|Also known as||Sunday Today|
|Theme music composer||John Williams (1987-2013)|
Non-Stop Music (2013-present)
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producer||Matthew Carluccio|
|Production locations||Studio N5, NBC News Studios, Washington, D.C. (Saturday)|
Studio 1A, NBC Studios, New York City, New York (Sunday)
|Running time||88-104 minutes (Saturday)|
44-52 minutes (Sunday)
|Production company||NBC News Productions|
|Original release||September 20, 1987 -|
Weekend Today is currently the branding of the Saturday edition of Today, an American morning news and talk program that airs daily on NBC. However, its name has been used to refer to all weekend editions of Today, which began with the launch of the Sunday edition of the program on September 20, 1987.
The Saturday edition of the program is broadcast live in alignment with the weekday editions of Today from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Some affiliates outside the Eastern Time Zone air it live, and others on tape-delay. Thus, it may air on some NBC stations as early as 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. local time.
Meanwhile, the Sunday edition, titled Sunday Today with Willie Geist since April 17, 2016, airs from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. ET. Some NBC affiliates choose to air local morning newscasts before and after both Saturday and Sunday editions of the program.
The Sunday edition of Today (titled Sunday Today) premiered on September 20, 1987, and was originally hosted by Maria Shriver and Boyd Matson, with Garrick Utley as news anchor. The program was broadcast from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m., followed by Meet the Press. It was the second morning news program to run weekend editions, CBS previously attempted a six-day-a-week morning news program under the "Morning" banner in 1979, the only surviving remnant of which is the newsmagazine CBS News Sunday Morning. Garrick Utley replaced Boyd Matson as co-anchor on March 20, 1988. Shriver, weather anchor Al Roker and sports anchor Bill Macatee continued with the program. In 1989, production of Sunday Today moved to Washington, D.C. to allow Utley to also serve as moderator of Meet the Press.
On November 12, 1989, a special edition of Sunday Today featured Utley in Berlin covering the fall of the Berlin Wall earlier that week, with Shriver hosting from Burbank, California and Roker in New York City. At the end of the broadcast, Utley mentioned that Shriver was leaving the show to go on maternity leave. NBC News national correspondent (and eventual co-anchor of the weekday edition of Today) Katie Couric became substitute anchor during Shriver's absence.
Maria Shriver returned from maternity leave on April 8, 1990, to Sunday Today and announced that she would be leaving the show after that day's broadcast. Couric was named interim co-anchor until Mary Alice Williams became the new co-anchor later that month. Production of the Sunday program returned to New York City when Utley left Meet the Press in 1991.
On August 1, 1992, the Saturday edition made its debut with the reduction of NBC's children's programming block on Saturday mornings to the three-hour TNBC block, expanding the broadcast schedule of the Today franchise to seven days a week. The weekend editions were initially titled Saturday Today or Sunday Today, as applicable, in order to distinguish them from the weekday program. Beginning in the late 1990s, all editions of the program were officially titled Today, although Weekend Today was still sometimes used for promotional purposes. The Sunday program was once again titled "Sunday Today" when Willie Geist became solo anchor in 2016.
Amy Robach and Melissa Francis rotated as news anchor during much of the Brown and Holt era (2003-2007). From 1988, (when Garrick Utley became co-anchor) & 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, until 2012 (When Jenna Wolfe became news anchor) Weekend Today did not have a News Anchor. During that time, a different NBC News, CNBC, or MSNBC correspondent would fill that position each week. Lester Holt left the program in 2015 following his promotion to NBC Nightly News weekday anchor.
The Saturday edition relocated to the network's newly refurbished studios in Washington D.C. near Capitol Hill in December 2020, as one of several NBC and MSNBC programs to broadcast from the building. They previously used the Meet the Press studio due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The weekend broadcasts continue Todays format of covering breaking news stories, featuring interviews with newsmakers, reports on a variety of popular culture and human-interest stories, covering health and financial issues and presenting the day's national weather forecasts. As with the weekday edition, the program offers visitors to New York City the chance to observe the workings of a live television broadcast firsthand with its windowed studio at Rockefeller Plaza. Interaction with the crowd outside the studio is a major part of the program.
Weekend editions are tailored to the priorities and interests of weekend viewers - offering special series such as Saturday Today on the Plaza, featuring live performances by well-known and up-and-coming music acts and numbers from Broadway theatre productions outside the studio throughout the summer. The Sunday edition also features brief political discussions with Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd, who also gives a preview of that show which airs within a few hours after Sunday Today.
Just like their weekday counterparts, the weekend broadcasts feature cut-ins to local stations for news and weather segments. However, the Sunday edition does not feature a national weather forecast anymore; instead the weather reports are provided entirely by the viewers' respective local stations.
The weekend editions of Today are anchored by Peter Alexander and Kristen Welker from Washington, D.C. on Saturdays, and by Willie Geist from New York City on Sundays. Alexander was named co-host on October 27, 2018. Welker was named co-host on January 11, 2020. Meteorologist Dylan Dreyer delivers the forecast on Saturday (there are no national weather segments on Sundays). Occasionally, Kate Snow, Hallie Jackson, Morgan Radford, Frances Rivera, Harry Smith, Jose Diaz-Balart, Dave Price, Willie Geist, Geoff Bennett and Tom Llamas fill-in for Welker and Alexander, Hallie Jackson, Harry Smith, Kristen Welker, Morgan Radford, Geoff Bennett and Tom Llamas fill-in for Geist. NBC meteorologists Bill Karins, Dave Price, Maria LaRosa and Indra Petersons fill-in for Dreyer. Joelle Garguilo is a correspondent for Weekend Today.
