked whether he was surprised to hear that, Lauer joked, "No, she writes me Mahler letters all the time." (Composer Gustav Mahler was famous for penning adoring, fervent notes to his much-younger wife.)
So was the feeling mutual? "I think...every man in America was attracted [to Katie Couric]," he teased. "She's a very attractive woman, not only physically, but her personality...if she's a 9 or 10 physically, she's a 14 because -- I hate to do that -- because she's got a great personality. She's fun."
That said, Lauer insists he never seriously considered pursuing anything romantic with her. It "absolutely" would have ruined things, he explained. Then, joking, he added, "She would have been knocking on my door constantly. She would have never left me alone."
His relationship with Couric's replacement, Meredith Vieira, was very different, he told Stern. "I had a relationship with Meredith where I constantly wanted to hug her," he said.
"We loved Meredith," he clarified. "She was beloved by everyone on staff."
Lauer didn't express affection just for his female co-hosts, though. Responding to Stern's assessment of Al Roker as a "jolly guy" who "doesn't understand [Matt's] pressures," the TODAY anchor said, "I think you underestimate Al's impact on the show."
"He's a key player. There's no question," Lauer stressed. "Al does a lot. He co-hosts the 9:00 hour. He is the key to making the outdoor part of the studio work...Without Al, it's a window. When Al goes out there, he invigorates the crowd...He's a very human, important part of the show."
Stern planned to ask Lauer about Curry, too, but he ran out of time before he could. "I was just getting warmed up," the Sirius XM host said after the interview. "I had many things...I didn't even get up to the Ann Curry bulls--t."