Matt Lauer, the veteran “Today” show host who was fired Wednesday after allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior, has loved visiting Palm Beach County, Florida, over the years.
“Anytime it’s cold up north, I find an excuse to come down,” Lauer told the Palm Beach Post in 2000.
He has a long history here, where his parents lived in Palm Beach Gardens, his dad died in hospice care and he held an annual charity golf event to benefit hospice work. He also was good friends with broadcaster Bryant Gumbel, who lives in north county part-time.
During his visits here, Lauer sometimes talked about his wife, former model Annette Roque, and his former show’s effect on women.
In 1998, he told the Post that he didn’t collapse with passion the first time he saw Roque, whom he met on a blind date.
“It was one of those slow-developing things,” Lauer said. “I don’t think I kissed her for two months.”
And he talked about why the “Today” show woos women viewers:
“I think it’s because we’re on so early, and people are in their underwear or pajamas, and they’re just comfortable with us. We’re family.”
In 1999, he talked about his wife’s relationship with one of Lauer’s passions: golf.
“Annette’s taken three golf lessons,” he said. “She hits the ball great, but it hasn’t sparked any interest in her. The passion’s not there yet. But now she’s asked for another lesson. So maybe. It would be nice to plan a vacation where it’s not me playing in the day and she’s doing something else. To go out and play together, I’d love that.”
Lauer is also friends with longtime West Palm Beach and New York public relations executive Shamin Abas, who declined comment about him Wednesday. In 2005, a Post gossip column reported that Abas and Lauer had friendly “tete-a-tete” dinners at West Palm restaurant Tsunami.
In January 2006, Lauer and his wife attended a party at the Martin County home of then-Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga. When somebody mentioned the star power of his former “Today” show co-host Katie Couric, Lauer reportedly said: “I’m not as big of a star as my wife.”