Matt Lauer, who recently interviewed Prince William and Prince Harry for NBC for Dateline, will be hosting Concert for Diana, which will air on NBC at 8:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 1, which would have been Princess Diana's 46th birthday. The concert, featuring some of her and her sons' favorite performers including Duran Duran and Elton John, will be a tribute to her life and her achievements. It is being presented from Wembley Stadium in London.
Matt Lauer recently took part in a conference call to discuss this important event and his recent interview with the two Princes.
Is this a heavily edited version of a concert that happened earlier?
Matt Lauer: The concert is going to start, London time, at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and I think it goes on for something like 6 hours. It's like a mini Woodstock. Since we've got limited time we're gonna take selections from the major artists that are performing, and try and put it in a package or a format that is very enjoyable for the viewer. We clearly can't air the entire thing.
They say that it's Diana's favorite songs and the boys favorite songs. Looking at the list it seems to be a lot of the boy's favorite songs.
Matt Lauer: Yeah, the Kanye West's of the world and the Fergie's of the world, those are probably on the boys side. If you look at Duran Duran and Elton John... those are clearly Diana's picks. They said to me, when I talked to them, they were very clear about wanting it to be a healthy mix. Also, they probably put some people, there's no question, to make sure the concert was paid the attention it deserves.
How did you get involved with hosting the concert and interviewing Prince William and Prince Harry?
Matt Lauer: NBC had been interested in the concert for a very long time. Months ago they mentioned to me that they were pursuing it and what was my interest level. I said, "It sounded interesting to me." I think it's kind of a major event for Great Britain and for parts of the world, so I was eager to do that. In terms of the interview with the Princes, I think once NBC decided they were going to go ahead and air the concert... we had been talking to the Palace about interviewing the boys for a long time. Long before the idea of the concert came up, trying to just make the contacts we should be making. Once NBC decided on the concert, we really kind of made it very clear to them that, "Boy, this would be a great time for them to speak if they were going to speak."
We started to get hints from the Palace several months ago... that perhaps on this occasion the boys would speak out. Then it was just a question of getting them to do it with me. Even me, not just over our competition, but me over some other people at NBC.
Why do you think the Palace decided it would be a good idea to do this interview?
Matt Lauer: It was said to me, and I'm probably not going to quote, I'm going to paraphrase here. I had a lot of meetings with representatives of the Palace before we got to meet the Princes. They were pretty informal meetings... the way it was described to me was that these boys have lived with the concept of reading all of this stuff about their mom for years and years and years. I'm sure much it that is not true and on this 10th Anniversary they knew that this whole machine was going to gear up again, although its been fairly consistent in their lives, especially in Great Britain, where barely a day goes by where there's not something in the paper about Diana. They knew that the 10th Anniversary of her death was going to generate an enormous new wave of stories. I think they wanted to take ownership in some ways. They wanted to say to people, "Instead of going out and listening to it from everyone else who is going to give you their take on my mom's life, we're going to be willing to talk this one time."
Are you concerned about how people might look at NBC in regards to some division there offering Paris Hilton $1,000,000 for an interview?
Matt Lauer: I can't control what people are now going to start to go back and, in hindsight, look over and think. If I had zero dealings on the financial side of the Prince's situation, I had negative zero dealings on the Paris Hilton thing. I was completely removed from that situation. Is there something that we're going to have to address down the road in terms of maybe do we need to have a mission statement? Maybe do we need to state a policy so that people know... here's what did happened and here's what didn't on future interviews? That might be a good solution. If the Entertainment division feels Diana is a good... that viewers will tune into, it can't mean that we as members of the News division are excluded from continuing to pursue an interview with her sons. I don't think we should have to go that far.
If people then want to know how it came about then I think, in the future, we need to make those deals a little more transparent.
What do you think of the news that Prince William and Kate Middleton are back together and that he's going to take her to the concert on Saturday?
Matt Lauer: I wish I could tell you that he called me but we mentioned it on the show this morning. I had no idea and no inside knowledge... one of the things, I did ask him about Kate during the interview and it was one of the few times where I got probably a more succinct answer than on any other subject. I don't know what is going on. I don't know whether they were just taking a breather and going back, I am not the guy to ask.
Concert for Diana will air on NBC at 8:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 1.