‘Today’ Show Producer Leaving After Eight Years
NEW YORK (AP) _ After eight years as executive producer of the ″Today″ show, Steve Friedman says he is leaving NBC to pursue a different kind of TV production career, perhaps with old boss Grant Tinker.
Friedman, who has been with the network for 18 years, was credited with making ″Today″ No. 1 in the morning ratings. The show overtook ABC’s ″Good Morning America″ during his tenure.
Friedman ″will take some time off and then, because he isn’t independently wealthy, will call all those people who’ve said over the years, ’If you are ever free, we’d love to find work for you,‴ NBC News said in a statement Friday.
Friedman said in a telephone interview he will call Tinker, the former NBC president and head of MTM Productions who has started a production company in Los Angeles in partnership with Gannett. Friedman said he’ll also call 20th Century Fox and Disney.
″Nobody would talk to me until I was out of here,″ Friedman said. He said he wants to ″go into another phase of the business.″
″Today,″ now in its 36th year, has been so successful that the network is launching a Sunday edition in September, co-anchored by Boyd Matson and Maria Shriver with Garrick Utley as chief correspondent.
Friedman joined ″Today″ in 1980, following weatherman Willard Scott’s arrival by two months. Jane Pauley had been co-anchor since 1976. Friedman oversaw the additions of co-anchor Bryant Gumbel and news anchor John Palmer in 1982.
″Steve always said that no one was irreplaceable. He was right about most things. I hope he was right about that,″ Ms. Pauley said through a spokeswoman.
″It’s not if you leave, it’s when,″ Friedman said. ″Seldom in life can a person pick the way to go and the time to go, and I got lucky. I walked out of here on top, and that’s something nobody can take away from me.″