Here's a sentence I thought I'd never write: Dick Ebersol is leaving NBC Sports.
I'm stunned. Dick has spent most of his career at NBC -- learning at the right hand of Roone Arledge at ABC. Dick was king of TV sports -- the king! And now he's gone. Or about to be. The New York Times and AP have the story. He couldn't come to terms on a contract, etc.
Dick was and is a remarkable guy. He could be a bit surly, hated the press -- but then, who doesn't! -- yet he was and always will be the quintessential Network TV Executive. He lived large, and most of all, believed in the power and glory of network TV. He was one of a kind, or I should say, the last of a kind and built NBC Sports into what it is today -- not to mention its long run with the Summer Olympics.
And now he's leaving. Ebersol, as you know, is married to Susan Saint James, so he was the other half of one of TV's true power couples.
Ebersol had some heckuva run at NBC Sports, less so in news, when he was put in charge of "Today:" He got rid of Jane Pauley, brought in Deborah Norville and the show imploded.
What happened with him and Comcast? Well it's clear to me Comcast wants to bring their own guy in. Ebersol was another holdover from the long GE era. Now I'm kinda worried about Lorne Michaels. Dick -- I think -- may have even brought Lorne aboard to create "Saturday Night Live." So the question is: If Dick couldn't get along with Comcast, how must Lorne be handling them right about now?
Here's the statement from Dick, just out now:
“What I have enjoyed most is working so closely with so many truly outstanding and incredibly talented people over decades of producing some of the greatest events in the world. Those relationships are what I cherish most. I have always said this business is about relationships and I have been fortunate enough to have more deep and meaningful friendships than any man could imagine. “It has been a sincere privilege to tell so many remarkable stories that have inspired me throughout my entire career. Some of my favorite memories come from reading letters and talking to viewers who also have been moved by such powerful stories. I simply want to say thank you to all of those people who have touched me so deeply throughout my career.”
Meanwhile, I had to giggle at Nikki Finke's farewell in "Deadline:
"The New York Times would have this first, reporting he resigned after he and Comcast could not come to terms on a new contract. Because the newspaper is Ebersol's errand boy. Remember when Ebersol leaped to Jeff Zucker's defense and publicly slammed Conan O'Brien to NYT TV writer Bill Carter just because the late-night host wouldn't agree to get Zucked as host of The Tonight Show? And let's not forget that Ebersol ensured that NBC wouldn't make a dime on the last Olympics because he overbid by $200 million to televise the games? Or the years when NBC had virtually no major sports to broadcast? Ebersol was no Roone Arledge..."