Megyn Kelly and NBC News executives are negotiating the terms of her departure from the news division.
Her exit is not official yet, but it is likely to be announced in the days ahead, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.
Kelly will not be returning to her 9 a.m. show “Megyn Kelly Today,” the sources confirmed.
There had been speculation that she would remain with the network in a lesser role – but the sources said that’s not happening.
Earlier on Thursday, when multiple news outlets reported that Kelly is leaving NBC altogether, Kelly’s spokesman Davidson Goldin responded by saying that NBC has not been in touch with Kelly or her representatives.
Later in the day, though, an NBC official got in touch with Kelly’s camp. This is a signal that negotiations are underway.
Given Kelly’s hugely valuable contract – said to be worth $23 million a year for three years – the stakes are high.
NBC hired Kelly away from Fox News with great fanfare in January 2017. She was promised two shows, a weekday morning talk show and a Sunday evening newsmagazine. But the newsmagazine did not last long, and the talk show didn’t meet ratings expectations.
Then came this week’s controversy about her offensive comments regarding blackface Halloween costumes.
The talks about dropping Kelly’s 9 a.m. show pre-dated Tuesday’s blackface comments.
But the controversy sealed her fate, according to two people familiar with the matter.
“Today” cast members Al Roker and Craig Melvin strongly criticized Kelly’s comments during the 7 a.m. hour of “Today” on Wednesday. Two hours later, Kelly started her show by apologizing to the audience. Her audience gave her a standing ovation.
But staffers at NBC were not as forgiving. Two years of bitterness and back-biting about Kelly has come to a head.
Numerous NBC News staffers were calling her show a “disaster” well before this latest controversy.
And there have been tensions between Kelly and NBC News management for months, some of it relating to her aggressive coverage of the #MeToo movement, including scandals at NBC.
At a town hall meeting on Wednesday morning, NBC News chairman Andy Lack condemned the blackface comments, signaling that she had lost his support.
Kelly did not host her show as scheduled on Thursday morning. The network replaced her live telecast with a pre-taped episode.
“Given the circumstances, Megyn Kelly Today will be on tape the rest of the week,” an NBC News spokeswoman said Thursday morning.
Kelly has parted ways with her talent agency, CAA, according to the sources, and she has hired attorney Bryan Freedman. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Freedman is scheduled to meet with NBC executives on Friday.
The decision to retain a lawyer may signal a lengthy battle over her contract. She is in the middle of the second year of the three year contract, and her lawyer will likely seek a big payout.
Spokespeople for NBC News declined to comment on Kelly’s future at the network on Thursday. Most staffers at the news division remain in the dark about what’s happening with the show. And it’s not yet known who or what will replace her at 9 a.m. weekdays.
Kelly’s impending departure from NBC has led to speculation that she might return to Fox.
Fox News responded to the guessing game with a short statement on Thursday: “We are extremely happy with our entire lineup.”