HIS DAD, MAX, IS FORMER EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF The New York Times, and brother David directed this year's Miami Rhapsody. But it wasn't his overachiever lineage that got 31-year-old Jon Frankel tapped as the intrepid, globe-trotting adventure reporter on NBC's Today. "Jon had what my parents used to call latent intelligence,' " cracks David, 35. "He was a late bloomer."
Perhaps, then, Frankel's job as resident snowboarder, rock climber and scuba diver has more to do with those hazel eyes—mounted on a don't-mess-with-me physique. "Jon looks like Mr. Stud Man, but in reality he's sweet, vulnerable and self-effacing," says colleague Katie Couric. "I've-known more than one woman who wants to be his valet." Of course, at 6' and 190 lbs. ("That's what I plug into the Stairmaster; it doesn't know if you're lying"), Frankel is perfectly capable of carrying his own bags. He also travels light. Now living by the "No pets, no plants, no girlfriend" rule, he admits that he had two women on his arm for a movie date recently. But, he confesses with the hint of a blush, "they were my grandmothers."