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Megyn Kelly is leaving Fox News for a role at NBC News, sources confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
The move, officially announced later Tuesday by NBC News, ends a lengthy period of public speculation about her future at the 21st Century Fox-owned network. The New York Times‘ Jim Rutenberg first reported the move.
Kelly’s new role will see her returning to daytime, Monday through Friday, the period that made her famous with Fox News Channel’s America Live.
The exact timing will be announced at a later date. Additionally, she will get a primetime window Sunday nights with a new evening newsmagazine — positioning NBC as a competitor for CBS’ Sunday stalwart, 60 Minutes. She also will take on a role in the network’s breaking news coverage. Kelly’s last day at Fox News Channel will be Friday.
“Megyn is an exceptional journalist and news anchor, who has had an extraordinary career,” said NBCUniversal News Group chairman Andrew Lack. “She’s demonstrated tremendous skill and poise, and we’re lucky to have her.” (See Lack’s full memo to staff below.)
“While I will greatly miss my colleagues at Fox, I am delighted to be joining the NBC News family and taking on a new challenge,” Kelly wrote on Facebook. “I remain deeply grateful to Fox News, to Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch, and especially to all of the FNC viewers, who have taught me so much about what really matters. More to come soon.”
In recent months, Kelly had made no secret of her desire to strike a saner work-life balance. She has three young children, two of whom are just getting home from school when Kelly is leaving for work in the late afternoon. “I have these three little people who need me and who I really love and like to spend time with and the current schedule I’m on is not ideal for a mother of young children,” Kelly told THR in October.
21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch sounded off later Tuesday afternoon with the following statement: “We thank Megyn Kelly for her 12 years of contributions to Fox News. We hope she enjoys tremendous success in her career and wish her and her family all the best.”
Her public tussles with primetime neighbors Bill O’Reilly, whose show airs at 8 p.m. and where Kelly used to appear before her own rise to primetime, and Sean Hannity, who hosts the 10 p.m. hour, had become part of the narrative of her contract talks.
When Kelly was promoting her book Settle for More, in which she added a chapter late in the process about her role in the [Roger] Ailes scandal, O’Reilly accused her of making Fox News “look bad.” (Kelly retorted that it was Ailes who made the network look bad.) Her spats with Hannity, an avowed Donald Trump supporter, seemed less heated and mostly confined to Twitter.
All of which has made it occasionally uncomfortable for Kelly at Fox News. “Now that I’ve gotten into primetime things have become more competitive between us, just given the nature of where we are,” she said, referring to O’Reilly. “And that is just true of us as personalities. But it wasn’t like I was palling around with him and going to the movies together.”
O’Reilly’s deal comes up for renewal next year, sources tell THR. Hannity’s contract reportedly takes him into 2020. The presidential election lifted Fox News Channel to the most-watched ad-supported primetime cable channel in November, and also gave the network its most-watched month since the previous presidential election in November 2012.
Fox News beat CNN and MSNBC combined in total viewers across all dayparts (averaging 3.3 million viewers in primetime and about 2 million in total day). Fox News also beat CNN in the critical 25-54 demo after finishing second to CNN in October. Retaining Kelly, whose star has steadily risen since she joined Fox News Channel in 2004 as a correspondent in the Washington bureau, had been a priority for Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, CEO and executive chairman, respectively, of 21st Century Fox.
But as Kelly’s agent at CAA had been meeting with other suitors, there were signs that the Murdochs, who had reportedly authorized a $20 million annual salary, were growing impatient. “We have a deep bench of talent, many of whom would give their right arm for her spot,” Rupert Murdoch, who stepped in as CEO of Fox News after Ailes’ ouster, told The Wall Street Journal.
There has been an offer on the table for months; the Murdochs wanted a decision before the election. But Kelly, who embarked on a book tour shortly after the election, was clearly in no hurry to make a decision. “This is a big one for me,” she told THR, “so I want to get it right.”
Lack’s Tuesday memo to staff:
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