Gayle King Nearing Contract Extension to Stay at 'CBS This Morning'

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Gayle King

Keeping the host in the fold was the first order of business for CBS News president Susan Zirinsky.

Gayle King has agreed to a contract extension to stay at CBS This Morning, multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

The deal is not yet consummated, with King’s representatives and CBS News management still having to work out the paperwork. But sources tell THR that the two sides apparently came to an agreement in principle this week. A CBS News spokesperson said the network would decline “to engage in any speculation.”

Keeping King in the fold was the first order of business for CBS News president Susan Zirinsky. A series of high-profile gets, culminating in King’s extraordinary interview with an unhinged R. Kelly, apparently tipped the negotiations. King’s current deal, worth a reported $5.5 million, was set to expire in November. And she is surely getting a hefty raise to stay.

CBS News is known for keeping anchor salaries relatively modest compared with those of its broadcast competitors. ABC's Good Morning America anchors Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos reportedly recently signed contract extensions approaching $20 million annually. So whatever raise King secures, if a deal is reached, will surely make her the highest-paid anchor at the news division.

Zirinsky now must sort the configuration of the rest of the show, and King is sure to have a say going forward. CBS This Morning has also been without a permanent executive producer since the exit of of Ryan Kadro at the end of last year. Senior producers Diana Miller and Eva Nordstrom have been running the show day-to-day. There are some inside CBS News who think that John Dickerson, while an erudite and deeply knowledgeable political reporter, is miscast as a morning anchor. Former CBS News president David Rhodes put Dickerson on the show after the November 2017 ouster of Charlie Rose. Dickerson is likely to exit CBS This Morning and will instead anchor political pieces for 60 Minutes.

If Dickerson does leave the show, it’s unclear at this time who might replace him. Anthony Mason, the network’s senior national correspondent and host of the Saturday iteration of CBS This Morning, is well-known to the show’s audience and has an established rapport with King and Norah O’Donnell. Over the past week, CBS News correspondent David Begnaud has filled in for Dickerson (who is on vacation), while Tony Dokoupil (the spouse of MSNBC anchor Katy Tur) has seen his profile rise quickly since he joined the network in 2016. 

CBS News management has had conversations with several outside name-brand anchors (or their representatives), including Ann Curry and Ashleigh Benfield, say sources. Meredith Vieira has also been mentioned internally. Taking meetings in itself is not unusual, and these conversations are often only exploratory and never progress to serious offers. 

Meanwhile, there have been rampant reports about internal discussions to move O’Donnell to the CBS Evening News and possibly move the show to Washington to accommodate her personal situation. Her husband, Geoff Tracy, owns multiple restaurants in the D.C. area, and O’Donnell and the couple's three children travel there on most weekends.