There's a reason why Ann Curry didn't bother to hug co-host Matt Lauer during her tearful goodbye last Thursday on TODAY.
After weeks of speculation, Curry, 55, was shown the door after just one year as co-host of NBC's smash morning show, which has been suffering from flagging ratings.
"Matt Lauer is 100 percent behind Ann leaving," a source tells Us Weekly. In the days leading up to her emotional on-air farewell, Curry (who joined the show in 1997 as news reader) and Lauer, 54, "were really icy to each other, and she refused to speak to him all week."
Indeed, the tension was palpable on-air to millions of viewers. "The body language was extremely tense," the insider points out. And her final day, says a second source, "was like a funeral in a way."
First announcing her departure from TODAY -- and a new, seven-year contract with NBC News to cover international stories across the network's various news programs -- to USA Today last Wednesday, Curry dimissed criticism that she and longtime host Lauer (who had successful on-air partnerships with both Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira) lacked chemistry.
"You know, Matt and I have had great on-air chemistry for 14 years, been part of the No. 1 winning team for a history-making number of years," she opined. "That said, I just finished my freshman year as co-host. In every single co-host's first year, there have been kinks to be worked out, and perhaps I deserve as much blame for that as anyone."
Curry's replacement, former White House Correspondent and 9 a.m. hour TODAY host Savannah Guthrie, was announced the following day.
Of Curry's job switch, NBC News president Steve Capus told the Hollywood Reporter: "I think [TODAY] was not where her real passion was, . . . In her heart of hearts, I think she would admit that. I think her real passion is built around reporting on international stories . . . I think we’ve now come up with a role that will play to her strengths."