The Hollywood Reporter Names 2013's 35 Most Powerful People in Media
This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Williams remains something of a saving grace for NBC News during a turbulent season at the network. The 53-year-old anchor’s Nightly News has been the most-watched evening newscast for 185 consecutive weeks (averaging 8.9 million viewers in the first quarter).
The married father of two (his daughter Allison currently stars on the HBO comedy Girls) was a dominant figure during the 2012 election, having secured an unprecedented amount of time and access to President Obama. In March, however, the newsman found himself at the center of a Hollywood controversy when it leaked that WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel had sent NBC a missive expressing his discontent with Williams’ interview with Emanuel and his two brothers, Chicago Mayor Rahm and bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel.
“It’s an eye-of-the-beholder thing,” counters Williams. “I’ve known them all for years in varying degrees. I will let our work and the profile speak for itself.” Williams continues to secure sought-after interviews, including Apple CEO Tim Cook for the executive’s first TV appearance since taking over the company after the death of Steve Jobs. And he remains a go-to guest on the late-night circuit, playing the wry newsman for David Letterman, Jon Stewart and, of course, Jimmy Fallon, who will inherit The Tonight Show in 2014.
“I feel a special closeness to Jimmy,” says Williams. “I’m selfishly thrilled that The Tonight Show is coming back to New York." Now, Williams will only have to travel three floors to get there.
HIS MENTOR: “It’s not a shadowy mythical figure, it’s Tom Brokaw. My life is very simple, I owe much of what I enjoy today to just one guy, and that keeps things very simple."