Monday, April 28, 2008

Why I Love Ann Curry

"For someone who judges The Today Show so harshly and complains about it so much, you sure know a lot about it..."

You've got that right. The Today Show keeps me on task. It's like a timer with A/V capabilities. When I hear Ann Curry's voice, I know it's time to make sure everyone has brushed their teeth. When I hear it the second time, butts had better be in the car. The third time, I should probably get in the shower. The fourth time, OK, really, it's time to get my day started.

And between Ann's newscasts, I am treated to nuggets of entertainment, like:

• Al singing with Neil Diamond
• Matt playing a video game
• Meredith's self-effacing jokes and feature stories
• A smattering of stories about cheerleader attacks, alligator home invasions and surgeries gone bad

Ann's dad passed away almost two weeks ago, so she was absent for a few days, and that left a gaping hole in my morning routine. I was sad for her. And I missed her. It was like staring at an empty chair at Thanksgiving. The dynamics were off. Meredith wore frumpier clothes, Matt seemed bored, and Al was more pensive than usual. Somebody filled her shoes and did the job. I don't remember who that was, and it didn't really matter. Ann wasn't there.

Ann exemplifies grace and femininity. Last Friday, she wore a lovely and shimmery loose-fitting white tank top with a simple black, unbuttoned cardigan and grey slacks. If I wore this, I would look like I had the flu. But she pulled it off. She could have left work and gone directly to a cocktail party.

In one not-so-newsy segment, she interviewed Madonna and asked (in the most gracious Ann Curry way) if Madonna's critics were justified in discounting her latest causes (international adoption, humanitarian efforts, etc.) as the latest in her 25-plus years of reinventions (religion, kids, husbands, boyfriends, more religion, more music and less dance, more dance and less music, writing children's books). MADONNA FLINCHED. Why? She didn't see it coming. That's Ann Curry for you -- soft-spoken, lovely and kind, and WHAM! Her words didn't say it, but we all know she meant, "Madonna, you tend to get on people's nerves." Madonna, who is a solid rock and intimidates everyone, FLINCHED.

Watching the Final Four couldn't have been more riveting. The really neat part was, Ann didn't mean a thing by it. She was just being inquisitive. Honest. Sincere. She might as well have said, "Madonna, we are all SO very tired of you changing gears, shifting focus, acting like you're ... Madonna and all. What do you have to say for yourself?" Madonna, who flips off a critic at the bat of an eye, sat there in her lovely chair and long eyelashes and was clearly stunned. What could she say? The graceful and best-friendish Ann Curry had caught her off-guard.

I provided the color commentary for this segment while on the phone. I described Ann's outfit and her "I work hard to look so casual" hairstyle, and then we both sighed. "I love Ann Curry." To which I said, "I do, too." How can you not? She doesn't go on and on about herself, she seems so CONCERNED about the person sitting next to her or in front of her, and she looks so darn TASTEFUL and STYLISH. No matter what.

Sadly, Ann Curry is underrated and underviewed, graciously sitting in the shadows of Meredith and Matt, wearing her simple and elegant clothes, periodically delivering the real news of the day and assuring her viewers that everything is OK. And even if it isn't, she will be there to nod her head and lend a listening ear ... in her minimal makeup and stunning outfit.