Brian Williams set for next 'Meet the Press'

No permanent replacement for Tim Russert named

NEW YORK -- "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams will sit in the "Meet the Press" moderator's chair Sunday as the network is going to take it slow in its efforts to replace Tim Russert.

NBC News president Steve Capus said Thursday afternoon that the news division was still transitioning from mourning to a life after Russert, who passed away last Friday at the age of 58. Capus asked Williams on Thursday whether he would do the show Sunday.

Capus also said that it was unlikely that a decision or decisions would be made immediately to fill Russert's roles, both on "Meet the Press" and behind the scenes as the network's high-powered Washington bureau chief. The thinking now is that NBC News talent will fill in on "Meet the Press" until a decision is made there will be temporary hosts.

"I just don't think there's any way we would ask anyone to go into any of the roles on a permanent basis. It would be too much, too soon," Capus said. "The only way I can contemplate it is, thinking for people who could step up temporarily."

Nor will a decision be made quickly on the bureau-chief job either, either acting or interim. NBC is leaning heavily on Russert's deputy bureau chiefs, Wendy Wilkinson and Brady Daniels.

"There are a lot of roles, both formal and informal, that need to be considered," Capus said. "That's why it's safe to say that there's no one person that can do all of it. Tim left us as he was at the top of his game. It took someone with Tim's enormous skills and qualities as a human being to juggle all those things and do so brilliantly."

Capus said he was leaning to filling the roles in-house, although he said it was a tough transition from the remembrances and memorials to thinking about the next phase.

"We're hanging on to each other awfully tight these days and operating with a healthy respect and loe for Tim," Capus said of the mood at the news division. "We're just trying to keep our focus on the work at hand. I'm awfully proud of the organization."

While NBC has a strong bench from which to draw, there's been a moratorium so far on jockeying to replace Russert at "Meet the Press." Capus said he's received emails from viewers and others with suggestions.

"Nobody's out there lobbying, nobody has overtly come up to me saying, 'hey, I want to be considered.' There's nothing like that," Capus said. "There's going to be speculation about certain people, I know that. And I know you can't have the kind of public outpouring we've seen and not expect those same people not to have very strong views about who should sit on that set and fill the role of bureau chief."

Sunday's "Meet the Press" guests will be Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sen. Joe Biden, the two guests that were scheduled to be on the show last week before Russert was stricken.

"Tim was excited about having them on, he called them the point people for the campaign," Capus said.
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