Monday, October 25, 2021

Report: Norah O'Donnell May Lose 'Evening News' Anchor Job

Norah O’Donnell is in danger of losing the top spot at “CBS Evening News,” as cost-slashing execs at the broadcasting giant quietly search for her replacement amid sagging ratings, The NY Post has learned.

The 47-year-old news anchor — who muscled her way into the evening slot in 2019 as she fled a reportedly strained relationship with co-host Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” — now stands vulnerable to the network’s bean counters as her ratings have stayed stubbornly stuck in third place.

Insiders likewise pointed to O’Donnell’s hefty pay package that is in the ballpark of $8 million a year and a three-year contract that’s slated to expire next spring. She faces the possible heave-ho after CBS shelled out millions to move the evening broadcast to Washington, DC, from New York City to accommodate O’Donnell and her husband, chef Geoff Tracy, and their three children.

Indeed, sources said newly minted co-president Neeraj Khemlani — a former Hearst executive who along with former ABC exec Wendy McMahon was tapped this spring to replace Susan Zirinsky as head of CBS News — is not only looking at replacing O’Donnell, but also bringing “CBS Evening News'” back to New York.

The Post has learned that Khemlani has hired management consultants to find ways to trim fat as parent company ViacomCBS continues to digest the 2019 merger of CBS and Viacom, and potentially make the company more attractive for a sale, the sources said.

“Neeraj is charged with bringing down costs and boosting profits and he does not understand why the ‘Evening News’ is in DC,” an insider told The Post.

With rumors of a major shakeup swirling, Khemlani — who along with McMahon formally took the reins from Zirinsky in August — stopped by the DC bureau two and half weeks ago. But insiders said the visit ended up being more of a “meet and greet” than a state of the union. The new boss didn’t bring up a potential move for the “Evening News” — nor did any staffer dare ask about O’Donnell’s future as its anchor, the sources said.

Sources speculate that Khemlani may slash O’Donnell’s pay as he pushes her out of the anchor’s chair and gives her a bigger role than she already has on “60 Minutes.” That would mirror CBS’ playbook for “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley, who hosted “CBS Evening News” until 2017.

Sources told The Post that O’Donnell’s diva-like behavior wouldn’t be missed in the network’s corridors. They said she continues to be rude to hair, makeup and wardrobe staff — despite years of complaints that she is “divisive” and “toxic” with colleagues.

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