Free At Last! Matt Lauer Celebrates Katie's Departure At Sesame Street Fundraiser

Looks like NBC's Matt Lauer isn't missing Katie Couric too much. Emceeing a fundraiser last Wednesday night for the ahem, taxpayer funded Sesame Workshop, Lauer had a good laugh at the expense of Couric. In a bit with Elmo, Lauer uttered what sounded like a set-up line for the muppet:  "Katie is moving on to a wonderful challenge, and it's one of those days that reminds me of that very famous saying..."  Elmo piped in with this punchline:  "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, I'm free at last!" The following appeared in Lloyd Grove's column:

Matt Lauer was sure in a lovely mood the night Katie Couric left the "Today" show for good.

Emceeing Wednesday's fund-raiser for the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that produces "Sesame Street," the new king of morning television bantered with Elmo - his 2-year-old daughter Romy's favorite.

"Katie is moving on to a wonderful challenge, and it's one of those days that reminds me of that very famous saying," Lauer told the Muppet.

It prompted Elmo to chime in: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, I'm free at last!"

It sparked a huge laugh from the posh crowd at Cipriani 42nd St. - while Matt took his sweet time regaining his composure.

"These partnerships are rare, very rare, in television, in an industry where people are discarded all the time," Lauer told Lowdown in the VIP lounge. "To have a person sit next to you for 10 years as co-host is a very special relationship. It's the longest relationship I've had with a female, other than my mother."

Meredith Vieira sat a few feet away, her cell phone glued to her head. "She's on the phone, that's why I'm not letting her talk," Lauer joked. "She's fantastic, and I don't think we'll miss a beat. I really don't. We'll miss Katie, but the show won't miss a beat."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.