Patt Morrison for July 31, 2012

Dumbing down the Olympic Opening Ceremonies

2007 Winter TCA Tour - Day 9

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Co-Anchors for 'Today' Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira speak during the 2007 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour for NBC at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel on January 17, 2007 in Pasadena, California.

A picture taken with a robotic camera sh


A general view of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in London.

Olympics Opening Ceremony

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The 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony on July 25, 2012 in Temple Mills, London, England.


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The Olympics opening ceremonies, July 27, 2012.

NBC’s co-hosts for the Olympic Opening Ceremonies on Friday night, Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer were tasked with coming up with witty banter for an hours-long television broadcast that a billion people were watching.

Some aspects of Britain’s big Olympics show contained elements of the country’s history that were likely lost on most viewers, like the British National Health Service fever dream segment. But it was Vieira’s repeated admissions that she didn’t know anything about a given aspect of director Danny Boyle’s elaborate production that drew the ire of many viewers.

When Lauer described the effect of using small screens at every seat in the stadium as pixels that turned the entire venue into a giant screen, Vieira replied, “One more thing I don’t understand.” Vieira is no idiot, and both she and Lauer undoubtedly had a staff present to make them look sharp on-air, so why would a host play dumb in front of a billion people?


How do television personalities pander to large audiences?


Justin Peters, editor at large for the Columbia Journalism Review

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