Scherzo for Today was used as the program's closing theme until 1990, and the Mission bumpers were used until 1993 (one of them could be heard as a station break lead-in on NBC's Meet The Press until 2004). The Scherzo for Today theme was iconically accompanied by Fred Facey announcing "From NBC News, this is Today..." until his death in April 2003, except for special editions requiring special introductions. Facey's work afterwards was only heard on the now-defunct MSNBC program Headliners and Legends. For a time early in the original Sunday Today run; the Scherzo for Today theme was preceded by a recap of clips of stories from the previous week set to "Freightways" by Graham De Wilde.
The Mission cut used as the opening fanfare for Today has opened the program ever since, with two exceptions: in the summer of 1994, to mark the debut of Studio 1A, the John Williams-composed fanfare was replaced by another opening theme, but the Williams theme returned shortly thereafter. In 2004, the show's producers tried out yet another theme, which drew once again on the NBC chimes as its signature, but the Williams theme returned after only a few weeks. It is by far the most enduring theme in the program's history, having been in use for over two decades. In March 2013, "The Mission" was replaced with a theme by Adam Gubman for Non-Stop Music, which is based partly on the Mission theme. A lighter theme employing the NBC chimes is currently used to open the show's 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. half-hour segments, and is also used as a closing theme.
Following the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on February 1, 2003, the Sunday edition of Weekend Today aired a special edition on February 2, with the expanded introduction:
Disaster: The Space Shuttle Columbia. From NBC News, this is a special edition of Today with Soledad O'Brien at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida and David Bloom at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
On April 6, 2003, the death of co-anchor David Bloom in Iraq (caused by a blood clot resulting from deepvein thrombosis) dominated that day's edition. Soledad O'Brien, Matt Lauer, and Katie Couric hosted a special edition of Today in remembrance of Bloom.
When Pope John Paul II died on Saturday, April 2, 2005, Katie Couric and Matt Lauer anchored the weekend editions of Today. Lauer anchored from Vatican City with Campbell Brown offering reports by his side. On the day of the Pope's death, Couric anchored a special report on a Vatican statement updating the Pope's dire condition and Lauer reported for the special report anchored by Brian Williams, when the Pope was officially declared dead. Lauer returned to New York City as Couric traveled to Vatican City to co-anchor coverage of the Pope's funeral with Williams.
On April 19, 2008, a special edition of Weekend Today featured Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States, billed as "The Pope Visits the USA." Lester Holt and Jenna Wolfe moved outside to Rockefeller Center to cover the first papal mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. However, they moved back to Studio 1A at the 7:30 a.m. half-hour.
On May 10, 2008, Weekend Today featured a special split-location edition covering the wedding of Jenna Bush at the ranch of President George H. W. Bush outside Crawford, Texas. Co-anchor Lester Holt remained at Studio 1A, while Amy Robach covered the wedding from Texas.
On June 14, 2008, a special edition of Saturday Today, anchored by Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw, discussed the death of NBC News Washington bureau chief and Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert. Andrea Mitchell, David Gregory, Pete Williams, Lisa Myers, the moderators of Meet the Presss competing Sunday morning talk shows, Bob Schieffer of Face the Nation and George Stephanopoulos of This Week, and Vice President Dick Cheney, among others, appeared to share their memories of Russert. The Sunday edition on the following day (June 15), another special edition on the death of Russert was broadcast, hosted by Gregory and Mitchell.
As part of their coverage of Super Bowl XLVI on February 4, 2012, a special Saturday edition was anchored by Lester Holt and Amy Robach from Studio 1A with Jenna Wolfe anchoring from that year's Super Bowl location, Indianapolis, Indiana. The following Sunday's edition was another special edition with Matt Lauer live from Washington D.C., and Ann Curry, Natalie Morales, Savannah Guthrie, and Al Roker live from Indianapolis.
As part of their coverage of Terror in Boston, on Saturday, April 20, 2013, a Saturday edition was anchored by Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie from Studio 1A at Rockefeller Plaza and Lester Holt and Erica Hill from Watertown, Massachusetts.
As part of their coverage of The 2014 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXII Olympic Winter Games, Natalie Morales and Lester Holt anchored a special edition of Weekend Today from Sochi, Russia, with Erica Hill reading news headlines and Dylan Dreyer with weather in Studio 1A.
As part of their coverage of The 2015 Terror in Paris, a special Saturday edition was anchored by Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, with Sheinelle Jones reading news headlines and Dylan Dreyer with weather in Studio 1A, and Al Roker live from Paris. The Sunday edition on the following, another special edition was broadcast with Erica Hill live from Paris and Harry Smith as co-anchor, with Sheinelle Jones reading news headlines and Dylan Dreyer with weather in Studio 1A.
On May 19, 2018, As part of their coverage of a special Saturday edition was anchored by Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb with weather Al Roker, to cover the Wedding of Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex was live at Windsor, England.
The program has more viewers than ABC's Good Morning America Weekend Edition and CBS' CBS This Morning Saturday, but fewer than CBS News Sunday Morning. During the weekend of September 15, 2012, the weekend edition of Good Morning America Weekend topped Weekend Today in the ratings for the first time in that program's history.