Savannah Guthrie Makes TODAY Co-Anchor Debut After Ann Curry Exit

Entertainment Jul. 9, 2012 AT 11:15AM

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Live from Studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza, it's Savannah Guthrie!

Eleven days after Ann Curry tearfully said goodbye to TODAY viewers, Guthrie, 40, began her new role as Matt Lauer's co-host July 9.

"It truly is a new day around here. . . I'm pleased to be sharing this new day with Savannah Guthrie, who after several years of playing a great role on this program, takes a step forward this morning and joins us as co-anchor of TODAY," Lauer, 54, said on-air.

VIDEO: Flashback! Watch Meredith Vieira's emotional TODAY exit

"It's an honor to be here," Guthrie said, smiling.

Without ever mentioning Curry, 55, Lauer praised his newly promoted colleague. "You bring a great attitude and what we like to call a weird sense of humor to this program, so we're all very happy to have you."

Guthrie joked, "It's 7:02 and he's already calling me weird!"

Later that morning, Guthrie was presented with a bottle of champagne and a surprise visit from her favorite singer, Shawn Colvin. "Oh, my God! I love you!" Guthrie told Colvin, 56. "I can't believe this!"

Guthrie's new title was announced June 29, just one day after Curry confirmed she was leaving the program after 15 years. In the current issue of Us Weekly, a source says Lauer was "100 percent behind Ann leaving." In the days leading up to her emotional televised farewell, Curry and Lauer "were really icy to each other, and she refused to speak to him all week."

PHOTOS: Notorious celebrity firings

Curry took over Meredith Vieira's co-anchor responsibilities in June 2011; she joined the show in 1997 as news reader. Despite widespread criticism, Curry insists she's not at fault for TODAY's dwindling viewership.

"I know I am not to blame for the ratings worries," she told USA Today June 26, two days prior to her exit. "And my bosses have said to me there are many factors involved. There is no doubt that the rating wars have become meaner and less focused on our responsibilities as journalists."

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