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NEW YORK -- NBC's Today show officially announced Savannah Guthrie as its new co-host Friday, a day after Ann Curry's tearful farewell to Matt Lauer and the gang, and the afternoon after she quietly took her seat at the show.

Her official start won't be till July 9, thanks to next week's holiday and planned vacations by the new co-anchor and Lauer.

"In just a few short years Savannah has become a standout member of the news division as well as the ultimate team player," said NBC News President Steve Capus in a statement, citing her appearances on NBC Nightly News, Meet the Press, Rock Center andDateline. "She's got an undeniable range, and she's earned the trust of the news community, her colleagues and our viewers alike."

But Guthrie, 40, is no stranger to the top-rated morning show either. She has hosted Today's third hour since last June, in what amounted to an on-air tryout, just as Curry took over for Meredith Vieira in the show's first two hours. She also has been a substitute for Vieira and Curry.

The change-up comes amid a ratings dropoff for Today, still the No. 1 morning show, as ABC's Good Morning America has made steady gains.

Guthrie, 40, a lawyer who will remain NBC's chief legal correspondent, has been considered the heir apparent for several weeks as speculation about Curry's future has intensified.

"She's got the right stuff," says Andrew Tyndall, who analyzes network news for The Tyndall Report. "She's clearly smart ... and very good live on air. She has the touch you need on a morning show, the ability to switch between being serious and being lighthearted, in a way that Ann Curry didn't."

After working at local stations in Columbia, Mo., Tucson and Washington, where she covered the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, Guthrie graduated fromGeorgetown Law School and had a brief stint as a lawyer at a private firm, according to her official NBC biography. She then joined Court TV as a correspondent, covering news such as Michael Jackson's child-molestation case and Martha Stewart's insider-trading trial.

"So much of the morning TV agenda nowadays is the true-crime beat, and that fits in well with her area of expertise," Tyndall says.

Guthrie joined NBC in 2007, worked as White House correspondent and covered Sarah Palin's VP run. She hosted MSNBC's The Daily Rundown in 2010-11 before moving toToday.

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