(BY: RAMIN SETOODEH, VARIETY.com) – In 1999, Addie Collins arrived at NBC’s “Today” as a young intern with big aspirations. A few months later, she landed her dream job as production assistant, forming close bonds with her new colleagues Katie Couric, Ann Curry and Al Roker. But Matt Lauerkept more of a professional distance—until Collins (who now goes by her married last name Zinone) was ready to leave the show.
One day in July 2000, he invited her to lunch, which Zinone thought would be a chance to ask him for career advice. Instead, Lauer, who was in his 40s and newly married, started to aggressively hit on the 24-year-old employee. Zinone felt dumbstruck and numb. Intimidated by his stature, she gave in to his flattery, and she entered into a month-long relationship with Lauer, who would arrange to secretly meet her in his dressing room.
Although Zinone’s situation was consensual, she saw parallels between her own story and several accounts from the unnamed victims. Her situation is different than other allegations against Lauer, which involved unwanted advances. But it illustrates what can happen when a prominent person brings sex into the workplace, and there’s an imbalance of power. For Zinone, Lauer’s behavior had a devastating and lasting effect on her personal and professional life.