Lauer brings in Today until 2011

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The Today Show cohost Matt Lauer has extended his contract for another five years, until 2011. The deal, valued at $13 million a year, gives the number one morning show some much-needed stability.

"I like it here," Lauer said in an interview with The New York Times. "I can be cagey about it and do all the things you're supposed to do. I like this job."

Last week, Today cohost Katie Couric put an end to months of speculation by announcing her intention to resign from the show when her contract expires in May. Couric will move into the anchor chair for CBS Evening News. She will will also join the team on the long-running Sunday newsmagazine 60 Minutes.

Longtime Today correspondent Meredith Vieira will step into Couric's shoes. Vieira will leave her day job as cohost of The View.

Lauer joined the show in 1997, replacing Bryant Gumbel. With Couric and Lauer at the helm, Today became the number-one-rated morning show.

The morning ratings wars heated up again in the past year, with second-place Good Morning, America coming within striking distance of the champ. With Lauer's well-known face in place, NBC is ready to put uncertainty behind it and focus on retaining the lead.

"You've got your team in place, we have continuity, and it appears we have some chemistry. I couldn't feel any better than I do knowing Matt is going to be there. He's now the guy," said Jim Bell, executive producer of Today.

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