In another sign that Megyn Kelly's 16-month tenure at NBC News is coming to an end, she has retained prominent Hollywood lawyer Bryan Freedman to handle negotiations over her future at the network.
A flurry of online reports Thursday flatly declared Kelly was "out" after making comments Tuesday defending wearing blackface on Halloween on "Megyn Kelly Today." Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter instead confirmed the Freedman appointment, indicating it might be the prelude to an exit agreement.
On Thursday morning, the network aired a repeat of a summer telecast of "Megyn Kelly Today," and will air another on Friday, saying in a brief statement, “given the circumstances, 'Megyn Kelly Today' will be on tape the rest of the week."
Freedman, a veteran litigator with Los Angeles-based Freedman and Taitelman, has been in the middle of a number of fraught negotiations. He reached a settlement between Paramount and its former TV chief, Amy Powell, after she was fired last July for making what was reported at the time as racially insensitive remarks in front of staffers. According to news reports, he also helped broker an agreement between Mariah Carey and Dick Clark Productions in the wake of her 2017 New Year's Eve fiasco, when she stumbled through a performance of her songs. Carey's manager threatened a lawsuit over technical issues, and DCP threatened a countersuit. No lawsuit was filed at the time, and Freedman later told the Reporter, "you're going to spend the next 24 to 72 hours doing everything legally possible to pressure the other side into some sort of messaging that makes sense for both people."
Whether Kelly, 47, does have a future at NBC is now in doubt. The trades also reported that she had already been in talks to segue off her morning show. But in the wake of the "blackface" comments that sparked an uproar at NBC News, it's now unclear what show she would join, or what role she would assume.
Kelly joined NBC from Fox News in 2017 as part of a vaunted and particularly expensive bid by the network to establish a successful 9 a.m. extension to the "Today" show" as well as a Sunday night magazine franchise. The Sunday effort, which included controversial interviews with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones quickly fizzled. "Megyn Kelly Today," which debuted in September 2017, also initially struggled but appeared to have established a footing in recent months. Now it appears that is over, too.
Freedman could not be reached for comment, while NBC has declined to comment on Kelly's status.