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Al Roker puts on cheerful Today appearance after receiving bad news – details

The NBC News meteorologist also hosts the Third Hour of Today

Al Roker speaks onstage during the Hudson River Park Friends 7th Annual Playground Committee Luncheon
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
17 April 2024
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Al Roker was his usual exuberant self on the Wednesday, April 17 installment of the Today Show, keeping things moving while reporting on the horrific tornadoes and storms rocking the Midwest.

The 69-year-old NBC News meteorologist was also in high spirits today thanks to the Today Plaza's transformation to celebrate 100 Days to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

The anchor even walked around on the plaza wearing a baseball cap several sizes too large for his head, joking that the producers ordered normal caps but this is what arrived, saying that it suited his "big head."

He brought the laughs as usual, which contrasts with the disappointing update he received earlier this week when it was reported that a former exec producer he'd worked with was suing him and his production banner.

Al and his production company, Al Roker Entertainment, have been sued by Bill Schultz, a former EP on an animated kids series in development, having worked in the past on shows like The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and Garfield.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit was filed with a New York federal court and alleges that executives with the banner "callously disregarded" their diversity, equity, and inclusion program (a DEI program), claiming he was fired for his objections.

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Bill alleges in his suit that there was an attempt to bring Black writers to touch up scripts by white scribes for the PBS show Weather Hunters they were working on to create the impression of a diverse team, which he objected to.

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THR reports: "Weather Hunters has a unique ownership structure in which the majority of the show's production costs are covered by PBS, while Al Roker Entertainment retains complete ownership of the series. PBS provided 70 percent of the project's financing for 40 half-hour episodes with the stipulation that it adhered to a DEI plan."

Al Roker© Getty Images
Al's production company is being sued by a former executive producer

However, Bill claimed that Al Roker Entertainment "treated the DEI Policy as discretionary and an obstacle to be circumvented" despite the show's target audience being Black families.

MORE: Al Roker apologizes to Today viewers after unexpected turn of events live on air

The lawsuit states: "Instead of giving the chances to BIPOC writers as had been the plan, the story editor, repeating a strategy previously advocated and backed by Al Roker Entertainment management in writing, wanted to have 'non-BIPOC' writers write the stories, and then bring on a 'BIPOC' writer and after the stories/episodes [were] shaped, they could be 'hand[ed] off to BIPOC writers'."

Al Roker in suit and hat© Getty Images
The suit alleges Al Roker Entertainment treated a DEI program instituted by PBS for their animated series as just an "obstacle to be circumvented"

Bill faulted the entertainment company for refusing to treat the DEI seriously and for suspending and terminating him around the same time as a Black producer was reprimanded for speaking up against the policy.

MORE: Al Roker supported by Today colleagues as he reflects on health crisis: 'Life can turn on a dime'

He also claims in his lawsuit that he brought the issue to Al's attention, but the Today Show anchor didn't take the steps required to deal with the allegedly problematic situation.

TODAY -- Pictured: Al Roker on Monday, February 24, 2020© Getty Images
Neither Al nor his production company have spoken out about the matter as of writing

Bill is a former Cartoon Network and Marvel executive who had been working on the show since 2014 and had reportedly been paid $544,000 for the initial 40-episode order, plus a cut of the net revenue. Al and Al Roker Entertainment haven't yet responded to the lawsuit.

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