Carson Daly is gaining new visibility in his role on NBC's Today Show.  Move over Matt?

Carson Daly is gaining new visibility in his role on NBC’s Today Show. Move over Matt?

When Carson Daly left MTV’s Total Request Live (TRL) in 2002, he was something of a running-gag in the media. Even “Saturday Night Live” had a skit lampooning TRL. “I’m Carson Daly and I’m a tool,” said the actor portraying him to hoots.

Daly, 40, certainly introduced a gazillion music stars, including a young Christina Aguliera, but as with everything in TV, his time came and seemingly went.

Even Daly was at loose ends himself. “I was urged to take the show TRL, to prime time, but I left and headed to L.A.,” he said.

It was a big gamble with his nacent career, but it has paid off big time.

He landed a radio gig on L.A.’s 106.7 KROQ-FM and followed up in 2002 with his own NBC show, “Last Call With Carson Daly.”

It aired at the ungodly hour of 1:30 AM and struggled for viewership because of the late start. Soon after, he became a go-to guy for NBC entertainment specials, including “Macy’s 4th of July Spectacular” and “NBC’s New Years Eve with Carson Daly.”

His latest coup is a regular spot on NBC’s flagship morning program “Today,” where some consider him an heir apparent to ratings-challenged host Matt Lauer. Daly is sort of the major-domo of their newly christened “Orange Room.”

It gives him a chance to do major celebrity interviews and handle the show’s scads of social media traffic. And more and more frequently, he’s getting a spot on the couch with the A-team, Lauer, Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie.

Truth be told, his exact role is still emerging, but he’s clearly being tested for the top job. He brings a welcomed, new-school element to the proceedings.

Married, with two-kids, (he previously dated Jennifer Love Hewitt and Tara Reid) Daly could have almost been another Brian Dunkelman … remember him? Instead, he’s become an all-purpose, much valued, and talented TV personality.

Incidentally, Dunkelman was the original co-host, with Ryan Seacrest on “American Idol.”

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