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The contentious negotiations between Megyn Kelly and NBC officially spilled into the open Wednesday when the star anchor’s lawyer criticized NBC News chairman Andrew Lack and name-checked his boss, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, prompting NBC to respond with a statement of its own.
“Despite my efforts to handle this process confidentially, NBC News is allowing the media to run with completely false and irresponsible reports that disparage Megyn by erroneously claiming she has ever asked for more money than her contract requires,” Bryan Freedman said Wednesday in a statement sent to the media.
Added Freedman: “If NBC News is not the source then they have a responsibility as a news division to correct these false claims. Or are they somehow attempting to use these fabrications for some fictitious advantage in the discussions we’re having? If Andy Lack has lost control, my hope would be that Steve Burke can step in and not permit blatant lies about our discussions to remain uncorrected.”
An NBC spokesperson responded: “Unlike Mr. Freedman, who has repeatedly commented to the media throughout the negotiations, we respect the confidentiality of the process, and will have no comment until it reaches its conclusion.”
The dueling statements were apparently prompted by reports in the Daily Mail and TMZ that quoted blind NBC sources who said that Kelly was holding out for more than the $69 million value of her three-year deal.
Meanwhile, Kelly weighed in on her personal Twitter feed: “For a week paparazzi has been lurking outside my home day & nite. Finally today I took my kids to school. I went out alone 1st, offered them donuts & begged them to just take their pic of me & to leave my kids alone when they emerged. All were nice. Except the Dailymail…”
Continued Kelly: “The DailyMail 1st published photos of my husb IN OUR HOME & then *did* photog my kids, trailed us to my daughter’s school, & secretly videotaped my 7-yr-old child (her classmates too) & posted it. THIS IS NOT RIGHT.”
In fact, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Kelly’s lawyer has not asked for more than the value of her three-year deal, which has been reported at $69 million. She was less than two years into her contract when NBC News announced last Friday that it was canceling Megyn Kelly Today.
As THR reported earlier this week, a sticking point in the negotiations continues to be a non-disparagement clause. Such clauses are common in exit agreements, especially when the dissolution is fraught. Those close to Kelly say she is willing to capitulate to the non-disparagement language as long as the clause also covers NBC. But NBC sources tell THR that such clauses are more complicated when they are applied to a large company with tens of thousands of employees. But they note that with relation to Kelly, it is simply a matter of settling on the language in the clause. As one high-ranking NBC source put it, “Nobody is trying to reserve their right to disparage Megyn Kelly.”