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Screenwriter Noah Oppenheim is returning to NBC News, where he’ll have oversight of the Today show. NBC News president Deborah Turness made the hire official Friday morning after sources told The Hollywood Reporter that executives were finalizing a deal to bring Oppenheim back into the fold.
The deal comes in the wake of the abrupt firing of Jamie Horowitz, who championed Oppenheim during Horowitz’s brief tenure at NBC News.
Of late, Oppenheim has been focusing on a screenwriting career. He is credited as a co-writer on The Maze Runner and was recently contracted to adapt the third film in the Divergent franchise.
He started his career at NBC News, where he co-created Jim Cramer‘s Mad Money and also was a producer of Scarborough Country and Hardball With Chris Matthews. He also previously worked at Today, producing the 7 a.m. hour of the show. In 2008, he left NBC News to lead the unscripted division at Reveille.
Oppenheim’s first job will be an assessment of Today, which has spent the last two years as the No. 2 morning show behind ABC’s Good Morning America. The show has more recently gone hard after newsmaker bookings and tinkered with its format, adding segments and expanding its cast to look more like an ensemble. Horowitz was known to have advocated a major cast shake-up that eventually led to the dissolution of support from Turness. Oppenheim will have to be more strategic — and subtle — in his approach.
Turness sent out the following memo to staffers Friday morning.
I’m happy to share the news that Noah Oppenheim will return to NBC News as senior vice president and executive in charge, TODAY.
In this role, Noah will oversee all aspects of the TODAY brand and is responsible for all platforms of TODAY, including broadcast and digital. His mission will be to guide the editorial content, drive growth and integration and identify strategic opportunities.
TODAY has the best anchor team in morning television and significant momentum. Thanks to Don Nash and the TODAY staff, the show continues its winning streak in the 18-49 demo and is narrowing the gap in total viewers and in the 25-54 demo. Meanwhile, TODAY.com had its best month ever in December and is getting three times the mobile traffic of any competitor.
As many of you know, Noah brings both an insider’s and outsider’s perspective to the role, and his breadth of experience spans both hard news and entertainment. He was an Emmy-winning senior producer of TODAY from 2005 to 2008, overseeing the 7 a.m. hour. He spent eight years at NBC — including as executive producer of MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, senior producer of Hardball With Chris Matthews, and he contributed to our coverage of two presidential elections and major international news stories. He has spent the last six years in the entertainment industry, most recently as a screenwriter, and prior to that as head of unscripted and digital at Reveille, where he created and executive produced a number of breakthrough broadcast and digital programs. He’s also the co-author of the New York Times best-selling series The Intellectual Devotional.
Please join me in welcoming Noah back to NBC News and TODAY.
Jan. 16, 8:51 a.m. This story has been updated to note that Oppenheim’s hiring is official.
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