Megyn Kelly to get $30M in per­ma­nent exit from NBC

Lodi News-Sentinel - - LOCAL/NATION - By Stephen Battaglio

NEW YORK — Megyn Kelly’s tur­bu­lent two-year run at NBC News is over as both sides reached an agree­ment Fri­day night on her exit from the net­work.

Terms of her de­par­ture were not dis­closed, but peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions said the for­mer morn­ing show host is leav­ing with the money she was owed on her con­tract, which is said to be about $30 mil­lion. Kelly is free to work for an NBC com­peti­tor.

“The par­ties have re­solved their dif­fer­ences, and Megyn Kelly is no longer an em­ployee of NBC,” a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of NBC said.

The split fol­lows 21⁄2 months of ne­go­ti­a­tions. The exit talks com­menced after the TV news per­son­al­ity caused a furor with re­marks she made on her now can­celed show “Megyn Kelly Today,” in which she de­fended the use of black­face as a Hal­loween cos­tume.

Kelly apol­o­gized for her re­marks, which were con­demned on­line and on the air by NBC News col­leagues. But Oct. 24 was her fi­nal day on air as the host of the 9 a.m. hour of the “Today” fran­chise that car­ried her name.

“Today” reg­u­lars, Al Roker, Craig Melvin, Dy­lan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones have taken over the program’s third hour, which has seen its au­di­ence grow since Kelly’s de­par­ture.

Kelly’s relationship with the net­work had de­te­ri­o­rated in re­cent months as “Megyn Kelly Today” lost view­ers and brought neg­a­tive cov­er­age and re­views. The program had dif­fi­culty at­tract­ing big­name celebrity guests after Kelly made ac­tress Jane Fonda un­com­fort­able with a ques­tion about her plas­tic surgery dur­ing her second day.

NBC News made a big bet on Kelly be­com­ing its next sig­na­ture star. The divi­sion poached her from Fox News in Jan­uary 2017 with an an­nual salary re­port­edly in ex­cess of $20 mil­lion a year.

The news divi­sion also took the ex­tra­or­di­nary step of putting Kelly’s name in the ti­tle of her hour of the “Today” fran­chise. That has hap­pened only one time in the program’s 67-year his­tory, when it was called “The Dave Gar­roway Today Show” in 1960. Gar­roway was the program’s first host and one of tele­vi­sion’s ear­li­est su­per­stars.

Kelly stum­bled right out of the box for NBC when she tried a Sun­day night prime­time mag­a­zine in the sum­mer of 2017 that was in­tended to ri­val CBS’ vaunted “60 Min­utes.”

The program failed to draw au­di­ences and gen­er­ated con­tro­versy as well when it used breezy pro­mos and so­cial me­dia posts to pro­mote a seg­ment on Alex Jones, the rightwing in­ter­net provo­ca­teur who es­poused the false no­tion that the 2012 Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School shoot­ing in Con­necti­cut was a hoax cre­ated to stir sen­ti­ment for stronger gun laws.

Kelly gained promi­nence at Fox News Chan­nel, where po­lar­iz­ing opin­ions and provoca­tive views are a strong draw for au­di­ences. But the con­flict-driven con­ver­sa­tion she spe­cial­ized in was at odds with the feel-good at­mos­phere of morn­ing tele­vi­sion.

Kelly tried to show a softer side on “Megyn Kelly Today,” by fea­tur­ing hu­man in­ter­est sto­ries and pre­sent­ing seg­ments on food, con­sumer ad­vice and health. When she was pro­mot­ing her new program she pro­claimed she was “done with pol­i­tics,” even though that was what brought her to promi­nence at Fox News.

DEN­NIS VAN TINE/ABACA PRESS FILE PHO­TO­GRAPH

Megyn Kelly at­tends the 2018 NB­CU­ni­ver­sal Up­front Pre­sen­ta­tion at Rock­e­feller Cen­ter in New York on May 14, 2018.

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