“Next week, the 9 a.m. hour will be hosted by other TODAY co-anchors,” the news division said in a statement.
Kelly’s LA-based lawyer Bryan Freedman responded, issuing the statement that “Megyn remains an employee of NBC News and discussions about next steps are continuing.”
The news was not a surprise, coming as it did after NBC News’ own Today show reported the division was in talks with her reps about “her imminent departure”:
Just one year into her three-year, $69 million contract with the Comcast-owned network, Kelly shocked NBC News earlier this week with her on-air defense of blackface Halloween costumes.
In a segment about a college trying to crack down on Halloween costumes it deemed offensive, the 47-year-old Kelly wondered why it was not okay to don blackface, claiming, “[w]hen I was a kid it was OK as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”
In the fallout, the former Fox News Channel star saw her 9 AM ET show go into repeats on Thursday. Sources told Deadline that the Kelly was heading for the door at NBC with only details to be resolved. Another Megyn Kelly Today repeat aired nationwide on Friday morning.
NBC News chief Andy Lack opened a town hall meeting with staff this week announcing “I condemn those remarks; there is no place on our air or in this workplace for them,” signaling she would not recover, despite an apology to staff, which was followed by a Thursday morning on-air mea culpa.
That day, NBC News announced Kelly would be off the air the rest of the week “under the circumstances.”
The former Fox News Channel primetime show host had been a bad fit at NBC from the get go. The blackface remark was not her first attack of foot-in mouth; it was, however, the one that ended Lack’s experiment with attracting more fly-over country viewers to the network’s morning franchise with a former Fox News star.
That experiment began going awry her first day hosting Megyn Kelly Today, when she asked a superfan of Will & Grace, whose cast members were her guest that day, “Is it true you became a lawyer, and you became gay, because of Will?”
After the broadcast, W&G star Debra Messing felt compelled to assure fans, “Honestly I didn’t know it was [Megyn Kelly] until that morning. The itinerary just said ‘Today Show’ appearance. Regret going on. Dismayed by her comments.”
Eventually, Kelly began having trouble getting A-list guests on her one-hour morning show. She began booking victims of sexual misconduct and assault, as articles by the New York Times and Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker broke details.
The tactic helped the program’s limp ratings and remind viewers that candidate Donald Trump had attacked for her GOP debate question about the vulgar way in which he had described women over the years.
But Kelly also seemed to be setting up a narrative that she might be on the outs at NBC News because of her coverage of the #MeToo movement. She told Us magazine, sphinx-like, that she knew “too much that others don’t know” about Matt Lauer’s continued employment at NBC News, the Today star’s sudden ouster, when asked if might return to air.
And, in what seemed to be a Hail Mary pass to distract people from Kelly’s on-air defense of blackface and try to frame her ouster as another #MeToo moment at NBC News, Kelly’s lawyer reportedly demanded Ronan Farrow attend a meeting between network execs and Kelly reps to discuss her future.
Farrow famously exited NBC News after the division declined to air his report on sexual misconduct/assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. New Yorker published Farrow’s report, for which he won a Pulitzer. NBC News has said the report was not ready to air when it was on their desk.
Freedman has acted as an attorney for Deadline’s parent company PMC in the past.
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